Biting the hand that fed you: The tell all tattletales

There is quite a stir in political circles over former Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta's recent book. Some are claiming the "tell all's" critiques are a sign of disloyalty to President Obama. Others claim Panetta should have waited until the president left office.

Hillary Clinton faced similar criticism when her book was recently released.

Politics aside, is it proper to pen tell all books, articles, or give interviews after you leave a job? Is it right to bite the hand that fed you, gave you fame, power, or an opportunity? Is it really necessary for entities to have non-disclosure agreements in place?

Aside from money or the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame, what do these tell all vehicles accomplish? Who would hire someone who cannot be trusted to keep a confidence? Worse, who would eventually vote for someone who cannot keep a confidence?

A while back a former low level employee at Fox News penned a tell all about his time working there. He received quite a bit of coverage in the news media. Did he expect to ever get a job in the media again? Did he expect any future employer would trust him?

Why can't people leave their jobs quietly? You got fired? That is part of being in the working world? You were treated unfairly? Welcome to the real world. You were promised pie in the sky but they left off the ice cream? Get over it. You believe your are a whistle blower? Maybe you should have reported your concerns to the appropriate agencies or authorities when they mattered.

Part of an employment agreement is trust. You must be trusted to keep quiet about the internal workings of your employer. This is especially true if you want to get hired by someone else. No one trusts a stool pigeon, snitch, rat, or whistle blower. Those are not good career moves.

If you are not comfortable where you're employed start looking elsewhere. If your employer is morally reprehensible, find someone more in tune with your values. Do not burn your bridges unless you want to be that unemployed person who was famous for a few minutes in this hyper information age.

It is too easy in the digital age to write or use other media to air perceived dirty laundry. There are too many gullible low information people who believe this stuff. Some are employed as journalists looking for a scoop. They should look near the cat litter box. That is what most tell all's contain.

I spent almost 30 years on the Chicago Police Department. I worked with and for some of the finest most honorable people. I also worked with and for some of the most reprehensible and dishonorable people. I witnessed scandalous behavior by people in public life and public personalities. People with fame, money and power, especially political power.

I saw or was indirectly involved in things that made me feel ashamed. If I wrote a book, with a clever co-writer or editor, it might become a good seller. I might even make it on the speaking or television tours. What would that accomplish? It might be a fun read. It might open some people's eyes on how things really work or how our local public figures and celebrities misbehave. It might even be good for a few laughs.

It would be disloyal for me to do that. The Chicago Police Department provided me and my family with a good living. Part of my contract with them was confidence. The confidence I would stay silent I things I saw, heard, or did. The kind of confidence, that if breached, can destroy lives or get people harmed or killed.

I have many loyal friends who are just like my own family. Any one of them could pen the same kind of tell all. If we banded together we could probably write a whole series of books. We would not do that. We would not bring discredit to the department or city. We would not shame people, politicians or other public personalities.

We keep confidences. We keep secrets. People rely on us to do that. If we cannot keep the big secrets. how can the general pubic rely on us to keep the little things confidential? The things that matter to them. The things that may mean life or death to them.

A person who writes a tell all is untrustworthy to the nth degree. Biting the hand that feeds you for money, fame, or in the case of public figures, more fame, is disloyal.

Loyalty and trust are not issues discussed in employment or career columns very much. Benefits, salaries, so-called corporate culture, work lifestyle, and other issues receive wide discussion.

When it comes to loyalty or trust nary a word is written or voice is heard.

Your next employer must be able to know you will be loyal and trustworthy. He or she must believe you will not bite the hand that feeds you. If you did it to your past employer they cannot depend on you. They will have no confidence in you. No reason to trust you. It puts a big question mark in their minds.

Don't bite the hand that feeds or fed you. Don't be a tattletale. Just move on. Leave it go. If your former employer cannot trust you, why should some future employer trust you.

Stop seeking a perfect world. There is no perfection in nature. Find a place for yourself where you feel comfortable working and contributing. Earn your way. Earn your employers trust. Never breach it.

Never is a long, long time.





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