Many assume that what motivated Madoff to squander the savings of millions of people was a desire to have more toys or pad his bank account. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. In the end, the fraud stemmed from his desire to be viewed favorably and to please others. It overruled any allegiance he may have had to the truth.
Greed is dangerous, but if we're to learn anything from the Madoff scandal, it's that there's something far more toxic than greed: an inability to soberly confront an undesirable reality.
Skirting the facts of life may not sound nearly as sinister as greed, but that's what makes it so dangerous. Usually we can see greed coming from a mile away. Dishonesty, especially when it springs from an understandable desire to project a positive image, is far more likely to slip under our radar.