Loyalty and a Greater Destination

 In Power of Relationships, Practicing Law and Life

There are few things worse than being accused of disloyalty, whether it’s a client or, frankly, anyone. Has that ever happened to you? I’ve not had a client accuse me outright of not being loyal, but I’ve felt that ground shift under me. You know what I mean? It’s in their voice or maybe the words they use. I got that deep down feeling in my stomach that they were questioning if I was fully on their side.

If a client feels I am not being loyal whatever I have to say falls on deaf ears. I can be giving them the best advice in the world. I can be getting them an outcome that is far beyond what anyone else could do. They’re not going to see it or believe it. Until I have healed the loyalty rift, there is little l can do.

A number of years ago I was at a seminar in Florida. The speaker was from the Harvard Business School. He talked about there being three types of clients: The vast majority of whom are not going to remember your name. They are neither loyal nor disloyal. I like to think that’s not true, but the number of clients I have had who couldn’t remember their attorney’s name from even a year ago is staggering.

The “apostles” believe you can do no wrong and will give your name to anyone who needs your services. Then there are the “terrorists”. They will badmouth you every chance they get. They will tell anyone and everyone about you. It takes 8 apostles to make up the damage done by one terrorist. I know I’ve have been a terrorist for a business.

There is nothing more satisfying than a client who not only has faith in me, but also, believes I’m the best attorney. There is nothing worse than a client who does not think I am loyal to them. Loyalty is an incredibly powerful force in our lives.

Years ago my wife’s uncle was an alcoholic living on the streets in downtown Portland. His life was hell. Everyone had given up on him but one person, Jan’s mom. She took him to sober up more than a half a dozen times. Each time failed. She would have been justified giving up on him and walking away. But she didn’t. She knew what she wanted for him and believed in him- even when he did not. The last time she took him, it worked. He sobered up. He is now living an amazingly happy life with his high school sweetheart. A storybook ending because of one person’s love and loyalty.

Loyalty allows me to see what logic tells me is impossible. It takes me beyond what my eyes see, my ears hear and my mind says is possible. It is one of the most powerful forces to build and create in life. It’s also at the core of being a lawyer. Without it our ability to do our job is greatly diminished.

When I think about loyalty I know how it feels. It doesn’t start in my head; it’s in my chest. Where my heart is. The more loyalty I have it’s as if my heart is bigger, my wanting the best outcome increases, I’m able to envision a greater result. I see what others cannot.

Loyalty is a force we can use to catapult life forward. It’s there waiting for us. It’s not just a power source, but a way of being, that lives inside of us. The more we connect to it, the more we can be for ourselves and others in our lives.

The next time you are aware of the feeling of loyalty, notice where it starts, how it feels and transforms you. The more aware we are of it, how it works and what it can do, the more we can harness it. Let it take take you, your clients and the most important relationship in your life to greater places.


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