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Father. Sales & Marketing Executive. Blogger. Traveler. Wine Enthusiast. 'Nole for Life. 40 with "Benes" brand is a mindset and belief that, like a fine wine, you get better with age. Experience, wisdom, and knowledge allow you to have real, raw, authentic takes on life and business.

Leadership Cliff

cri·sis : an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially : one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome < a financial crisis > dangerous or worrying time: a situation or period in which things are very uncertain, difficult, or painful, especially a time when action must be taken to avoid complete disaster or breakdown

Sound familiar? It should, because this is our United States National Debt crisis which extends well beyond the Fiscal Cliff that our leaders in Washington are quabbling over.

I am not an macroeconomist, nor do I pretend to play one on TV. Americans don’t have to be economists to see the unbiased, non-partison truth. Everyone can see the white elephant in the room, except our elected government leaders. It’s become a political red herring. As grave as the financial crisis is for Americans today and generations tomorrow, it pales in comparison to the real issue. We have a leadership crisis. Our leaders would rather engage in cycles of pettiness, delays, and zero-sum gamesmanship than do what’s needed…balance the budget and reduce spending. The media should cease and desist with any more headlines of the Fiscal Cliff. Instead, they need to substitute Leadership for Fiscal and then we’ll have the real story. Leadership Cliff.

Need proof that the Leadership Cliff is the real issue. Let’s take a look at some basic US budget facts that illustrate how our leaders have fallen short of their fiduciary responsibility:

  • $16.4 Trillion: Current Outstanding Public Debt of the United States
  • 2013 US Budget:
    • $2.9 Trillion (Revenue)
    • $3.8 Trillion (Spending)
    • $900 Billion Deficit
    • US Debt is estimated to be $17.3 Trillion by the end of 2013
  • The US GDP is $15.6 Trillion
    • US Debt now exceeds 100% of GDP
  • Foreign countries now own $5.1 Trillion of US Debt
  • China & Japan each own $1.1 Trillion
  • Debt per US Citizen = $52,300
  • Debt per US Taxpayer = $145,979

How long will it take to pay off our US National Debt? It depends on who you ask. Some experts say it will take 2-3 decades. Other so-called pundits say it is now mathematically impossible to ever achieve a surplus.

Still think that leadership doesn’t matter?

Whether we promote a leader into a position or elect them into office we have to know we’re not getting a lemon. We cannot elect a leader based on the color of his/her skin. We cannot vote them in based on gender, religion, political affiliation, or even sexual orientation. If you are going to exercise your right to vote then you have to do it with your head, not your heart. Educate yourself to know the real issues. You have to choose leaders with dispassionate objectivity. Results matter. Experience matters. Principles and values matter. Leadership matters.

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General Patton once defined a leader as a man who can adapt principles to circumstances. In simple terms this is translated into walking the leadership talk.

He would be ashamed to learn that John Boehner (Speaker of the House) recently told Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) to “go f— himself” at the height of the fiscal cliff mania. That’s not leadership. It’s time for the rhetoric to stop and the leadership courage to begin. We need to stop asking ourselves if we expect too much of our leaders. Instead, we should demand that they deliver on their promises.

Senator Joe Manchin III said it best, “Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our American economy is the American Congress.”

My intent is not to focus on the US National Debt or politics, but to use these lightning rod topics to illustrate the importance of leadership. It matters.

The time has come for leadership to start walking…as in walk the talk. Walk in any direction as long as it leads to results, success, sustainability, and prosperity. Cliffs should be avoided at all costs.

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Here’s what our National Debt would look like in stacks of crisp $100 bills:

$16 Trillion (National Debt)

US Debt Ceiling 2012 visualized

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