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The Secret to Building Fierce Loyalty? Be Human [Day 6- 28 BFL]

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This is Day 6 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty (We take the weekends off during these series to play catchup). Friday, The always brilliant Danny Brown offered us a brutally honest post where he also cussed and talked about dog poo. 🙂  Today, one of my very favorite in the whole world, Shelly Kramer, takes us out on a limb so we can build Fierce Loyalty. 

The Secret to Building Fierce Loyalty? Be Human

By: Shelly Kramer| @ShellyKramer

When Sarah asked me to be a contributor to her Building Fierce Loyalty Series it seemed like a no-brainer. I mean, loyalty. That’s a snap, right? Building it isn’t all that difficult. Or is it?  Upon reflection, I realized that building loyalty is hard. And scary and intimidating. Who was I kidding?

So here’s what I think about building loyalty. As an initial step, in order to garner loyalty, one must first do something. Make friends, reach out a hand, show up at an event, say something out loud, write something, publish something, share something, create something, or maybe even stand up and be brave enough to share a thought or an opinion. You’re getting my drift. These things – I call them stepping out on a limb.

For some people, stepping out on a limb can be very intimidating. That limb usually looks thin, shaky and–most of all–lonely as hell. That limb is a metaphor for so  many things. It can be a party you’re invited to where you know no one. It can be writing – and then publishing – your first blog post. It can be going on a blind date. It can be day one at a new job. Or it can be venturing into an unknown that is the social media space.

It will come as no surprise that I’ve stepped out on that limb many times. But no matter how confident I might seem, I’m really somewhat of an introvert. Quit laughing. I really am. And even I have to regularly grit my teeth and force myself to do things that I don’t love doing. I remember a number of years ago when I was working on getting the courage to blog, and one curmudgeonly friend used to regularly ping me and ask where I was in that process. I kept waffling, procrastinating, coming up with a million excuses why I was to busy to launch that blog. In reality, I was afraid of the limb. I’m a decent writer – and I know that. And I have a brain that works pretty well, too. But the limb that represented blogging, and putting my thoughts and words and ideas out there … that was frightening. But I did it. And once I did, it was no big deal. And amazing how intimidating that had once seemed. Sound familiar?

That’s just one example, but the thing that makes all of it … all those journeys that we respectively manage to make out onto all those limbs … worthwhile, well that’s pretty simple, too. The rewards, at least in my experience, are too many to name. But some of the biggies include things like friendship, respect, camaraderie, kinship. And most of all, loyalty. And, if you’re really lucky, fierce loyalty.

So what’s the magic potion? How is it that you can live your life, do what it is you do best, or what it is you love, or what it is you’re most passionate about – and inspire fierce loyalty? For me, the answer is clear – it’s all about being human.

I’m not a big God Squadder (not, of course that there’s anything wrong with that), but I was sitting in Mass last week and listening to the homily and the words of our priest struck me such that I grabbed my phone (ignoring the frown on my husband’s face) and jotted down a note.

His message was a very simple one. A life driven by humility is the path to happiness. A life driven by ego opens the door to evil. I’m a huge fan of humility and it’s no surprise that this particular bit of scripture resonated with me. Think for a moment of all the people who have been fueled by ginormous egos and ultimately felled by them. The list is as long as any one of our arms, isn’t it?

Make no mistake – this post isn’t about religion – that was just an aside to emphasize a point. For me, however, humility is the answer – especially when it comes to loyalty. Inspiring fierce loyalty is all about being human – and being humble. Being prideful and ego driven are easy temptations, especially when success is in the picture. But being prideful and self-absorbed and constantly amazed by your own greatness–those aren’t the character traits that inspire fierce loyalty. At least not in my book.

Conversely, people who are humble are people I want to revere. Not because they ask for it, or expect it, but because they earn it. They deserve it. Want some examples of people who inspire great loyalty? What about Mother Teresa or Gandhi. Or Meryl Streep. Or humble athletes like Tim Tebow, Hank Aaron or Steve Nash. While thinking about this post, I did a bit of research and discovered the book “Start with Humility: Lessons from Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers” featuring case studies of CEOs like Starbucks’ Howard Schulz, Pepsi Cola’s Craig Weatherup, and Sara Lee’s Brenda Barnes, to name a few.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks humility is an integral part of the road to success. Whether as a CEO, an athlete, a celebrity, a coach, a business owner, a manager of any kind, a blogger … well, pretty much you name it, humility is, in many cases, better than pride and egoism.

And you know what I love about humility so much? It’s about people. Humility is all about being human. Recognizing that we’re all just people, and we all put our pants on one leg at a time. We all have moments of insecurities and we all make mistakes. And when we have great successes or moments of brilliance they rarely happen because of us and us alone. Remembering that is, to my way of thinking, a formula to build fierce loyalty.

So, whether you’re wondering as an individual, a CEO, a manager, a coach, a parent, etc., how it is that you can inspire fierce loyalty, my suggestion is that it starts with being human – and practicing humility. Being grateful for the gifts you’re given, for opportunities or kindnesses, being grateful and appreciative of the time and talents of others, being grateful for the time people take out of their lives to read or share something you’ve written or created, comment on something you’ve said, etc., is a good start.  And no matter what, just focus on being human.

I’ll even go out on the limb and predict you’ll find that once you get on the humble train, you’ll find it is a far better ride, with far better company along the way, than the MeMeMe Express that so many others choose to ride.

What about you? Am I totally off base here or does humility resonate with you as much as it resonates with me? Is it part of your formula for building fierce loyalty? I’d love to know what you think.

Shelly Kramer is the Founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A 20+ year marketing veteran, she’s a strategist, brand storyteller, digital marketing pro, content marketing expert, speaker and corporate trainer – she’s and a well regarded figure in the worlds of tech and social media. Recently recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Social Media Influencers, she’s half marketer, half geek, with a propensity for numbers, producing results and a dash of quick repartee. Her client experience includes working with startups and not-for-profits, as well as Fortune 500 companies and agencies of all sizes, budgets teeny to gigantic, in both B2B and B2C markets.

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