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The price and illusion of loyalty

Dave Durand says that loyal employees and customers are key to successful business. He contends that we can learn a lot of business lessons from the apostles. John was loyal to Christ throughout His ministry. Peter was disloyal, but repented. Judas was disloyal, but did not repent. A humble person is always loyal, but one who pushes blame is not . . .

Dave Durand

Loyalty is a word that is used often in the business community. Establishing loyal customers is always a challenge and a worthy pursuit. Creating a culture of loyal employees also has its serious and obvious benefits.

Are there really loyal people out there? A skeptic would argue that true, free loyalty is not achievable. He might even add that “everyone has a price,” insinuating that, given enough money, power, or pain, everyone’s loyalty can be purchased or stolen.

To my mind, the most challenging ideas are those which contain enough truth to be nearly undeniable, yet have enough error to destroy their entire theory; the question of true loyalty is one of those ideas. I’m not alone in that I have experienced plenty of betrayal. When people experience betrayal — or even mild forms of disloyalty — they can become jaded, but that is a mistake.

We can learn a lot about loyalty from the apostles. The entire spectrum is represented by the twelve. On one end there is Judas, who put on a good show but lacked loyalty at the highest level. He positioned himself as the kind of guy who was dedicated to Jesus and concerned about the poor, yet his facade was merely a front to hide the fact that he was a thief. Judas traded in his eternal well-being for a few coins. On the surface, his story confirms the skeptic’s theory, but fortunately for us, God’s grace can lift even the lowest heart. In fact, God empowers loyalty beyond comprehension.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is St. John, a great example of supernatural loyalty. His loyalty was stronger than fear. Despite seeing Jesus arrested, falsely accused, scourged, mocked, beaten and crucified, John stayed at the foot of the cross. He must have feared that he too might suffer the same fate by association. His loyalty is not common.

Next to John on the spectrum, but slightly to his left at the time, is St. Peter. He represents the most common type of dedicated loyalty. Ultimately Peter gave his life for Christ, but he grew into that grace after he denied Him. Jesus knew Peter would be weak at that moment, yet He chose him to be His vicar.

What did Jesus see in Peter that we might have failed to see in him ourselves? How many of us, as leaders, might have passed by the fisherman during the “interview” process? How many of us would have fired him for the first infraction of disloyalty because we failed to see the desire and commitment he possessed, despite his temporary weaknesses?

Estimating loyalty is one of the least talked about, yet most important leadership skills that must be gained by anyone with subordinates. There are three simple ways that I’ve learned to estimate the loyalty of people I bring into my life at work.

The first is not a character assessment as much as it is an observation of maturity. There are times when new employees or partners express their loyalty in such absolute terms that I can only surmise that they lack the experience to understand what they’re saying. For example, a new employee will say that he’s committed to my company for “life,” yet he has no experience to know what that means. He reminds me of teenagers who marry right out of high school without a complete understanding of what their commitment actually entails. A sober look at what it means to be loyal builds trust. I try to estimate loyalty based on understanding what loyalty actually means beyond the honeymoon. Can the person in question realistically describe what it means to be loyal when push comes to shove? Does she see loyalty as an emotion like joy or does she see loyalty as a decision?

The second way I estimate loyalty is through humility. A humble person is a loyal person. The disadvantage I have is that I can’t read souls or hearts, so I’m limited to objective observations and my “gut.” One way I identify humility that leads to loyalty is by observing people when they make mistakes. Do they openly and readily own them or do they deny them and push the blame on others? People who push blame are never loyal. That is certain.

The third way I estimate loyalty is by eagerness. Loyal people are eager to advance the cause of an organization. They don’t sit back and wait to be told what to do. They don’t wait to care. They simply care. This is a lasting characteristic. It’s an active participation in the mission.

These three “ways” allow for a few mistakes here and there. They allow for the St. Peters out there to make mistakes but also to rise to a new occasion. I love a comeback story, which is why a second or third chance for the right person can be the right approach. In the end, we can all make mistakes on these estimates. But with openness to the gifts of the Holy Spirit we will get it right most of the time.

Dave Durand is the best-selling author of “Perpetual Motivation” and “Win the World Without Losing Your Soul.” He is a business executive  and trainer of well over 100,000 individuals in sales, marketing and business management.

