Whose permission do you need to succeed anyway?

Whilst this might seem like a strange question, it’s a vital one to consider. Too many people seem to be waiting for someone or something else to give them the go ahead in life … when in fact what they really need to do is give themselves permission to succeed.

Let’s face it, we spend our early years asking permission from parents and teachers to do almost anything (and as a parent, I’ll add “rightly so!”) – where to go, what to do, what to eat … even going to the toilet!

However, if constant permission-seeking creeps into adult life in an inappropriate way, it can stifle personal development and stop you achieving your goals: it’s one thing as a teenager saying to those around you “I can’t come out tonight, my mum won’t let me” – quite another to be complaining that “I’ll never get a promotion because my boss just won’t put me forward”.

Don’t get me wrong – there are times when permission to do something MUST be sought. What I’m talking about here is when we actually give up responsibility for our own actions and potentially give up on our goals and aspirations.


SO … whose permission are YOU asking for … and why?


1) The Government’s?
If you’re waiting for the economic tide to turn before you start a business / sell your house / plan for the future … you might as well lie down and die right now. DO NOT leave critical decisions about your personal future to a bunch of numpties at Westminster (substitute your own seat of government here!).

As a surveyor friend of mine put it recently, we have to work on the basis that this is the ‘new normal’. We live in an uncertain world. We must make bold decisions anyway. We must raise our aspirations anyway. We must move forward anyway.


2) Your boss’s or client’s?
I was working with someone a while ago who had felt that her career had run into the buffers because her boss wouldn’t let her attend a training course that was necessary for her to progress, because they felt she wasn’t ready for it. She’d been inspired by something she heard in a song on the radio: Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’. The words that caught her attention were, “When they insist we’re just not good enough … just look then in the eyes and say I’m going to do it anyway”. Without her boss’s consent, she funded the course herself, and was able to move forward in her career.

I faced a challenge recently where I’d devised some life skills workshops for teenagers, and was literally seeking permission to run them in a school somewhere … with little success. As soon as I decided NOT to seek permission and to run them myself anyway, I was able to move forward.

At the end of the day, the decision to progress is an individual one.


3) Your family’s and friends’?

Usually your friends and family have your best interests at heart. They don’t want to see you get hurt. They don’t want to see you fail. They don’t want to see you make a fool of yourself. And, sometimes, they can unwittingly put the kibosh on your plans and aspirations.

Marconi’s friends tried to have him committed because, according to them, he must have been mad to try to get sound to travel through ‘thin air’ via radio waves. Enough said, really.


Challenge yourself:  are you asking the wrong people for permission, and if so, WHY?  To my mind, there are 3 key reasons … all of which can be fixed.


1) Fear.  Fear of getting it wrong, fear of what people might say, fear of looking like an idiot.

Asking someone else’s permission (whoever that might be) can indicate that you’re looking for reassurance. Which is fine … but what if you don’t get it?

Do you have the courage of your convictions to just get on with it anyway? Is it really a confidence thing that’s holding you back?

2) Procrastinating. Asking for permission allows you to delay decision making and put off taking action. The ball is in someone else’s court. You can’t move forward until they get back to you, or until they give you the go ahead.

Is this really the case … or can you move ahead anyway? Is this more about your motivation levels than anything else?

3) Lack of personal accountability. Asking someone else’s permission absolves you of responsibility for the outcomes, and provides you with plenty of excuses why failure wasn’t your fault.

Is it really fair to blame someone or something else … or is it more about YOU?

So whose permission DO you need to succeed? It’s a question you really need to ask yourself.


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