The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the Stereotype

building authority

No doubt you’ve heard the expression, “ignorance is bliss.”

Is it? Seriously?

I mean really… bliss?


Maybe during a week-long tequila-soaked bender in Cancun you might want to forget your troubles and responsibilities and go loco for a while. In that case, ignorance might be bliss.

Until you get home and check your email.

But ignorance isn’t bliss over the long haul. Not when you’re running a business… or supporting a family… or holding down a job… or trying to pull off anything ambitious, really.

So what, if anything, is ignorance good for?

Your Ignorance Is Your Opportunity

First off, you need to quit thinking of ignorance as a bad thing. Stupidity is a bad thing. It means not smart – or unable to learn more.

Don’t confuse the two. Ignorance is simply not yet knowing something.

So while ignorance may not really be pure joy as the saying suggests, I promise you it is one hell of an opportunity to transform yourself from average to outstanding.

When you acknowledge and embrace the fact that there’s a whole cosmic buttload of stuff you don’t yet know, you open yourself up to infinite growth and discovery opportunities.

You’re also admitting there’s unlimited opportunity to get better every day for the rest of your life. The sky’s the limit.

Not to mention the fact that your sincerity and humility will attract the right kind of people. There’s a fine line between being an expert authority and being a know-it-all.

No one likes a know-it-all, but everyone loves an expert who embraces being imperfect.

Why Real Authority Is a Far Cry from Perfection

I realize this all flies in the face of the authority-based content that’s so plentiful these days. I’m pretty happy about that, actually.

See, in this authority-centric space we all occupy, few people embrace their imperfection, so it’s easy to come away with the idea that you’re supposed to appear as infallible as possible at all times.

But there are a couple big problems with the “ultimate authority” schtick. First, smart people tend to see right through that act… so it may not be the best long-term audience building strategy.

Second, it suggests that you already know what you need to know. And that’s a dangerous message to send to your own psyche.

In other words, you’re telling yourself you’ve already peaked. You’re a finished work. There’s nothing left to learn and nowhere left to go from here.

That’s so wrong it’s ludicrous.

Conversely, if you find yourself starting to believe you’re the shiz-nit and you’ve got it all figured out, snap out of it. You’re not there yet… and thank God for that!

Because when you start to believe you’re done, you’re finished.
(click here to Tweet this quote!)

Remember – you’re an amazing one-of-a-kind masterpiece in progress – not a complete (but mediocre) 3rd grade art project.

Embrace not knowing it all.

Having infinite capacity to learn and experience is a tremendous gift.

It means you can still become.

You can still pull off amazing things. Things you haven’t even thought of yet.

You’re not done yet.

Neither am I.

And good for us!

About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

25 Replies

  1. Thanks Gary, This is what I needed to read!I feel so much better now.
    Tracey recently posted…4 Lessons learned long term house sitting in PanamaMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Tracey!

      Glad to hear it 🙂
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  2. You are so right – seeing ourselves and life as a work in progress, understanding that there are always more things to learn, helps us enter a dynamic frame of mind, and keeps life interesting. If one is curious and open, it will be evident in the work one does, and increase one’s “authority” on the subject. Plus, because of that attitude, one probably will know more, in actual fact! What a great post, Gary. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Hi Carina:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. For me, I think embracing what you don’t know also promotes humility. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the post!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  3. I was speaking to a friend earlier today and he mentioning something along the same lines – we’re always learning. The second we stop, it’s game over.

    And I fully believe that. Whenever I feel like I *know* everything, I start annoying myself (and others, I’m sure). And like you say – the second you’re consumed by your own greatness by saying you know everything, you’re also telling yourself you’re done.

    Harsh but true !
    Razwana Wahid recently posted…Headline formula cheatsMy Profile

    1. Funny how truth can be harsh, isn’t it? Or at least blunt! 🙂 Thanks & nice to see you Razwana.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  4. I would add to this: we should never stop reinventing ourselves! As soon as we decide that we’re ‘set in our ways’ and not willing to discover new things about ourselves and life in general, the game will be over.
    Alina recently posted…Everyday Heroes Series: Sandy’s Journey of Going from Vegetarian to Vegan to Plant-Based, and Gaining Health and Wisdom on the WayMy Profile

  5. Something about striving to be “the authority” has always made me uncomfortable. “Schtick” is the perfect description Gary. It reminds me of the “fake it till you make it” approach. Another wonky idea that promotes an undertow of deception that descent people struggle with, but have bought into (including myself) because they’ve been told that this is how you make it. People buy into this program or that program only to stop short because they have a conscience. Seems like if it makes you feel the least bit dishonest you’re veering of “your path”.

