The Rise of the Anti-Authority


For a long time, authorities needed to be well decorated, institutionalized and formally educated.

Not anymore.

People everywhere are rising up and becoming their own authorities. They’re self qualifying, rather than relying on outside approval and traditional sanctioning.

The old path to success is fast becoming a graveyard. The new route is the next great adventure. But it’s not like The Wild West, a mystery waiting to be unveiled that will soon lose its luster. This pursuit will remain unknown, because you are the only one that can trek it. You’re the only one that can walk this path. All others are taken.

If you’d like to bypass all the ladders and stepping stones, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible.

So, what is an anti-authority and how do you become one?

An anti-authority is someone that gains their expertise not through formal training, but by self education and their own experience. Their inborn talents, unique path and achievement allow them to be a conduit and channel for helping others. Because they have walked the path, they can light the way for fellow trailblazers. They’ve created their own maps along the way, then burned them.

Anti-authorities know that being true to themselves is the route to genuine fulfillment. They become leaders and experts not by seeking to improve themselves, but by embracing and actualizing their highest selves. The light they shine is brilliant because it comes from a roaring fire of passion within, not by fluorescent bulbs lit by the nods of others.

What are some of the benefits of being an anti-authority?

Autonomy. Self expression. Bypassing gatekeepers.

Who are these self determined individuals?

  • Cara is doing it through 17,000 days, her journey to finding happiness and sharing her story with the world.
  • Ethan is doing it with Cloud Coach; transferring his knowledge to help offline small business owners create an online presence.
  • Vashte is changing the handmade community with Make One, and inspiring her generation to make knitting and upcycling cool.
  • Dave is helping people with Stress Free Productivity, using his own unique experience of getting frustrated with systems that didn’t work for him, and helping people create habits that work for them.
  • Ev’Yan is leveraging her own unique experience to help people embrace their true selves and become sex positive with Sex, Love and Liberation.

These are just a few people that are leaving the template to create something on their own terms. There is a whole community out there waiting to support you too.

What unique experience do you have that self qualifies you as an authority? When will you join us?

PS: If you think this message needs to be shared, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. If you know someone personally that needs to hear this message, please email them this link.

photo courtesy of jpf

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Comment & Add Your Voice

David William April 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm

This couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve just starting writing a short weekly series called Ignore the Experts.

It’s all about how flawed the experts opinions can be and how we should take control of our own destiny.

The Anti-Authority! I like it!!


David William April 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Yikes, I hope that comment didnt come across as spammy. I just like that folks are uniting to say we gotta believe in ourselves first!


Molly Mahar April 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Yes! “Lighting the way for fellow trailblazers” is the perfect way to describe how each of us, by creating our own path/authority, gives others permission for others do the same. Leading (or unleading, or dancing, or creating) by example is where true inspiration sparks.

Thanks for being an Anti-Authority Jonathan, and introducing me to some fellow mapmakers and burners!


Noah April 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I would argue that an anti-authority doesn’t need to be self educated, rather just needs to be able to filter what come in to suit his beliefs.


Jonathan April 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm

That’s a great point Noah, I didn’t think of that. I love how much my readers expand my awareness. :)

Cara Stein April 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Autonomy. Self expression. Bypassing gatekeepers.

Woohoo! It’s hella exhilarating, people! Definitely try it!


Miramah April 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Wow! I’ve been working with a (paid) mentor who doesn’t get me, constantly knocks my ideas saying they’re not marketable and pushing me to move forward with ideas that don’t resonate with me. I was just thinking to myself that I need to create my own trail–not follow the so-called “experts”! Thanks!


Steve April 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Hi Jonathan,

My (not so) unique experience is that I’ve been wearing hearing aids for about 30 years. About 5 or 6 years ago I started writing about my experiences of hearing loss.

I try to help out other people who are just experiencing hearing loss for the first time. I’m lucky that I’m able to help a lot of people out as I know that being partially deaf can be a very isolating thing. I’ve also been able to put readers with unused/unwanted hearing aids in touch with others who need them.

