Below you will find an unedited excerpt from a book that I’m writing about permission.
This book is going to be 38 pages long. Studies have show that the number 38 is…ok, that’s a lie and it’s not even a complete sentence. I chose the number 38. I want to finish this book so I wanted to make the number small enough that I could finish it. Most of us start many more things than we finish. Most people start reading more articles than we finish. Our intentions and attempts outnumber our actual effort by a country mile (for those of you not in the midwest “a country mile” is bigger than a normal mile).
The best way to never finish anything is to never start anything. Never starting anything does protect you from those feelings of failure and discouragement from unfinished tasks but it is no power against a worse feeling, regret. To write something of significance one must start with a word, then a sentence, a paragraph and then a chapter. The simple letters, asdf and jkl; on which my hands rest, their neighbors qwert and yuiop make up these words. Below my resting hands are zxcvb and nm,./. Thanks to Mr. Dilley (freshman typing teacher)I can put these characters in a semblance of order and they become words, paragraphs…you get it. I’m writing. No one told me I could write and no one ever will. If you wait for permission to do anything then you’ll only pee when the class goes on “bathroom breaks”. Remember those? Apparently it was easier to train kids to all pee at the same time in my Catholic school than to have the chaos of children going to the bathroom alone. We’d all march to the bathroom and we’d experience three minutes of freedom as our female teachers, unable to enter our sanctuary, were forced to wait outside. It was like we had a “no girls allowed” sign but this one actually worked. The only alternative to the class trips to the bathrooms were the brave souls who would raise their hands and request permission to pee. Of course you never asked permission by stating, “Sister Bernadine, can I go pee?” You asked, “May I use the restroom?” If she was in a good mood then she’d say yes. If she wasn’t you were at risk of peeing your pants, which I’m quite sure I did several times in my years on the first floor (1st-4th grade) of Christ The King Grade School. It’s not unreasonable to force kids to ask permission to use the bathroom. It is unreasonable for adults to continue to ask permission though.
“I don’t ask permission to use the bathroom Andy. Your analogy sucks” is what you may be thinking. You do pee freely now (hopefully in the appropriate locations) but there are other areas where seeking permission dominates your thinking. It dominates your thinking so much that you don’t even think of asking permission, you just don’t do. What don’t you do? You’re waiting for someone to give you permission to write a book, start a business, build something cool, start a hobby, join a team, take leadership in your organization, lead a class at church or volunteer somewhere. I missed some, but you’ve got stuff you don’t do because you act like you have to raise your hand and get permission. Sadly you’re not even raising your hand, you’re just putting your head down and focusing on your “work”.
Our work is what keeps us busy. It’s paying the mortgage, feeding the kids, keeping the oil changed, vacuuming, saving up for the latest Apple product and keeping our relationships in tact. Those things scream for our attention. Who are we right? We’re just surviving right? We’re not authors, speakers, trend starters, world changers, champions of causes or super-parents. We’re just keeping ourselves alive. We’re “good” as in “How ya doing (insert your name here)?”
“Good” you respond.
Worse yet, we’re “Busy” as in “How ya doing (insert your name here)?”
“Busy” you respond.
Busy is such a lame answer. Are you busy like traffic, busy like a worker at McDonalds, busy like Mother Theresa caring for the poor, busy like the President trying to keep our economy from collapsing, busy like a mom trying to keep her kids from destroying the house or busy like a crooked accountant trying to cook the books? Busy is not an acceptable answer. Busy is a pathetic excuse for giving an honest answer of how you’re really feeling.
You are not “good” or “busy”. You are so much more than that. This is not about fame, fortune or taking over the world. This is simply about living a life that you don’t regret living. Permission is keeping you from living the life you want to live. The problem is you. You are waiting for it. You’re waiting for someone, some group, some circumstance to give you permission. It, they, that moment is not going to give you permission. You have to take permission.