Remembering Frank Stella

The late Frank Stella contributed an immense amount of good to all things Catholic . . .

Thomas Monaghan

Thomas Monaghan

The world saw a great man pass from this life on Sept. 27, 2010. Frank Stella exemplified what it means to be a Legatus member. He was a faithful ambassador of Legatus and many other worthy organizations — most importantly, the Church — through his final day.

The first time I met Frank was in his office in the early 1960s. He talked about the countless things that he was involved in — including the University of Detroit (now UD Mercy). In those days, it was the largest Catholic university in the country. Frank was the chairman of their board for many years and a large contributor. I had heard he gave the university $100,000. That was a lot of money in the early ’60s.

I went to Rome with Frank in the ’80s, and he was a celebrity. Many television cameras and media approached him. I learned that Frank was the founder and leader of an organization to improve Italian Americans’ image away from the Mafia caricature. Apparently it worked and worked well. He also knew where the best food was. With him, I enjoyed some of the best meals I’ve ever had.

When I started Legatus and needed a president for the first chapter, I asked Frank. He readily accepted. Under his leadership, Legatus was off and running. Our first two trips to Rome were sensational because of him. He knew everybody and they gave him anything he wanted.

Frank had been offered many political jobs because of his work in the Republican Party at the national level. He turned down appointments as Secretary of the Air Force, Ambassador to Italy and Ambassador to the Vatican. He was a lifetime member of Legatus’ board of governors (only one of three in our history). Frank also initiated the Legatus Endowment Fund. It helped, too, that he was one of the first members of the Young Presidents’ Organization — and was perhaps in on YPO’s founding along with Ray Hickok. Legatus owes a lot to Frank Stella, and so do I.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter. A longer version of this article is available at legatus.org.

The family under attack

The culture has targeted the traditional family, but now some are fighting back. . . 

Mike and Jackie Winn

Mike and Jackie Winn

When Mike and Jackie Winn married in 1959, the world was on the cusp of a cataclysmic cultural shift which is still sending aftershocks around the globe. That shift has had a significant effect on the American family.

Half a century later, abortion, contraception, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, gay “marriage,” confusion about gender roles, and a mass media that revels in images of moral decadence have severely damaged — and threatened to ultimately destroy— the traditional family.

Culture war

“The culture began to unravel in the late ’60s and it just continued from there,” said Mike Winn, a member of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter and retired CEO of Hollister, Inc. The father of eight and grandfather of 51 reflects on the challenges he faced as a young father and what his adult children now face as parents. He concludes that “the general culture” is the traditional family’s biggest enemy.

To be sure, those who cherish the family as the foundation of a healthy society need only read the headlines to discover yet another assault on their values — whether it’s an advance in pro-abortion initiatives, President Obama’s cabinet appointments, judges allowing gay “marriage” or schools scratching abstinence programs from their curriculums.

The family took yet another hit in April when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to give 17-year-olds access to the “morning-after” birth control pill without a prescription.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said with so much happening so quickly, his group has had to narrow its focus to defending four key areas: human life, sexuality within marriage, traditional marriage and religious freedom.

After a flurry of activity that began in March with Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City policy allowing U.S. tax dollars to fund groups that “perform or actively promote abortion” in foreign countries, pro-family forces now expect to see hate-crimes legislation and employment nondiscrimination laws limiting what religious people can say and do about behaviors they consider immoral.

“That’s a threat to the family,” Perkins said.

In January, Mexico City was ground zero in the fight to preserve the traditional family. Pope Benedict XVI spoke via video link to delegates of the Sixth World Meeting of Families on Jan. 18. The traditional family is “an indispensable base for society and for peoples, as well as an irreplaceable good for children.

“The family, founded on the indissoluble matrimony between a man and a woman,” he continued, “is the realm where man can be born with dignity, grow and develop in an integral way.”

At a separate event held at Colegio Mexico, a United Nations Population Fund leader claimed that the disintegration of the traditional family is a triumph for “human rights.”

According to LifeSiteNews.com, Arie Hoekman said a high divorce rate and out-of-wedlock births represent “a weakening of the patriarchal structure, as a result of the disappearance of the economic base that sustains it and because of the rise of new values centered in the recognition of fundamental human rights.”

The home front

Advocates for the traditional family say the old adage is true — evil prevails when good people do nothing.

