A person can be loyal to a fault, don’t you think? For instance, someone who stays in an abusive relationship. Or someone who fails to change with a company only to work himself out of a job. Or a person who ignores an amazing opportunity to change her life for the better because of loyalty to her current employer.

Over the course of my life, I have often pondered the value of loyalty. Not only the value of loyalty in my own life but also the value of loyalty in general in the world today. Is loyalty an asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

Change is nothing new, our world has always been in a state of change. Tales of woe and disbelief about change are nothing new either. Oh dear, I wonder what poor Thomas Sheridan would think of the language we use to text or tweet?

The total neglect of this art [speaking] has been productive of the worst consequences..the wretched state of elocution is apparent to persons of any discernment and taste… if something is not done to stop this growing evil …English is  likely to become a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases.

-Thomas Sheridan, from the preface to the 1780 book A General Dictionary of the English Language

Thomas’ alarm at the state of the English language was a mere 237 years ago. Let’s go back even further to see what Socrates thought of the youth of 400 BC.

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

-Socrates

Luxury in 400 BC? Ha! As we can see, change happens, always has and always will. Are we better off being loyal, or are we better off being fluid with our allegiances?

When pondering something, it’s fun to simplify questions by looking basic information, like definitions, synonyms, and antonyms of words. Here is a Merriam-Webster definition of the word loyal:  the quality or state of being true and constant support of someone or something. 

Looking at antonyms for the word loyal, I was dismayed to find only words like “disloyal” and “unfaithful”. Those words do not adequately sum up the opposite of “true and constant support”. Might words like flexibility or fluidity fit better as antonyms for loyal?

Loyalty certainly has value, especially with relationships. I am blessed to have loyal friends, some friendships dating back 30+ years. I am loyal to my family and we support each other through the ups and downs of our lives. I have been married for over 17 years and loyalty to my children goes without saying; we are each other’s biggest fans.

Loyalty to sports teams can bring great joy or great sorrow. Yet, we likely would not have the great joy without the great sorrow because victory is never so sweet as after repeated defeat. Just ask Cubs fans. This Lions fan is still waiting for the great joy, ever so patiently.

Loyalty to a career or to an employer is in a precarious state as our world is getting smaller and smaller and options are increasing by the millisecond. In a world where people change careers over and over as they pursue their passions, loyalty to a career that may not be the best fit could stall chances for tremendous success. Loyalty to a particular employer could do the same thing.

Going back to the examples of being loyal to a fault…someone who stays in an abusive relationship. Or someone who fails to change with a company only to work himself out of a job. Or a person who ignores an amazing opportunity to change her life for the better out of loyalty to her current employer. Are these examples of loyalty or are they examples of fear of change or perhaps of a lack of self-confidence?

I have the answer, finally, that I have been looking for all this time. It comes in the form of a new definition of loyalty:

Healthy loyalty is the quality or state of being true and constant support of someone or something that helps you be the person you want to be.

Healthy loyalty checklist:

  • Is the source of your loyalty a fear of change?
  • Is a lack of self-confidence driving your desire to remain loyal to where you are?
  • Use five words to describe the person you want to be.
  • Does the change help you become that person?
  • Does remaining loyal help you become that person?

Please share ideas you have about loyalty, healthy loyalty, and questions to ask yourself when determining the source of loyalty.

SOURCE for Thomas Sheridan quote

SOURCE for image

 

 

 

 

 

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