Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lesson 28: Loyalty, properly placed, will take you far.

Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.

I’ll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty.
—Samuel Goldwyn

Milton Hershey’s rags-to-riches saga is more than the story of just one man. Throughout his difficult journey to success, the milk chocolate mogul had the undying support of three people: his mother, his Aunt Mattie, and his friend William Lebkicher. They provided Milton encouragement and financial support. Had it not been for them, Hershey would not have been able to succeed. And when Milton succeeded, his supporters shared in the success.
That’s loyalty. Loyalty has been defined as devotion to a cause; we can also view it as devotion to a person. Sometimes, the cause and the person are one and the same.
Loyalty is an important trait to possess, but you must place it properly. Be sure that the person or cause to whom you are loyal deserves your loyalty.
The Jonestown tragedy is a classic case of misplaced loyalty. Jim Jones was the charismatic leader of a religious sect. In 1978, he led his followers in a mass suicide ritual where they drank Kool-Aid laced with poison. Over 900 people died, including 276 children. Jones certainly was unworthy of loyalty, and yet hundreds were willing to go to their deaths for him—and take their innocent children with them.
By contrast, Milton Hershey used his wealth to build an entire town, complete with schools, housing for employees, public transit, and 150 acres of parklands. He also established a residential school for orphaned boys, to which he gave the vast majority of his wealth. The school is still in operation today, serving nearly 1,400 underprivileged boys and girls from across the nation. Clearly, Hershey was a man deserving of loyalty.
Employers prize loyalty in their employees. Loyal workers are partners in success: everyone is pulling for the enterprise to succeed. It’s as if everyone were in the same boat, rowing together to get to the destination. A few people pulling in the wrong direction can wreak havoc.
When you find someone who truly deserves your loyalty, give it to them. If they’re really worthy, they’ll be loyal to you as well, and you’ll both benefit.

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