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The Three Ingredients of Loyalty [Day 14 – 28 Days to BFL]

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This is Day 14 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Helen Kim, in her ever-so-smart way,gave us her Riff on Fierce Loyalty (if you missed it – go read it. NOW.) Because today is Valentine’s Day, I can’t imagine a better person to be posting than Mark Silver who puts the Heart at the center of Building Fierce Loyalty.

The Three Ingredients for Loyalty

By: Mark Silver| @MarkHeartofBiz

The recipe for loyalty is relatively simple, but the ingredients are not the most common ones found in business.

Ready? Here they are:

First Ingredient: Love.

You have to love the people you want loyalty from. Love comprises a number of other qualities, including caring, respect, admiration, equality, and generosity, among others.

But the heart of it is love. The human heart responds to love with more love. If you give love, love comes back to you.

Second Ingredient: Loyalty

Seems a little circular, but if you’re asking for loyalty, you need to show loyalty. But here’s the trick, you don’t need to show loyalty to the folks you want loyalty from. You’re already giving them love, which has many of the qualities that loyalty has, so you’ve got that covered.

Your loyalty has to be to something larger. And here’s why.

Loyalty is Like Faith

The human heart is made to serve, not to be worshipped. When people are given too much loyalty, it corrupts the heart. Hear me out, just for a second.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t stick with people through tough times, or that you should abandon anyone. But love is enough glue to hold you together. The human heart is healed by love.

Loyalty, however, can be intoxicating. Loyalty, as separate from love, can corrupt the best people. Because human beings are constantly growing and changing, and because we’re imperfect and constantly making mistakes, loyalty, or faith, has two choices.

The first choice is to fade away in the face of imperfections, changes and mistakes. The second choice is to become blind. “My country, right or wrong.” It’s the loyalty that creates dictators and tyrants. It is disconnected from reality.

So putting your loyalty, faith, commitment into something larger than you, a larger purpose, intention, or reality allows others to be loyal through you to that larger thing.

It also allows your community to own their loyalty. Rather than just trying to follow you, they are following something larger.

Third Ingredient: Semi-Permeability

Loyalty and love can all be reinforced by community, and community means belonging. But after years of working with communities of all sorts, I’ve found that one of the most under-appreciated ingredients of a community is the wall around it.

A community is not everybody. A community is a specific group of people. It can be incredibly small, or mind-bogglingly large, but what needs to be clear is that people know when they are a member of your community and when they aren’t.

This involves passing through the wall. And here’s where it gets a little tricky.

You want the membrane around the community (Whoa, switching metaphors. Now we’re into cellular biology.) to be semi-permeable. Meaning you want it to be strong enough to keep people in and keep others out, but you want it to be open enough that people can enter and leave.

The easier it is to join a community, the weaker the sense of belonging, and the less loyalty and commitment is formed. The harder it is to join a community, the stronger the sense of belonging and the more loyalty and commitment is created.

Some communities are impossible to enter, and the sense of belonging is incredibly powerful, such as those formed around ethnic identity or sexual orientation. You can’t change those, and so you know you belong. Religious identity can be changed, but even if it’s relatively easy to officially convert, it often requires big changes in your life, so there’s the gate.

So here are the questions you need to answer:

1. Do you really, truly love the people in your community? How can you nourish that love in your own heart, and express it to them in a way they’ll receive it?

2. What are you loyal to that you also want your community loyal to? How can you express your loyalty?

3. What is the membrane around your community? How does someone know whether they are in or out? What do they have to do to enter or exit your community?

Because that’s a lot to answer, I’m going to invite you to pick one of those questions, and answer it in the comments. And particularly I want you to focus on questions 2 and 3, because they are more quantifiable and easier to talk about.

Go to it. Pick one of the questions, and let’s hear it.

Mark Silver
Mark Silver and his team have worked with thousands of small business owners, teaching them that every act of business can be an act of love, and still be effective. But, you may wonder why it’s hard for him to be cheerful sometimes.

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

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