It’s been a good week. New clients, meaningful content, and some very productive discussions. Indulge me as I highlight one and consolidate my thoughts onto my own real estate.
I listened to a podcast and transcript between http://goo.gl/8vhzJm and about whether authority can be earned or bestowed. Good listen and congrats to on the launch of their new Rainmaker.fm site, fantastic idea!
Anyway, here’s the thing about Authority and whether it’s earned or bestowed. It’s both, and there’s another term that loves to muddle things up: CELEBRITY.
It comes down to this: authority is earned, celebrity is bestowed. And it’s cyclical. You won’t have it bestowed upon you unless you earn it. You can’t earn it unless someone believes in you enough to hire you, so you can then earn it.
Likability and Reputation (My context)
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, as in pretty much all of them own their own businesses. Some large, some small, and we’re all blessed to have such a network of people who have mostly positive things to say about us.
Does reputation equal authority? No, it equals likability, but like celebrity, it can help build authority.
My father once said something to the effect of, “son, I can open all the doors in the world for you, but you’re the one who has to walk through them.”
The analogy of course being what I said in the beginning, that bestowments can only get you so far until you have to stand on your own two feet. And that it’s cyclical.
In my professional career, doors were opened, introductions were made, credibility was extended on faith because of the strength of relationships. But it was always up to me to prove my worth, which meant learning, applying, asking questions, and respecting those who were already sitting at the table. Those recommendations aren’t bestowed easily either.
When you take that approach, the authority you earn will be far stronger than simply trading on celebrity.
Out of your league
And then there’s the idea of relative authority. I may earn my place at your table, but wouldn’t be able to hack it at a table of people with far more experience than myself. Nothing at all wrong with this. You’re going to boost me, bestow me as an authority in your eyes, maybe help me catch the eye of someone at the next table, at which I’ll be quickly humbled.
But if I’m out of my league, I can take it in stride and learn, or cower and go back to where I’m a celebrity. See? Cyclical 🙂
Footnote on this section: In this online playing field, everybody can be treated as an equal which, of course, confuses people into thinking they’re hotter shit than they really are.
To me, authority is sustainable. You’ve earned a seat at the table through hard work, but also because you can prove you aren’t a one hit wonder. It’s also impossible to have 100% earned authority, because this isn’t The Matrix and we can’t just automatically flutter our eyelids and know everything there is to know about a topic.
At some point, usually in the beginning, you need to work your mojo and get boosted. Someone has to open that door for you. And this will happen at each level. But as I’ve said, it’s your job to not only walk through the door, but prove that you belong there tomorrow, a month, and a year from now.
Perception is reality, fake it til you make it, all that stuff. Very important in the overall process, so long as you don’t decide to make it your primary calling card.
Smart minds will recognize these opportunities where they’re boosted to the edge of their own circle of authority, and sit back & learn.
Footnote 2: I came up with all that without having to listen to the podcast. After commenting enough on another thread I figured I should see if what I’m saying was in line with the discussion. It was, of course, 100%, which makes these points that much more important to understand.
Thanks for listening 🙂