I feel like the last few weeks have been a recurring pattern of conversations about fear, permission, and leadership. I re-watched an old TedX talk with Dave Meslin amidst these conversations and was really struck by something he says about becoming a community leader: "No one invites you". Yes!
That is so true. So incredibly, significantly true that I can't believe it took my twenty lessons to remember that one.
Starting a charity? The old charities are looking at you sideways, afraid you will poach their donors. Representing an under-represented point of view? You're also challenging some established viewpoint. Trying to introduce your cause/ idea/ service to the world? Get ready to join a loud, noisy, scattershot conversation.
People don't not want you. It's just that they are busy. Their worlds are familiar to them. You are new. You are asking for more time. You want to change things, even in the smallest of ways.
At the highest level of leadership, you can't look for validation from the world. You'll never get it. All of the best ideas I have ever had (or have had with amazing teams) have gone over like lead balloons before they've been built. I've learned to ask for information, but not permission to try something new.
On the most basic day-to-day level of work, seeking permission or approval holds you back. The most capable, talented people I get to work with come up with ideas or suggestions and don't get discouraged when they hear "no". (And they usually push back just a little, to make sure it's an informed "no".) Every idea or suggestion is their best effort at an idea or suggestion. And the quality of the work rises up like a tide.
The most effective people don't need permission to feel good about good work. They find "good" for themselves and let that drive them. And even when they're afraid of screwing up (because, honestly, we are all afraid some times), they don't let that hold them back. This makes them unstoppable. Which makes them successful.