by Patrick McNerthney

I started a new project a few months back. Not my typical home-improvement-that-leads-to-disaster type project, but rather a project that involves creating an inflatable, fully stuffed, cooked, and dressed turkey dinner. With all the trimmings.

You know, for your front yard.

                                                                                  (It will look something like this.)

It’s to celebrate Thanksgiving. Haven’t you ever noticed what a dud November is when it comes to holiday decorations? People go hog wild for Halloween, then again in December for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, but poor November just receives a few half-hearted cornucopias and maybe some hay with a Pilgrim hat or something.

Since I’m not sure if (or how) this whole business idea will work, I recently asked my friend Anton, who’s an engineer and a business type person, “Hey, how do I get approval to start a business like this?”

His response was, “Nothing is forbidden until you ask for permission.”

Which helped me quite a bit, but I need to stop talking about myself and start talking about the power behind the word “permission.” 

Just like “The Force” from Star Wars, permission can be used in either a negative way or a positive way – the latter of which requires some training in patience and reflection. Need some examples? Great let’s go! 

Asking permission can be a way of hiding:

Many of us don’t move forward with an idea, an aspiration, or a goal by conducting a form of self-sabotage better known as: asking permission. After all, if we decide there is a gatekeeper for our ideas and actions, and then we ask for permission, and they say no (and we pretty much knew they’d say no), we get to blissfully avoid putting anything on the line and risking failure.

                                                                       (If I stay behind this plant, failure can’t touch me!)

Asking permission can be a way to avoid hard work:

Oh, this tactic is my personal favorite! I do it all the time…

“Honey, should I go up on the roof and clean the gutters? They’re overflowing.”

“No, it’s really wet out right now. I don’t want you up there.”

Sweet, I knew she’d say that. Time to turn on the game!

Of course, this is only half of the permission equation. When we are part of a team and engaged with others, especially professionally, there are times when we have to be inclusive and ask for input and participation. We can’t just do whatever we want – it’s our responsibility to enroll others in our process and listen carefully to their feedback.

But know this–asking permission requires a lot of forethought.

                                                                                       (This is a big part of forethought.)

Here’s the trick: If we ask in the wrong way, without preparation, and without earning the right to even bring up the idea, it can kill the idea immediately,eliminating all future chances to ask correctly. 

Here’s an example: 

Say a customer walks into your restaurant looking for a burger and you say, “Oh but you’d like the $77.00 steak way better, want to try it?” That might work, but more than likely the customer will feel alienated and defensive, because your tactic is both selfish and unrealistic. The sliver of permission the customer walked in with is now gone. Good luck getting it back! 

The same thing happens with your coworkers, boss, customers, clients – anyone you happen to deal with in daily life. They walk around with a small sliver of permission they’re ready to give away under the right circumstances. It’s a delicate flower, so don’t go stomping on it in your rush to get your agenda accomplished. You’ve got to do your homework in order to understand what the other guy really wants.

There’s a lot to absorb here, but this is the takeaway:

  • Asking permission to bring an idea you have into the world can be a way for you to hide and avoid experiencing failure 
  • In environments where asking permission is necessary to move forward, be considerate, earn the right to ask, do your homework, build connections, and make requests that are both reasonable and mutually beneficial. 

Over to you. 

Do you need permission to try something new? 

  • If not, there’s no need to wait. 
  • If you do, consider how to generate support from your peers when you say things like, “We’ve never done it this way before, but I have an idea…” 

Speaking of ideas, here at Fine Art Miracles we think we have a  unique way to leverage creative expression as a tool to improve the lives of our loved ones and residents struggling in the face of the pandemic and relentless social isolation. 

That’s right, we champion Art Therapy to create feelings of self-worth, confidence, connection, and self-mastery in seniors, children with challenges and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Virtual Fine Art Lessons, Music Therapy and Dance & Movement Therapy unleash the power of creative expression, which combats depression, anxiety, and fear by reconnecting individuals and groups with their own relevance in the world and their ability to simply make.

Hey! That’s pretty cool right? If this sounds exciting to you please reach out, we’re happy to discuss our programs in detail and answer any questions or concerns you may have! 

I’d better get back to the drawing board for that weird project I’ve started. And if you happen to see an inflated turkey dinner in someone’s front yard this Thanksgiving, you’ll know where that great idea came from. 




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