"In our last meeting, you used a specific term, and I would be interested in a deeper explanation of what you meant. You said you were anti-authoritarian."
The question took me off guard. How do I explain my anti-authoritarian mindset to someone who is not inside my head? And why was this at all important? Either way, a good staring point for an article, isn't it?
It all dates back to a revelation I had when I was much shorter than I am today. And when I speak of revelation, I'm talking visions in a meditative state, close to or in dreams. I have a very visual mind, and although I do not relate a dream to truth, it can often be the beginning of a deeper reflection that eventually produces some kind of truth.
In this specific case, I started out with a large crowd representing all humans within a society. Some of these humans were placed physically higher than others, and they were preaching and dictating, and I saw these as authorities. And as everyone else, I thought it as desirable to climb the ladder and become one of these elevated people. But how? What made these people so special? What made them more valuable than others?
Almost as an immediate reply to my question, the elevation disappeared, and everyone were now on the same level. There was nothing that made these people more valuable than others. And with this, I also lost the feeling of authority coming from them. Authority as a concept became something as alien to me as racism. Your elevated position in society, your position of power, your authoritarian rule, it is all a psychological illusion for the ruler and the ruled.
"So if your boss tells you to do something, and you don't agree with how he wants you to do it, you just go and do your own thing anyway?"
At this point, I'm wondering where we're going with this conversation. But this is not the point at all. If the boss has a good reason, let him explain this reason. I protest when I see that the proposed solution doesn't make sense from my point of view and, I'm sorry, but I think I have a better overview of my specific field than my boss does. That's why I have my job and he has his job. They are different jobs covering different fields. I respect you for your skill in your field, you respect me for my skill in my field, and we're ok.
And this is how I lead my department as well. As a leader, my job is not to boss around, but to shed light on the path forward. I expect my employees to bring out their own torches and shed more light on a subject if there was something I missed. I am willing to take new information, admit that I had missed something, and together we move forward on the right path.
Authoritarian rule, however, does not listen. Does not take new information in. Does not notice when it steps on people. Authoritarian rule is based on the idea that position of power is all, and reason is not necessary.
To me, authority in people does not exist. Authority lies only in facts. Facts just can't be beaten, facts always end up winning. Facts like gravity, and "if we push this box, then that other one is going to fall down."
That said, my job is also to do what my boss tells me to do. And when he will not listen to reason, I will obey. That is the contract of employment, and I signed that contract. However, the very same contract also specifies that I should lead the company when it comes to my specific field. Every time my boss overturns any decisions I make - which are usually the result of a team effort, so he's actually wielding authority over the entire department - he is, as such, breaking the contract.
And for every breach of contract, I will reevaluate it.
"Is this how you would put it? Would you be comfortable with such an explanation?" he asked, looking at the third party participant, as if I was a terrorist.
Those who get worried about anti-authoritarians are usually the authoritarians.