Edward Snowden, NSA, And Sloppy Thinking

Michael Gerber in his book, “The E-Myth,” discuses how to be an entrepreneur, however, I think what he says is much more holistic than just the process of starting a business. “The work we do is a reflection of who we are. If we are sloppy at it, it’s because we’re sloppy inside. If we’re late at it, it’s because we’re late inside. If we’re bored by it, it’s because we’re bored inside, with ourselves, not with the work. The most menial work can be a piece of art when done by an artist. So the job here is not outside of ourselves, but inside of ourselves. How we do our work becomes a mirror of how we are inside.”

Gerber’s quote, from a manager he was talking with, demonstrates something I think all of us need to think about. We will get out of life what we put into it. If I choose to be bored, I will be bored. If I choose to live life on automatic pilot I will. It really is my choice.

In my managerial classes I discuss topics such as locus of control (LOC) and decision-making. Locus of control is a theory that argues how human beings either have an internal or external locus of control. If one has an internal LOC, they will take control of their response to any situation. These individuals feel they are the captains of their own ship. They will not be victims. If one has an external LOC, they are less inclined to believe they can impact their destiny; life happens to them. I don’t think these types of individuals have a victim mentality, but they are less willing to take initiative or risk.

As with anything I think human beings have a propensity to behave a certain way, but have the ability to override the propensity with a conscious choice. This is where decision-making comes into play. We can decide to live on autopilot, letting what happens happens, or we can be present, and not just let things happen but take responsibility for our choices. I think this is what Edward Snowden claims to have done.

Edward Snowden is the man behind one of the biggest leaks in the history of U.S. Intelligence; at least that is what CNN is saying. He is a CIA analyst, who was working for Booz-Allen, and is hiding in Hong Kong. Snowden informed the press that the U.S. government is collecting “vast streams of phone and Internet data; he is being called a hero by some and traitor by others. This was a conscious choice made by Snowden knowing that it would have an affect on his life and his family. He is a whistleblower, and his action will create an interesting debate, but he is no victim. He chose this path.

However, I am curious what his thought process was when he made this choice. Richard DeGeorge, a business ethics expert, discusses whistleblowing, and lays out a decision process to help one decide if they should take the difficult journey of being a whistleblower. DeGeorge gives us the following criteria for whistleblowing:

Whistleblowing may be morally permissible when:

  1. Serious and substantial harm will occur.
  2. The serious threat is reported to the proper chain of command.
  3. No action is taken.

Whistleblowing is morally obligatory when the first three steps were taken, and in addition, the next two steps occur :

  1. There is documented evidence that an impartial observer would be convinced there is a problem.
  2. There are valid reasons to believe that revealing the wrongdoing to the public will result in the necessary changes to remedy the situation.

I have no idea if Snowden followed this process, but I do know one thing, his life will never be the same. Whistleblowing is a difficult path to walk, one that only the strong in heart can endure, and one that is a result of a conscious decision, not one resulting from living life on automatic pilot.

I am sure there will be more to come. I am sure there will be lots of finger pointing and discussion, but will solutions occur, will the situation change, should it change? I love democracy, messy, but good.

And that is my thought for the day!


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