I once heard a famous zillionaire life coach say she makes her entire living giving people permission to do what they already know they want to do.
They don’t pay her to help them find some unknown purpose. She doesn’t help them discover some completely hidden talent or gift they never knew they had before.
She just gives them permission. I do this a lot, too, through the things I create.
I give people permission to be contrarians in any way that serves them. Permission to turn away from the chaos and depressive fodder in the headlines. Permission to open up and risk looking foolish in order to connect more deeply with someone. Permission to make bold moves or create things just because you feel drawn to.
I’ve been giving myself and others permission to show our souls. Even if we work in tech, or run a gym, or practice acupuncture or market consumer goods for a living.
And I love little more than offering people permission to do things less than perfectly, or badly even. Permission to just start, and just try, and know that you’ll survive, even if someone criticizes what you’re doing or you don’t succeed the way you originally thought success might look.
Catch this principle: Permission and perfectionism cannot co-exist.
Now. Sometimes I give others permission to do these things by trying to model what it looks like to live this kind of life: a life in which I’m constantly granting myself permission to take advantage of the great freedoms I have. (If you live in the US and have laptops and phones and email and social media accounts, you probably have much more freedom than you are leveraging).
Other times, I try to give this permission expressly, as in: “HERE IS A HALL PASS THAT GETS YOU FREE PASSAGE THROUGH LIFE. The force that created all worlds told me to give it to you. Now: go.”
But when a coach, or me, or anyone else “gives you permission” to do what you really want to do in this life, that’s still just a shadow of the truth. The truth is that you must learn to give yourself permission. Consistently is the goal, but frequently will do, to start. You’ve got to learn to move forward, boldly and do what’s on your heart to do without kissing the ring of someone or something outside of ourselves and waiting for approval.
We can’t wait on permission from society, from our teachers and gurus or from the people in our lives that they will fund us, or help us set aside the time, or still love us if we do whatever we feel called to do. If we do wait for this, we’ll just be waiting.
The path of giving yourself permission, the not waiting path, is just to start. Now. Without further ado. That doesn’t necessarily mean to blow up your day job and run off to join the circus. We can steal 30 minutes here, a Saturday morning there. Creators prioritize bringing the laptop along to the kids’ soccer games and piano lessons.
Or maybe just start sharing. Start writing. Start asking for what you need. Start saying what you think. Start small.
When we just start, the energy we are and the energy we radiate allows us to receive all the resources, all the funding, all the time, all the help we need to bring this creation to its fullest expression. We might even just receive the inspiration to go somewhere so that we’re in the perfect place at the perfect time.
This is true, no matter what we’re creating. It might be a conscious business, a novel or a purpose-driven book that shares your worldview and industry insight. It might be The Next Big Thing. It might even be a Meetup or youth group or a blog that signals out and brings in the others who need to know what we know. It might be better relationships or a more healthful lifestyle. It might be the side hustle you’ve wanted to start forever or a spiritual practice that elevates your day-to-day experience.
For me, this week is all about hibernating to recuperate from a month of intense travel and allowing the product vision, launch team and partnerships for SoulTour, my baby startup concept, to coalesce.
So this week, I’m giving myself permission to do things I know fuel my physical energy and creative resources. I spent Sunday and Monday turning on my flow and momentum switch by going deeper with my practices. Sunday, I spent the day at Spirit Rock Meditation Center with David Richo, soaking up both his teaching on the longings of the human soul and the peace and presence of the place itself.
Monday, I spent more time than normal in meditation and did some writing exercises that never fail to crank up my creativity and turn off my internal Resistance. I gave myself permission to prune my calendar for the next few weeks so I could have the space to think, the space to create. (Most of these exercises come from Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write, ICYWW).
Today, I’m turning that flow onto the projects that matter the most to me. I’m giving myself permission to be bold in how I talk about SoulTour, what we want to create and how we hope to lift people up, at scale, on a spiritual and psychological level.
I give myself permission to be bold and begin sharing this message of depth and soul, even (especially) with influencers and corporate partners. Even though it’s weird and personal. Even though no one else in this business talks like this. Even though some people won’t like it.
If the energy of soul and spirit we’re broadcasting freaks someone out or turns them off, GREAT. We avoid the dramas of a misaligned partnership and dodge the bullet of a later clash! At this stage of my career, I know for sure that when one thing doesn’t come together, it’s only because some much more spacious, aligned thing is anxiously waiting behind it, hoping we say no to Door A so we can get to the perfect-fit gloriousness behind Door B.
But that’s not what’s been happening. On the contrary, the purity of the intention behind this platform has been a massive magnet, attracting in the just-right dollars and partners and people to build this thing.
Whether you’re writing or just reflecting, consider this prompt:
- What do you give yourself permission to do this week? What does giving this permission look like?
- What have you been waiting for permission to do, say or be?
- Can you give yourself permission to do, say or be that, starting now?
P.S.: I’m speaking at Shiloh Church’s BOLD Conference next weekend. Details and registration here! http://shilohkingdombuilders.com