I overheard a heated argument between two guys somewhere. Apparently Mr A had a fallout with their supposed mentor and Mr B tried to mediate for him and in the process said to their mentor that ‘she found them in the profession’. Mr A was very angry at Mr B’s statement and expressed it:
Why did you say she ‘found us’ what do you even mean by that statement.
And what is wrong with the statement, you know she has been in this industry far longer than us.
But that doesn’t mean she found us na. I already knew what my talent was, and I went to school, got trained, came into the industry and met her. I was already a journalist when I met her so please she didn’t ‘find me’
Ok, I understand you, maybe I shouldn’t have used that word.
No, you shouldn’t have, I find that terminology offensive.
That argument got me thinking. What really does loyalty mean? How does it come to play in the relationship between a mentor and a protege? Or better still, what is the perception of loyalty between employers and employee?
Sometimes, loyalty can be mistaken for stupidity or cowardice. I have seen employers who make their staff do ridiculous things like: carry their bags, open the car doors for them, go to the market or school runs for them. I wonder if these extra chores were part of the staff employment conditions; or because they have seen the humility or desperation of the staff to please his employer, they take undue advantage of it.
I think that we also put ourselves in difficult situations while trying to please our bosses, mentors, leaders etc. We do things that are unbecoming to prove our loyalty or faithfulness as the case maybe, and our actions get misunderstood by the receiver who turns the giver to a modern day slave. Loyalty is good, but it also needs to be understood properly by both giver and receiver. Also we should learn to draw a line between trying to prove our loyalty and enslavement.
Some people have also had their fingers burnt seriously by people who were seen as ‘loyal’ by them. The countless stories of theft, heartbreak, kidnapping, rape, abuse, blackmail e.t.c are often perpetrated by ‘loyalists’ whom the victims have come to trust over time. So, it applies both ways; but I want to concentrate on the dialogue that I overheard.
Take the scenario for instance, I also found the word ‘she found us’ offensive. Nobody finds anybody a profession or career. I mean, how could she ‘find’ you when you were not lost in the first place?
That someone encouraged you, gave you a nudge in the right direction or even introduced you to someone or a job doesn’t mean they found you. You already knew where you were going, and only needed to get there quicker or faster, as the case maybe.
I once had a boss who was all about loyalty. He would go on and on about how his staff was loyal to him, but all I could see was a staff who lived in terror of their boss. They jump when he blinks. Of course, I didn’t last in that establishment, because I was not seen as ‘loyal’.
There was a young man who worked there. He was a younger brother to a lady who was dating a friend of my ex-boss, so the boss even treated him like family. One day, the boss and his friend had a fallout and of course the young man’s family advised him to stop working for the boss, since his sister and her boyfriend were now in enmity with him. So, the young man told the boss of his dilemma out of respect, but the boss asked him to choose between obeying his family and his job as a means of proving his loyalty.
Of course the young man chose to leave, but he gave enough lieu of notice. When the boss shared the incident with me, he was very disappointed by the young man’s decision. I told him point blank that family was family, and there was no way the young man would chose his job over his family. I felt it was even selfish of the boss to put the young man in such difficult position. It is because the loyalty has been misconstrued, he probably felt the boy loved him more than his family.
Have you been taken for granted because you are seen as loyal? Or have you been betrayed by people who are loyal to you?