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A Loyal Pain

LoyaltyThere's been a lot in the news recently about our current president's authoritarian command desire for loyalty. But given everything else that's been in the news recently about him, this one is just another log on the fire. It has, however, started me thinking about the topic of loyalty, especially in comparison to other levels of commitment.

As an independent contractor, I have the choice whether I contract directly with a client or whether I subcontract through another firm. Currently, I am subcontracting through a great firm named Paragon IT Professionals, and I have no qualms about touting the relationship. This morning when I arrived at my client site, I was greeted with a small gift in conjunction with their 20th anniversary in business. The account reps, the recruiters, and the office staff go out of their way to engage the consultants individually and collectively. In turn, we provide great service to our clients. In other words, Paragon has EARNED my loyalty as a consultant.

I was reflecting on other firms through whom I've contracted who operated closer to the current POTUS as far as making loyalty a requirement. They didn't want to go through the steps of earning it, and often times masked the lack of day-to-day engagement with grander yet less frequent gestures, which by the end just came off as disingenuous. Most now have gone out of business or have been devoured by other consulting firms. A childhood teacher always used to spout the adage, "Nobody is completely worthless; they can always serve as a bad example." And that's what these firms and their agents have become to me... prime examples of what not to do. And as a result of their actions, my loyalty looked something more like hesitant compliance.

My friend and mentor, Steve Farber, lives and breathes the phrase, "Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do." This one sentence is both extremely simple yet dizzyingly complex. I try daily to integrate it as a key aspect in how I operate in many of my roles from project manager to college instructor, from friend to dad. I do what I love: I accomplish things (projects, solutions, relationships, learning). There's another part to that phrase which many seem to forget: I do what I love IN THE SERVICE OF PEOPLE. Call it servant leadership or just being a vulnerable human, but if we aren't putting ourselves out there to serve, what good is it? Finally, those people whom we serve love what we do. That's not about seeking kudos or praise; it's about finding the sweet spot in life. It's about the reciprocity that they appreciate what I bring to the table while I'm serving them. I've brought my best to people who have no appreciation for project management or for good instruction, and my efforts become mere acts which fall into the category of "no good deed goes unpunished."

What about you? To whom are you loyal? Why? Who is loyal to you? Have you commanded it or earned it?

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