I don’t want to be different, it makes something wrong with me, and I’m not safe

Permissionless Posture

PERMISSIONLESS POSTURE@2x

The Context

When you come from a family of artists and entrepreneurs, agency is in your blood. You don't wait for the world to stamp your creative passport. You take initiative, hire yourself and go after the things you want, despite the world’s misgivings about your quirkiness. Even if you have to break a few rules that don't exist. The good news is, even if you weren't born into that environment, you can learn how to do it for yourself.

The Tool

two color

Permissionless Posture

PERMISSIONLESS POSTURE — The enabling of regular expressions of individual personality

This tool is absolutely essential for any organization that is trying to build a creative culture. Now, don’t confusion a permissions posture with entitlement, narcism an absence of empathy. It’s just a form of expressive freedom. A permissionless posture can give a person a tremendous source of leverage in everything they do. The ability to choose instigation over acquiescence has been at the core of many people's creative success. Doing so makes you feel like yourself, but also because you never know who’s watching. Through your own regular expressions of individual personality, you give others license to do the same. It’s one of the reasons to avoid any and all preference shaming. If people are into something bizarre or eccentric, even if it’s not your thing, they get a high five. Because why not? It costs nothing to encourage. And there’s no upside to not cheering people’s eccentricities on, as long on those quirks aren’t causing pain to others. Anything that gives people an opportunity to see what’s special about them that makes their contribution wonderful, to me, that’s the highest form of diversity there is. Besides, it’s not like any one person is the only one doing what they’re doing. Nobody is so unique that there’s never been anything before, there will never be anything after.

Upon telling my parents about my bizarre decision to wear a nametag everyday for the rest of my life, they responded with a four letter word. Cool. Wow, that’s not exactly the word most children would expect to hear, but that’s just the kind people they are. They’re fundamentally affirmative. No wonder the sticker hasn’t come off in twenty years. Now, that’s easy to say when you're straight, white, tall, upper middle class white male who was lucky enough to have been born in the suburbs of a thriving midwestern city of a capitalist democracy. Not everyone is fortunate enough to grow up in that unique ecosystem of creative freedom. In fact, can you imagine the psychological damage other people must experience when their creativity is taunted by a dangling sword of disapproval at every corner? Think how many weird looks people get from parents, family members, teachers, bosses or other figures of authority. Every time they try to express their eccentricities, they’re shut down. There is a layer of disapproval over everything they did. Simply heartbreaking. That kind of rejection is a form of child abuse.

The Rest

Some people live their whole lives telling themselves a toxic story about their need to be normal. That they should be the same as everyone. Because if they feel like they’re different, there’s something wrong with them, and that means they’re not safe. Man, their fear makes total sense in the context of their history But that doesn’t make it okay. All the more reason to double down on creating a permission posture wherever you go. All of us need reminders that we're never truly alone, no matter how quirky we are. Some people just need a little more permission than others. Have you removed all restrictions of individual expression?

The Benefits

Increase creative freedom on your team
Empower teams to contribute in an authentic way
Give people the feeling of psychological safety
Unlock new sources of value and leverage for your business

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