Stop Asking For Permission

You should get into the habit of acting without waiting for permission from an authority.

Along with thinking for yourself and examining the conventions around you, it is a ‘best’ practice. Waiting for permission may delay or even halt your progress on a goal entirely. It provides a ready excuse for procrastination and adds opportunity for someone (or something) to reject your request. Assuming the reigns of your own decision making process can lead you to consider possibilities and ventures you may have never thought possible.

At first, you will feel uncomfortable with such an unorthodox idea. From childhood, we’ve been trained to ask for permission to do ‘this’, or request access or time to participate in ‘that’. I’m not railing against the idea of following rules and respecting established systems of order and hierarchy. Nor am I imploring anyone to conduct themselves in an immoral or illegal fashion. Regulations and conventions are critical for maintaining a stable society. Without certain customary practices (like driving on the right side of the road), traditional society might experience wholesale anarchy.

The problem occurs when you become accustomed to seeking permission before initiating all of your plans of action. You have to disabuse yourself of the idea that someone else dictates when and how you pursue a goal or accomplish an objective. Seize control and exercise your autonomy to act as you see fit.

A few months ago, I needed to combat an eBay buyer’s fraudulent Paypal dispute. I contacted the company’s customer service line.

When several discussions with customer service reps went nowhere, I took uncommon action.

I searched for a list of contact email addresses for Paypal and eBay executives and penned a lengthy and cogent email. I didn’t simply ask the paypal customer service representatives if they could connect me with someone who could resolve my problem. I went over their heads and presented my case to the real decision makers–without anyone’s permission. Within 12 hours, I received a phone call from the personal secretary of Scott Thompson, President of Paypal. The matter was resolved to my satisfaction and I received an apology from Paypal.

It’s surprising how infrequently you will run afoul of a boss, associate or acquaintance when you act without anyone’s permission. Many times, you will discover that asserting your will sans expressed approval was not the end of the world. In fact, onlookers and associates might even respect your initiative.  If you do run into an issues, a reasonable explanation that both communicates your motives and allows the offended gatekeeper/superior to save face and soothe his/her ego should resolve any problems.

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