A Classic Lack of Moral Authority

It was my first time out directing. And it was for an organization that, in a sense, I had grown up in. I began as a performer and through a series of outbursts at creative meetings, they agreed* to take a chance and allow me to direct a show.

As we approached the final performance, I took my place in front of the cast to give a final speech about the importance of doing the show we had rehearsed and perfected. To not allow inside jokes on to the stage. To maintain professionalism.

Everyone listened and nodded appropriately. I finished with a somewhat well presented attempt to rally and motivate the cast for their final performance, which brought on a fair amount of applause.

Applause from all but one.

One guy, a friend,  just sat smiling at me with his hands in his lap.

As I walked past him on my way off the stage to look busy with director-ey things, I heard him say something followed by “…right, Rob?”

I stopped to clarify what he had asked.

With a smile and a wink he repeated himself with a quote of something I had ad libbed on stage at the final show a year prior.

He got me.



A mentor of mine refers to this situation as a classic lack of moral authority.

I had not invested enough time walking the walk and talking the talk in order to ask others to do the same.

Will Rogers had a classic line, “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.”

I learned this lesson the hard way right then and there.

But with the lesson learned came immediate action and resolution to start building a reputation along with the moral authority to expect much of those that I work with.

I have certainly not been perfect, but I have been relentlessly intentional.

You are the leader with your art. And you rely on others to see your vision through. The best way for you to communicate and keep your vision clear is to model it relentlessly.

What are your core values as an artist? Would you expect those same values from those that work with you? Is your bank of moral authority full enough to demand follow through of your values from others, or are you a bit overdrawn?

It’s ok.

The good news is, it’s never too late to begin establishing moral authority over your values.



*An agreement that would lead to almost a decade of creative and fulfilling collaboration, for which I could not be more thankful.


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