The poster boards of pictures spanning 40 years highlighted love, family, black thick mustache and achievements. The plaques adorning the room reminded everyone of how he excelled in his profession. People drove more than 7 hours to be there to celebrate who he is and how he has impacted them. The friends, 40 year friendships, were there to celebrate what he means to them. His family surrounding him. His employees, many who spoke and shared stories, showering him with adulations and reminding him that they would no longer be in their roles if it wasn’t for him.
My brother is the epitome of loyalty. Nobody stays at one company for 40 years through change after change, adapting to each new direction and strategy if they are not loyal. His staying power at his company isn’t the only definition of loyalty though. His loyalty runs deep, to the people who work with him, work for him, to his family, to our family, to me.
I learned a lot about leadership from Jeff. He is the person who taught me that you had to care more about the people who work for you than for yourself. That loyalty allowed him to prosper as a leader and to create loyalty among those who work for him. He taught me about patience with people and to trust your instincts. His willingness to teach and share his knowledge was another lesson that I took to heart. Lastly, as a leader, Jeff taught me to be yourself, bringing authenticity to his role before it was even in vogue.
Jeff’s loyalty to family is really where the lessons run deep. His marriage has endured over 30 years. They have faced many struggles together which is a testament to both. His loyalty to his children is something to be admired. Each of his 3 children have had different issues to face and Jeff has not only been there for all, but has been a mainstay of advice, support and help.
His loyalty to me is something I have trouble putting into words. He has been with me for every twist and turn in my life, supporting me unconditionally. Even at my worst, my brother has been there, sometimes in my face letting me know I need to change how I am behaving but always having my back.
Listening to all that everyone had to say, reminded me of what a gem he is in my life. It also reminded me how important it is to be loyal to those you love. We may not always agree with what people do or how they react, but if we love them, if they are family or our close friends, we have to remain loyal. Everyone’s journey is their own and we cannot tell people how to live their life, how to react to a situation. All we can do is love them through it and hope that they get to their destination and are happy. I think at times I have forgotten this, and I have gotten aggravated that someone may not do something the way I want them to, or react the way I would. That isn’t real unconditional love. That isn’t loyalty.
My brother has defined loyalty for me. What does it look like for you?