Monday, March 04, 2013

W10.01 Authority is A Myth Manufactured By You

Have you ever visited an alternative partitioner of something?

For now, I will define “alternative” as any self-licensed modality living outside of bureaucratic regulation.  “Alexander Technique” for example. Most leading edge therapeutic and educational systems are not regulated by the government, other than by Fair Trading laws that govern any business. It’s kind of what makes them “leading edge.”

Now think about your first Alexander Technique lesson and answer my quick quiz…

  1. How did you get there?
  2. Did you ask to see their credentials or diploma?
  3. Did you enquire about their educational process?

I’m going to wager that you got there by someone telling you about it – maybe reinforced by a book, newspaper article or TV show.  I am also betting that during your first lesson you did not “interview” your teacher - ask to see their credentials for example – or enquire where they got their education, or ask how extensive it was, what they studied, or even find out how long they had been in practise.

Did you do any of these?

There will be some smart asses out there who probably did all that, but I bet most of you didn’t. My Dad told me about Alexander Technique, and I went to his teacher at 16 years old. Although he did all these weird things that an adolescent boy should have been a bit worried about – I mean his hairy nose two inches away from my fluttering eyes, while he leaned his tummy over my knee bent up over my chest, as I lay flat on his table in a small, dark little room three stories up in an obscure corner of Sydney – besides all that, I still felt this guy knew everything. I was ready to do whatever he told me. If he’d said “Take off your trousers” I would have done it.


Why was I so hooked on his “authority”? Why do we so readily trust a person on hearsay alone? The answer is simple: it saves you time. If you can convince your Self that this person knows more than you do about your problem (or can be convinced of it): you get lazy. Why bother thinking too much? Just follow his advice and get on with what you really want to do.

And the flip side of this is our obsession with being “authorized”, a state of mind that plagued me most of my life until I just recently got over it. Alexander often claimed in his writings that we are subconsciously driven in most of our behaviour – this is a fine example. Our obsession with authority is one way our powerful unconscious drive to be accepted by our tribe manifests itself.

But what if this need for acceptance doesn’t matter?

What if the whole gambit of licensing, certificates, diplomas is mostly a sham that has no meaning other than the meaning that you decide to give it. We unconsciously believe that without our certificate or license, we somehow do not have the authority to act on knowledge we already posses.

I am sure most of you don’t want to hear this, because you don’t want to believe this, but the Alexander Technique is still in the wild west, we are still in pioneer phase, we are still an “anything goes” profession that most governments don’t give a dam about. I once went to a lawyer asking about regulations impinging on the freedom of Alexander Technique teachers to practise, and the lawyer asked how many we were? When I told him he just laughed and said “Come back when there’s a million of you.”

I know in Europe regulations are affecting Alexander Technique teachers, but honestly – that’s only if you want to be in the club. Be a teacher who can accept the insurance payments, or work in the National Health system. But what happens if you step outside that club? Do you end up in jail? In court? Does someone come knocking on your door in the middle of the night to take you away?

Nothing will happen to you. Nothing.

Seeing how hysterical some people get about being properly “certified” you’d think I have got it all wrong, but I haven’t. The worst that is likely to happen is you get a cranky letter from the secretary of some Alexander Society saying, basically, “naughty boy” and “you can’t”. How wimpy is that? Or you can’t get students paid for by the national health. But honestly, if that is the best you can do, better try another profession I think.

I am being deliberately cavalier in my attitude right now to undercut the absurdity of believing you need a Diploma to practise Alexander Technique. You don’t. In over 30 years of teaching no one has ever asked to see my STAT certificate.

Alexander Technique is an unprotected name. It is not trademarked – and it can not be trademarked. We tried in Australia one time, but we were told that this is a “generic” term and can not be trademarked. So until governments start treating Alexander Technique teachers in the same way they treat doctors, we are all still in the Wild West, regardless of what you believe to be true.

What’s the point of my diatribe today? That will be revealed tomorrow. For now, just think about what I am saying, and what it means to you and your new business…

TOMORROW: If Authority is So Powerful, How Could You Leverage It For Better Business?

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