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Ask forgiveness, not permission… channeling Seth Godin

“There are no stupid questions–just stupid people.”
– Mr. Garrison

That’s one of my favorite quotes of all time from South Park–one of my favorite shows of all time. I can’t remember if it’s from the “Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” movie or an episode, but when Mr. Garrison tells one of the students in his class that very line, I lose it. Love it, love it, love it! (That’s a lot of love.) Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

I’m slowly but surely reading through Seth Godin’s latest book, Tribes. I’m loving every bit of it so far, and if I could remember to start reading more than 5 minutes before I’m about to fall asleep, I’d easily be done by now. Last night I read through a brief section he subheads (since there are no chapters), “The Wrong Question.” In this section he identifies the three wrong questions, as follows:

1. How do I do this?
2. How do I get my boss to let me do this?
3. What’s the risk-free way to insinuate myself into the system so I get approval to make change?
Tribes, p. 70

I’m totally guilty of all three. I can’t lie. I’ve got a huge load of work on my plate, ideas that drive me crazy that I think I can’t implement, and the idea that I shouldn’t even ask. And I’m wrong. Completely wrong.

I like to think I have to remind myself to be patient with my progress through life. In many cases, I’m right. There is such a thing as paying your dues. And I’m willing to do that. (As an aside, I’m about to turn 26, and I’m fully aware of the reputation that my generation–mostly those younger than I am–has created for itself for job-jumping and lack of loyalty and drive. I get just as pissed off about that sense of entitlement as the older folks do. I’m with you.)

But I also know that I have ideas; I have a voice. And I don’t want to be stuck in a position where that doesn’t matter. (Maybe that’s part of the reason this blog was born.) So I won’t let that happen, and neither should you. As Godin states right below those wrong questions:

No one anoints you leader.
Nobody is going to see your PowerPoint presentation and hand you a check.
Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.

So there you go, some nuggets of wisdom to take you into the evening. Believe in something and go after it. And if you need a little more advice, take on the sagely advice from the movie “Out Cold”–

“No regrets; that’s my motto. That, and Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.”

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