Category Archives: Leadership and Authority

Why And When You Should Have A Problem With Authority

 

 

Modern Western culture is obsessed with leadership and authority. It’s shoved in your face from the time you’re born. Parents have godlike legal powers over their children, and schools have almost as much control over the movements and behavior of students as prisons have over prisoners. Going through school the brightest students are sent to leadership clubs, courses, and conventions. Businesses force employees to sign contracts that bind them to submit to the authority of their employer as if their employer were their king. Inside and outside of your home, school, and workplace your government forces you to obey laws written at the whim of politicians and enforced by police and military personnel. Every government’s public relations departments encourage its citizens to have faith in their political leaders and to believe that questioning your leaders is a sign of lack of respect for everything your country stands for.

If you don’t fall in line and obey your leaders you’ll be told that you “have a problem with authority” as if that were a sign of weakness and immaturity on your part. That point of view overlooks the fact that, from a cosmic perspective, all people were created equal. You’re not equal once you reach 18, get married, get a degree, get commissioned or elected. Everyone is always completely equal. There’s no way to earn the right to demand unquestioning obedience and reverence from other people with less age, or social, economic or political credentials than you. You can demand unquestioning obedience from other human beings, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to. That just means you’ve chosen to treat other people like a second class citizen to you. You can come up with all sorts of reasons to justify your actions that sound good on paper, but in the end, you’re justifying the unethical subjugation of your equals.

Granted, parents have a responsibility to raise their children to their full potential, and this requires discipline. School teachers have to maintain good order in classrooms in order to facilitate learning. Police have to maintain order on the streets, and politicians have to set boundaries for everyone within their jurisdiction. Life has to have rules because good rules are nothing more than good advice for how to fulfill your potential, and when an entire population follows those best practices, then society as a whole is able to accomplish greater things.

The thing about rules is that they were created by humans to help humans. Humans were not created by a dogmatic authority figure to follow rules. When a rule is illogical and counterproductive it negates its purpose for existing. Also, rules don’t draw their validity from the authority figure who wrote them. When a king, elected politician, police officer, teacher or parent tell another human being that they have to obey and respect their authority simply because they’ve been imbued with the right to control another human being they’re really just forcing you into submission to serve their own purposes. When an authority figure’s rules or orders are illogical, then the source of their authority is negated.

When an entire population mindlessly kneels before their self-proclaimed leaders they create a culture of servitude which undermines their own ability and responsibility to fulfill their individual potential. Plus, the next generation of humans who will grow up in this culture will assume that willful subservience is the norm. So they’ll mimic their elders’ beliefs and behaviors and pass them onto the next generation. In the process, they’ll also spoil their leaders into thinking that their ability to control others equates to their right to. This arrogance will inevitably blind them and cause them to behave irrationally, and since they’re steering society they’ll steer society in a counterproductive direction.

Celebrating and revering other human beings’ authority over you is equivalent to celebrating your own subjugation, and celebrating your own subjugation is immature and irresponsible because it limits your (and society’s) ability to fulfill your potential. It would be illogical and counterproductive to will that everyone should obey their self-proclaimed masters.You simply can’t make a categorical imperative out of this behavior

On the flip side, if nobody follows any rules then society will devolve into chaos, but that doesn’t mean that you have to choose between being a mindless slave or a marauding bandit. Just rules are based on just reason. The most utopian individuals are the most reasonable individuals, and the most utopian societies are based on reason. You have an obligation to think and behave reasonably regardless of what anyone else insists is reasonable. History has taught us that authority figures aren’t perfect. Despite their credentials, and because of the arrogance they tend to draw from their credentials, they can act as irrationally as anyone else.  Mindlessly obeying them is like giving a monkey a gun. Every tyrannical dictator who ever has and ever will set the world back was and will be held aloft by legions of faithful supporters who equate obedience with maturity. Tyranny cannot exist unless good men follow orders. So if you don’t have a problem with authority then you are the problem.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
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Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

My Philosophy On Leadership

Picture of a boss sitting on a box labeled "business," which is being pulled by three workers.... and a picture of a leader pulling the box labeled "business" with his workers.

