Write your own Permission Slip

Write your own Permission Slip

The thought of filling out permission slips might make you roll your eyes - but they’re actually pretty powerful.

If you’ve ever had caring responsibilities for children or young people; you’ll be more than familiar with the the whole ‘permission slip’ ritual.

It turns out that a small piece of paper can make a big difference.

It’s amazing how a signature scrawled in felt tip, on a scrappy piece of paper, or the lack of one; can give or prevent access to all sorts of childhood opportunities and obligations.

As someone who has two boys in their late teens, I’ve signed a LOT of permission slips, believe me…

The concept of permission-giving will forever remind me of filling out the bottom part of a piece of crumpled A4, where you’re required to print your name - the name of the person you have responsibility for - and sign on the dotted line. This part is often followed by the moment you fail to find the scissors - and resort to tearing the slip by hand (trying to avoid ripping off the essential information in the process) before returning it in an envelope.

If you can find one.

This small, scrappy piece of paper gives permission for someone you care for, to do - or not to do - whatever this form is for. 

And, here’s the thing…

Whilst some of us are pros when it comes to filling out permission slips for others, we’re sometimes much less well-practised at giving ourselves the permission we need, to help us function at our best, in our life and work.

The good news here, is that permission slips are not just for under 18s.

The idea of permission slips for grown-ups, mentioned in Dare to Lead. really struck a chord with me, back in the Autumn - and I’ve been reminded of it again, this week.

Permission Slips for Grown-Ups

In her book, Brené Brown explains how she and members of her team have developed a practise of writing themselves permission slips.

Unlike traditional permissions slips, where a parent or care-giver does the form-filling - the idea here, is that each person writes their own (because we’re all grown ups…)

Although there are plenty of things in our life and work that we can’t give ourselves permission for(!) - we can give ourselves our permission:

  • to do/say/feel something that we might otherwise find hard to do - or

  • not to do/say/feel something it would be all-too-easy to do.

For example, you might want to give yourself permission to:

  • listen without requiring yourself to make a decision on the spot

  • offer your perspective, even if you’re not the best qualified person in the meeting

  • volunteer to help, even if you’re not the most obvious person for the task.

The permission slips we write for ourselves aren’t designed to be promises, or commitments - they are simply meant to give us a way to state our intentions, in a way we can see them.

And it turns out, simply writing down our intentions on a piece of paper, can be really permission-giving.

Who’d have guessed?…

When you write yourself a permission slip, you don’t have to make it public - but sharing it with others might be an opportunity for you to receive understanding, support and accountability from those you live or work with, if that might be useful.

This week, I’m preaching to myself:

I’m slowly getting back to work, after being totally pole-axed for nearly ten days by a nasty virus. It’s doing the rounds here - and leaving lots of otherwise pretty robust people reeling in its wake…

This week, I’m giving myself some permission slips, to give me the grace I need, to get back to work steadily - without feeling I need to have done #allthethings by Friday.

This isn’t about avoiding essential tasks I’m perfectly able to get on with.

Partly, it’s about exercising the responsibility I carry to make good decisions - and manage my workload and wellbeing.

But it’s something more than that…

Permission for grown ups isn’t just about authority - it’s also about empathy.

It’s about learning to live and work from a place of greater self-awareness and compassion. One that in the long run, often serves to increase our capacity to do good work - and to get things done, well.

If writing yourself a permission slip in your own life and work might be useful, why not grab a pen and scribble it down?

Post it Notes are great for this - but you can simply write it down in a diary or journal - or make a note of it on your phone, and set it as a reminder when you need to see it.

What do you need a permission slip for this week?

“This week I give myself permission to….”

© 2019 Sarah Phillips, Away Coaching. All rights reserved. May be shared freely - please retain contact details: www.awaycoaching.com

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