In the previous post, I talked about Unconscious Power, which is one of the effects of having achieved Unconscious Competence in some area of endeavour or growth. Here, I discuss Conscious Authority. I once heard someone describe power and authority like this, “Football players have power. The referee has authority.” I thought it was a great illustration, and my usage of the words “power” and “authority” follow that line of thinking.
“Power” connotes resources and abilities, whether personal or extended. “Authority” denotes the right to exercise that power in a noble and just fashion in order to benefit the community, state, nation or group of nations where the one wielding the power resides. “Power” tends to be more personal in nature, whereas “authority” implies a system, a consensus, an adherence to universal, non-negotiable principles for the good of the many, and for their continuing growth and development. “Power” needs to be built up, developed and sustained. “Power” is found in resources and the ability and willingness to use those resources to good effect. “Authority” is like the backdrop against which power is exercised. The exercised power must be in line with the spirit of the authority in whose context it is wielded for it to be considered legitimate.
That is why authority should never be personal. The moment a fallible human being acts under the force of his own authority, that authority tends to cease being a force, a reference framework, for the common good. It will instead devolve to his own self interests. It is not for nothing that the concept of stewardship has been intertwined with that of authority as coming from a higher level than the level at which human affairs are normally conducted. It is an expression of a desire for some higher governing body to rule over our own unruly selves.
We all have power. Some have more, some less. Let us all wield our power in the context of an ennobling higher authority, higher principles, for the welfare of all. And let that authority be Conscious Authority.