Problem Management — principles

Ethics, loyalty, and duty should be essential parts of our character, but it's important to make sure they are not misplaced.

For instance, general loyalty to one's employer can be good for both the employer and the employees, as a strong and unified work force dedicated to the success of the company can create an efficient and prosperous organization.

But any employee that expects loyalty from the company might be in for a very rude awakening. The company is not a person, and any concept of loyalty from it is at best a metaphor. At any time the company's owners and directors can completely change and the new people could have very different priorities. The only obligation a company has to its employees is what is required by law or contract. Anything else can disappear without warning.

If a company must be thought of as a person, one should consider it as having a psychopathic personality, totally lacking a conscience.

Even loyalty and duty to other individuals is not something one should assume by default; it is something one should consciously choose. Perhaps Robert Heinlein said this best:

Do not confuse duty with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad [mugger] than it is with the leech who wants just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long. Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.
Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is expected of you.)