Getting Permission

How often do you ask for permission?

We ask permission all the time, but rarely notice.   It started in earnest in high-school with dress.  We looked to our peers to determine what to wear.  That neon green shirt didn’t look so good until TLC’s video Ain’t to Proud to Beg came out or you saw Wham’s, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. They, plus the kid who didn’t ask permission gave the rest of us permission to wear neon clothes for 2 or 3 years.  It’s 2010 and someone has given kids permission to where neon again, in case you haven’t noticed.

We get permission to date the people we date, through magazines, models on T.V. and our friends and family.   We get permission to take risks and start companies.  We get permission to stay in that dead-end job we hate.  We get permission to drop out of H.S. and do drugs.  We get permission for our blog topics. We get permission to Tweet, and be on Facebook.  We get permission to marry at 35 instead of 25.  We get permission to do almost everything we do.   But, more than just get permission, we look for it.  Few, very few, of us do things without getting permission.

It’s this demand for permission that get’s us in trouble.  Permission can be freeing, it allows us to cross chasms we fear.  Permission creates peace of mind.   Permission tells us it’s OK.  The problem is, it’s not always OK.   When we do drugs, we hang around people who do them also, to tell us drug use is OK. Racist people search out the KKK and hate groups because they give them permission to hate.   The chronically unemployed hang out with other chronically unemployed because they give them permission not to get a job.   When something is hard and we are afraid we will fail, we look to others who have failed to tell us it’s OK to quit.  We look for permission everywhere but seeking permission isn’t always a good thing.

They key is to learn to live without permission.   When we don’t look for permission our decision become ours alone.  Not looking for permission take us places we might not go.  Not asking permission doesn’t bind us to the thoughts, ideas and actions of those around us.   Not asking permission is liberating.

Greatness rarely comes from asking for permission.  It’s just the opposite.  Great accomplishments give everyone else permission.  Christopher Columbus gave the world permission to cir-cum navigate the world.  Martin Luther King and Ghandi gave permission to the world to treat people equally.   Mark Zucherberg is giving 20 year olds permission to start companies.

We can look for permission or we can give permission.  We have a choice, one liberates us, the other binds us.  It’s hard to walk without permission.  It’s scary.  It requires we know why.  It requires reasons.   It requires a compass.  It requires conviction.  Not asking permission means we stand on our own two feet with pride.  It means we are OK without the agreement of others.  It means we believe in ourselves and will bet on our own beliefs every time.

Those of us who don’t ask for permission give the rest of the world permission and that’s what keeps us moving.

How often do you ask for permission?

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