Mark Twain said, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” Haha, now while I love that quote, I do believe that people can be loyal, but it’s few and far in-between and must be tested. What is loyalty and who deserves it? Who knows what it looks like? These are questions people might ask themselves if they even ponder what loyalty is at all. A lot of companies require loyalty and a lot of people demand it, however, my perspective on loyalty is very different.

In my organization, business, and in my family life, I believe loyalty has different phases that it has to mature through. Firstly, you've got to be careful who you let close to you and who you even allow within the realm of having your loyalty or you giving your loyalty to. You've got to be careful. There’s a quote that says, “Some people aren’t loyal to you, they are loyal to their need of you. Once their needs change, so does their loyalty.”

Secondly, loyalty should be based off a set of shared ideals, principles, and ethics. If I am going one way in life and I am loyal to a set of principles postured in that direction and someone else comes along and they are loyal to the same principles and we're going the same way, then by default we're loyal to the same vision, but not yet each other. Our loyalties lied in the same direction, principles, ethics, and ideals. There’s a great saying warning that “There’s something wrong with your character if opportunity controls your loyalty.” If they’re “opportunity hopping”, you can’t expect that they’ll ever truly be loyal to anything, not to mention yourself.

Thirdly, they have to be on that path with me a long time, and then and only then, with a foundation of trust, comes personal loyalty. If someone demands that you're loyal to them right off the bat, then you should tell them to “F” off. Seriously. Tell them to “F” off. You don't need them. I'm telling you, they have something planned for you. They're not loyal to themselves and I can guarantee you they're not loyal to a set of shared ideals and principles and ethics. I can promise you that along the way, they will pipe you just like they've piped everyone around them and they loathe and hate themselves. Our Social Media & Creative Specialist, Rickey Craig once said, “Loyalty that has not been tested is loyalty that cannot be trusted.”

So you have to be careful, number one. Number two, you have to be loyal to the same direction, principles, ethics, and ideals. Then number three, there’s a process over time and putting that relationship through the fire, where validation and trust are established. From that material, personal loyalty is built, and that's where my closest confidants come from. There’s no other route for me.