Are Consistency and Loyalty Virtues?

I have been thinking about the value of consistency. It started as a discussion of what loyalty is and should be. Consensus. – loyalty is just guaranteed consistency. At first look, consistency and loyalty seem to be good, but now I am not so sure. They could be a comfortable avoidance of reality.

You should have noticed that the world around us changes and so consistency, like experience, may become a hazard rather than an advantage.

Where should we draw the line between comfortable familiarity and change?

Consistent has advantages for others. It allows them to predict behaviour. Certainly, children gain from parents and teachers who behave the same way in a given situation. Perhaps leaders must be consistent to be effective. Differing behaviours in a given situation are stressful for the ones who counted on a familiar response.

Inconsistent is troubling.

Obedience is a form of consistency.

We value obedient children and that obedience allows parents and leaders to be easily consistent. Given the changing world, that ease has a price. Does obedience help the children? Probably yes – most of the time. Consider a century old idea from Oscar Wilde.

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.

Disobedience and rebellion are two hallmarks of a teenager. The standard for entrepreneurs too. I can think of no entrepreneur who was faced with overwhelming support in the beginning. Most had to fight the, “You can’t get there from here,” attitude of everyone around them. They are consistent in their own way. Disobedient and rebellious. They do not value social norms highly. In their view, it is up to the observer to accommodate them.

A two-sided condition.

Consistency is good, yet it restricts experiment, growth and adaptation to change. Loyalty denies even the recognition of change.

Loyalty requires another person to behave consistently and on our terms. That is manipulative, even immoral. History tells us blind loyalty leads to far more problems than disobedience. Disobedience and rebellion often create benefits. Loyalty seldom does. Loyalty preserves the status quo and in times of change that is of little value.

Finding best consistency and loyalty

Loyalty and consistency adapt to change through judgement. Refusing to accept what makes no sense. Choosing an appropriate response or offering a well-founded position in respect to a new situation advances everyone. Judgement is a good consistent skill to have. Loyalty can be the first response, but, on reflection, judgement must win out.

Judgement provides the explanation or a better way to deal with the apparent inconsistency. Apply judgement before implementing either consistency or loyalty.

Investors sometimes think consistent alpha is possible. If you are one of them, you might want to read this.


Looks like consistent is a preference, not a reasonable expectation.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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