Asking for permission vs inviting

7a36a57e406cb6f776c12055153093d9I was sitting with my friend Jay in the most beautiful place in the world this past weekend, and it occurred to me that I've been doing everything backwards.  Oh, not entirely everything, but a lot of the stuff that matters. As a coach, my job is to invite people into conversations of possibility.  This isn't the kind of conversation that most of us normally have.  We typically have conversations about our circumstances, what's getting in our way, what we wish we could have (but don't), what or who is currently ailing us, or anything else along those lines.

It's rare (or at least, it is to me) that people are in a conversation purely from a place of possibility.  What would it look like if you actually created your life the way you wanted to?  What about if that thing didn't get in the way?  What would you be doing, if you had the money, the acceptance and the time that you believe is currently getting in your way?

I'm a stand for people in this world to have lives that they love, where they are living up to their full potential.

I have these conversations with some people.  People that are actively looking for them.  People that know they could create far more than they currently have, and that are willing to consider that there's something outside of what they currently can see.

I don't have these conversations with everyone that I could be though.

The reason is how I'm being about it.

I don't have those conversations with as many people as I could because I'm looking for permission to do so.  When I'm looking through that lens, I'm relating to myself as a bother.  It's a burden to have a conversation with me (this is my story).  As a result of that, I need to seek permission from someone in order to have a conversation with them.

26f390683140a4431914234f3a10195fDo you remember asking your parents for permission to do something?

It was demeaning.  You wanted something, and you had to go through them to get it.  That sucks.  It also lead to a whole bunch of weird contortions in order to get what you wanted.  Sometimes I would act like I didn't actually want it that much, so they didn't see how it stung when they said no.  Other times I would try to be coy about it.  Maybe I'd beat around the bush for a while before I snuck in the request — that way I mitigated the potential rejection.

You've probably also noticed how it feels to be asked for permission.  Every time I get an e-mail from someone asking me if they can add me to their mailing list, I get a slimy feeling from it.  It feels needy.  Why is this person asking me for permission, when they could be enrolling me in something?  Why would I want to be added to your mailing list?  What's in it for me to be a part of that?

There's nothing powerful about asking for permission.

The distinction I made this weekend was that I was busy asking people for permission to have a conversation with them, rather than inviting them to a conversation.

Notice that the doing in both cases remains exactly the same.  Either way, I'm just asking them to have a conversation about something I see for them.  But the way I'm being about it is completely different.

When I'm inviting people to a conversation, I'm clear that it's an offer.  It's an opportunity that I'm presenting to them.  When I'm asking them for permission, it comes from a place of me doing something that they might not like.  When I'm inviting them to a conversation, I'm coming from a place of power — hey, I've got something here for you, if you're interested.

When I'm asking for permission, I'm attached to the result, and I'm making their response about me.  If they say no, it means I didn't do it right, or I am not providing enough value, or they just don't like me.

When I'm inviting someone to a conversation, I'm unattached.  It doesn't matter how they answer — it's simply something that I'm offering them.  Whether or not they choose to take it has no bearing on who I am in the world, or my worth.

So here's what I invite you to do: start distinguishing this same thing in yourself.

Notice your being when you go to speak to people.  Are you asking for permission, or are you inviting them to something?  What you're doing may not change at all, but the way you're being is what people respond to.  Are you powerfully making a proposal to someone, or are you seeking their permission.  Who are you being in the matter?