    Thanks Gary!
    Mike recently posted…VaultPress ReviewMy Profile

    1. Yeah – I’ve also never been much of a fan of faking it. Like I said, I like my authority figures human. I admire people who succeed despite flaws and mistakes. Thanks for joining in, Mike.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  6. Great stuff here. I agree. Folks who try to come off as the grand authority on something are exhausting. No one knows everything. I’d much rather follow someone “real” who demonstrates a willingness to learn, and comes off as approachable.

    1. “Exhausting” is a great way to put it, Mike. Agreed.

      Thanks for chiming in! Hope to hear more from you.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  7. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for connecting with me on Twitter. So many get the “authority” thing wrong and believe it means they are perfect and should present themselves as such.

    The problem with that is it flies in the face of competency and competency is the first reason someone continues to read, engage, share and of course it leads to the all to well documented know, like and trust conversation that ultimately lead to a sale.

    There is not such thing as perfection and I really appreciate that you highlighted the need for authenticity and humility. It’s okay to not know it all and your point about that reality opening up the door to advanced learning is genius!

    When someone comes to the point they know it all, there is no reason to continue to grow. They’ve arrived. The truth is we never arrive and there is always more to learn, ponder, integrate and grow from in both our personal lives and in our business.

    It’s really great to be here and thanks again for following me on Twitter! I look forward to reading more from your blog.

    Have a great week Gary. I’m off to share your article with my growing audience.

    ~ Don Purdum
    Don Purdum recently posted…Marketing without Vision Sucks and Why It’s Obvious You Don’t Have OneMy Profile

    1. Hi Don!

      Thanks for following – and commenting – and all that helpful, friendly stuff you did 🙂

      I’m glad we connected & thanks for sharing!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  8. Hi Gary,

    I’m so glad I stopped by Don’s blog post today or I would not have met you.

    We are constantly learning. I’m scared to death when it comes to technical issues but I keep trucking through the muck to get to the other side of it. If I can’t do it I out source it or ask my friends for help. Learning internet marketing is endless and thank you for your help.

    For me failure is not an option. I went and got myself a blogging coach because that is where I’m struggling. I also went out and got myself a web designer. I’m doing a whole new over haul on my blog.

    You have a wonderful weekend,

    Linda Schrier recently posted…Using Different Methods To Get TrafficMy Profile

  9. Enjoyed your post Gary. I think it’s very true that we shouldn’t consider ourselves as perfect or finished. We all have so much to learn, even if we are supposedly experts in our field. Once we accept we still have much to learn we can try and remedy this by acquiring some new knowledge, but we will never know everything. There will always be more to learn and that’s a very good thing.
    Peter recently posted…How to build your own website with WordPressMy Profile

    1. Hi Peter!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I agree. I don’t know that I want to be a part of a life where it’s possible for me to be “finished.” I can’t imagine how mundane that would be! 🙂 Thanks for joining the conversation.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  10. Hey Gary,

    After Don suggested this was one we should read I loaded it up to make sure I stopped by. I couldn’t agree with you more actually.

    In all honesty! I started to do well because I admitted my mistakes and that I didn’t know it all. People appreciated the heck out of that which is another reason I’m never comfortable with the term “expert”. I don’t really feel anyone ever is because of what you’ve just shared. We are always learning because things are always changing. Unless you’re keeping up with every single thing pertaining to your field then I can’t see how anyone could really be an expert. Then again, that’s my thought process about that.

    No one is ever perfect so when you admit you’re not always right and that you make mistakes, those are the people we all feel so much more drawn to.

    Thank you for sharing this and I really enjoyed your post.

    Adrienne recently posted…How To Blog Your Way Out Of A JobMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Adrienne… and to Don for sending you here!

      As you probably gathered from the post, I find that ‘ultimate authority’ thing kind of a turnoff personally. I prefer to follow people I can imagine hanging out with and having a talk with over a coffee or beer. So glad you not only came by… but joined in the discussion.

      Hope to see you here more!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…The Surprising Truth About Building Authority: Crushing the StereotypeMy Profile

  11. You know how we just fall into things for a reason? I just used the word “Parenting Expert at Experiencing Parenthood” and it felt uncomfortable. I may be the expert at my site, but I am not an expert by any means. Even with 21 years experience and 3 kids, there is still so much to learn!
    Leila recently posted…How to Use Essential OilsMy Profile

  12. This is great, Gary. Not only is not knowing something a fact of life, it is a catalyst for morelearning. SO many people try to come across as being all powerful and knowing everything. Unfortunately for them, they are distancing themselves from so many people that may be intimidated by so called successful people.

    When you let your human side show through, automatically more people can relate to you. This is equally true when meeting someone more successful than you. When many people come across someone they admire (or fear) they tend to put them on a pedestal not realizing that they too look up to other people and they too have their faults.

    This is what relationship marketing is all about. If more people had your attitude they could make their path to success a lot shorter.

    Glad to have found you,

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