Loyalty.
My dictionary defines
loyalty as: being steadfast in allegiance to one's homeland, government, or sovereign; to be faithful to a person, an ideal, a custom, a cause, or a duty. Other just-like-it words are fidelity, allegiance, constancy, dedication, fealty, devotedness and steadfastness.

Loyalty is one of that class of things (like networkers) that simply cannot exist all by themselves--on paper or in the world. Sure, you can say, "Boy, that Thaddeus--he sure is loyal...," but always and right away (whether explicit or im-) comes the question, "to what?"

Loyal exists only in partnership. You and I and we are loyal only and always "to" something. And whether what it is to which we are faithful happens to be a "person, ideal, custom, cause, duty," or other, what we are being loyal to always exists as an idea in our mind.

Here's an example. It's called, "The Test," and it is a test, as well. You'll easily recognize loyalty in this story; less easy is, "Loyal to what?" Have fun.

 

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and regarded the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he did not--the girl with the rose.

His interest in her had begun 13 months before, in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.

In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, "Miss Hollis Maynell." With time and effort, he located her address: she lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.

During the next year and one month, the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding.

Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting--7:00 p.m. at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." At 7:00 sharp, he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

"A young woman came toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. 'Going my way, sailor?' she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her--and then I saw Hollis Maynell.

"She was standing almost directly behind the girl: a woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I were split in two, so keen was my desire to follow, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.

"And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small, worn, blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

"I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.

"'I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard,' I said, 'and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?'

"The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. 'I don't know what this is about, son,' she answered, 'but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat; and she said, if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!'"

 

A test, indeed: A test of the Lieutenant's loyalty...but loyalty to what? What person, ideal, custom, cause, or duty was John Blanchard faithful to? Hollis Maynell? The feeling of love he felt for her? The connection of their spirits? Honesty? His own sense of integrity?

Perhaps it is that we are first and foremost loyal to our values: those things that are most important to us in our lives. Those qualities are always at the heart of the matter, because they matter most to us.

 

JOHN MILTON FOGG is author of The Greatest Networker in the World. You can check out what John is up to with coaching at: www.GreatestNetworker.com/is/jmf