I’m fighting against the status quo in the hearing aid industry: most prices are very high and the current sales models need improving so that we can get more hearing aids in more ears. I get a ton of emails from people who need aids but can’t afford them and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Love the term Anti-Authority!



kate April 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I spent far too many years in the corporate world, listening to the should and shouldn’t’s; having my weaknesses prodded and poked and my ideas considered too out there. I complied because thats what you did to get ahead. Crashing 5 years ago I now have the courage to blaze my own trail with unique talents, doing what feels right and true and helping others. Jonathan you are magnificent in your thinking.


Delisa April 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

When I first started looking into starting my business, I felt I needed some kind of training. What I found were a lot of self proclaimed experts teaching “The One” right way of doing things and printing out certificates for it. Yuck. It took me awhile to realize I didn’t need to do things that way. I don’t know why. I left public school to homeschool myself. Every thing I have wanted to learn I have been able to with out schools.

I still fight the feeling of not knowing enough or not being good enough, but I’m going after what I want anyways. I help others do the same thing and I love it. We all have something to share. We all know something someone else wants to learn.

You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know more that me and be willing to share.


Sandra / Always Well Within April 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm


I love the ideas you present here, but I don’t resonate with the idea of being “anti” anything. I suppose it’s part of an evolutionary process to reject tradition, but is it really necessary to be against something to be true to yourself?


Jonathan April 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Being anti anything isn’t really necessary. And it’s important to use rejection as a tool to something greater, than to discard it (otherwise you keep the canoe on your back).

So yes, you’re absolutely right. Instead of anti authority we can say Self Qualified if it’s more beneficial. :)

Danielle April 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Oh WOW Jonathan,

This post struck such a chord with me. I struggled with this for a long time. When I moved from the job of being a traditional teacher to coaching and having my own business I got soooo hung up on the fact that I wasn’t ‘certified’ (certifiable maybe;)that I lost all the things that made me so passionate about coaching in the first place: my strengths, my experiences, my skills, my self education, all hard fought for and so valuable.

Love “They become leaders and experts not by seeking to improve themselves, but by embracing and actualizing their highest selves.”

It’s really about finding, accepting (owning really), and truly living in your sweet spot :)

Thank you~


Evan April 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I agree with you Jonathon (irony intended).

I think at the moment the blogosphere is a great place to put out there what you have to offer and for people to decided for themselves if there is a match. Long may it last!


kelly April 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I think we have all gone through those moments of “oh I am not good enough, smart enough or have enough degrees for that” – but that’s just our own fear of change – even if change is what we want the most.


Owen Marcus April 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Jonathan I couldn’t agree more.

If I am going to be a Remarkable Man I need to be or risk being seen as an unreasonable man.

I never saw an organization that I couldn’t quit if it wasn’t serving me.


Jonathan April 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I like the way you put that Owen. Thanks for stopping by.

Greg April 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Completely agree. Sure, we can bypass the ladders and steps but it isn’t without a lot of work! Self-qualifying is just as hard as formal education (if not much harder!), but is usually in the direction that is aligned with your passions, goals, and personal purpose that is unique to you.

More than ever, we are able to take advantage of technologies available to us and carve out our own paths and build reputations that aren’t necessarily tied to a degree or certificate.

This article is concise, to the point and perfectly appropriate for this day. Thanks!


Jeffrey Platts April 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Great post, Jonathan. I agree that a new shift is happening. I think the more people that share WHO they are, rather than regurgitating what they learn from others, the world is going to be a beautiful place.

– Jeffrey


Jonathan April 22, 2011 at 6:40 am

That’s the beautiful thing. Just sharing your story can often make you self qualified and connect with people in a deep and meaningful way. We’re blessed to live in an age where this is made so easily possible.

Leigh April 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Yes! Or as I exclaimed on a call with a coach, “Eff authority!” I moved to Cambodia to start a social enterprise. Along the way I became an entrepreneur and had a crash-course in the world of start-ups. I made a lot of mistakes, some that could have been avoided.

My authority doesn’t come from a business degree or a masters program. No, I’m living and breathing social entrepreneurship every day.

