An Open Letter to Julian Assange

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks, at the SKUP co...

Julian Assange, from Wikileaks

Dear Mr. Assange,

Normally, when I write a letter to a public official here, I am writing it to point out what I perceive to be an error in their thinking, as manifested by their public statements. This letter is not to point out an error in anything you have said or done. It’s to confess errors in my thinking toward you, and to apologize to you for it.

I realize, stuck as you are inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, you will likely never see my words. In a way, you are in jail, though admittedly a rather nice one, as thoroughly as if you left the Embassy, the police arrested you, and the British courts (or US ones) convicted you. Your cage is a gilded one, but a gilded cage is still a cage, nonetheless.

When the news of WikiLeaks broke, I joined the multitudes who were rushing to condemn you. I should have known better. But I had a knee-jerk reaction of anger against someone who potentially threatened my government, my country and what I perceived was supposed to be my way of life.

In my rush to judge you, I forgot some things. I forgot a few things Benjamin

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

Franklin said,

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.

and

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

The second quote, a favorite of mine from Ben Franklin, should have stopped me in my tracks. As a Christian, Jesus’ words about judgement should have stopped me, too. But alas, they did not.

So, what changed my mind? It was a combination of events, as is usually the case in such things. It started with the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden. As officials in the US rushed to judge him, I wanted to thank him and shake his hand for his courage and convictions to expose the government spying on its own citizens so flagrantly. In my outrage against my government’s behavior in breaking its own Constitution, I neglected to apply it to what you did, too.

Oliver DeMille

Oliver DeMille

It continued with attending the TEAM LIFE Summer Leadership Convention last weekend in Columbus, OH. I heard Oliver De Mille speak there. He said if we wanted to change things in our world, among other things, we needed to read between the lines and discover not just what was being said, but what was meant by what was said. I failed to see between the lines with you and what you did.

Finally, I spoke with a friend there about that talk, about Mr. Snowden, and about you. It was this conversation that was the last piece in the change of my mind. It helped me to put the scattered pieces of judgmental thinking, the implications of freedom and looking between the lines together. Thinking about it was what caused me to write this public apology to you.

I am aware I am going out on a wire with my faithful readers. I feel it is something like a cross between Nick Wallenda’s Niagara Falls wire walk and his recent one over the Grand Canyon. Both times, he walked without a net, and I’m out here without one, too. But it is only out in front, on a high wire without a net, where you find leaders. So if this is to truly be a leadership blog, I must go out and lead, and take the consequences as they come. Even if it angers you, my much beloved loyal readers. I hope it doesn’t, but my conscience as a person, blogger and leader is more important to me than your opinion of me.

Because what I realized, Mr. Assange, is that you did what Mr. Snowden did. You saw something you thought wasn’t right, and you exposed it. Like Mr. Snowden, who now is a man without a country, you did it without thought to your personal comfort and safety. You lived out Benjamin Franklin’s quote on liberty and safety I so love.

So, all this is to say I’m sorry for judging you. I was wrong to do it. I realize this won’t mean a thing to you, and as I said, you’ll likely never see it. But now I know my conscience is clear about you.

I still believe your co-conspirator in the US military deserves whatever necessary discipline given to him. He broke the Uniform Code of Military Justice, his oath and his faith with his brothers in arms. These are things by which the military must stand, and must discipline the breaking of, if it is to survive. While I have sympathy for his reasons, as I do for Mr. Snowden, and I can feel compassion for the example the US government will make of him (in lieu of not having you), I cannot agree with his oath-breaking, however justifiable his reasons to himself or anyone else. He must take the punishments his misdeeds deserve.

Since I know from Mr. Snowden’s revelations the NSA monitors all blogs, including mine, I know they’re seeing this post. I want to take this time to say in my apology to you, I am in no way a co-conspirator in any plot to spy on or overthrow the government of the US or any of its officials.

I don’t like the way my country is now. But I don’t believe, “My country; right or wrong,” and I never have. I believe, “My country; if it’s not right, change it!” This post is a small part of my efforts to change my corner of it.

Best Wishes,

LeaderShift

LeaderShift

Cathy

Exploring TEAM LIFE’s 8 F’s — Finances

What do the wealthy know that average  people do not?  What can average people learn to become unaverage in their financial results in life?

Orrin Woodward

In the article Ben Franklin’s Passive Income Stream TEAM LIFE co-founder and leadership guru Orrin Woodward explored Franklin’s road to wealth.

