In fact, I am not quite sure how to communicate some of these thoughts and confusions I have, but I will give it a shot.....
What does it mean to be LOYAL?
One of the things I have always been prideful about when working with and representing my military comrades is that they are what I would define as extremely loyal. To give you an example, if I am working with a group that received initial support from an outside entity, my peeps will not passover this initial supporter just because a more glamorous supporter came along. The loyalty transcends greed or maybe even desire.
I fell in love with this dynamic. In fact, I think this loyalty is a big reason that I have such a passion for working with service members. The reason I have such a heart for soldiering. This loyalty inspired me. This loyalty developed a deep sense of trust in me. In fact this loyalty made me feel comfortable that I was a part of a family that did the right thing, and although I am clearly an outsider, I am still a part of a unique brotherhood that espouses and lives the values that are so very important to me.
So, what is loyalty?
I like the definition of loyalty provided by Fred Reichheld in his book, The Loyalty Effect. He defines loyalty as the willingness to make an investment or personal sacrifice to strengthen a relationship. He also mentions that it is easy to confuse longevity with loyalty.
It is this difference between longevity and loyalty that has been on my mind as of late. Mr. Reichheld goes on to say that we must scratch below the surface to find out if someone is loyal or not. For example, we should not confuse an employee that has been with a company for a long time as being loyal. He/she may be staying in that job because it is convenient or a necessity.
I have also seen references to loyalty as a faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. From what I understand philosophers disagree as to what things a person can be loyal to. Some argue that one can be loyal to a broad range of things. Others argue that it is only possible for loyalty to be to another person and that it is strictly interpersonal.
I tend to agree that loyalty is developed interpersonally. This is one of the reasons I work so hard to be consistent, be thoughtful, be caring and to build trust.
Now, one of the US Army's values is LOYALTY. They describe this loyalty below:
Bear true faith and allegiance to the US Constitution, the Army, your unity and other Soldiers. Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone. A loyal soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the US Army you are expressing your loyalty. And by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit.
To me, this feeds the sterotype of a typical solider and defines loyalty in a way that I am unable to support. If one truly believes that loyalty is a symptom of interpersonal relationships, the Army's definition of loyalty is flawed. I would be interested to hear others interpretation of this.
However, although I believe the Army's interpretation is flawed, it seems to breed a type of person that exhibits true loyalty. This is very interesting to me.
Now, when we talk about loyalty, we really have to talk about it in the sense of one gives loyalty and another receives loyalty. But, what if we think about it as one inspires LOYALTY?
If we think about loyalty in the context if inspiring it, then we have to ask the question, 'What inspires people to be loyal to me?"
I believe the answer is TRUST. I believe that if you can inspire trust, you will inspire loyalty. Without trust we might be able to compel compliance. Example being a commander giving an order. He can compel someone to action. However the compliance to action is not the same as loyalty. Loyalty is not compelled, it is inspired.
I have been thinking about all this because of a recent event....where I was left a little traumatized. I expected my loyal friends to affirm my spirit (and some did ) and show their trust in me; While others did not. At least not in the manner in which I expected.
So, I leave this blog still as confused as before, but more convicted than ever that the lack of loyalty (according to my definition) I experienced stemmed from my own failures. My inablity to inspire trust in those that I genuinely want to inspire trust in the most.
There is still so much work to do.......