Thursday, October 11, 2007

When Is It Loyal to be Disloyal?

A couple of days ago, I read a very thought provoking post on one of the Quixtar / Amway blogs. The title was "Declaration of Independence from Quixtar" and the article began with a paraphrase of some very famous and eloquent words with which we are all familiar:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the business bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
-- Tom Morris Crazy World: Declaration of Independence from Quixtar

Thus, my question, when is it Loyal to be Disloyal?

Black and white thinkers will say, "What do you mean? Either you are loyal or you are not."

Let's look at the definition of loyalty:

1. the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.

2. faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.

3. an example or instance of faithfulness, adherence, or the like: a man with fierce loyalties.

Some synonyms are: devotion, constancy, allegiance, fidelity

All the definitions and synonyms imply a sense of duty or of devoted attachment to something or someone. We like people who are loyal. Generally, it reflects depth of character and integrity.

The challenge comes with one word in the definition, "to." Loyalty is expressed to a person, to organizations, to commitments, to obligations, to our families, to principles, and to God. Obviously, some of those loyalties are higher on the priority scale than others and once in a while, we must choose who or what deserves our highest loyalty when there is a conflict.

And conflicts do come. Conflicts that test what we are made of, that test our thinking, that ultimately test our integrity and define who we are.

Such was the case when the founders of our country rebelled against the rule of England.

Such is always the case when one finds that to be loyal to our families, to our principles, to what is right, or to God puts us in conflict with lesser loyalties to our jobs, our companies, or other people.

I understand what many in TEAM are feeling. It hurts to be called disloyal. For 15 years I gave my loyalty to a religious organization that I ultimately determined did not serve to lead people to a more accurate, and indeed, intimate experience of God. It was extremely difficult, nay, agonizingly difficult to move on. Doing so required that I leave many, MANY, dear friends behind who simply could not understand my motivations and higher loyalties. In fact, from their perspective, I could only be thought of as weak or wicked.

Well, that, as they say, is another story.

One day though, I ran into one of those old friends. He asked me if I would ever "come back." I answered no. His next words were, "Well, I am a loyal kind of guy." The clearly implied accusation was that I was not. It hurts to hear that, particularly from someone you love and respect.

My experience with the Amway MLM was limited to a brief time a couple of decades ago. More recently, in the mid to late '90s, I worked with a different, better-than-average MLM for six years and built a business that topped out at $110,000 per month in sales of the company’s products before I woke up to a pretty harsh reality - ALL of the people who joined me to make money in that business were LOSING it, not making it.

I had fully intended to work with that company and the leaders who had mentored and helped me for the rest of my life. But really, how could I?

Ultimately, loyalty demanded that I speak out against the half-truths and deceptions that were being perpetrated. Ultimately, higher loyalties led me to writing my book, MLM The Whole Truth and publishing my site,

Friends, while we may not agree with the direction that TEAM leaders Woodward and Brady are taking (leaving Amway in order to continue a business motivational tool (BSM) business will ultimately prove illegal - Quixtar knows that or they would not be ending it, finally, for the 'new' Amway), I would not jump to questioning their loyalty. Indeed, they have very good reasons for leaving. And, I am sure that is extremely difficult and extremely expensive for them, in many ways, to speak out as they have. I admire their decision. I admire the strength of character I assume IS motivating them.

I write this because I have had the pleasure of working with more than a handful of Emeralds and Diamonds over the last couple of years who have agonized over this question of loyalty as they came to the conclusion that their business model, like the one I was previously engaged in, was helping far more people lose money than make it. Most of those great leaders know people who have gone bankrupt trying to build a Quixtar business. Many more people have become so loaded down with debt trying to be loyal to all instructions from their leaders to attend every function and buy every CD, tape, book, etc. that was recommended. I have seen many of those leaders decide it was time to listen to the higher voice of conscience and move in a new direction. I have seen many others who, sadly refused to even consider that there might be a problem. Could it be that sometimes claiming “loyalty” is a cop out?

There is a time for higher loyalties. In the network marketing industry, that time is NOW. When we all quit blindly following whoever "they" say we should be loyal to, and think through to whom and what we should really give our highest loyalty, we will all make better decisions.

The road to MLM success is littered with the bleeding bodies of others of who have tried and failed. It is time to end the bleeding. I love the power and morality of a multilevel compensation plan when done well. I am fiercely loyal to the empowering ability of it. But when it is used poorly, as when almost all participants lose money, properly-placed loyalty demands that we speak out, and act.

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