Franklin could afford his early retirement because he had conceived of an ingenious plan to aid journeyman printers, helping them to own their own businesses.  In a true spirit of win-win, the 26 year old Franklin, in 1731, was offered the position of South Carolina’s official printer for its public records, an opportunity that he declined because he didn’t wish to leave Philadelphia.  But, instead of rejecting the offer outright, Franklin suggested an alternative plan, proposing to the Charleston officials that they hire one of his journeyman, Thomas Whitmarsh.  Franklin would sponsor the project, helping the journeyman with the press equipment, fonts, funds, not to mention mentorship, while Whitmarsh would run the day to day operations in Charleston.  All parties profited by this unique arrangement.  South Carolina received a top notch journeyman, trained under the tutelage of Franklin; Whitmarsh received capital and mentorship, both factors in short supply in the colonies, allowing him the opportunity to own a business; lastly, Franklin, received one third of the profits for six years, after which, Whitmarsh could either buy out Franklin’s ownership interest or continue with his current financial arrangement. Since Franklin had capital, but little time, while the journeymen had time, but little capital, this arrangement benefitted both sides of the partnership, providing to each other, what each on their own lacked, a true example of a win-win trade. Franklin’s

Jean-Baptiste Greuze portrait of Benjamin Fran...

franchise marketing program expanded across the colonial cities, he looked for hungry, sober, hard working journeyman to be his long distant proxies, helping to build many sister newspapers, that dotted the colonial landscape, following the leadership of his Pennsylvania Gazette masthead.  Over time, Franklin’s expansive printing empire reached all the way from Hartford in the north, and as far south as Antigua, with Lancaster, New York, and New Haven, too mention just a few, in between the two poles of influence, an impressive accomplishment in this largely agrarian society.  In fact, by 1755, eight of the fifteen newspapers printed in colonial America were part of Franklin’s powerful conglomerate.  Although not all his partnerships made money, most of them prospered under his leadership. 

English: I took photo with Canon camera of Ben...

Franklin forged partnerships for over fifty years, creating a residual income stream that left him free to pursue his purpose, no longer enslaved to monetary want.

An entrepreneur himself, Benjamin Franklin partnered with other aspiring entrepreneurs in relationships that benefited all concerned, for the most part.  His positive and profitable partnerships gave him the passive income stream to allow him to retire at a young age, to pursue the life of a scholar, inventor, diplomat and eventually statesman.  Benjamin Franklin’s example is a model that would be wise for any aspiring person to follow.

Cathy

Historical Leadership — Benjamin Franklin’s Friend

What are some of the benefits friends can give us?  How can we grow from what our friends tell us?

In the recent article Ben Franklin — Resolved To Develop Wisdom, TEAM LIFE  

Orrin Woodward

founder and leadership guru Orrin Woodward wrote about Benjamin Franklin’s friends, and the influence they had on him.

Ben Franklin, as a young man, didn’t always behave in a sensible manner.  In fact, he offended many of the leading citizens of Philadelphia with his self-assumed air of importance.  In Launching a Leadership Revolution, Chris Bradyand I share a story on young Franklin, “A confidant

Chris Brady

took him aside one day and was both bold and kind enough to share the truth with Franklin that people didn’t like him.Although amazingly brilliant, nobody cared. They couldn’t stand to be around him. He was too argumentative and opinionated. His informer even told him that people would see Franklin approaching on the street and cross the road so as to avoid any contact with him. Franklin was

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

devastated. But his reaction to the cold,

hard truth was perhaps one of the most important components of his meteoric success.”

Orrin goes on in his article to speak about what Franklin did about what his friend said.  However, just for a moment, let’s consider the courage and conviction, not to mention his compassion and consideration, of Franklin’s anonymous friend.

It is only a true friend that would do what Benjamin Franklin’s friend did for him.  Fair weather friends tell us what we want to hear.  True friends tell us the truth, even when they are certain we won’t like what they have to say.  True friends speak from compassion and conviction.  Their compassion comes from not only the thoughtless things we do to others, but also from their love for us.  Their conviction comes from the knowledge they see the truth and must tell us, all the while knowing a bad reaction on our part could damage the friendship.

