Permission for Greatness

Permission for Greatness

Years ago, at Christmas time, I was given a book from my friends Rik and Eloise. The book was “How to Get Out of Our Own Way” by singer/actor Tyrese Gibson, many of us know him from his role in Transformers, and Fast and Furious. I had been following Tyrese’s career for many years and was interested to read his book. The book talked about his life and was influenced by the wisdom he gathered during his career. It was a pretty good read and left me with a few nuggets of wisdom. One nugget in particular was the concept of permission.

In one section Tyrese talked about how he was a bad kid, or more importantly, made to believe he was a bad kid. He was in a bad school, getting into trouble and had poor grades. Luckily, he was able to attend a “better” school and got the opportunity to meet some great mentors. Not only did his grades and behavior improve but his mentors helped him develop his “gifts” and helped launch his career. At one point he says that his mentors gave him permission to be great.

Permission, I said aloud. I reread that section ten times. Up until that point, I never heard that word used to describe people helping you. As I reread the sentence, it shook my soul. It made perfect sense!

What if the opportunity for us to be great relied on someone giving us permission to do so? For example, just imagine a high school student with a hidden talent that only he and his friends knew about. They all know he can sing but he does not believe in himself. His friends convince him to try out for the school chorus. The chorus teacher immediately recognizes his talent and puts him in the winter concert. Not only that, but the teacher gives him a solo at the show. The night of the show he sings his heart out and receives a standing ovation. You can finish the story of the boy’s future in your head. In this illustration the boy’s friends, his chorus teacher, even the audience who gave him the ovation all gave the boy permission to be great. Remember, at the beginning, he did not believe in himself.

The people who give us permission in our lives nurture our potential. They believe in us when we do not believe in ourselves.

If you take two of the same exact plants and put one in a dark room one and one on a window sill, which one do you think will flourish? The plant on the window will grow substantially more because it was given the best opportunity to grow to its full potential. “No one puts baby in the corner!” This is the same way our lives work. We need to be in environments which encourage growth.

What if you do not have people in your life to give you the “permission” to reach your potential? I would suggest finding someone that does. I know that is easier said than done, but it is essential. The people in our lives greatly affect our output.

The alternative is to give the permission to yourself. This requires a great deal of self-realization. A lot of us are not strong enough to do this. I know I have insecurities in areas of my life which I still need outside permission for. Conversely, I know people who grew up in broken homes, or have crummy jobs or have complete buttheads for significant others, who have gone on to become beasts in their lives. They had no choice. They could not wait! They had to tell themselves, I am good enough, I am smart enough, I am deserving! They had to give themselves permission.

So my encouragement to you is to seek people who will give you the permission you require. If for whatever reason you cannot find anyone, I encourage you to dig down deep inside and give yourself permission. Deep down you will find that kid at the winter concert waiting for the world to hear your song. God made you different not for you to be mediocre but for you to be great.

Be great.

Jay Williams