Permission Slips

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If you’re waiting for permission to lead, it’ll never come.

If you’re waiting to be asked to initiate change, get comfortable.

If you’re waiting to be tapped on the shoulder and be told “we need you!” …

That’s rarely how it works.

  1. Status Quo is generally satisfied with itself, and thus isn’t in the business of actively soliciting for its replacement;
  2. On the rare occasion when it does, the odds of Disruption, Change, and [R]Evolution seeking out the “reliable, does what she’s told when told” person to lead them are exceedingly small.

“Nature abhors a vacuum” — horror vacui — and in organizations, what fills the vacuum isn’t permission to lead a change. The gaps between what your organization is and what it could be get filled by either the comfort of the Status Quo or the wave-making disturbance of Initiative.

From Tribes:

The timid leave a vacuum.

Workers in the balloon factory are always afraid, particularly of something happening. Things that happen are rarely good, because they disturb the status quo.

That’s why initiative is such an astonishingly successful tool: because it’s rare. Even a little bit of action, a few new ideas, or a tiny bit of initiative can fill the vacuum. It’s a big deal to spill just a few drops of Hawaiian Punch on a spotless white tablecloth. People notice.

Lead … without permission if necessary. Thank You cards are better than permission slips anyway.