When it comes to our friends, speaking truth to them in love, with compassion, is a duty of true friendship.  And the hearer, who does as Franklin did and took his friend’s words to heart, shows their own commitment to the friendship by their follow-up on what they have been told, even as Franklin did.  Let us resolve together to both speak and receive the truth in love from our friends.

Cathy

Exploring TEAM LIFE’s 8 F’s – Fun!

Don’t we all want to have fun?  Isn’t it something within all of us?

In an article called Sprezzatura – Excellence Made To Look Easy, Chris Brady

Chris Brady

discussed excellence and the life of Benjamin Franklin.

Fun can be a powerfully effective tool by:

1. creating a good first impression

2. disarming enemies

3. building and “greasing” relationships

4. helping one to keep a proper perspective

5. diffusing tense situations

6. disavowing prideful behavior

7. keeping sanity as a “pressure relief valve

8. restoring our frayed nerves and attitudes

9. allowing one to “keep one’s head” (no pun intended, sorry Louis)

Cover of "The Life of Benjamin Franklin (...

10. producing situations in which some work can actually

get done (called “dinner table diplomacy” in Franklin’s day)

So use fun as a leadership tool.  Find fun in your every day dealings and find fun things to do in between, all the while relentlessly pursuing mastery in your calling.  Spread fun among others.  Do all of this, and you will likely sail higher, farther, and better than your rivals, who will be forced to observe your competence in frustration as you make it look so easy.

Fun can be a wonderful part of work.  If you are doing what you love, fun is an essential part of working.  If you are not, fun makes work bearable.

We can find fun in our work in countless ways.  Laughing with our coworkers at our

Fun Fun Fun Fest

foibles, or theirs.  Chuckling over the outrageous demands of customers.  Snickering at the absurdities that present themselves.  Each of these are valuable tools in the workplace.

Fun can also be a wonderful stress reliever, even when we are not at work!  I was having a very stressful day one Sunday, with life going out of control.  Then, in the middle of the afternoon, while editing another post, I noticed one of our cats behind me.  He was looking out the patio door to a spot about 2 1/2 feet above his head.  He was occasionally trying to climb the glass to get at something.  Finally, I noticed what so raptly held his attention.  It was a small moth, on the outside of the glass, taking a break from the

Moth

windy and cool day.  The cat’s antics made sense to me when I saw the moth: he was hunting it, totally unaware he was inside and the moth was not only too high, it was outside!  I was so entertained by it, I wrote on FaceBook,

Our cat Charlie is being driven nuts by a moth outside on the glass patio door about 2 1/2 feet above his head. He’s inside. It’s really funny to watch him try to get it, when it is oh so out of reach!!!

Find fun every day in your work, your life and your surroundings.  And life will become a joy for you.

Laughlingly,

Cathy

The Best ROI – Orrin Woodward Leadership

People are always looking for things in which to invest, to get the best Return On Investment, or ROI.  But what is the best thing we can invest in, the one that gives us the most ROI?

Orrin Woodward

Orrin Woodward recently addressed this question, quoting Benjamin Franklin, in an article called LIFE TEAM — Return On Investment.

Empty Your Purse To Fill Your Mind, and Your Mind Will Fill Your Purse. – Ben Franklin

The greatest return on investment financially is

personal development/leadership. Why? Because

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

the results last a lifetime by gaining wisdom, applying the right principles at the right time.

Sadly, most people neglect the greatest gift that God gave them (their mind), choosing instead to pour money into areas with little or no return on investment.

If the greatest investment we can give as people is to seek personal development and leadership, why don’t people do this?  Why do most people put their time and money into areas of lesser return?

In his book RESOLVED – 13 Resolutions for LIFE, Orrin Woodward quoted Hyrum Smith from his book The Ten Natural Laws.  Orrin relates the following story,

A copy of a drawing of Hyrum Smith, brother of...

Hyrum Smith

Nearly all executives would agree that reading will help one grow as a leader when properly applied, but few seem to read as often as they should.  Smith asked a group of executives why, if they felt reading was so important, they weren’t reading more.  After an uncomfortably long silence, a guy in the back row finally offered, “Books don’t ring.”

How awesome is that, and how very profound!!  We have to take the time to read, and prioritize it into our schedules.  We need to be hungry for the wisdom we can get from good books.  We need to want to learn, to grow, to become better as people and leaders.

Get hungry for good learning.  Feed your mind with the good stuff.  And then see what positive things come out of it.

Hungrily,

Cathy