Don’t Ask for Permission

If you want to become the most epic entrepreneur or you in life, don’t ask for permission.

Why do we think we must ask for permission?

We have been trained to ask for permission before doing anything.

Consider how you were raised. Most likely you had to ask for permission before doing anything.

Of course this carries over when be become adults.

Consider– you have to ask for permission from your boss before taking time off work. You have to ask for permission from your significant other before purchasing something for yourself. You have to ask for permission before leaving the house.

We become so accustomed to asking for permission that it paralyzes us. That means if we don’t have anyone to ask for permission in order to do something, we don’t even attempt it at all.

For example, if you want to start your own business or become an entrepreneur, you don’t need permission from anyone else before attempting to do so.

But why do we still ask for permission?

Permission to blame

My theory of why we want to ask for permission before doing something:

In case we fail or ‘get in trouble’, we have someone to blame.

And why do we want someone to blame?

Because we don’t have the spine to take responsibility for ourselves, our own life; or perhaps because we lack self-confidence in ourselves?

Is it ever good to ask for permission?

When you’re asking for permission– what are you really doing? Are you informing someone of a decision you’ve going to make, which of you’ve already decided in your head? Or when you are asking for permission, are you seeking a moral or ethical “OK” from the other person?

The Latin word for permission comes from “permitto” (sounds like ‘permit’) which means, give up, leave, surrender, allow, suffer, grant.

It seems in modern life, when we are asking for permission, what we really want is someone to grant us the freedom to do something. But why do we need someone to grant us the freedom to do something? Do we lack that freedom, and thus are we dependent on that person to permit us from doing something?

Fear of getting “in trouble”

James dean

When we ask for permission from someone to do something, generally we are saying:

Do I have your consent to do this thing, in order for you not to get angry at me, or attack/harm me?

For example in street photography, when you ask someone for permission to make a portrait of them (street portrait), you’re saying:

Do you give me your consent to make a portrait of you, and you promise not to get angry at me?

Thus we are trying to mitigate others’ anger towards us. We are afraid the other person might attack us (physically, verbally, mentally).

Thus inherent in asking for permission is fear of harm.

We ask for permission in order not to get harmed as a consequence of our actions.

Asking for permission as a form of announcing what you’re going to do

This is what I realized with my persuasion skills in street photography (when asking for permission for a street portrait) is this: it seems that I’m asking for permission to shoot a portrait of them, but in reality– I am informing them that I am going to make a portrait of them out of courtesy.

Thus perhaps when we are asking for permission, we aren’t asking others to permit us to do something or not. In-fact, you are making them feel comfortable with you. If you have enough confidence in yourself through your body language, your speech — you can almost get anyone to do anything for you.

What does a life look like when you’re not asking for permission?

I think a life in which you didn’t ask for permission to do anything would be a far more interesting life. A life with more risks, chances, and epicness.

Consider– Martin Luther didn’t ask for permission from the Catholic Church before he wrote his 95 theses. Rosa Parks didn’t ask for permission to sit in the front of the bus. Gandhi didn’t ask for permission to start peaceful protests against the British Government. All shakers, makers, and movers of history never asked for permission– they took personal risks, had skin in the game, and were responsible for the consequences of their actions.

Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission

red crimson foot

I think in street photography, you can shoot photos WITH and WITHOUT permission. But also realize that when you’re shooting street portraits with permission, what you’re really doing is informing them that you’re going to make a portrait of them. Thus, all street photography is done “without permission”, in the sense that you aren’t asking for consent– you will shoot the photo anyways.

I have always believed in the motto:

Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.

Always take the risk, with the chance of pissing others off. And if anyone gives you any grief, you can always (pretend) to be very remorseful, and ask for permission. It is kind of a sly and devilish way of getting what you want in life, but I believe it is a non-sucker way of living life.

Consider — if you want to truly make a massive impact in society, can you do it by asking for permission? I think not.



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