Where has all the loyalty gone?

I remember my first internship at DuPont Chemicals.   At the end of my 6-month engagement, I attended a Town hall meeting where a senior executive stated “There was a time where if you got a job at DuPont, you worked here for life. That era is coming to an end.” He then announced a layoff of thousands of people.

DuPont was not unique and many companies followed suit. The days where our parents worked for one company for 20+ years were over. Truly the era of corporate loyalty crumbled and this was a huge wake up call for employees who would never in a million years consider buying a competitor’s product, or working for a competing company.

A good example of that loyalty was my father who worked at ACME markets for over twenty years.   We were not allowed to food shop anywhere else and it did not matter if Pathmark was cheaper. He worked for ACME, and we shopped at ACME and this was not up for discussion.

What about communities?  I grew up in a neighborhood where everybody knew each other. We went to the local catholic school and we weren’t explicitly taught about loyalty but it ran deep.  From academics to sports, we cheered each other on, we were happy for others when they did well and we were so proud to have our school highlighted in anyway.

Loyalty breeds leaders. These leaders emerged and everyone rallied behind them willingly.  It went beyond leadership and awards, it was in the way everyone treated each other, always looking out for your neighbor.

The older kids looked out for the younger kids and for the most part we were all friends.   I did not realize how deep the loyalty was until I left the school.  I took it for granted and thought that that was how all people behaved to each other. Our class often returns to the school as a large group.  It does not matter if you went to the school 10 or 50 years ago, we have the common bond and even to this day many remain loyal to the school community. People come out in droves if someone from that school community needs help.   At St. Laurence School in Upper Darby, we were a lean, blue, loyalty making machine.

I have one group of friends I have had since grade school and high school.  We are a solid group.  Thirty years later, we still get together.  There is something so reassuring about someone who has known you all your life. In some cases, husbands and boyfriends come and go, but one thing remains and that is the same the bond we have with each other. We have had our ups and downs but we always were loyal.

This leaves me thinking about my kids and how will they learn this valuable characteristic of loyalty. Loyalty today is an app you download from Dunkin Donuts, in the hope you get a free coffee. If I don’t intervene, this is the only place my children to see, experience and learn loyalty.

Loyalty has to start at home. Our children need to experience the comfort and confidence that comes from loyalty.

For me that means, instead of doing my non-profit work at night, I will be choosing to stay home and do homework with my kids or attend their game.  It means when my daughter makes new friends, helping her understand what a loyal friend looks like and how to be one. Talk to your kids about what loyalty means to you.

Encourage them to be loyal and you will be giving them a lifelong gift that will pay off in aces.

Buzz worthy thought of the day: Loyal bees make the sweetest honey