The hottest topic in the news these days is the moral failure of Tiger Woods. A public icon/hero/leader that exhibited a moral collapse is producing a media feeding frenzy of great intensity. Never will the image and character of Tiger Woods be able to stand untarnished again at least in the public eye.
This isn’t the first time a leader that lived larger than life in the public arena has failed. In Biblical times David and Bathsheba where the headline story. In more recent times, Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford the governor of South Carolina, Ted Haggard and the list goes on.
Leaders and public icons reach a point where their influence and power leads them to a place of intense personal loneliness. There is a huge gaping hole in their heart that money, power, or fame can’t fill. The gap becomes an integrity gap, the difference between what they wish to be and what they really are.
When the luster of leader is tarnished it takes a great deal of humility, forgiveness and resilience to begin the process of restoration. Even with new habits, new commitment and a new character, people will generally revert back to an incident in the past as the definition of truth for that individual.
Once the flaw is exposed it remains a stain on the character of an individual for life. A positive character attribute that was dominantly present in the past that loses purity in the present is perceived to be lost value. That is the past for positive attributes does not define the future, but a negative attribute does become part of the future. In the minds of people, changing a negative value seems impossible, trust doesn’t come easily. Keeping a positive value seems impossible, trust is lost easily.
Trust and integrity become the brand of a leader. Celebrity branding, whether in sports, government, entertainment or other profession is important to those businesses that use that branding to promote their products as trustworthy is subject to the moral condition of man, which isn’t perfect.
How does a leader in any walk of life regain their integrity, character and value if they have compromised their values?