Why We Need Permission


It’s been proven: People are happier after making a major change.

And yet, the list of “things you’ve always wanted to do” (i.e. the major changes) tends to be much longer than the “things you’ve done.” The NY Times’ Carl Richards calls this The Permission Gap.

In the context of career, we believe this correlates strongly with the things you choose to do (i.e. “I’m going to quit my job and use my time to get reconnected to who I am and find a great fit”) versus the things that happen to you (i.e. “The phone rang, and the job was more money and a better title, so I took it!”). The choices are MUCH scarier than having “permission granted” to make a change.

So what’s the hold up? Fear, you say? Absolutely! Terror even. But, according to Dr. Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, “People who aren’t sure about uprooting their lives probably should. As a basic rule of thumb, people are too cautious when it comes to making change.”

We talk a lot about this caution in The Collective. And last week we addressed the idea of how much easier it is to make a change when you get permission – from someone else and better still, from yourself. Everyone came to the room telling each other, “I need permission to focus on myself” or “I need permission to say no to a client.” Permission was granted freely by the group; we were delighted, in fact, to give it. . . but that may only be where it starts.”

As leaders and in our careers the stakes are even higher.

Richards says, “Seeking approval and external validation is part of the human experience, but when it comes to making a big life change, they can be hard to find. . . if you get bogged down looking for that affirmation to make a change, you may never make it.” Beth Comstock, Vice Chairwoman of G.E. recently shared the same sentiment.

So, the magic wands at Flank 5 Academy are happy to give you permission – to quit your job, ask for a promotion, step out into the world of freelancing – but really, we’re waiting on you. . . to give yourself the same gift. You deserve it, we and Richards say!

Yes, there’s fear – that won’t change – but consider, what else are you waiting on?