Stop Asking For Permission

I love a few things: Providing motivation and insight to others. Elevating overlooked perspectives. Twerking in unexpected places, like the frozen food aisle of my local grocery store. Soul music. Shea butter. But I love nothing more than good, quenching, one-on-one conversation -- the kind that warmly cuts through the small talk into the deeper inner layers, with limited distractions.

Recently my one-on-one conversations have taken life with other women. Women who are creators, writers, entrepreneurs, and founders. Each conversation was a small window into their businesses and passions, with the hopes that I could provide strategies for how they can better position or promote themselves and their work to the world.

As each conversation unfolded, a pattern emerged.

They would ask me if it was ok to make a specific action in relation to their work.

Permission along the lines of:

“Are you sure I can talk about that?”

“Do you think it’s ok for me to do that?”

“Would it be ok for me to try that?”

I want to be clear with you here.

You. Do. Not. Need. Permission.

Underneath this innocent ask is the real question, “Is taking this risk ok?” Risk is a trigger word. Even thinking about risk can send bubble-gut-inducing angst throughout the body. Yet, you do not need to ask for permission to take space, to express yourself, or to try something new.

It takes confidence, the true genuine sort, to do first and think about permission later. Confidence is defined as the the belief in your ability and a belief in your our own intrinsic worth. The irony is, our beliefs about our confidence are shaped by our relationship with risk. When we test our abilities by trying new things, we have an arsenal of examples to continue to build our confidence from. It takes doing small uncertain actions to build confidence -- a Catch 22 as you need the confidence to be able to take the risk in the first place!

Your beliefs in your ability and worth shape your outputs. If you believe in what you’re doing, and who it is serving, you should also believe you have the right to express that outwardly to the world.

Who is this overarching ‘Lord of Yes’ (as I’m deeming it) that we’re all asking permission from? Does this tendency to ensure it’s ok to be confident in our actions, come from a social system that subtly snuffs the curiosity out of people in exchange for discipline and following the rules?

Individuals who create without permission inspire me. Like Audre Lorde, a black writer, feminist, and civil rights activist who spoke on her truth, elevated her community, and created without permission -- and even against serious opposition. Individuals like her, who are on the fringes of society yet bold enough to still create innovative works that moved people during their time and beyond, have lessons to teach all of us.

Your permission comes from your confidence in yourself. You only need to believe it.