By Tristam Waye
Did You Get Permission?
Imagine your taxi stops, you open the door, and as you are stepping out of the car….BAM!
The cab gets hit from behind.
Your head hits the door frame. You are messed up.
And for the next several years, you are in debilitating pain. On constant medication. Unable to function. Every doctor you meet says you will be this way forever. That recovery won't happen. Every treatment, piece of advice, and conversation supports this diagnosis.
Then one day, a doctor tells you that it doesn't have to be this way.
They tell you you can recover. It will be tough. A lot of hard work, but you can get better. You can reclaim your life.
What would you do?
You might reject the idea. Or you might accept the idea and decide to take the necessary steps to improve the situation.
The difference between the two decisions is permission.
The cycle of self-doubt
In a recent summit, I heard the word permission come up numerous times. The theme was about the one thing you would change for 2021 to move forward.
The concept of permission was to give yourself permission. It was about reframing your thinking and giving yourself room to succeed. Or to change something important.
This is one of the major challenges with entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs.
They find themselves stuck in a cycle of self-doubt.
Will this idea work? No, it won't work.
Will I get funding? No, nobody will fund this.
Can I do this? I can't do this. I don't have any money.
Do I have what it takes?
These questions are ongoing. They come up from time to time. Sometimes they are boat anchors keeping you from drifting into the unknown. They keep you from moving forward.
It reminds me of the story on a construction site I worked on once. The project manager sees a guy sitting around, so he goes over and says, "What are you doing?"
The worker says, "Nothing."
The project manager responds, "So how do you know when to stop?"
Many would-be entrepreneurs are holding back because they aren't doing anything, and they don't know how to stop. They have an idea but don't know where to start or how to start.
Human beings are terrible at risk assessment. The risk of a small loss is typically given more weight than the actual loss potential. And huge risks are often underweighted.
There is no secret process
There is this underlying belief of this secret process. That it requires someone to start here and go there. We learned this in school. We learn this in the forms we figure out. It's the idea that there is some simple logic at the beginning.
Now, imagine if you give yourself permission?
Give yourself permission to start something wherever you are.
Give yourself permission to think about something crazy that hasn't been done before.
Give yourself permission to overcome the angst of starting.
Give yourself permission to try something that might not work out.
And then give yourself permission to learn from that experience and try again.
Hussein calls this Get Shit Done. But to get shit done, you have to start. And to start, you have to be willing to give yourself permission.
The biggest risk is the one not taken
Human beings are terrible at risk assessment. The risk of a small loss is typically given more weight than the actual loss potential. And huge risks are often underweighted. We saw this on a world-class scale in 2020.The biggest risk, however, is not doing anything. Because if you aren't doing anything, if you aren't trying out that idea. If you aren't out talking to potential customers and you aren't getting feedback ⸺you aren't learning anything.
And if you aren't learning anything, you are also taking a risk. The risk that you will never reach your full potential.
When a body lays in a bed for a certain period, something bad happens—muscles atrophy. Heart rate and circulation are altered. After a certain number of weeks, you will likely have to learn how to walk again.
Not learning and growing is like laying in that bed for a few weeks. You start to atrophy.
To avoid atrophy, you have to give yourself permission.
Survival mode is regressive
Now, when times are tough or circumstances are uncertain, we go into survival mode. Survival mode cuts off our ability to be creative and open. It makes it hard to embrace creative ideas and to start new things. It's like having a parade of doctors telling us we'll never overcome the chronic pain from our accident.
Survival mode is the antithesis of progress or growth. It's a regressive learning and a coping strategy.
You cannot advance, start anything or think freely in that condition. You don't feel like you can give yourself permission.
As an entrepreneur, you are stuck in this state. You can't move forward or backward. And you don't know when to stop.
Learn from Nicole
I heard about the story of the car accident from a Canadian comedian. Her name is Nicole Arbour.
All it took was one doctor to give her permission to get better to start the process. She had to work at it. It wasn't easy, but she moved from chronic pain and mentally debilitated, back to dancer and comedian.
All it required was one person to tell her that she could get better and help her work towards that. If Nicole can overcome chronic pain, muscle atrophy, and the dark days following an accident, you can overcome too.
So if you're an entrepreneur and you're stuck. Or if you have an idea but aren't sure about it. Or afraid of failing. If you’re in survival mode...Let me give you permission.
Permission to start wherever you are.
Permission to try something and have it not work out the way you thought it would.
Permission to learn from that and take the next step.
Permission to be open to feedback and input.
Permission to grow and succeed by trying.