I pledge allegiance…a childhood ritual, whether your mouth blindly muttered the words in cadence with the rest of class while your mind wandered to count the number of friendship pins on Mary’s backpack, or you sat in political protest, or proudly boomed the pledge with exuberance. As children we were told what we are loyal to, as adults we can usually choose.
I went to the Fifth Avenue Apple Store this weekend. The Apple Watch lined case after case in all their vibrant colors. I got lost in the number of choices to customize, which face, what color, what size should your icons be. The watch pleaded with me to make it my own, to choose who I am and what I want the things in my life to look like.
Loyalty used to be demanded. Happiness and respect seemed to not be a factor in our loyalty. Allegiance was commanded through shaming, guilt, social pressure and lack of choice. People stayed in their jobs for a lifetime, children blindly obeyed authority and we watched the one or two channels we had.
In the ever-changing world of choice, loyalty is now earned not dictated. You are asking your customers, your employees, your partners, your family to pledge their allegiance to you. That is an enormous request. If you expect that kind of faith you need to wake up every morning and earn it. Be the kind of person and business who deserves that level of respect and dedication. Look at yourself and your business in the mirror and be the person that your children, your customers, your dishwasher, your vice president should put their faith in. And please respect and appreciate them for you giving you the chance to earn that place in their lives.