“It’s not enough simply to agree with the Church’s position on life and family issues,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), which monitors social policy debate at the U.N. and other international institutions. “In this day and age, you have to get involved.”

Ruse said that means offering time, treasure or both, whether it’s running for the local school board or contributing to groups doing pro-family work.

However, those who care about the family find it difficult to know just where to direct their attention. “It’s a target-rich environment,” Perkins said.

Ray Guarendi, Catholic family author, radio host and clinical psychologist, recommends zeroing in on one issue. But he cautioned against getting so absorbed in cultural battles that parents neglect their own families.

“It’s easy enough to be a crusader because it can fuel something within us,” he said, “but to toil away in obscurity in the family is a much harder perseverance day to day.”

Perkins concurs. “Something that is in the forefront of my mind every day is what does it gain a man if he wins the whole world, but loses his soul or the souls of his children?”

With that in mind, Perkins said that he limits activity outside the family to his church and his job. “I don’t golf. I’m not a hunter,” he said. “Unless I can do it with my family, I don’t do it.”

On the home front, Guarendi urges parents to pay attention to the popular culture’s effect on their children. “There are forces all around us shaping your kid — socially, morally and emotionally — and one day parents wake up and say, ‘What happened? I didn’t raise him that way.’ No, you didn’t, but all these subtle forces did.”

He advises parents to “go against the flow” when it comes to influences on their children. “You’ve got to assess everything that’s coming down the pike in our culture. Everything. Look at it and say, ‘Will this help me or hinder me in raising a God-seeking child?’”

To some extent, Guarendi said, this means becoming “quasi-Amish” by eliminating (to a great degree) certain forces, particularly technology. “You dramatically limit TV, the computer. You don’t give your kid a cell phone and an iPod when she’s 13. You slow down their childhood.”

The Winn family

The Winn family

Although Mike and Jackie Winn didn’t have to deal with as much invasive technology as their children are facing as parents, they did manage to pass their values on to their children, who are transmitting them to their grandchildren.

Jackie Winn says the couple began their marriage with an openness to life, which their children picked up on as the family became involved in the pro-life movement together.

“Our kids’ sex education was to be steeped in an understanding of human sexuality related to procreation,” Mike Winn said. “That obviously related to the sanctity and the sacredness of life. We never lectured. It was just lived in our house.”

As their children were growing up, Winn’s work required travel, but he said Jackie always kept their family meal time, even when he was away.

“Meal time was communication time,” he said. “We prayed at the beginning of the meal and would go around the table and talk about what happened, what was going on. Even when we had difficult times, the lines of communication were, I call it, forced open if they were shut.”

Today, he said, their children “are living family life heroically.” One is expecting her 14th child, three others have seven children and six are involved in homeschooling.

With their own children grown, the Winns have expanded their outreach since 1998 by running sewing and electronics camps for girls and boys at Wynncliff, their 24-acre family farm on Lake Michigan near Manitowoc, Wis. Their family, including grandchildren, works alongside them as counselors or kitchen helpers.

The family also gathers regularly for reunions at Wynncliff where they will celebrate the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary this summer.

Judy Roberts is a staff writer for Legatus Magazine.


The changing family

Family life has changed radically in the past 40 years with an increase in the prevalence of divorce, cohabitation between unmarried couples, out-of-wedlock births and abortions. Here’s a snapshot:

• Between 1960 and 2007, the number of cohabiting couples increased from 430,000 to 6.4 million (www.marriagesavers.org).

• In 1970, there were 4.3 million divorced Americans, compared to 18.3 million in 1996 (U.S. Census Bureau).

• In 1950, 12% of children were born into a “broken family” — 4% from unwed mothers, 8% from divorced parents. By the mid-1990s, 58% were from broken homes (National Center for Health Statistics).

• In 1973, 16.3 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15-44 had an abortion, compared to 19.4 per 1,000 in 2005 (Guttmacher Institute).

• In 1960, out-of-wedlock births totaled 224,000, increasing to 2.65 million in 2006 when they comprised 38.5 % of all births (www.marriagesavers.org).

• In 1970, 4.6 % of American girls had had intercourse for the first time by the age of 15, compared to just over 22 % in 1995 (National Survey of Family Growth).

—Judy Roberts