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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Mott

Stop Asking for Permission

Failure is not fatal or final!

Living Your Unique requires bold and radical moves. One habit that can get in the way is waiting for or asking for permission. In Dr. Patty Ann Tublin's Huffington Post article "Women Need to Stop Asking for Permission," she explains that being passive by waiting to ask for permission is one big reason women lose out on career opportunities.

In fact, asking permission requires you to place the person you are asking in a position of authority. This is a form of giving your power away. Asking permission is letting other people decide for you. You fail to take responsibility for your own life and decisions and start living according to what other people think. What kind of life is that?

Successful people tend to do just the opposite. Instead of waiting on permission, they take action based on their own intuition, passion, and convictions. Some of our most innovative products and services were created by people who were not willing to listen to "the experts." If you study it, you will find that most innovations were created by non-experts outside of their field of expertise.

I grew up in a very structured home (thank you, Mom!). We had routine bedtimes, meal times, and scheduled activities. She wholeheartedly believed in providing children with structure and rules. Unfortunately, that led to me depending a lot on my Mom and a structured system with clear authority established. I say "unfortunately" because it also developed in me a habit to always ask for permission. Unless she told me outright that the decision was mine to make, I looked to her as the authority.

Fast forward to my first professional job and this habit, looking to authority figures and asking for permission, was solidly planted in my memory banks. Imagine the disappointment that I experienced when I realized that this habit was causing me to lose out on opportunities. It wasn't a sudden epiphany, but somewhere along the way I decided that I needed to stop asking for permission.

And that one decision was one of the best decisions that I ever made. Dr. Cindy Trimm says "You don't have to ask for permission to fulfill your purpose."

Right on, Dr. Cindy Trimm. Dropping this habit is one of the best things you can ever do. Here are five tips to help get you started:

Get comfortable with failure. Most people play it safe because the fear failure. Failure is not fatal or final. This is a lesson that is difficult for some people to accept. Failure is a normal part of life. It happens to everyone. You win some and you lose some. Getting comfortable with failure of all kinds is the key to leading a successful and peace-filled life. If failure is a problem for you, then you are most likely risk-averse and tend to play things safe. The problem with this type of thinking is that it limits what you do, what you try, and what you experience. Learning to fail is the key to success. According to Margie Warrell,

"Of course, being willing to take a risk doesn’t mean everything you try will work out. But as every successful person will tell you, it’s only by being willing to make mistakes and try something new that you can ever accomplish more than what’s been done before."

Listen to your own intuition. We often have a tendency to trust other people more than we trust ourselves. More people are recognizing that listening to their "inner voice" and following inclinations and insights lead them into a more authentic life. When you are authentic, it automatically reduces your stress level and increases your ability to connect with yourself and others. This is a tricky proposition though because most people have not learned to balance their intuition with an understanding of self. In a study on mindfulness, they observed that intuitive reasoning often leads to better decisions than rational-analytical reasoning. Of course, this also includes that you practice mindfulness so that you are paying attention to all of the clues present in the situation. Remember that most communication happens in the space of non-verbal cues and voice tones.

Ask for advice instead of permission. Did I already mention that taking risks is a key component of success? Well, if you plan to start taking risks, you will also have to stop asking for permission. Instead of waiting around for permission, ask for advice from a trusted mentor or friend. Make sure this is not a critical, dream-stealer kind of person. They will only validate your tendency to wait for permission. Get the best advice that you can, trust your intuition, and do it! Don't fall into the trap that other people know what's better for you than you do. Believe in yourself and move forward with bold confidence.

Try "experiments." Have you thought about your life as one great experiment? Taking life too seriously causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. Sometimes, the fear of committing to a specific goal can stop us dead in our tracks. Approaching life as an experiment will help you take small risks and build your confidence towards taking even bigger risks. It is the best way to quickly build habits that move you forward. Consistently working towards a goal for 30-days creates focus but the short-duration gives you an opportunity to adjust or ditch something that's not working for you. And since it is an experiment, you don't feel the pressure to succeed at anything except for being consistent. Consistency is cited as one of the best predictors of success.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Living inside your safe and comfortable zone is a sure-fired way to live a dull and boring life. Asking for permission keeps you safe inside of that comfort zone. And it keeps you from reaching your full potential. Pursuing adventure in your life is one way to face your fear of failure. It can activate your inner-child and a spirit of freedom. Try things that are new or different. Go places you have never been and make it your business to meet new people. Choose to be inspired about what you discover. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

I am so glad that I gave up on asking for and waiting for permission. I don't need anyone else to validate me, my opinions, or my beliefs. And neither do you. Decide today to take a stand and believe in yourself.

And I will be right here cheering for you!

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