The Question of Authority


Authority: freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities;
Confidence derived from experience or practice; firm self-assurance

eyes_small.jpgLearning to trust yourself, your experience and your wisdom is the key to learning to claim your personal authority.

Let me share an example. I started writing a book over three years ago. After at least a year of writing, I ended up with a pretty hefty book proposal, with a complete chapter of 40-plus pages. One of my much esteemed colleagues introduced me to his agent, so I contacted her and asked her if she would read my proposal. She asked me all sorts of questions about my background and education. When she discovered that I didn’t have a PhD, or a “national following”, she said she wouldn’t read my proposal as I didn’t have what it took to be credible or sell books. At the time, I let her authority crush mine. Let me explain.

I did not yet understand that my own experience and the wisdom that comes from it is the only knowing that I can truly have. And, that sharing our wisdom to others, and being open to others wisdom, is a way we learn about who we are and what is real, outside of what our cultural conditioning tells us, especially for women. We learn by sharing stories and the deep seeds of wisdom that come from living consciously.

Don’t get me wrong…I am all for a good education. I loved my time at Stanford University, finding the intelligent discourse and amazing flow of ideas completely full of life. But, education can only take us so far.

But with this literary agent, I accepted the status quo she was offering to me. I was standing alongside her in this culture’s perspective that others with education and some kind of ‘sensational experience’ know more than those who don’t have these experiences. I believed the story that without a PhD or some kind of notoriety, that what I have to say is not enough of interest to others to sell books.

Now, I can understand this from the current way publishing works. It is about making money, and in this culture, at least right now, what makes money is sensationalism or a hefty academic pedigree. But, I let this experience kill my own compelling urge to write the book. I also let it squash my own inner authority that I absolutely know I have something to offer and to share, and have the right to share it.

I think realizing and exercising ones personal authority is a necessity in these times of turmoil. And, personal authority is not by definition in conflict with other forms of authority. We can claim our right to voice and act on what we know to be true from deep within, our own Truth, while at the same time allowing this response to not infringe on another’s rights.

Historically, women have not had the luxury of being born with authority. Over the past few thousand years, women have lived mostly in the confines of patriarchal cultures, which don’t teach or honor that we have the ability to know and own this personal inner authority.

What it comes down to is owning our own wisdom, nurturing this wisdom, looking within to understand our own truth so that we may step forward and voice this truth into the world.

We are conditioned out of our own inner authority. We are taught well that others make the rules and choices and our only way to voice them is by voting for those we believe will hold up the values and choices we stand behind.

We are also conditioned out of honoring our wisdom. In my work with women directly affected by 9/11, at the end of each class day, we would hold a wisdom circle where each woman had a chance to speak the seeds of wisdom she gleaned from the work of the day. The wisdom in those circles pierced one’s heart with clarity and love.

I am now writing again and loving it. How it will turn out I don’t yet know. I have stepped into a new perspective about what I have to say. All I know is that I must say it…how it appears, and who will read it, is not up to me. I do know that I have the wisdom and the authority to speak up and be heard.

What is your wisdom? What are you wanting to say? What if there were women out there just waiting to hear your wisdom? How might you share it? I look forward to learning from you…

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2 Replies to “The Question of Authority”

  1. I loved this post! It spoke to me and reminded me of the things I do know and do want to share. Thank you.

  2. Jennifer,

    I love that you visited, read and shared. How ’bout if you shared here with us?! I would love to know what you know and want to share. And, I bet other readers would as well. I know you to be wildly creative and can’t wait to see what you have cooking inside!

    All love,


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