High Cost Of Need

Kevin McCarthy unfortunately discovered just how costly it is to allow desire to become need.


In May 2019, I wrote a blog entitled When Desire Becomes Need (opens in a new link), in which I highlighted what we experience with desire and how the experience changes when we allow our desire to become a need. Little did I know then that there would be such a public example of the high cost of need as in the case of Kevin McCarthy’s need to be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Others’ perceptions

Because I’m not a Washington insider I don’t have first hand knowledge of all that goes on in Washington, but here are some observations I’ve heard in interviews of House Republicans about their experience with Kevin McCarthy.

A number of them said that, prior to seeking the House Speakership, Kevin McCarthy was an affable individual who had developed positive relationships on both sides of the aisle, worked for bipartisan results and was a productive fundraiser.

If these observations were accurate, it’s little wonder that he could see himself in the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives…a worthy desire.

My perspective

Assuming that the observations in the previous section are accurate, which I have no reason to doubt, then it seems to be that Mr. McCarthy’s problem is that he allowed his desire to become a need.

When his desire crossed the threshold to need, he began to sacrifice his values and beliefs for his holy grail, the House Speakership. He caved to so many demands that he lost his identify, his credibility and, consequently, the trust of those with whom he previously had good working relationships.

If ever there was an example of just how costly it can be when we allow desire to become need, this is it. But what does this mean for you and your kids?

For you

There are two lessons I’d like you to take from this. The first is that self-aggrandizement is rarely supported by others. Mr. McCarthy’s desire to be known as Speaker of the House seems to have been a matter of personal pride to him.

My experience, and I’m sure yours is as well, is that people who strive to elevate themselves are rarely supported in their efforts. Indeed, others often work to prevent them from achieving their goal. Why? Because their quest is often at the expense of others.

Conversely, people who regularly elevate others are almost always elevated by those whom they elevate. The more selfless we are in terms in getting recognized for what we’ve done, the more others want us to get the recognition we deserve. Colin Powell said it well when he said that it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit. With this selfless approach he achieved the highest level of his profession and is one of the most highly-respected leaders of our time.

The second lesson is that you can tell when your desire is about to become need when you find yourself considering actions contrary to your value system. If you find yourself trying to find a way to justify acting contrary to your values, you know you’re at the threshold. When you find yourself at this point, it’s time to say no to whatever is being demanded of you. What you desire isn’t worth the sacrifice of your values…and the negative feelings you’ll experience for decades for having made that sacrifice.

I can’t help but believe that Mr. McCarthy will lament for some time that he allowed his desire to become need.

For our kids

Share these two lessons with your kids. The earlier that they are aware of the fine line between desire and need and the consequences of crossing that line, the less likely they are to make this mistake and suffer its consequences.

Don’t forget to live these messages. Kids mimic the behaviors of the adults in their lives more readily than they employ what we tell them. Let’s help our kids avoid the high cost of need.

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