Loyalty is often viewed as an asset in decline. The older we get the more we notice how fickle fans, friends and customers can become toward us – leaving relationships with whimsical ease. However, to many of us, loyalty is an absolutely necessary character quality in the recipe for life success. Soldiers, spouses and athletes must be loyal to the team in order for it to work and be successful.
Companies want to create loyalty with their customers, technically known as ‘brand loyalty’. It is earned through meeting the needs of a consumer with quality and service consistently over time. We desire loyalty from friends, family and classmates. When someone cares for you, provides for you and grants you an opportunity; it should commend loyalty. Loyalty can be the very glue that holds us together in the toughest of times when all the circumstances tell us to cut and run. Loyal friends love you even when you mess up and even when you’ve done something very wrong.
But are there limits to loyalty? The term ‘blind loyalty’ is often used to explain why otherwise good people get themselves into bad situations. ‘She’s loyal to a fault’, someone says in describing a friend who has been jilted by a repeatedly cheating spouse. Loyalty can often cause us to overlook the obvious faults, actions and questionable behavior of others; to our own demise. Can being too loyal in the face of another’s questionable actions actually enable others to become self-destructive and deprive us of other life opportunity?
We may be loyal to others even when those same persons don’t repay that loyalty. So when do we cease being loyal? Appropriate loyalty has standards, protocol and limits. While we should not use the excuses of tough times, carnal temptation or greed as good reason to toss loyalties upon a fire; we must be true to ourselves and understand when inappropriate loyalty is holding us back.
What are the standards and protocol of loyalty? Loyalty must be based upon mutual trust and respect. Loyalty must be tested with the barometers of strong ethics and morality. We can be loyal without loving, but real love usually begets loyalty. We can forgive others who let us down yet still allow our loyalty to wane, that’s OK. It is actually a sign of your maturity when you can forgive another without retribution and hold no grudge; yet release your loyalty. If others truly love you, they will want to earn loyalty back again.
But appropriate loyalty usually leads to success and accomplishment. Loyalty usually breeds upon itself, with others repaying loyalty with loyalty; strong bonds are created in families and organizations as a result. Collective loyalty to an institution protects that institution from the strongest adversity.
It is healthy to discuss and question loyalty. It may be time in your life to ramp up your loyalties to the right person and situation and release them with others.