In Relationship (Part One) Loyal

“If something cannot go on forever, it will stop” ~Herbert Stein’s law

If you’re going to stay loyal to an organization you really have to love that organization. You have to love its philosophy, its theology, vision, structure of government, mandate, etc… If you don’t love it, you can not last.

John Boyd wrote that, as individuals, our basic goal is “to improve our capacity for independent action”*. In order to fulfill this goal we can not work alone. We have to cooperate with others. Boyd continues…

“The degree to which we cooperate, or compete, with others is driven by the need to satisfy this basic goal. If we believe that it is not possible to satisfy it alone, without help from others, history shows us that we will agree to constraints upon our independent action—in order to collectively pool skills and talents in the form of nations, corporations, labor unions, mafias, etc.—so that obstacles standing in the way of the basic goal can either be removed or overcome. On the otherhand, if the group cannot or does not attempt to overcome obstacles deemed important to many (or possibly any) of its individual members, the group must risk losing these alienated members. Under these circumstances, the alienated members may dissolve their relationship and remain independent, form a group of their own, or join another collective body in order to improve their capacity for independent action.”

Taking that into account, we can also say that if one is going to stay loyal, one has to feel as though he is able to pursue his own individual goals while belonging to the organization. If he feels he cannot do that, he will either leave or stay as an unhappy member of the group.

Being loyal does not just mean staying with the group. Being loyal means contending for the group in its mission and mandate. If one does not love, or fit in with, the mission or the mandate, then one cannot contend for the organization.

Sometimes, if the leadership has forgotten the original mission, a disgruntled member of the group (perhaps a “Man of Words“) may speak out to remind them. That person may seem like a rebel, but really he is contending for the organization. An organization, once it has initially fulfilled its mission, may turn to other ventures in order to survive. The original, fanatical, leadership may consider the survival (the continued existence) of the organization to be more important than its original mission.** This change in venue may restrict the individual members from achieving their independent goals which, up till that point, lined up with the organization’s original mission.

Other times, however, the members of the group, in their foolhardy zeal to just do something, may have misread the intentions of the organization right from the start. Sometimes the leadership does not make its intentions clear at the beginning because, they too, are looking to pursue an individual goal. If an organization’s leaders can use the members to achieve what they as leaders want, once that achievement is accomplished, they may have no more use for those members, and the members will find that their opportunity for accomplishing their own independent goals has evaporated.

The ideal situation then is when “skills and talents are pooled, (and) the removal or overcoming of obstacles represents an improved capacity for independent action for all.”

Loyalty happens…

  • …when the intentions (re: mission, mandate, theology, system of government, etc…) of both the leadership and the members are clearly stated and understood right from the beginning.
  • …when both the leaders and the members feel that they can successfully pursue their own independent goals.
  • …when, as things change over time, a clear and honest line of communication is kept between the leadership and its members.
  • …when the survival of the organization does not outweigh the mission and the mandate of the organization.

*Destruction and Creation by John R. Boyd

**You know this is happening when the leadership starts to lie about how successful the organization is.

In Relationship ~ Part Two

In Relationship ~ Part Three


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