Thursday, August 12, 2010

Loyalty and What's Next

Often I wonder if I even understand the meaning of “loyalty”. Perhaps it more that I wonder why my understanding seems lights years away from others most of the time.

It’s difficult to witness examples of employers being “loyal” to long time employees as they hand them pink slips after years of expecting those same employees to be loyal to them as employers. Children expect parents to be loyal – in spite of what children may do – yet feel free to turn their back on parents when things may not go their way. Long time commitments such as those to a particular business, restaurant, library, craft fair, are no longer always appreciated. You may remember previous posts about the craft fair I sold my one-of-a-kind handmade knit items at, Plowshares, for the past twelve years; this year they rejected my application to their annual event, the only place I’ve ever sold my merchandise. There was a time when they were barely able to fill a gym with vendors and I stayed with them, loyal to the core because I believed in their mission to sell quality, handmade goods.

But everything changes. I can’t quite put my finger on this shift in thinking though. For years I followed the advice of various elders: always do your best, work hard, be loyal, and you’ll always be respected for that.

Somehow it hasn’t always worked out that way.

These days it’s the advice my dad gave me later in his life that’s playing over and over in my head: You’re always going to have to work hard so you might as well work hard for yourself, not to make someone else rich.

Dad owned a successful marine distributorship after my mother ran off his boss. Funny what leads us to realize whatever it is we’ve really meant to do with our lives. He loved going to work every day, kept his inventory in his head even after purchasing a computer system to do that, treated his employees as he would have wanted to be treated, and was well respected.

I’m confident Dad was happy selling boats and being in control of his headaches. The echo of his advice to me – often given to me as I’d sit on the edge of his bed the last months of his life relating yet another story of issues I was dealing with the Human Resources job I had a that time – keeps me awake nights lately. He’s not here anymore for me to mull ideas over with as hubby and I try to figure out what to do next with our lives, but I think I’m finding an answer.

Yeah. I think I’m going to buy me a bookstore on an island off the Virginia coast, take control of my own headaches, spend some time near the ocean, forget about the snow and just be happy.

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