One of the hardest things for many women to embrace in life is their own authority. The authority to make the choices they feel are right for them. The authority to wear those boots with that hat. The authority to speak clearly, loudly and assertively. The authority to live chest-out-shoulders-back.

There are a lot of reasons why we aren’t able to do this. We’re afraid of someone calling us out to the mat and challenging us. (Who are we to be/do/say that?) We’re afraid of being or doing something wrong. We’re afraid of the risks involved.

However, I believe underneath all this lies one larger truth:

Living and acting with authority comes with a great price. It opens us up to a place of deep vulnerability. {Click to tweet!}

Why? Because we are choosing to live according to our own rules. We are trusting our own intuition as much or more than we trust the “experts” of the world. We are expressing our personality, quirks, style and spirit. And most of all, we are daring to take our place at the table. We are putting ourselves out there, getting out of the bleachers and into the arena. We are saying to the whole world, “I matter. I have the right to take up this space. I belong and more than that – I have something to contribute.

Is it just me, or is that some scary stuff? I mean, let’s be honest: Any of that kind of behavior is akin to hanging a target around your neck and standing in an open field with your arms wide open. Darts, anyone? Slings and arrows? Bullets? Here I am!

The funny thing is, when you don’t take this risk to live and act with authority, you’re not really living, at all. Sure, you avoid hearing a rude comment about your wild fashion sense but you’re not happy about the way you look and your crazy hats are gathering dust in the closet. Sure, your parents/spouse/siblings will think you did the right thing by taking their advice and pursuing the job/education they thought was best for you, but you won’t be happy. Sure, you won’t have to deal with conflict when someone challenges your authority on the subject of your latest book, speech or class but you’ll never get to share what you believe and possibly touch the lives of all the people who need to hear your message.

The price of living and acting with authority is, indeed, high, but the payoff is higher. The fear is big, but the ROI is bigger. {Click to tweet!}

There’s no magic formula for achieving this state of being. It’s all in the little choices you make each day. Wear that hat. Follow your intuition. Choose joy. Quit something. Begin something. Join that club. Open that business. Teach that class. Schedule that meeting.

Work the muscle every day in little ways. Search for opportunities. You may not be able to identify them as “opportunities to express authority,” but if you get confused, just follow the vulnerability. Follow the fear. That’s the last thing we want to hear, but it’s really the only way to live your life with joy and authority.

How have you learned to live and act with authority?

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