Now, I’m working on a site to help others navigate starting a social biz. Hoping to launch next month! :)


vivek April 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm

just what i needed the most, completly agree with it,now i got to use it-thankyou jonathan


NomadicNeill April 22, 2011 at 1:07 am

One of my projects is my guitar lesson site in which I teach theory in a different way than is normal. It upsets some people, so I know I’m on to something.


Ethan April 22, 2011 at 6:25 am

Great article, and I’m so honored to be included! All I can say that the hardest part is just deciding to become an anti-authority and starting. If you choose something that you’re already passionate about, it will feel so natural. You’ll wonder why you’ve been waiting so long.


Jackie April 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

Dear Jonathon and readers of this excellent blog.

I am approaching my 49th birthday this year, and I am undergoing a spell of self reflection, wondering what the heck I have done with my life so fa. It doesn’t feel very much frankly..

I have always felt a failure about not having an ology in this or a diploma in that, or feeling generally “qualified”.

My conclusion to this self reflection is actually who am I not to actually declare myself an expert in certain areas.. I have more life experience than probably many of the folks who have researched and written books about subjects I know a lot about.. relationships, money, work and a whole load of other things.

I declared to myself, now is the time for my light to come out from under the bush and burn brightly, I don’t need to be a phd in something.

As someone said earlier, as long as I know more than you.. I can share and I can continue to learn from the person who knows more than me.

Come on everyone.. shine your light on the world.

My best wishes



Roy | cruisesurfingz April 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Good post. I think everyone has the ability to be an authority on something. Authority doesn’t need to be hierarchical. I am an authority on drawing with MS paint, haha.


Jonathan April 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

That’s a pretty awesome authority if you ask me Roy. :)

Justin | Mazzastick April 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Just because someones wears a costume with shiny things on it doesn’t make them an authority.

Truth is that everyone has the right to be their own authority or “guru” as I put it.


Jonathan April 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

A costume with shiny things. That’s absolutely true… or merit badges. That’s a nice image.

We’re all experts in plain clothing.

Cheryl Chavarria April 24, 2011 at 11:03 pm

So glad I read this before going to bed. It’s complete validation for blazing my own path in wanting to curate a more convivial world and express myself as a writer.

I see the world you’re talking about unfolding every day. Thanks for the great post. Anti-authority…new phrase to be reminded of each time I doubt myself.


Nea | Self Improvement Saga April 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm

What a wonderfully motivating post. I’ve never been one to follow the straight & narrow path, but I have big plans to take my life in a whole new direction. My family and I are working together on a project that incorporates all of our talents into something amazing. Good times ahead!


Stay Hydrated Get Focused April 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm

This is so sick. I’ll have to sign up for this. Really motivating and inspiring.


Jennifer April 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I think this is so timely for a generation waiting out the economy in grad school. A degree cannot replace hard work and hands-on knowledge. I’m the anti-authority on MFA programs. =)


GabrielleHolmefjord September 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I just love this!!! After many years of working within ‘the system’, I’ve stepped completely outside it and am starting my own business, writing about and teaching all that I have learnt through my own process of spiritual transformation. It’s a GREAT adventure:)))


ProcrastWriter October 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I am a board-certified Holistic Health Coach, but it wasn’t until a year ago when I discovered that I have serious food allergies that I finally felt like I was an anti-authority. No, I do not have an MD, no I am not a Registered Dietician, but I HAVE learned how to live with food allergies. And not just live, but thrive and still be fabulous. That kind of education can’t be taught… it can only be learned. Up with anti-authority!!!


Jeff April 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I may have a piece of paper (diploma) that tells others that a group of people say that I’m educated. But in reality, it is just a worthless piece of paper. True, independent knowledge comes from studying, deciding, and doing on your own. If others want to follow, I would say they are limiting themselves. If others want to lead, I would say they are limiting themselves. One day I hope there is no such thing as a follower or a leader because we all will be both.


Kate Bacon April 22, 2011 at 11:40 am

I love this Jeffrey and Jonathan. When we allow ourselves to simply be ourselves we can create magical connection with others :-)


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