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Quit asking for permission. Just go ahead, grab the bull by the horns, and do it. Far better to ask for forgiveness later than permission now. Here’s why:

Asking permission ensures that your idea may never see the light of day. Ideas need a chance to be tried out, to grow a little, even to fail before we really know whether they’re worth fighting for. When an idea is killed before it even gets outs the door, we miss an opportunity for potential innovation, creativity, and growth. And if your idea does fly – nobody will be complaining that you didn’t check in with the boss first. (This goes double for salary stuff: Instead of saying, “Would it be OK to talk about getting a raise?” Try: “I’d like to discuss my raise. When can we meet?”)

You reinforce a habit of not trusting your instincts. When we constantly ask others for the OK before we make a move, it can get in the way of us trusting our gut and being able to make decisions. Sure, there are times that you won’t be able to make a move or get something done without the buy-in from others, but there are plenty of opportunities to take initiative. (Not sure? Start with something small – see what happens when you try something with low risk, and grow from there.)

You’ll get to do more things that interest you. If you’re bored, dissatisfied at work, or don’t feel challenged, do something about it. Instead of waiting for the boss to give you more exciting work, take matters into your own hands and try something out – ideally, something that adds impact to your organization’s bottom line.

When I felt I had hit a wall at my fundraising job after college, I started up an initiative to plan fundraising events for the legal industry. Nobody asked me to do it – so I worked on this project after hours, on my own, and planned out the whole thing. True, I had a great boss who loved to encourage entrepreneurial thinking, but knowing that my idea would actually generate more funds for my organization is really what gave me the confidence to go for it and not worry about his reaction.

You lose your excuses. If you don’t ask permission, you don’t have anyone standing in your way, and then you have to do something. Think about it – how many times do we let “the boss would never let me” as an excuses to not have to take action?

Organizations would be wise to encourage less permission asking – instead of fearing that if they do allow their employees to be more entrepreneurial, that they’ll have a mess on their hands. Instead, run contests for the best new idea, encourage ‘grab the bull by the horns’ thinking, and give examples of how your people can take intelligent risks in the workplace. Start small, and when you get nervous that your employees are going to run off in 100 different directions, remind yourself that less permission-asking rewards initiative, encourages entrepreneurial thinking, and may actually produce some great work for you.

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Freedman improves her clients’ businesses by helping employees and leaders Have Better Conversations® with their teams, clients, and each other. She is also the author of Work 101: Learning the Ropes without Hanging Yourself and The MBA Student’s Job-Seeking Bible, and was a finalist for College Speaker of the Year, awarded by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

For more information, please visit you can email her at info@ElizabethFreedman.com or call 617-784-6598.