by Niall Doherty

Ever notice that you’re more at ease doing something new or taboo once you see someone else doing it first? Another person doing it gives you permission to follow suit. They take away some of the risk and uncertainty.

Example: Ever been standing waiting to cross the road in a foreign city? There’s no traffic in sight, but you’re not sure if it’s cool to just go ahead and cross. You think maybe it’s against the law, or just socially unacceptable. But then somebody else steps out and crosses over, and you figure, “Hey, if that person is doing it…” So you go ahead and cross as well.

You didn’t want to go it alone. That one other person doing it made it okay for you.

Another example: You’re in a public restroom, sitting down, needing to let go, but you’re a little concerned about the noise you might make. But then you hear someone in the stall next door letting rip, and you figure, “Well, hey, if they’re cool with it, what am I so worried about?” And so you join them in toilet song.

Silly examples, sure, but this applies to big stuff, too. Like living an unconventional life. We see someone like Chris Guillebeau doing just that, and we’re a little more confident that we can do it, too. We’re more likely to take the leap when we see someone else leaping first.

Thing is though, we don’t really need anyone else to leap first.

Next time you find yourself looking for permission, don’t wait for someone else to come along and give it to you. Give it to yourself. Be that person who lets others know it’s okay to cross the street before the lights change, that it’s no big deal to let rip in a public restroom, that it’s cool to live an unconventional life.

Go ahead and be your own permission giver. And know that you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re also doing it for everyone else who’s waiting for someone to lead the way.