The insecurity problem
Personal insecurity is a universal and unavoidable human dilemma. However, it is also a solvable problem.
The existential angst felt about our inherent value and worth, or lack thereof, is something we all battle on some level. In spite of how common it is, this fear of not being good enough becomes the single biggest threat to our personal growth, emotional stability, and fulfilment in life. Left unaddressed it can only lead to madness. It causes people to show up at their worst, where it matters most, focusing all their best energy on defending or proving themselves, rather than on service, contribution and personal growth. It is out of our insecurities that we end up consistently hurting ourselves and those around us.
The danger of insecure leaders
To make matters worse, the most powerful and influential decision makers in the world today are also some of the MOST insecure people alive. Every day we experience the madness of self-serving political agendas delivered in desperately irrational and short-sighted ways from deeply insecure leaders who seem far more concerned with looking good rather than doing good. All the focus is directed to protecting their own ego and remaining in power instead of serving those they lead and addressing the world’s most urgent issues.
The breakdown of the global supply chain, inflation, climate change and the war in Ukraine are the most obvious challenges in the world right now, but the less obvious and yet far more destructive issue, is the epidemic of insecure leaders making decisions about these global challenges. It is their insecurity that exacerbates these problems and is often what has created them in the first place.
More alarmingly, because insecurity leads to people needing to prove and defend themselves by all means possible, and the danger of technology available to our world leaders in our current age, is only increasing the power at their disposal to do this proving and defending.
The relationship between insecurity and performance as we age.
An objective look at the mechanics of insecurity shows that it can have significant power to increase motivation and performance when we are young, and then that same insecurity weakens motivation and performance as we age.
It is often the most insecure young people who do the most extraordinary things. Being driven to desperately prove your value and worth to the world by what you can achieve is a powerful source of motivation.
This drivenness to prove others wrong makes people unrealistic, unreasonable and irrational, all of which drives up their performance capacity. In this way, insecurity is like performance enhancing rocket fuel when you are young.
While being driven to prove yourself to the world may be useful in your 20’s, if you are still trying to externally validate yourself by the time you reach 40, this insecurity will undoubtedly be significantly hurting you and those around you. Personal insecurity has undeniable benefits for performance, yet it also creates massive collateral damage, especially to your own mental health. Insecurity weakens a human being and the constant need to direct your best internal resources to defend and prove yourself destabilises to the point of madness.
As you age, insecurity becomes the number one inhibitor of performance. Therefore, the highest priority for adults entering their middle years is to heal the wounds of their childhood and fully rid themselves of the limiting beliefs this woundedness has caused.
Being a secure human being, confident of your inherent value and worth means you now have nothing to prove or defend. This positions you with the ability to show up in the world and contribute meaningfully out of the overflow of who you are, rather than constantly seeking validation and approval through performance, achievements and status.
Donald Trump is a perhaps one of the clearest case studies of the impact of unresolved insecurity in the political arena the world has seen in recent times.
Trump is still reaping the extraordinary rewards of the insecurity driven success of his younger years. To watch or listen to him now reveals that he has well and truly begun the decent into madness. Unresolved personal insecurity has now caused him to become increasingly irrational, unstable and even unhinged.
The exact same images could be used to describe the trajectory of most of our current world leaders as well.
Their significant need for external validation and acceptance served them well in younger years and accelerated their progress in the games of wealth, power and political influence, yet when they made it to the top, their insecurity also ruined their ability to give authentic leadership for the greater good of the world. Instead, they've only weakened the collective consciousness and increased the suffering in the world.
And this is the only way of understanding the madness of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Vladimir Putin problem.
Rising from relative obscurity through the ranks of the KGB before eventually finding his way into the cabinet of Boris Yeltsin, and then on to become the President of the Russian federation, can be described as a remarkable journey to power. Yet when the personal insecurity of Vladimir Putin is taken into consideration, his ‘stop at nothing’ approach can be seen in new light.
When the state approved his appointment as prime minister in August 1999, it made him Russia's fifth prime minister in fewer than eighteen months. On his appointment, few expected Putin, virtually unknown to the general public, to last any longer than his predecessors.
Yeltsin's main opponents and would-be successors were already campaigning to replace the ailing president, and they fought hard to prevent Putin's emergence as a potential successor. However, following the Russian apartment bombings conveniently blamed Chechen militants even though they, along with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov denied all responsibility, Putin used the opportunity to invade Dagestan in the Chechen republic of Ichkeria. Putin's law-and-order image and unrelenting approach to the Second Chechen War soon combined to raise his popularity and allowed him to overtake his rivals and become the next President.
Clearly, this is a man desperate to validate his existence externally through power, status and achievements, willing to stop at nothing to climb to the top. Twenty years later and we are witnessing what happens when a man like this is still in power Russia's military attack on the Ukraine is largely caused by the personal insecurity if one man. There is no other way of rationalising it.
American leaders are no better.
It could easily be argued that former US President, George W Bush enlisted a very similar strategy by invading Iraq with claims they were predicting weapons of mass destruction after the September 11 terror attacks on American landmarks.
In fact, in Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 he presents a compelling case for US government involvement in the attacks on their own citizens in the same way Putin is accused of secretly orchestrating the apartment building bombings in his own country.
The attacks and subsequent US military retaliation transformed American public opinion and fundamentally reshaped Bush’s image. His job approval rating reached a record 86% by late September that year. However, the lack of anything genuinely good in his leadership was made clear by the fact that he ended his term in office with one of the all-time low approval ratings of any previous president.
To solve the Russian problem, we have to solve the insecurity problem first.
Todays world leaders have no idea how to deal with the insecurity of Vladimir Putin, because they are mostly still operating out of their own insecurity as well. At the recent G7 summit where the leaders of world's richest democracies met to discuss their response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sky news reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then used the opportunity to mock President Putin for previously showing off his physique.
“Jackets on? Jackets off? Shall we take our clothes off?” Mr Johnson said. “We all have to show them we’re tougher than Putin.”
Imagine that! The leaders of the free world are involved in a giant pissing competition while millions suffer as the Russian attacks on Ukraine continue unabated.
The Crisis of human consciousness
Technologist Reiner Kraft says “ With technology advancing rapidly with the added fuel of artificial intelligence (AI), there is a possibility that mankind will have serious problems if the global human consciousness cannot grow fast enough”
While technology is guaranteed to continue to evolve exponentially unabated, there is certainly no guarantee that human consciousness will grow at the same rate. Our most significant challenges in the next decade will not be technological, they will entirely centre around human development instead.
If we don’t find a way to evolve our collective consciousness, the consequences will be catastrophic. For the sake of the planet, we must turn our attention to developing ourselves.
While people are insecure about being insecure, the great thing is, it's a predictable problem with a predictable solution.
Most people are too afraid of delving into the fear of their own inadequacy, so they try and suppress their insecurity in the hope it can be controlled or managed. Yet, inevitably our insecurities cannot be contained, they must be faced, deconstructed and replaced.
Not only can we solve the insecurity problem at the highest level of government, business and culture - we must. As a global village, it is out most important work.
The future of the world depends on secure leadership.