Do you ever find yourself waiting for someone else to give you permission to get started on something?

I know I do. All the freakin’ time. Or at least I did - I’ve been trying to get better at it…

See, what I used to do was see how someone I admired was doing something and think that there couldn’t possibly be any other route to get there. I just assumed that this person I looked up to had found the secret formula and had all the answers. So I waited for things to fall into place so I could do it just like they did.

And while I was waiting, I’d get other ideas. “Oh, what about this?” or “What if I did it this way?” I’d say to myself. But I never pursued those options because I couldn’t find anyone else doing them, too. Days, weeks, or even months would pass, then out of the blue I’d hear someone suggest one of my ideas and think “Oh, it will work! Let’s do it!”

All it took to get started was for someone else to give me permission. I just needed their permission to believe in my own idea.

Does that make sense?

This is a weird thought that’s been spinning around in my head this week. It’s one of those ideas that makes sense when I’m thinking about it, but the more I try to write it the more esoteric it becomes.

I promise it’s not that complicated. Let me give you a more concrete example:

My friend is a brilliant artist. She’s smart and talented and creative and hard working. Not to mention, her work is incredible. But, she’s a bit of an introvert. So when she reads business books or takes workshops, she gets depressed when she realizes how bad she is at marketing her products. Everything she studies tells her she needs to be outgoing nonstop so she can make connections and build her business.

We were having lunch once day and I said, “You’re looking for answers in the wrong places. You need to find ways to promote yourself that match your personality.”

She said that I was probably right but I knew that she didn’t believe me. I wasn’t in her industry; I wasn’t one of her role models. What did I know?

Then, last weekend, she let me know that she had met one of those role models and she explained to me their advice. It was practically identical to what I had told her.

“I’m going to find ways to promote this as an introvert. There are plenty of options out there - I just didn’t look hard enough.”

“That’s what I said months ago!” I told her. It took her a moment to remember.

“Oh yeah. You did.”

She didn’t rely on her own strengths to carve her own path. She had to wait for someone else to give her permission. It was someone she admired, so once they did she started to believe it.

The truth is, you don’t need to wait. You have everything you need already. You don’t need another business book or an online course. You don’t need to mimic everyone else.

The comedian Pete Holmes has a great joke about Burger King. His observation is that Burger King only opens a restaurant somewhere after McDonald’s has opened one in that location first. It’s like they didn’t know that they could do it until McDonald’s showed them the way. Holmes talks about his early comedy path and how he would “Burger King it” by seeing other comedians doing something different and realizing he could do it, too.

I never thought I would say this on Thursday Thoughts, but be McDonald’s not Burger King.

Chances are you’ve probably already had many ideas that can get you from where you are now to where you want to be, so stop waiting for someone to tell you it’s okay and start giving those ideas a shot. You don’t need anyone’s permission except your own.

Other Thoughts:

  • I’ll be performing at The Magic Penthouse in Chicago this weekend. Use code “laborday” for 50% off tickets.

  • Are you on the mailing list? Join The Mystery to get tour dates, special announcements and new posts.

  • Just did a show at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ a few days ago. Obsessed with my 360 camera, so here’s a behind-the-scenes view: