On a whim I recently took one of those personality quizzes on Facebook. I don’t remember what the quiz was about, or even what it told me about my personality (although I’m sure it was an absolutely fascinating revelation), but one of the multiple choice questions did stick in my mind.
When asked what trait I find most important in a friend, the answer I immediately chose was “loyalty.”
My response was a no-brainer. I believe that in any relationship, whether it be a friendship, love interest or in business, loyalty is the single most important quality. I may not always agree with you, but if I choose to place my trust in you, I will always be loyal to you.
Obvious synonyms for the word “loyalty” include allegiance, fidelity and devotion, which imply a sense of duty or attachment to something or someone.
Interestingly, “loyalty” is also synonymous with such character traits as honor, integrity and incorruptibility.
Which could explain the lack of loyalty in politics.
In examining my own relationships, both past and present, I realize that while I have occasionally made the mistake of trusting in undeserving people, my unmerited loyalty was not a reflection of a defect in my character, but in theirs. The objects of my misplaced loyalties are insignificant. Whether or not my trust has been betrayed is infinitely less important than my insistence on never betraying another person or, especially, my own principles. How others behave is none of my business. Their actions do not influence the way I conduct myself when dealing with others. I set the bar high for myself.
Unfortunately, loyalty has become a lost art, nowhere more glaringly than in the workplace. Most jobs are viewed as nothing more than temporary stepping stones to higher and loftier positions. Preferably elsewhere. Because of the trend toward transcience, dedicated employees are now rarely rewarded for their service and longevity.
Conversely, those of us who manage to stay employed with the same person or company for our entire careers are now viewed as oddities. Worse, many people look askance at loyal employees, suspiciously believing we must have some sort of mental defect, or at least, a hidden agenda.
Loyal career employees are ridiculed as obstinate dinosaurs, even as we are secretly envied by those who will never understand the concept that loyal dedication and job security usually go hand in hand.
Loyal individuals are ironically mistrusted and grossly under-appreciated. Although we may be tenaciously loyal to our cause, we are also savvy in the ways of human nature. It is our determined constancy that makes us even more apt to recognize the disloyal among us. We are keenly aware of the duplicity in others. We know exactly who we can trust and who we expect will betray us.
Not only do we keep our friends close and our enemies closer, but we know who our enemies are and how best to deal with them.
We also know that timing is everything.
(And, yes, revenge really is much better served cold!)
There is a reason that we who believe in loyalty have been able to persevere, endure, survive and outlast the competition. Your biggest mistake would be to underestimate us.
There is no doubt that loyalty is the single most important trait I expect in all of my relationships. No one will ever get the chance to betray me twice, but those who deserve my trust will always have my undying loyalty.