Stop Seeking Permission and Approval to Work

“If you are going to do something truly innovative, you have to be someone who does not value social approval.” — Malcolm Gladwell

The internet has been the most impactful thing to ever happen to my business, but it may not be for the reason that you’re thinking of. Sure, it has helped me make money, and it has given me a direct communication line to people, and it has given me a large audience, but more than anything, it has given me a way around seeking permission and approval. The internet, as a means of communication, has allowed me to just go and do. It gave me an opportunity that previous generations didn’t have, and this concept has changed the entire way that I view life.

No, I don’t have to run my work past anyone in editing before I get to click the “publish” button. Nor do I have to hope that the gatekeeper of a publication gives me permission to be printed in their publication. Nor do I have to seek approval from the masses before I get to work. In fact, I just log in to WordPress, write an article, and then publish it. You may not agree with everything that I say, but you’re engaged with this content in this very moment, and that’s worth something. And now, you can apply this concept of seeking permission from others to many areas in your own life. Instead of waiting for permission, many times, you just need to go and do.

Now that we’ve talked about getting permission from other people to do something, now I need to talk about seeking approval from others to go and do something new. When previous generations have thought about work, they have thought about work being the one day job that they will hold for their entire lifetime. And while doing this will help people become really good at their craft, what it doesn’t do is fully take advantage of opportunity. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve only had one job and worked a 9-to-5, but that’s because I started one business while having another. I didn’t seek approval to start a new job; I just did it.

All of this to say, too many people seek approval from others before they will go and do something, but many times, they already have what they need to begin. This is the same idea that those who are all talk have adopted. (You know the people who I am talking about.) So, if you are currently contemplating whether you should start something new or not, here are three reasons that you should stop seeking approval and begin working immediately:

First, seeking the need for others to call your work “perfect” halts progress faster than anything else.

“Many people think of perfectionism as striving to be your best, but it is not about self-improvement; it’s about earning approval and acceptance.” — Brené Brown

If you keep waiting for others to tell you that your idea is perfect to begin the work, you’ll be waiting forever. No, perfect doesn’t exist, but working until you find something that is interesting enough to spark the curiosity within you that is needed to keep exploring is possible. And when you do find this, it is then and only then that you will provoke the thoughts of others. Shoot for that kind of influence through your work, because that’s as close to perfect that you’ll ever get.

Second, to be creative and innovative, you have to stop seeking approval.

“If you are going to do something truly innovative, you have to be someone who does not value social approval. You can’t need social approval to go forward. Otherwise, how would you ever do the thing that you are doing?” — Malcolm Gladwell

To seek approval before you begin is to push away any possibility of innovation. Think of anyone who has come before us who had a crazy idea. Do you think that each idea they had or each piece of work was immediately accepted by the masses? It’s usually quite the opposite. Stop talking and start doing meaningful work; it’s the only way to make a difference.

Third, if you keep seeking approval, your entire self-worth will be based on the opinion of others, which never gets to the root of the issue found in what you believe about yourself.

“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.” — Harvey Mackay

People who seek permission and approval are deflecting what they should already know about themselves to another person’s opinion. But, I’m not as interested in what other people think of you as what you think about yourself. I already believe in you because you have unlimited potential, and I hope you choose to do right with it, but you must first believe in yourself before you ever think of doing meaningful work. You and the belief you have in yourself will always show through the work you produce. You are enough to produce something meaningful.

Now, stop seeking permission and approval, today.