You don’t become a good leader by memorizing a list of management rules. All the lists of advice on leadership ultimately add up to one simple concept: respect people. If you don’t understand that, no amount of advice will help you.

I’ve met a lot of people who worked in leadership roles and thought of themselves as leaders, but in their minds, they were a higher form of life than the people “beneath” them. It doesn’t matter if you’re older, more experienced, educated or hold more credentials than another person. You’re not better than anyone else. Even if you were better than someone else on some level, you’re still equal from the cosmic perspective.

Leaders don’t manage peons. Dictators do that. Leaders should see themselves as being responsible for cultivating the rarest, most valuable entities in the universe. When you look at your role like this, you can’t help but treat your workers with respect. You can’t belittle, harass or threaten people you value so strongly. Instead, you’ll find yourself looking at life from their perspective and treating them with the dignity you expect to be treated with.

When you treat others with kindness and dignity, you’ll find that they’ll value you in return. When they value you for who you are and how you treat them, you won’t need to belittle, harass or threaten them to do what you want. They’ll want to go above and beyond the limit for you, and they’ll be more loyal to you.

Regardless of how nice you are to them, they won’t respect your authority if they see you sitting around all day and taking long breaks. As a leader, your work ethic sets the bar for your organization. This means you have to work harder than everyone else. When they see you working hard and picking up their slack, they won’t have any room to complain when you tell them to do something.

In addition to taking responsibility for your organization’s workload, you also have to take responsibility for being the brain of the operation. As powerful as the supercomputer inside every human being’s head is, people tend to think only as much as their role demands. They could answer the hard questions that need to be answered to make an organization function properly themselves, but that’s not their job. Their job is to do what they’re told. So they’ll rely on you to think for them. This isn’t laziness. This is instinctual. You need to be able to rise to this challenge and make wise decisions quickly. When people realize that they can rely on you to answer all their questions and make wise decisions, they’ll come to rely on you. When they’re able to rely on you, they’ll respect you because you make them feel safe and secure.

Even if you do all of these things correctly, you’ll still find some people will still do the bare minimum that’s expected of them. Part of being responsible for other people is setting limits and being firm. As long as you aren’t abusive about it, people will respect the fact that you won’t let them get away with anything. In fact, when a human being obeys another person, it reinforces in their mind that they should obey that person.

This is why militaries force enlisted troops to salute officers. They tell the troops they’re saluting out of respect, but they’re really saluting to keep them in the habit of obeying without question. Forcing one human being to salute another human being in order to manipulate them into maintaining a servile mindset is unethical (especially if you punish them with a dishonorable discharge for failing to subjugate themselves to their equals), but that doesn’t mean requiring people to follow rules is unethical. Structure makes people feel safe, and they respect anyone with the strength of character to lay down rules and stick to them.

At any rate, everyone knows they’re supposed to follow rules even when they try to break them. You don’t have to get philosophical about how to discipline people. You don’t have to yell or give big speeches. All you have to do is tell rule breakers what they did wrong, how you expect them to correct the problem, and in worst-case scenarios, what will happen if they continue to neglect their responsibilities. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred they’ll correct the problem simply because they know they’re supposed to. If they don’t, then you give them a few warnings and eventually let them go. You don’t have to raise your voice or tear them down to do that. You can do it as calmly as Buddha. When other people see you discipline others firmly and with dignity, they’ll respect your authority not out of fear but because you’ve demonstrated that you deserve to be respected.

There’s more to leadership than just this, but ultimately the only way to learn the little details of how to be a good leader is by being a leader. Every minute of leadership experience you get under your belt improves your skills. Like learning any other skill, it’s good to start off small and work your way up. Doing something like managing an amateur sports team or teaching an informal night class is a good way to build your leadership skills before managing a large number of people who do big important things that have severe consequences.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

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