Every so often I talk with a creative who has an incredible idea, yet has paused before starting or releasing it. They’re waiting for permission. They’ve paused for the building blocks of success to drop into their laps. This pause means no one has the opportunity to see their work and hear their story.
Let’s be clear: you don’t need someone else’s permission to start a project. Whatever you’re dreaming up, from podcasts to vlogs to books, can happen, and the only permission you need is your own.
Even I can’t give you permission to succeed. I can encourage you and empower you, but you already have everything you need to succeed. Why? You’re a person with innate creativity who is called to use their gifts for a purpose greater than keeping it to yourself. We need to use our gifts to share our stories and help others who are experiencing similar challenges and successes.
Starting without permission
If you’re used to looking to mentors, friends, or strangers on the Internet for permission, this is how you begin to start on your own. First, you need small steps. Changing behavior isn’t an overnight process. If it was, we would all be instantly successful and perfect.
If you always send a blog post to a friend before posting, post it without sending it. If you’re lured in by the comments on your latest vlog, turn the comments off. This is about you, your mental health, and inner strength.
Once you gain confidence in these small steps, consider the bigger projects coming up. Client services require a certain level of permission, but I encourage you to change your mindset. Instead of asking them for permission, present your ideas for approval. They hired you to be the expert, so embrace it. Create campaign concepts they wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Over time, you’ll begin to see your mindset change from one of questioning to one of embracing your unique viewpoints. And while we need to start on our own, we do still need community.
Your community offers support, not permission
This idea may make you think that you don’t need community. After all, we have to start projects on our own and carry them through. Yet, your community will carry you through the intense, frequent rounds of questioning a life of working on your own terms will bring.
Building community requires:
- Support from friends and colleagues
- Support for friends and colleagues
- Courage and vulnerability to share your work
Just like your community can’t give you the permission you need from yourself, you can’t give your community permission. The most we can do is to offer unwavering support through the highs and lows of creative work.
True community is built through courage and vulnerability. As Brené Brown shares, you can’t have one without the other. You need the courage to share your work, and this requires vulnerability. Your work is an extension of your soul. It’s hard to share something with the world, but there are few moments better than seeing your work resonate.
Your community is a safe first place to share with those rooting for your success. They’ll offer the feedback you need to improve, and they’ll be far nicer than trolls on the internet. Utilize the support your community offers, and remember to always provide that same support for them.
Learning to take control of your success is an evolution throughout your creative career. For some, this could be easy. For most, though, it’s a process of learning who we are, gaining confidence in our work, and learning to support our community while taking action on our own. You don’t need their permission; you already have it in yourself.