The Independent Wholesaler Advantage | On the Origin of Virtue
Throughout our lives we find ourselves engaged in relationships of varying capacity. As social creatures, we humans yearn for a connection among those around us; we strive for a sense of belonging. What must exist for a sense of solidarity between people? I believe ideals and a sense of loyalty both play a key role in the foundation of a mutually beneficial interaction, especially in a business relationship; a relationship that allows us to elevate one another above the noise of daily life; transcend the issues of inconvenience; to see the virtue in one another.
Evolution on planet earth has resulted in some of the most fascinating creatures. Each and every one of the species found here has evolved a specialized form to fill an ecological niche. Their own survival depends solely on the use of their imbued physical qualities – the cheetah uses his speed to catch prey; the butterfly, it’s proboscis to gather nectar; the giraffe, it’s neck to reach tall trees. God has bestowed these creatures with adaptations that further their own survival. So where does that leave us?
Humans are an anomaly – with a highly evolved capacity for thought and reason, our tool for survival straddles both the physical and ethereal realms. Our tool is consciousness. Are ideals an extension of this survival tool? Without ideals are we relegated to an animalistic selfishness that is somehow detrimental to our species survival? I believe ideals bring us beyond the “self” and work towards the survival of the group as a whole.
The ethics community has struggled to accurately define the line between an ideal and a virtue. Is loyalty an ideal, and can it be considered a virtue? If loyalty tenaciously adheres us to a particular cause, and that cause does not benefit our survival, then maybe it’s not; a virtue that doesn’t benefit the “greater good” doesn’t sound very virtuous OR idealistic. But why is it so highly sought after? There must be some survival advantage it offers. I’m a firm believer that qualities, either physical or otherwise, exist to serve a purpose. Why do we, as humans, strive to seek loyalty in our relationships? Why do we marry? Why do we maintain the friend network we do? To give us assurance….predictability….knowing that at least one (or more) aspect(s) of your life are held in a constant. This is important in our highly competitive, complex world. It gives us a brief moment of reprieve from the often frenetic battle of everyday life. Loyalty is the assurance that allows sound decision making in an often unpredictable environment. Loyalty comes from repeated beneficial interactions with those advocating in our perceived best interest. Loyalty is EARNED. It can take a lifetime to earn, and a second to destroy.
Earlier in this essay I stated that ideals are an extension of our primary survival tool – our consciousness. From an evolutionary standpoint, that makes sense. As human groups evolved from the family unit, to tribe, to village, to the sovereign state organizations of modern society, something was needed to “direct” individuals through a common cause; an ideal “sits away” from us as a disembodied goal post directing our conscious (and most likely, unconscious) behavior. Ideals can be shared through a group’s cultural inheritance – older generations bestow upon the younger the values of the group. All of this is necessary for commonality and most importantly – trust; it’s important to know those around you vying for the same outcome. A shared ideal system ultimately forms a broader ethos, moving the group progressively forward.
It seems, from my perspective, ideals are a confluent force for a group as a whole. But if we distill this down to the individual, we can see how loyalty plays a key role in the mutual understanding of shared ideals: loyalty between the interacting parties allows a departure from the tic-for-tat “survival mindset” common between two individuals sharing a sense of trepidation of the outcome; it keeps their eyes on the “big picture”.
Sharing ideals is an important part of the trust-building process. A process forming the fundamental basis of a loyal relationship.
Several months ago I had the pleasure of meeting, and working with, Kariann Morris. She is the proprietor of the Madaddie Marketing agency. After our first Zoom meeting I knew, without a doubt, her aptitude and professionalism were congruent with the ethos of Central Plumbing and Heating, and myself. I asked about her perspective on loyalty:
“Loyalty builds trust which generates a solid support system. It defines a company culture of creativity, collaboration, and safety to explore new ideas and ways of working together. This core ideology of loyalty bleeds into how a family owned business works with its customers, employees, manufacturers, and vendors.
It’s why customers keep coming back and why vendors want to work with them. Loyalty creates reciprocal virtues. It defines relationship values and appreciation towards each other. It’s the reason why another person/company will be there to support you in a time of need. It’s what makes businesses grow and it’s why family owned businesses have been able to stay in business for generations.
Having the opportunity to work with Central Plumbing and Heating on their new website and marketing initiatives has been one of the most creative collaborations in my history of business. Working with Mark Sennett has been this amazing to-and-fro of ideas and fruition of tactics that has built a unique marketing strategy in an industry that has never produced such marketing concepts. “
~ Kariann Morris – CEO MadAddie Marketing
The longevity of Central Plumbing and Heating Supply has afforded me the pleasure of working with people long involved in our business. I touched on this in my article about Twin D Associates and felt it was important to illustrate how these types of relationships, either legacy or novel, form the fabric of efficiency among the network of small and medium business. A structure far more reliant on its relationship virtues as compared to the corporate dehumanization rampant in the publicly-traded Big Box realm.
Is loyalty an ideal? I don’t believe it is. Can it be considered a virtue? Maybe.
Kariann makes a valid point when she says “loyalty creates reciprocal virtues”. Without the foundation of loyalty, any form of an ideal system is a moot point. I believe loyalty is a quality that must preexist for the adoption of an ideal system. Loyalty binds us to a set of guiding principles which enables us to act in a predictable manner. If loyalty did not exist, a person would adhere to neither an ideal, nor a relationship; people would act in a purely survival driven mentality; a state in which virtue would not exist.
[…] I recently discussed some of the foundational principles which I believe lead to mutually beneficial relationships – overlapping ideal systems (ethos) bound with a mutual quality of loyalty. The lofty result of an evolved capacity for ideals enabling cooperation and connection beyond the “tic-for-tat” survival interaction. These prerequisites create an added value to the relationship manifested in the virtue one another observes. It creates a trustworthy, comfortable environment where efficiency and ideas flourish. While this may suffice among immediate, close relationships, the nature of our complex economic system begs the question of how this applies as a whole – how is it possible for millions of interactions among individuals, companies, and organizations, who share little to no loyalty or trust, able to gain value. When examined, an irony presents itself in the way that we all benefit from something unexpected- people acting purely in their own self- interest. […]
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