Loyalty is a value that holds a great deal of weight but is often underestimated. I talked about this a little in my latest audio note, but the subject is a broad one, worthy of further discussion.

Understanding the psychology behind loyalty, explains a great deal about the mercurial nature of relationships. Loyalty, like respect is earned not assumed. Our feelings are often our main navigation. The desire to engage and build connection is just that, a desire. We aren’t thinking long and hard about it…only feeling it. So, we act on it. It is only when we are confronted with a challenge that we begin to question the element of “loyalty” that determines if we stay. Our feelings are under threat from a situational obstacle, so those emotions take a back seat, and our logic is front and center.

The Swipe Theory.

While on its face, these decisions may seem selfishly motivated, they are not nearly as menacing as they appear. In fact, psychologist, Dr. Hurd, points out that this seeming lack of loyalty is largely down to the pragmatic nature of individuals. In a society that is driven by technology, attention spans get shorter. The idea of a static set of principles or virtues seems outdated and impractical. The offline world begins to feel like a “remember when” anecdote.

A tangible test of this is an app-driven society. Everything from our health, love life, daily task, even occupations, is driven largely by apps on smartphones. We don’t even realize it because its automatic behavior. People even use apps to meditate! Rather than have a set of virtues and principles backed with integrity, most people see the decisions they make as situational. Ultimately, they justify these decisions without a strong set of values guiding them. Its not bad or good, wrong or right, but Dr. Hurd would argue it makes things shallow and boring. People are less interesting when they are not standing for something, loyal to beliefs or a cause. In essence, people with no strong set of beliefs are also easily corrupted.

Can We Settle for a Happy Medium?

Increasingly, it seems that choices are largely based in compromise. Compromise, it would seem, is loyalty’s enemy. The power of devotion, dedication and sacrifice is not driven by a happy medium. A great example, is our US military. Soldiers are loyal to their country, its citizens and the cause – to protect and defend freedom and democracy. I cite this as an example, because a minority of US citizens enlist.

In our typical daily lives, the term “fractional” is every present. Whether we are talking about stocks, charter flights and even farms, there is a generally accepted premise that loyalty is not an all or nothing concept. In fact, it would seem, that a mere slice of investment is all that is required.

Are we lowering our standards by making things that are traditionally hard to get, more accessible or is this new accessibility redefining the standard?

Loyalty is the Noun. Investment is the verb.

We can talk about integrity and loyalty, principles and virtues but not without the action of investment. For better or worse, as society evolves so do the standards we hold ourselves to. Our “pie” is no longer made up of just a few slices – professional, personal, spiritual and physical. Rather there are slices within those. The greatest investments, our time and energy is frantically dynamic. What is investable is too. That concept of loyalty is hard won and given out in degrees rather than all or nothing.

Where I disagree with Dr. Hurd is that not having a static set of values makes us less interesting. Dynamic “principles” or behaviors can find stability. A firm set of beliefs by which we make our decisions does not, on its own, determine integrity. Value sets modernize. The idea that individuals are more easily corrupted is not a linear conclusion. The evaluation methods have changed, and with that our desire to be more more open, gracious and careful to the profound value of loyalty.

music mood: Fleetwood Mac “landslide

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