hit myselfAs I write these words, the United States Congress has hit a new low in the approval ratings of “we the people.” Recent studies show the country’s approval of Congress averaging only eleven percent! The nation’s disenchantment could hardly get worse.

Now you probably know I don’t delve into politics much in my writings, but this is a rare circumstance. If only the abysmal ratings of Congress were as rare! These days, sadly, they are not.

According to a Sage U.S. Inc. survey conducted in January of 2016, small business owners are as disgusted as the public with political leadership. The National Federation of Small Businesses reports that “Owners would like to see progress in tax reform, reducing the deficit and fixing social security, but they believe legislators are focusing on gun control, raising the minimum wage and global warming.” This is a disconnect, indeed.

It seems a universal perspective that our government is more interested in serving their own interests than those of their constituents. And survey upon survey suggests chances are very high that you, yourself, will agree.

And there is yet even more bad news: With our presidential election nearing in the United States, public opinion of the campaigns is also in the gutter. It’s my contention that no candidate will win by a landslide: That’s because they’re already wallowing in the mud together.

Most business owners agree that “vox populi,” the voice of the people, is being ignored in favor of the self-interests of leadership. It’s uncanny. It’s untenable. And it’s really ticking us off!

What ever happened to service? What ever happened to responsiveness to our needs? The people in control look inward toward personal power and reward, instead of outward toward the service of their constituents. It’s madness!

Oh, wait. Forgive me. I think I switched subjects there without bringing you along. That discontent I just expressed about leadership’s self-interest was not directed toward our political leaders, but toward those of us who are business owners. As much as we belly-ache about our political woes, don’t these same accusations apply to we leaders in business? Is the same disease not rampant among our own kind? Are you and I not guilty of the same seductiveness of self?

Some words of Albert Einstein are particularly appropriate here. They drive a stake deep into the hearts of the narcissistic leaders of this country as well our own, we captains of industry: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

As we desire to build the ranks of our “constituents” – our customers – we should ask, “Will our prospects be more attracted to a company that succeeds for its own success, or a company that provides real value to its audience?”.

There’s something to be learned here. We would do well to be as critical of ourselves as we are of our political leaders. In the end, who would your own constituents vote for, you…or some other candidate?

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