Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things Media

Support vs. Permission

When you’re growing up and living under your parent’s roof, you’re constantly in a mode of asking for permission.  CAN you go out on Friday night?  CAN you paint your room blue?  CAN you have some money for new jeans?  CAN your friend sleep over?  The hierarchy that’s in place, puts kids in a position to ask for permission and parents in a position to grant or deny it.  This is not disimilar to when you first start out in your career.  You’re constantly fearful of doing the “wrong” thing (aka what your boss wouldn’t prefer…even if it’s the right thing) that you end up asking someone if what you want to do is ok, acceptable, what the client would like, what your boss would approve, etc.  Unfortunately, in both cases (as kids and young professionals) this places us in position where we aren’t able to grow…where we aren’t able to build a relationship based on mutual respect.

As times marches on the dynamics of our relationships with our parents and employers/supervisors change.  The defining moment for most kids of course is when they go to college or get their first job.  Once you’re no longer living under “their roof” there’s less of a need to ask for permission to have a glass of wine at lunch, eat cereal for dinner, drive 600 miles to see a concert, fly to Europe, spend an unnecessary amount of money on a new pair of shoes, etc.  You have your own money and your living your own life.  The concept of asking for approval ceases to exist and our parents become people who’s support is requested.  We want their endorsement…their validation that the choices we make are the right ones.  When we have their support we feel better about the decisions we’re making.  After all, if they didn’t support it, it wouldn’t be a good decision, now would it?  That’s of course tongue in cheek.  Guess what?  We have the same evolution at work.  Once we have enough experience, and more importantly, CONFIDENCE, under our belts, we’re able to shift from asking our supervisors for approval and instead we start presenting them recommendations.  With those recommendations we’re looking for their support, not their permission…not their rubber stampt, not their approval. It’s such an inspiring dynamic when that shift happens.  We start believing that we finally have this “job” figured out.

Support and approval are not the same thing.  I don’t call my mom anymore asking for her permission to buy a new car.  Instead I call looking for her thoughts, opinions, feedback and advice on what car to buy.  It’s a different dynamic.  With my current boss, we have a great honest and open relationship where I can present her ideas and recommendations that are 1/2 to full baked.  Those ideas are presented with a confidence and tone of that says, “this is the right thing to do.”  She can then shape, augment and make these ideas better.  We don’t have a relationship where I’m presenting ideas looking for permission to execute them.  It’s a beautiful thing and one of the things I love about my role at MARC USA.

There is no right or wrong time to make this shift from permission to support.  Personally, I think we’d be better off if it happened earlier on in life than later.  It’s a tough switch to make, but one that will change your relationships and career for the better.

  • Logan Cummins

    This is a really interesting parallel. I find that personally I'm at a place in my career where I am on the fence between asking for permission and seeking validation. I find, too, that it takes a bit of time with each new account or client that you work on as you figure out the nuances of the relationship agency X has with client Y.

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