Many entrepreneurs talk of loyalty in business partnerships, staff loyalty (or lack of), and loyalty in relationships. These founders expect people to be loyal to them and often get upset when they are not.
If this sounds like you, think of how much frustration or pain it caused you to hold on to the fantasy that people are loyal to you. How disappointed you’ve been in others when they did not live up to your expectations. Well, sorry to point out the harsh reality, but no one was born to please you and live up to your unrealistic expectations of them– not your kids, your staff, your partner, and definitely not your customers.
Expecting someone to live their life to meet or exceed your expectations is, at best, naive and, at worst, arrogance. Expecting someone to be loyal to you is like expecting a fish to bark and then being annoyed when it opened its mouth but nothing but air came out. But that’s what a fish does, all while you’re thinking, damn you for not barking when I wanted you to.
It might seem somewhat sad to come to this fact, like when your kids leave home. But once you’re used to your kids leaving home, you now have a lot of space and time in your life to focus on yourself. You accept it because you accept your kids lead their own life, not yours.
It is the same when holding on to the romanticism or delusion that people are loyal to you. If someone applies for a job and gives one-third of their 24 hours a day to work ‘for’ you, they are not working ‘for’ you. They are working for themselves. They are working to pay their bills, buy their free time, and progress in their career.
It is their career progression, not yours. If you are married to someone, they may be more married to their (your) kids, or their career, more than to you. No one wants to accept that kids or a career could be more important to their partner than you, but this is often the case.
And I think this is actually how it should be.
You see, we all have a hierarchy of values. Selfish things are most important to us. Each one of us has our own, individual, unique values hierarchy; even twins have different values.
If my career is my highest, a family might be yours. Your partner may have business as their highest value, you might have freedom. We will also consciously and unconsciously prioritize our highest values, selfishly, above all else– and above everyone else.
We are only loyal to our own values.
And we need to be. Our survival depends on it. We have a selfish gene, and it’s a damn good thing we do or we’d all be lemmings. Put your own gas mask on first.
If others appear loyal to us, it’s because they meet or align with our highest values. We have things in common. Sometimes (often) temporarily, like when someone works for you for 3 years, but then sets up in competition against you. Sometimes it’s for decades, like with a marriage or senior partner.