Loyalty, like many life skills, is something that isn’t easily defined or always easily recognizable. But we practice it every day of our lives. As parents, we subtly display loyalty to our kids, but it’s such a common practice to us….and to them……it probably goes unnoticed. As an instructor, we challenge students to reach their potential; commit ourselves to helping our students reach their goals; knowing that our loyalty may sometimes go unnoticed. So, what is loyalty anyway? Why is loyalty an important attribute for one to have? Where can loyalty be learned and practiced? Learning and understanding this valuable life skill will enable you to confidently demonstrate loyalty, even in the face of adversity.
Loyalty isn’t solely defined in words. However, loyalty in its simplest terms is standing up for a personal belief, ideal or person. Sometimes, demonstrating loyalty can have you standing alone or apart from others. There’s a willingness to contribute what you can or even sacrifice something to show your loyalty. My relationship with my 12 year-old son, for example, is one of sacrifice and contribution. My son, Alejandro, struggles, at times, with self-esteem and confidence; not in his ‘natural good looks’ or athletic ability-rather in his academic performance. From a very young age, he struggled with math and for a very long time didn’t believe in his ability to be good at it. Through my advocacy for him at school meetings and conferences, I helped him receive the resources he needed to improve. Through my words of encouragement and support in his math assignments he gained more comfort in the material. And by contributing the expertise of a math tutor, Alejandro has seen his potential for understanding the material. These acts for contribution and sacrifice are natural and expected from a parent. But to Alejandro, my belief in him-this demonstration of loyalty-makes a world of difference on how he sees himself.
Loyalty is a strong attribute demonstrated the world over and important in many cultures. The attribute of loyalty is very interactive. You can’t have loyalty without trust. You can’t have trust without respect. Loyalty helps to define who you are as a person: Are you trustworthy? Are you supportive? Giving? Respectful? The attribute of loyalty tests your personal strength or self confidence; especially when you stand alone in your convictions. A few key factors in demonstrating the attribute of loyalty, for example to a person or yourself, are:
- Be supportive of their endeavors or aspirations. For example, when I shared my desire to open a new ATA Martial Arts School in Livermore, CA, my instructor, Master Jordan Schreiber gave me great words of wisdom and proudly shared the news with his students, friends and family.
- Stand up for what, or who, you believe in. My 12 year-old son, Alejandro, stood up for a friend who was being bullied at school. When a fight started after school involving his friend and the bully, Alejandro jumped in and separated the two-despite the yells of encouragement from on-lookers to allow the fight to happen.
- Don’t give in to those who spread words or attitudes of negativity. Believe it or not, there are many things I’ve done in my life that some of my family didn’t support-martial arts training, for example. Some of my siblings thought it was a waste of my time and money to play ‘Kung Fu Master’ as it was called by them. Today, those siblings that discouraged me training in martial arts now share my achievements with their children as examples of never giving up and perseverance (a talking point for a future blog, I’m sure!) If I would have given in to their discouragement and not believed in what I wanted to do, I wouldn’t be teaching you today. Now that’s personal loyalty!
When you show your loyalty, you are teaching others what loyalty is. The best way to learn how to do something is through observation of others. A martial arts school is a great place to observe and practice loyalty. At Tuzon’s ATA Martial Arts, the student learns the value of respect to others as well as to themselves. Through instruction by the instructor and interaction with others, they build the self-respect and their respect for others inside their class to the point they earn and give their trust. Students learn to trust their instructor and they realize that the instructor is there to help them grow and learn. And with these valuable lessons, students practice what they see their instructor doing. And thereby demonstrating loyalty.
Loyalty does not come without sacrifice. Being loyal isn’t always a popular decision. But loyalty is a very powerful and personal attribute that one should be proud having shown. It’s a demonstration of strength to stand up for what or who you believe in….even in the face of adversity. At Tuzon’s ATA Martial Arts, we can teach you, by example, what loyalty is and a great environment to practice showing loyalty to others as well as to yourself. Thus arming you with the capability to answer this: What is Loyalty to you?