We’re taught at an early age to seek permission. At the most basic level, permission is a great defense against chaos. Imagine if every kid did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. For that matter, imagine if every adult did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Chaos would result.
We seek direct, indirect, and implied permission. We operate within the bounds of what our cultural traditions permit. We stay within what the law permits, at least most of the time.
The permission of others surrounds us. It shelters us from responsibility.
The big challenge comes when we start asking ourselves for permission. We look for a direction that fits within our comfort zone. We seek our own okay to try something new. We can imagine doing the impossible, but the easiest path is to deny ourselves permission to try.
When we can’t get permission from ourselves, we look for it elsewhere. We ask our friends and family. We read articles, blog posts, and books. We listen to podcasts and speeches (TED talks come to mind). All is an effort to find someone who approves.
We wonder if anyone else is thinking the same things. What would they do? How would they handle this?
Permission’s power is immense. Without permission, our next indicated step is a mystery. The un-permitted transforms into the impossible before our eyes. “Hey, nobody else is doing this thing, so it must be a bad idea. Let’s bail.”
I’ve read many times that each of us is the product of the five or ten people we interact with the most. If this is true, we’re really the product of what those five or ten closest people permit from us. We grant each of them the power of their permission, often without realizing it.
What if those five or ten people, out of concern for our safety, or possibly their own comfort, don’t grant us the permission we seek? What if their collective box of permission is too small for our life’s goals to fit? Should we find another five or ten people? Maybe. But, that’s not the real answer.
The answer lies in realizing that the permission we seek comes from within.
Our ability to visualize the future, and see ourselves within that new reality is the change that’s needed. Once we find the courage to consider and see that future, permission for growth and new challenges comes naturally.
Will this be easy? No way! This requires a commitment to personal responsibility. You won’t have anyone else to blame, or forgive, when things go wrong.
You’ll be living a life without the foundation of outside permission. Your internal permission will become that foundation.
The permission we seek from others must build upon our own internal permission, not the other way around.
“It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” —Grace Hopper
Photo Credit: Unsplash.com, Aziz Acharki