The Illusion of Autonomy

hand on mirror

A person I admire and respect talked about “the illusion of autonomy.” That’s when you’re told by those in authority above you that, yes, you can make decisions; that, yes, your decisions will matter; and that, yes, you can shape what we will be doing.”

It reminded me of the fakeness that is driving so much of our election season in 2016. You hear over and over again that “authenticity” is important. That such-and-such person has authenticity and the other one doesn’t. That an oil-tanker full of flaws and mis-steps are preferable when you believe that the person at the helm, acceptable or not, is authentic. You hear the same thing in advertising and marketing for more products and services that I can count.

If you’re a leader, please check yourself that when you speak of autonomy, it’s substantive and real rather than showy and fake. If you can’t ensure that autonomy is meaningful and viable, then don’t say anything at all about it. Talk about something else. Make sure that when your followers reach forward to touch the truth of another thing, they feel it in actuality, not see it in opaque reflection.

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