A few months ago, the amazing Mandy Evans was our guest lecturer at Supercoach Academy in New York. Of the various topics she covered in our time together, perhaps my favorite was what she called “self-authorization” – that is, our right as human beings to claim the role of author in our own lives.
A quick trip to the dictionary revealed a vast range of definitions of the word “authority”:
1. the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.
2. a power or right delegated or given; authorization: Who has the authority to grant permission?
3. a person or body of persons in whom authority is vested, as a governmental agency.
4. an accepted source of information, advice, etc.
5. an expert on a subject: He is an authority on baseball.
6. persuasive force; conviction: She spoke with authority.
7. a statute, court rule, or judicial decision that establishes a rule or principle of law; a ruling.
8. right to respect or acceptance of one’s word, command, thought, etc.; commanding influence: the authority of a parent; the authority of a great writer.
9. mastery in execution or performance, as of a work of art or literature or a piece of music.
10. a warrant for action; justification.
11. testimony; witness.
By these definitions, being the authority in my own life would mean, amongst other things, that I have the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes in my life; it would also mean I have the right to control, command, or determine things like what direction I aimed myself in and what actions I do or do not take.
It would imply that I am not only an accepted source of information and advice on the subject of me, but I am also an expert on the subject. In You Can Have What You Want I expressed this idea like this:
|I’ve studied hundreds of books and worked with thousands of people over the past fifteen years, including a foreign prince, numerous millionaires, and famous (sometimes infamous!) members of the Hollywood elite. I’m an unquestioned expert in the field of human behaviour.
Yet I’m not going to give you a single bit of advice about what you should do with your life.Why?
Because even if what I say is true in my experience, it may not be in yours.
In theory I may know better than you, but in practice you know best (or at least you have the potential to know best) what will work for you.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to say this:
You are the expert on you.
But here’s the catch…
Most of us have never claimed our expertise – we’ve never made a study of ourselves. And if you’re going to step up and be your own best expert, one of the most useful things you can do is to begin tapping into your own inner senses and inner genius on a regular basis.
While no one can teach you exactly how to do that, it is something that can be learned…
How do we learn it? Like most things, by actually doing it. One of the exercises Mandy had the group do was to write a “self-authorization” list, beginning with the words “I authorize myself to…” People then wrote, read aloud, and even recorded onto video their newly claimed freedoms, powers, rights, and resources
Less than 24 hours later I found myself walking through the airport in LA, quietly dreading another flight I was due to get on 3 days later back to London.
Here’s a snippet of the conversation that took place inside my head between me and my wiser self:
Me: “Oh, god – I really don’t want to fly to London.”
Wiser Self (WS): “Then don’t.”
Me: “But I’ve promised people that I would and the ticket is already paid for and it’s probably non-refundable.”
WS: “Well then, I guess you’re screwed.” (My wiser self has a well-developed sense of irony and gentle chiding.) “Or… you could always authorize yourself to not go.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
WS: “Well, who’s decision is it? If you let the decision be made by the people you’ve made promises to (i.e. you’ll cancel if they release you from your commitment), or to the airline (i.e. you’ll cancel if they give you your money back), then you’re setting yourself up to be a victim of circumstance. But if you authorize yourself to make the decision – knowing that you’ll handle the consequences as best you can – you get to do what you really want to do and live your life on your own terms.”
Me: “Yeah, well, I do like the sound of that, but can I really authorize myself to lose that much money?”
WS: “Look at it this way – the money’s already spent. You can be out a few thousand dollars in London or you can be out a few thousand dollars in LA – the point is, you’re the only one with the real authority to make that decision.”
Emboldened by my newly claimed authority, I cancelled the trip. The people I’d made commitments to in London were not only understanding, but in several cases relieved :-), and I was able to defer the bulk of my ticket to a later date.
What was so interesting to me about the whole experience was that until that little chat I’d had inside my head, I hadn’t realized how much of the authority over my life I was giving away to old, unquestioned beliefs, like “it’s (always) bad to waste money” and “if you make a promise, you (always) have to keep it”.
By authorizing myself to be my own best expert, I freed myself once more from the tyranny of the should. On examining things a little bit deeper, I could see that not-so-hidden inside the word “authority” is the word “author”, which comes from the Latin root “auctor” – which means “creator”.
In short, when I “self-authorize”, I am claiming my role as the creator of my life – the one who sets things in motion, dances with destiny, and even from time to time fights the good fight.
1. Write the words “I authorize myself to…” at the top of a piece of paper or word processing file. Fill in the space below with as many possibilities as come to mind.
I authorize myself to…
- Do what I actually want to do and not do at least some of what I don’t want to do
- Have bad days, even when I think I’m supposed to have it all figured out
- Love myself unconditionally, even when I’m not behaving the way I think I should
2. Find at least one other person to share your list with. If you like, you can post it to the Genius Catalyst Forums.
Have fun, learn heaps, and if you like, authorize yourself to be exactly how you are…