Inner Authority: Your Personal GPS for Empowered Leadership

Wendy Wallbridge

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"You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." —Winnie the Pooh's friend Christopher Robin

Authority has come to mean someone with the power to affect or influence others because of office or expertise. Power in business, politics and the world of work, to most people, implies competition, domination and is usually wielded by the person with the highest rank and largest paycheck.

Inner Authority is authentic power, not something bestowed upon us through role or status. It is something that exudes from one who comes from their deepest values, who can size up a situation and say what needs to be done without being colored by agenda.

Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr writes, "People with true inner authority 'author' us. They create life in us. They seem to write life more than they are written upon." Developing Inner Authority, we create lives of positive action that arise from a deep inner wisdom. Access to our Inner Authority is key to becoming authentic leaders, successful individuals, and to living joyful lives.

The best time to cultivate this sense of our own value, worth and self-efficacy is paradoxically when nothing seems to be going our way. These are precious opportunities to develop Inner Authority.

When the CEO of a tech company recently questioned his Vice President's loyalty she was bewildered. He was reacting to her assertion to the Board that their priority should be supporting the field manager. She told them, "We should give him whatever he needs to hit our revenue goal." The CEO asked her afterwards, "Are you working for him or me?"

Later she shared with me, "Every day you get signals to not be yourself or think certain things. Do we acquiesce and stand down? Become victimized or doused by it? A lot of us know what needs to be done but we don't think we're smart enough or good enough to speak up and stand up for what we know. We undermine ourselves rather than take the risk of being out of favor."

She is in good company. Maria Shriver stunned an audience of 14,000 at last year's Women's Minerva conference with her confession about how she "lost" herself to external pressures. "As long as I was trying to anticipate what you wanted from me, as long as I was trying to fulfill other people's expectations I was in a losing game, a game I've been playing since I was a kid."
But this isn't just a woman's thing.

When Josh Waitzkin, the young chess prodigy from the book and movie, "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was asked why he left the game of chess he explained, and I paraphrase:

'At fifteen, when the film came out of my life it immediately made things complicated. I was National champion in the chess world and top-rated player for my age in the country. I had a lot of momentum. But suddenly I would go to tournaments and have tons of fans asking me to sign autographs and take pictures. Slowly over the next four years I was becoming externalized. My love for the game was being challenged by external influences - I'd watch myself thinking how I looked to all the fans.'

Inner Authority is our ability to author our lives. We develop it when we shift from focusing less on what "they" think and need, and become "internally referenced". I didn't say selfish. Focusing on our selves too much can make our lives get small. But when we are in touch with that place inside of us that is most authentic we are connected with the totality of the universe; we care deeply about others.

Please join me at the WITI Conference in Santa Clara, October 12, 2:30-5:30 pm, for the workshop: Inner Authority: Your Personal GPS for Empowered Leadership

In this lively, interactive workshop, you'll earn tools for re-authoring your leadership by learning to think, speak, and act from the wisest, most powerful you. Click Here For Details!

Marianne Williamson said, "Our entire three-dimensional reality is a screen in which we are projecting our thoughts. The job of the miracle worker is to extend our perception beyond the material world to what the heart knows to be true." By authoring our inner conversation we don't just become better leaders, we help to make the world a better and more compassionate place as well.

Wendy Wallbridge is president and executive coach of On Your Mark Corporate Coaching and Consulting,