This Toxic Mindset Can Hold You Back

As a child, one must ask permission for everything. 

If you feel like there’s something wrong with that statement, I already like you. 

The word “permission” takes me back to my time in public school, being given large class projects or essays. Handed out to every student would be detailed outlines about the project’s expectations, things that must be met in exactly the correct format and in just the correct way. When I think about it more in-depth, I remember needing to do things in the “correct” way for even basic things; when I could or couldn’t use the bathroom, moving to and from the classroom had to be done in single-file lines, even the social structure constituted staying in your lane. 

Permission mindset begins as external hindrance but eventually becomes internal hinderance- a roadblock that holds us back from higher achievement. The first can be prevented, and the second can be corrected. But the former is much harder. It’s easier to take action to avoid the permission mindset than it is to remove it once it has been engrained. 

If you don’t trust your child to make decisions based on the expectations you have set for them, perhaps the expectations you have put in place have not been made clear enough for them. Or maybe the expectations haven’t become habits yet. 

When an individual reaches adulthood with a strong permission mindset, they will behave in a fashion that requires permission from others. That may mean going through the motions of college, not because they want to, but because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. They may never pursue extra projects that will excel their career because they believe they need permission from their higher-ups in order to do it.

Those of us who have achieved the most in their lives never asked for anyone’s permission to make their vision a reality. They simply did it. They executed without fear of the repercussions because they realized there was no teacher there to give them a failing grade if they didn’t follow the rules. 

So how do you go about preventing or reversing the permission mindset?

It begins with self-awareness and action. If you’re already living with the permission mindset, ask yourself why you feel you need someone to tell you that you can do it. Who’s permission specifically do you think that you need? Then, ask yourself if you truly need that permission. The answer is generally no. 

Even if what you want to do is directly related to your job. If you literally need permission in order to take action on your idea, then start by taking action on a proposal that outlines all of the pros, all of the cons, what will be needed, and figure out a way to present your idea in the most value-creating way. Gather all of the things and have them ready and in place for the “Yes” response. 

Do what you want to do on a small scale, and then work your way up to larger-scale. 

For example, I did a 30-day blogging challenge where I wrote a blog post and sent it out on my site. And at the end of every week, I would send it off to a larger publisher. Eventually, I became used to the idea of executing and shipping my idea whether or not I was given the permission to do so. 

Create a structure where execution is easy, but also challenging. Get used to the idea that a project does not require any external permission. It only requires your permission. 

The world is built and owned by those of us who never needed permission from anyone else.