How to Stop Waiting for Permission and Start Doing What You Really Want to Do

Which one of the following questions dominates your daily decision-making?

1. Who’s going to let me?
2. Who’s going to stop me?

If it’s the first, you’re the type of person who asks for permission.

If it’s the second, you’re the type of person who acts without restriction.

AND MY THEORY IS: People whose decisions are determined from the second question (that is, people not addicted to permission) are happier, healthier and more successful in business and life.

Naturally, I have no scientific evidence to back this up.

Just my own experience.

But, because permission is so pervasive in so many people’s lives, today we’re going to talk about how to stop waiting for permission and start doing what you really want to do:1. Stop waiting for baptism. Seriously: What’s the holdup? What lies are your excuses guarding? Just go. Just start. Just do stuff. Right now. I don’t know about you, but I never waited to be appointed.

Since I was seven, I was on a path. I was a writer who was going to write, no matter what. And there’s nothing anybody could have done – or will ever do – to stop my pen or silence my voice.

Lesson learned: Even in the midst of doubt and danger, even among the cacophony of voices delivering conflicting advice – remain true to your basic nature. Saw yes to your heart. And just go.

Because the cool part is, when you grant permission to your authentic voice to sing as loud, as silly, as creative and as original as it wants, people don’t just listen to you – they hear you. Being washed in the blood is not a pre-requisite for success. What is the life cost of clinging to the comfort of permission?

2. Dive into yourself. Permission comes from within. Not from your parents. Not from your peers. And not from some high-faluten industry putz who’s convinced himself that he’s found the only path to artistic success.

From within. From you. All you have to do is search for what bids you to create. To harvest that which spreads out its roots in the deepest recesses of your heart. That’s where you find your why. That’s where you give yourself permission to try something – even if you’re not that good.

And don’t get me wrong: You want to you remain open to input from the people who matter. But when it comes to executing an idea that’s important to you, you still have to get out of your head, get into your heart and deliver the ultimate verdict yourself. What will it take to become your own authority figure?

3. Decide whom you need to delete. Some people will be threatened by your trajectory. Others intimidated by your success. Some will outlive their usefulness in your life. Others will distract you from giving your best.

And it’s not like they’re being malicious. Just human. The challenge is training the ears of your heart to listen for who needs to be deleted.

Because sometimes, just when you think someone is on the journey to the summit with you, you wake up and realize that the most they could ever do was get you to base camp. At which point it’s time to pack up, move on – and never look back down the mountain. Otherwise you wind up hitching your self-esteem to the fickle whims of people whose voices shouldn’t be heeded.

And as a result, life becomes a series of compromises. A sad constellation of trying and proving. Which, last time I checked, is a sucky way to go about your day.

Your mission is to mature out of your addiction to approval and melt into the tenderness of self-support. Who are you subject to the whims of?

4. Permission pummels creativity I’m lucky. Permission has historically been a non-force in my life. Almost to the point that have no idea what it’s like on the other side of the fence.

For example, in my line of work as a writer, I can be creative without limitation. All day. Every day. It’s pretty damn cool.

Unfortunately, not everyone can relate to this freedom. Especially when permission is so real in their lives. Like my clients, Rachel and Tim. During a recent Rent Scott’s Brain session they revealed:

“Scott, the reason we hired you is because we get so caught up in the day-to-day, that we never have any time to think.”

This, I could not believe. No thinking? Ever? What kind of job is that? What kind of life is that?

And that’s when it occurred to me: Excessive permission reduces the size of your thinking. And that reduces the size of your bank account. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t fall for permission’s tricks. People who are perpetually bogged down by the tactical rob themselves of the opportunity to execute something great.

And without conscious effort to eradicate it, they slowly allow it to become a cancer of the conscience. That’s what pummels their creative potential into the ground. That’s what prevents people from doing what they really want to do. Will you be distracted by the red dress of permission?

5. Safety and security are two different things. Living without permission means liberating yourself from rigid intellectual traditions, infusing yourself with earnest purpose, and, if necessary, exposing yourself to the hailstones.

The secret is, you can’t ease your way into it – you have to leap. And you have to remain undismayed in the face of odds. Because if you’re constantly preoccupied with your own safety, you’ll beat yourself before you begin. But, if you’re willing to forego some of that safety for the opportunity to execute what matters – knowing that you’re still secure on the inside – you win.

