Image via Flickr by Yiie
I have naturally curly hair. If you have any doubt, find a picture of me and you will see what I mean. I am one of the rare exceptions to the hair rules, in that I am actually happy with the hair I have. Recently I have been reading The Curly Girl Handbook in hopes of improving the looks of my locks. A point the book made that really resonated with me was (paraphrased), “hair stylists with curly hair that don’t wear it curly, don’t really like curly hair.” They aren’t being authentic – or another way to say it, walk the talk!
That passage made me think about how we create authority. There can be many paths, but one of the easiest is to be an example of what you advise to others. As a consultant it is easy to give advice, suggesting best practices and new methodologies. But the true test is – do you really believe it? Do you practice what you preach?
This is not to say that you have to have first-hand experience at “everything” before you can gain credibility. In many cases extrapolation of knowledge is completely valid. It also doesn’t mean that you have personally perfected whatever it is you are sharing advice or instruction about. I am constantly advising my downhill ski students on stance although mine is nowhere near perfect, but I know what is right and I am always trying to improve my form as well.
It really is about being authentic. Know thyself! Be confident in your skills and knowledge, but also acknowledge where there might be gaps. Create partnerships with those who have areas of expertise that supplement your own. Find opportunities to learn and grow. And in the end, if you have even modest success and you walk your talk, you will have all the authority you need.