How often do you ask for permission? How many times a day do you ask for permission? If you’re like me, the answer is way too many. Wayyyyyyyyy too many! Our culture ingrains in us the need to ask for permission. We grew up with asking as part of our rule system and we were not allowed to question. Asking for permission no longer serves me, and today I’m sharing my newfound insight as to why. Are you being held back in your career or life by the need to ask for permission?
We are taught to ask for permission as a way for us to understand rules and boundaries. It makes total sense as our minds develop to understand the way the world works! Fast way forward to our first job-we have a manager or boss who tells us our role, guides us (hopefully) on how to excel, and we answer to what he or she needs, when they need it. I’ll speak a little to my career. I started in a corporate culture, where the goal was to be a buyer. As a corporate buyer, this company needs their buyers to behave, negotiate, and speak the same way. It makes total sense for the company and for the role, but take that outside the walls of corporate and all of a sudden you have a permission seeking individual (me), with no one to give you the GO.
After my mom got sick and I unexpectedly quit my job (read my story here), I started a new role in a MUCH smaller company. I’ll never forget the day I got “in trouble” for, ironically, taking initiative with a project. Something switched in me that day. Being cursed out made me stop having the motivation to do anything except for what I was told to do, and really nothing more.
“I wanted something bigger for myself…”
I’m not saying THAT moment was the one where I realized I wanted something bigger for myself. I realized I no longer wanted to be in a role where I risked getting yelled at, as an almost 30 year old woman, to NOT do something because I wasn’t specifically told. It was definitely a huge wake up call to where I want to be in my life and career. Constantly seeking approval from a boss or manager, and a lot of times needing to WIN said person’s liking or approval, is a total suck of energy, creativity, and motivation for me.
As a new business owner I struggled to understand why I felt stuck for a while. I constantly have new ideas and energy about both of my businesses. At first, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel with both. I would think of ideas, get excited, maybe take a step or two to pursue the idea. I always found a reason to stop, just as it was getting somewhere. Just last week I had an AHA moment where I realized my issue wasn’t self-sabotage, like I originally thought. My deep rooted mentality of asking for permission to take action is what’s holding me back.
It makes sense, and seems so small in concept. I am a total rule follower. I always like to do the right thing, please my parents, my peers, and my bosses. I like praise for going above and beyond. BUT as an entrepreneur, we CAN’T ask for permission. There’s no one to ask or priase. I wasn’t wired to think this way, but I am fighting to reconnect some of the wires. I appreciate the small steps I’ve made-getting blog posts up consistently, taking initiative with ideas and making them a reality, seeking ways to educate myself on being an entrepreneur, SAYING IT OUT LOUD, and admitting this is something I really need to work on.
The most important thing we can do is find other’s who are in the same position. Finding peers, whether in life or on social media, who are in similar positions as you, can really help motivate and inspire action, without necessarily refilling the permission-seeking tank. Even if you think you have nothing in common with the business itself, you most likely have similar small business struggles in common.
Whether you’re on an entrepreneurial journey or not, I hope my story helps you discover something about yourself. Are you feeling stuck? Unmotivated? Is your idea just an idea, and you have yet to take action? I encourage you to think about how often you ask for permission because that may be the mindset that’s holding you back.