I had a fascinating conversation with my partner this morning about how I allocate my time to various institutions.  I’m over committed, and he made the argument that my time should be spent on organizations that value my contributions.  It got me thinking about the subject of loyalty.

Since I was very young I’ve thought frequently about loyalty.  I am surrounded by people who highly value that characteristic, my mother and brother spring to mind, and I certainly understand that a lack of it is a problem.  My default tendency is to be loyal.  I typically see the best in people and institutions, and a positive stance toward the world tends to inspire devotion.  ‘

But as I’ve grown older and had more opportunities to be loyal to institutions and colleagues, I’ve started to see that sometimes you need to abandon it.  This is especially true when the object of your devotion develops a sense of entitlement or a lack of appreciation, or as is often the case, both.  In those cases walking away can be the best for everyone involved, allowing the most potential growth for all parties.

Of course, sometimes it’s not possible to walk away, particularly when the object of my devotion is an institution.  I have discovered in the past couple of years that this results in an even more interesting situation.  While I’m still involved in the institution, I no longer have the automatic reaction of approval and support I did previously.  Sometimes this leads to more subtle, and perhaps more sustainable, interactions.

At the same time I do have limited time and multiple obligations.  My loyalty is often the thing that pushes me to make time for something, and when my devotion to something is damaged I find myself reevaluating the allocation of my time.  A loss of loyalty almost always results in diminished enthusiasm, which results in less involvement.  That’s natural, and yet it feels sad to me.

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