Ask for permission or apologise afterwards?

When a wagon blocked a bridge during General Patton’s 1943 Sicily offensive, holding up his forces, Patton personally shot the animals and had them pushed off the bridge.

Elsewhere in the war, Patton moved at lightning speed.  He had supreme confidence in himself, and masses of Agency

But we can use him as an example (albeit a flawed one) of how to succeed.  You’ll move as fast as you can make decisions. In other words, if you dither, you won’t move forward.

Many of us feel we need to ask permission to do things. And it’s clear that the people who gained success in life didn’t do that.

How does this apply to you? It depends on who you’re up against. If you live or work in a negative, hierarchical environment, and you ask permission, it will often be denied. So asking for forgiveness may be the best route.

By contrast, in an outward looking, entrepreneurial work place, it may be better  to get others on board before you act. 

In general, you should act decisively and apologise for it later, if you get it wrong. It’s better than delaying by asking permission which is likely to be denied.

Many TV police shows involve a maverick officer deciding to do it their way, rather than playing by the rules. It gets them into trouble with their boss. But eventually the officer is found to have done the right thing. If you ask permission, a boss will usually refuse it, because for them the risks of inaction are much less than the impact of failure.

When it comes to decisions that affect only you, you have to act decisively. Those around you may tell you the risk is great, and you’re better off where you are. Sometimes you have to be General Patton, and just do it.

Patton also said: ‘When there is fear of failure, there will be failure’. In other words, if you’re worried about failing, you won’t take the risk. You have to commit to change, and accept that you might fail. But for most things, it’s only ever a partial, limited failure. Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ is a good motto.


Old self, new self

Are you waiting for permission to act? Here’s the thing. No one will give you permission. Only you can give yourself permission. Most of the people you know will have a fixed view of who you are. Let’s call it ‘your old self’.  It’s almost impossible for any of them to see ‘your new self’.

Could your old self achieve the change you have in mind? No. So people can’t visualise it. They are likely to be negative.

And if confronted with the new you, they may be defensive. You might become bigger than them. It might diminish them. Your move will disrupt the status quo.

You might have one or two close friends who will support you If so, you’re fortunate. And you’ve chosen your friends well. They will be your cheerleaders. But many of us don’t have that.

Now take the ‘Old self, New self’ test.

You can download a copy of the test here: Old Self New Self quiz


Old Self, New Self
How would other people would describe your current (old) self? What would they say about you?
Imagine you made the change you want. How would someone describe your new self? What difference would they see?
How would the difference make you feel?
What’s the first step to becoming ‘your new self’?


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