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Tuesday, May 3,2011

Yes You May!

By Deborah Brown, Ph.D., MBA
Growing up, many of us were taught to ask permission before doing anything. We asked to be excused from the table. Or we played “Mother May I,” asking if we could take even a little baby step forward. Or we needed to get permission slips for everything from field trips, to walking down the hall in high school. Before you pursued any of your goals, how often did you need to seek some kind of permission from a parent, teacher, coach, babysitter, or other authority figure?

After so much waiting for others’ approval, it can be difficult as adults to confidently and swiftly make tough choices without getting someone’s permission first. The movie “Shawshank Redemption” offered an extreme example where Morgan Freeman’s character, newly released from 40 years in prison, couldn’t even go to the bathroom unless his new boss said it was all right.

People with a military background also endured rigorous training that included following orders, and they can sometimes surprise people outside of the chain of command by seeking their permission. For example, actor Patrick Stewart noted that he had been asked by a highly decorated chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if the chairman could sit in the captain’s chair on the set of Star Trek.

As instinctive as it might be to seek permission before taking action, small business owners don’t report to anyone who can give them approval; they must learn to rely on their own judgment. They learn to make their own bold choices, break new ground, and create something from nothing without any authority figures to give their blessing.

In that respect, small business owners are like artists. For example, Graham Nash said, “I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to do anything.” And actor Lance Henriksen said, “I don’t ever say, ‘Do you mind if...?’ I just come in and do it.”

So if you’re out there relishing the freedom and power of making your own day-to-day choices for your business, then you already know: yes you CAN, and yes you MAY! 


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