Pressure: Authority and Writing

Authority figures get a bad rap nowadays. People tend to have issues with authority as it is, but today’s authority figures have it rough. Social Media creates many voices in the crowd, making it even more difficult to decide. Often, the loudest voice gets the most attention – regardless if it’s true or not. And if it isn’t true, then there’s a strong chance it will soon be usurped by another. That’s the hope – that the real authority will show up and take their place. But, as I stated before, it’s difficult to figure that out in a sea of so many screaming voices. So how does anyone determine proper authority and how to respond accordingly?

Well, people of influence tend to fall into one of two categories: titled and untitled. The former being those who yield a stance of known influence – like business owners, parents, guardians, or even government and city officials – and the latter being those who hold influence but don’t always exert it – like entertainers, musicians, celebrities and hey, even writers. The former – titled leaders – help to establish order. These individuals are recognized publicly without question. A captain holds rank over a lieutenant and a manager holds authority over an associate. What you see, is what you get. Untitled authority figures are trickier to spot. Their state of influence is relative based on their appeal. How much people like them – and how many – will affect their overall state of authority and influence. Like, the Red Hot Chili Peppers versus an unknown artist – one will probably have more fans than the other. But, that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. An untitled authority figure’s status can change or fluctuate on the drop of a dime – all dependent, once again, on the appeal they have to the public.

I find this arrangement to be most intriguing because the two clash on a regular basis. How many times do you see an issue arise yet only gain momentum once the people of influence weigh in on ‘what’s best practice’ for handling the situation? Those who have studied the issue – the ones who should know what’s best – give their advice. The president of a company hands down the orders; a politician signs a law; or a parent deals out discipline. The orders are clear and all under the hood of influence are affected. Then, the voices start. An untitled authority figure may step in, take a stance and suddenly, appeal is marked as being as important as credibility. It happens all the time. In the smallest of circles, it happens all the time. And to someone who feels their voice is minimal, the pressure to follow is huge.

Who do you side with? What has your personal experience been? Who is to say what is right in such matters? People will ask these questions of themselves and most often will side based on one crucial detail: how the outcome will benefit them individually. This is why appeal has so much power. If there is personal appeal, a person will want that way to be right – even when it’s not, forgoing what is likely true just because the orders don’t align with what suits them.

This makes navigating the world a tough place. Wanting order and authority, but only wanting it on our terms. And somewhere in that mess, a unique pressure is pushing and pulling us in either direction. From a writing standpoint, this place of tension is where I go to war. Words are the tools of my trade. They breathe life into why I do what I do. And to know that I get to be a part of that struggle is exciting. Sounds like a ton of pressure but what I’ve discovered is that authority and appeal do line up if you allow it. That you won’t always get to do what you want right away and you won’t always agree with the one who is in charge. But, the question to ask yourself is this: is their influence true? Is there a truth in what they say that is greater than my own personal needs or wants?

And if you can answer that question definitively, then the pressure of siding with authority becomes a little less difficult to manage.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. This is not unique to leaders and authority figures. With due respect, people reap what they sow… in words, thoughts, and actions.

    An ability to persuade and influence is very different than inspiring and motivating people. However when actions go against the grain of sizable majorities, that when the choice to align with and appreciate “authority” comes into question.

    Good post topic.

    • Thanks for the comment the follow, Eric.

      The context of this post is more about influence than inspiration – a concept which doesn’t always apply to just leaders, as you suggested.

  2. This concept of “titled vs untitled” is what discourages a lot of “untitled” folks from speaking up. I think this is where networking comes in. What if an unknown person could somehow (most likely through social media) get noticed by someone with more authority and influence. Then … that individual or group could promote or share the voice of the unknown (“untitled”) giving their ideas and beliefs an extra lift. I believe with just a few of these little promotions the unknown person could very quickly establish a more recognized, and therefore influential, voice throughout society. You mentioned presidents of companies and politicians. How many of these laws signed into act were generated by their own greed for personal gain. I believe those in charge should have more of a nurturing background. I have always said that our next US President should be a mother versus a politician. I believe there would be less greed-based actions, less laziness, less empty promises and true caring about getting this country back on its feet. That’s what leadership and influence should be about – caring about people versus the greed that often comes from having too much influence. Thoughts?
    And by the way – you write very well. This was easy to read.

    • Thanks for the comment, Brian.

      Much of this post is dedicated to recognizing those who have influence – those who bear titles and those who don’t. The untitled aren’t always the “unvoiced”; rather, they are the ones who have influence but don’t always feel the necessity to exert it. Your argument sounds more like people who don’t have influence and don’t get their voices heard. I would agree with you and I would argue that true leadership is servanthood and the ability to build up those who serve under that leadership. Perhaps you should run for a city official position someday?

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