You hear the word a lot these days.
Yet what does it actually mean, especially as it relates to your sustainable online presence?
There are different levels of authority—from B to Z. The range spans from (B) one-step-ahead of your audience to (Z) a recognized expert in your field.
The advantage of being a “one-step-ahead” authority
Most of us think we need to know a lot to be considered an authority. I know I’ve been guilty of believing that myth.
- Not having all the answers
- People in our audience who know more than we do
- Being judged by our peers
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed because we made a mistake
And yes—all those things might happen to us.
Yet do they negate your authority?
Let’s explore this from another perspective. When you are a step (or maybe two) ahead of your customer or reader, how is it easier to relate to her struggles?
When you’ve recently overcome the same challenges they’re experiencing, they are fresh in your mind.
You can be right there, empathizing with her. You know exactly where to place the next stepping stone so her foot lands on solid ground as you guide her to where she wants to go.
When you are way down the path, it is a lot harder to remember what it was like in those early stages when you were first learning.
- Your first swim lesson?
- The first time you tried to ride a bicycle?
- The first time you got behind the wheel of a car to learn how to drive?
What do you remember from those experiences now?
Unless something traumatic happened, or you are Dustin Hoffman in the movie, Rainman, you have a vague notion of those first moments yet probably don’t recall too many details.
When you’re just a step or two ahead of your ideal customer or reader, those tiny how to details are fresh in your mind and so much easier to teach.
Certainly at the beginning and middle stages of a learning journey, your customer appreciates those step-by-step instructions that efficiently guide her to success.
When you are a “one-step-ahead” authority, you are able to leverage the power of proximity.
And yes, being an expert in your field is a sweet spot. It’s generally a well-deserved place of authority based on many years of hard work. And if you have reached that level of expertise and are still passionate about what you are teaching—we all benefit.
Everyone is better than you are…(at something). Which makes it imperative that you connect and ask for help. At the same time that we encounter this humbling idea, we also need to acknowledge that you are better at something than anyone you meet. Everyone you meet needs something you can do better than they can. —Seth Godin
With time, you might become a recognized expert teaching all levels. Or, because your ideal customer persona changes and grows with you—you might continue to stay only a step or two ahead of your readers and customers as they loyally learn with you.
There is no better time to start than now
No matter which dot on the authority spectrum you’re currently standing on—newly-minted or highly-respected authority—each of those dots from B to Z are are all a viable place to begin.
Where you stand will influence the relationship with your ideal customer. You just need to be one step ahead of your customer or reader who is standing on dot A. And willing to learn along with them so you continue to stay one step ahead.
Authority is important to build your sustainable online presence
What are your fears that keep you from embodying your authority? Share ways you’ve discovered that helped you realize your authority and teach what you love. Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below.