Authority, and it’s limit

Reason, that is.

Back in ancient times, the classical period arose when the authority of god was displaced by reason. Today, we are lucky to have almost gotten rid of the first, in the context of business at least.

However, the very problem of authority versus reason is still there, taking various forms to influence our actions. Quite frequently, for example, expertise is at odds with common sense, and I think it is of value to bear this in mind when making decisions.

Let’s take an example to make this more clear. You have no expertise on legal matters, so you consult a lawyer to ask for advice. You describe your problem and he gets back to you with a solution. “You need to do a, b, c.” {…} “Why?” “Because that’s how x, y, z works.” {…} “This doesn’t sound very logical to me. Why is it like that?” “Because that’s how it is.”

X, y, z may typically vary from the law to the market to the “system” to your partner’s knowledge and expertise and extra-terrestial superiority; the common denominator is that the argument alone doesn’t make sense, thus the call to this ‘authority’. My humble advice? Don’t buy it.

Authority may serve as a catalyst in a decision, but not as an argument per se. No matter what the discussion topic is, or your level of knowledge or ignorance, everything at the end of the day needs to make sense; for both insiders and outsiders.

Challenge everything under this prism and cut off anything that fails this fundamental test. Demand to be convinced at first, with data, facts and rational arguments. Skip any authorities. Then proceed. And rest assured that the building block of a golden era -maybe yours- is not authority, but reason.