The average Kenyan man is fascinated by women from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania. Word on the street is that in addition to being great cooks, these women worship their men. Some of them even kneel at their feet when they serve them. Also, unlike the Kenyan woman, they ask their spouses for permission to do everything. This seems to tickle the fancy of a good number of men.
Maybe asking for permission is the formula for that elusive romantic-ever-after? But what I am sure of is that when it comes to business and career, being subservient has the opposite effect.
If you are seeking to smash the glass ceiling, you need to learn to take instead.
Earlier this week, a friend in crisis reached out to me. She has been offered the opportunity to join a university to take her dream course, fully paid. Problem is, the university is all the way across the country so to take up this offer, and she will need to quit her job, find alternative living arrangements for her child and be financially dependent for the duration of the course. “It’s wrong timing for me,” she told me. This means that she already knows what she wants to do. Still, she was seeking approval to turn this offer down as we do a lot of times when contemplating making big decisions.
Sometimes, the person you go to will refuse their approval out of their own insecurities and biases. Even with the best of intentions, what they think is best may not necessarily be what is best for you. Not everyone will see the world as you do. By seeking approval to act at every stage of your life, you are giving up the fulfilment that comes from choosing your own path.
We all know that in the workplace, it’s often not the highest qualified who get the accolades and the promotions but those who are most visible. Those who stand in the spotlight every chance they get. So stop asking for permission to be heard. Stop saying you are sorry so much. Don’t apologise before giving your opinion at that board meeting otherwise you will water it down.
Sometimes it is your own rules that hold you back. You tell yourself that it is only the woman in the home who can tuck in the children to bed so all those self-improvement opportunities that come after hours, you turn them down. And so you continue lagging behind, because you will not give yourself permission to break your rules.
Instead of worrying about seeking approval before acting, seek advice with no strings attached from an expert or someone who has walked the path. If you think that moving to a different company or quitting altogether and starting that business is the right decision for you, stop waiting for others to see that it is. Remember that it is you that will get to live with those decisions. Stop asking. Act instead.