When a person feels allegiance, commitment, devotion, and faithfulness towards a nation, cause, or person, we call this loyalty. Being a loyal person means that you keep your promises, and that’s something that has deep value to a functioning society. Loyalty can be a powerful feeling that brings people together to join their voices and energies towards a single cause. Loyalty can make for a very valuable friend, partner, countryman, teammate, soldier, employee, and more.
Loyalty in its core is a good thing. Sports fans can demonstrate loyalty towards a team by not being “fair weather fans” and supporting their favored team no matter what. Businesses love loyalty because it means they’ve created something that “sticks” and they don’t have to try as hard to keep the business of those loyal customers. The same thing goes for politicians, actors, musicians, and sports teams. However, loyalty can also be manipulated when it becomes blind obedience or unquestioning devotion.
Misguided loyalty can cause people to not see the forest for the trees and make hasty decisions without considering long-term consequences. Misguided loyalty can result in people keeping quiet longer than they should when they see something they know is wrong, or cover up the mistakes of others for the sake of the organization. This false loyalty arises when we no longer think critically, ask questions, and when we no longer receive equally in the exchange.
Many of the owners of schools, academies, training centers and dojos will ask for loyalty. “Train only with me.” “Wear only my uniform and logo.” And so on. The “reasons” are endless, but it is all about what number two owes to number one (and we all know who is number one).
As for me as an owner of Krav Maga Institute and being in the world of self defense and fighting for 30 years, I have encountered the use of the word “loyalty” many times before as a young practitioner, a combat soldier, and an expert, from youth to adulthood, and even still today.
How do I know when to be loyal to my parents? friends? country? God? partner? …? What does it mean when someone demands loyalty of me?
My answer is like in Krav Maga: The solution needs to be simpler than the problem. Loyalty is a two way road, not one way. Loyalty is about give and take. Loyalty is a respect and bond between two parties with equal benefit. Loyalty also means always questioning, always asking, “Do they deserve my loyalty?”
I feel loyalty to my customers, students, and members. I feel they deserve the best from me in that exchange, and that motivates me to give them the best product, service, and respect they deserve, without using their faith in me to misguide their own loyalty.
Loyalty is an essential thing. Loyalty is a good thing. Consider your loyalties deeply.
“So that one may walk in peace.”
Original photograph by Carles Tomás Martí