During the final day of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) Global Leadership Summit in Istanbul, three former European leaders (former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, former Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair) shared their thoughts with 2,500 CEOs from around the world.
It was the final session of a week of learning and networking, and quite fitting for those of us from the U.S. in light of all the discussion on sequestration.
The best quote of the day came when Schroder said (roughly) that leadership means you take the risk to lose your next election if the decision you make is in your country's best interest. Blair added that it is hardest when the short-term desire is greatly different from the long-term view. While these statements fit their discussion of Europe, there was no question that they apply to our issues in the United States as well.
(Read more: Looking for Global Leadership in Turkey)
While our politicians and media chatter about the $85 billion in sequestration cuts, the major issues in our financial house are ignored. Our debt, our deficits, currency wars, QE3 (which, interestingly, is the printing of $85 billion per month to buy our own debt that will go on indefinitely), unemployment and regulations are all much larger issues, but the politicians are focused on their next election instead of doing what we need to do now.
Our country is quickly approaching a crossroads – either we make the difficult decisions to correct our course, or we're headed straight for a very European batch of problems.
Clint Greenleaf is the founder and CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, a book publisher that supports independent authors.
CNBC and YPO (Young Presidents' Organization) have an exclusive editorial partnership, consisting of regional "Chief Executive Networks" in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These "Chief Executives Networks"are made up of a sample of YPO's unrivaled global network of 20,000 top executives from 120 countries who are on the front lines of the economy and run companies which collectively generate $6 trillion in annual revenues.