You have to be yourself first.
I stumbled across Sarah Robinson’s Fierce Loyalty website today, and read a few of the essays before it hit me: in order for people to be fiercely loyal to you (or your brand or your business or your pet iguana) they have to know what they are being loyal to. They are not loyal to a name, they are loyal to an entire entity: values, actions, beliefs, choices…the whole kit and caboodle. That means they have to know you, and trust that the you that they think they know is actually pretty close to some kind of objective reality.
They have to know you, which means you have to show up as you. No substitutes, no alterations, and absolutely no trying-to-be-what-they-want. You have to be strong enough and solid enough to be loyalty-worthy. Loyalty-capable. People can’t be fierce with anyone who is not, themselves, fierce. You must be fiercely yourself. Then your friends will be deep and true, your business will be brilliant and healthy, your presence in the world will be for good, and you won’t have to try. Just be you. Be fiercely you. Mr. Rogers used to say it best: “there’s no one in the world exactly like you. You’re special.”
Please, be you. The world is waiting.