For example, my yoga teacher constantly reminds us, “If you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” This isn’t yoga advice – this is life advice. Because no matter how unsafe the surrounding world is, when you thread your breath through every move you make, nobody can shatter the rock that is your foundation. Prana, as it were, finds the form to impose on the chaos of the world.

Those are the moments that equip you. Your breath becomes your security. Even when the world around you feels unsafe. Lesson learned: When you get stuck waiting for permission to do what you really want to do, your lungs are your lifelines. I urge you to take a breath, even if you don’t think you need one. How’s your breathing?

6. Build a permission-free vocabulary. The first kill phrase that should never come out of your mouth is, “Yeah, but I can’t just.” Really? Why not? Says who? Can you Google that rule? Because if you can’t – it’s not a rule. Just a self-imposed limitation that’s squelching the life out of your dream.

The second kill phrase to avoid is, “Yeah, but who am I to?” This tsunami of self-doubt stems from a lack of confidence in your own abilities. Cancel that thought from your mind. Begin writing the following sentence fifteen times a day: “I am the person who can do this … I am the person who can do this.”

You’ll believe in yourself down to your toes before you know it. Ultimately, deleting self-limiting language form your vocabulary turns doing what you really want to do into something you don’t need permission to do. Do you listen closely to the way you talk to yourself?

7. Become your own source of worthiness. The term “esteem” comes from the Latin aestimare, or “to estimate.” Therefore: Self-esteem is how you estimate yourself. It’s the overall appraisal of your personal value.

And if you want to make sure permission doesn’t eclipse your dream, here’s my suggestion: Stop competing with people other than yourself. Life’s too short to morph every element of your existence into a competition. Sure, the competitive spirit is healthy and natural and has historically motivated many great things.

But it’s a beautiful moment when you realize that you’re no longer anxious to prove your value. And the best part is, the less you have to prove, the less other people feel threatened around you. Which means the secret to self-esteem isn’t removing competition, but redefining the subject with whom you’re competing.

My theory: The only person worth competing with is the earlier version of yourself. Because it’s not about being better than anyone – it’s about being better than you used to be. That’s how inner permission grows. How do you supercharge your own self-esteem – even when the world thinks you’re nuttier than a bag of trail mix?

8. Refuse to be a lukewarm person. I don’t know about you, but I want my life to burn like a gas lamp. And I regret only the moments in which I chose not to be fully alive. That’s the danger with permission: It prevents you from being the best, highest – and hottest – version of yourself.

And if you find yourself slipping into the skin of average, here’s how my suggestion: Become unwaveringly vigilant about the company you keep. Look: Life’s too short to surround yourself with people that don’t set you ablaze. Personally amputate anyone who doesn’t believe in or support you.

These are the people who will keep you average, keep you lukewarm and keep addicted to the need for permission. What relationships (that you’ve outgrown) are keeping your core temperate dangerously low?

9. Voluntarily opt out of the mainstream. Have you ever received a compliment for something you didn’t realize you were doing? This happened to me a few weeks ago. An audience member commented, “You’re just so free with what you say.”

And I thought, Well, why wouldn’t I be? Why wouldn’t anybody be? Doesn’t it make sense that, in a country whose first amendment explicitly grants all its citizens the right to free speech, that people would speak their minds?

Apparently not. Especially in the corporate world. Turns out we live in a litigious, oversensitive, out-of-touch-with-reality society where people would rather tiptoe around the issues that matter than man-up and put their balls on the table.

Which means: Maybe the way we’re working isn’t working. Maybe a few fundamental redefinitions are required. Maybe to shed the shackles of permission, each individual needs to make a conscious choice to opt out of the very bullshit that’s stinking up their halls.

Because that’s the thing about permission: If you can’t grant it to yourself, who’s going to do it for you? Nobody. And if you can’t be free with your words (within the boundaries of respect), what do you have left? Nothing. Are you an artist of life or an article of mediocrity?

ULTIMATELY: Permission is a spiritual revolt. It’s a soulful drive for significance. And it’s part of how you sustain your quest for truth.

And as you embark on a personal mission to seek less permission and start doing what you really want to do, I urge you to remember one final thought:

The only permission slip that matters is the one you sign for yourself.

It’s time to stop asking, “Who’s going to let me?” and start wondering, “Who’s going to stop me?”

What are you waiting for?

For the list called, “35 Things You Simply Can’t Do,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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