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Stop asking for permission

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“The only permission, the only validation, and the only opinion that matters in our quest for greatness is our own”

MADONNA Ciccone once said: “Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.” Life is full of stories of people who succeeded without permission. They were so full of contagious zeal that they eventually neglected conventional path to stardom. I would love to say emphatically that: OTHERS can stop you temporarily, but you are the only one who can stop “you” permanently!

There is a very fascinating biblical story that validates the limitless power in by-passing other people’s permission to fulfill purpose and destiny. The story is lifted from Luke 5:18-20: “And behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and lay him before HIM. And when they could not find by what they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tilling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”

The story in Luke 5: 18-20 is an amazing story of friends that got their miracle without permission. If the owner of the house was consulted, he would never have allowed them to break through his roof! If Abraham had asked Sarah for permission, she would never allow him to sacrifice Isaac. All you need to go far in life is conviction and not permission. So many people have been limited in life because of their constant habit of always asking for permission. It is very good to seek counsel but not permission.

I will be sharing the stories of great people that achieved landmark success and left indelible mark in the lives of many without waiting for the world’s opinion or permission.

Mark Zuckerberg’s route to stardom started in Harvard when he invented the idea of face-match in his dormitory. The programme became wildly popular but was later shut down by the school administration after it was deemed inappropriate. Harvard administration was not amused, and Zuckerberg faced subsequent disciplinary action. Less than three months, he left Harvard and launched Facebook. Facebook has over one billion active users; Mark Zuckerberg probably has more influence on information technology than any one person alive. In September 2013, his personal wealth was estimated to be $19 billion, making him the youngest billionaire ever. Facebook was born because Zuckerberg did not ask for Harvard’s permission!

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER was the 38th governor of California. He chose body-building and acting as career, a Roman Catholic by religion. He began weight training at the age of 15. He was awarded the title Mr Universe at age 20 (he won this title three consecutive times) and went on to win the Mr Olympia contest seven times.

He had strong passion for the sport of body building, weight-lifting and acting. He vehemently refused to be manipulated by his parents. Arnold was the first foreign-born governor of California since Irish-born governor John G. Downey in 1862. Arnold ran as a Republican in 2003 in the California recall election that ousted the incumbent Democratic governor, Gray Daris. He was re-elected in a landslide in the 2006 elections. He chose a route that was contrary to his parents’ opinion. He left Austria for the United States and became a fugitive for his passion, an intense passion that later brought him to limelight. Schwarzenegger during a speech in 2001 said, “My own plan formed when I was 14 years old, my father had wanted me to be a police officer like he was, and my mother wanted me to go to trade school”.

JONAS SALK, the man who dared polio! When Jonas Salk was born, polio was one of the great cripplers and killers in the world. Salk became obsessed with the idea of ending polio’s reign of terror. At the University of Pittsburgh, he established a laboratory devoted solely to finding a Polio vaccine. In 1952, more than 57,000 people contracted the disease, and of these, more than 3,300 died. Salk’s breakthrough came in 1953, when he developed a vaccine using dead polio virus cells to help the body’s immune system antibodies to fight off live virus cells. The serum worked well in animals, but many questioned whether dead polio virus cells should be injected into human beings.

In the midst of people’s doubt, he held on to his belief and to prove his confidence in the new vaccine, Salk injected himself and his children over the objections of government doctors who urged a longer period of animal testing. Salk declared there was no time to waste and moved beyond the permission of experts. Many decades after, his decision was acclaimed one of the most redeeming medical decisions of the century.

ROGER BANISTER, the record breaker. In 1954, there were medical articles that said that the human body couldn’t run a four-minute mile. It was said that the body was not able to withstand that much pressure. Banister became the first person to run a mile under four minutes. Sport and medical experts said it was impossible but someone dared to challenge impossibility.

Roger Bannister, an Oxford medical student proved his professors wrong by ending the athletic world’s quest of the 4-minute mile track record with a monumental effort in which he was timed at 3:59:4. He had beaten the former world record of 4:01:4 established in 1945 at Malmo, Sweden by the great runner Gunder Haegg. He made history on May 6, 1954. Between 1954 and 1956, 213 men ran under four minutes, all because one man broke the barrier. In life, there is no permanent record; records exist to be broken.

ROBERT G. EDWARDS, the test-tube genius. Since the first Nobel Prize was given in 1901, never were the lives of millions been affected directly by a Nobel Prize winner. Seldom has recent Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine more directly affected the lives of millions than Robert G. Edwards, the British Biologist who was named as the 2010 recipient in October, 2010. Edwards faced many challenges and confronted so many societal hurdles. The British government refused to provide funding for the work, so Edwards and his colleague, Patrick Steptoe, obtained private grants. More than 4 million couples worldwide had benefited by having babies through his pioneered in-vitro fertilization.

Since the 1978 birth of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, who recently celebrated the birth of her own child, the In-vitro fertilization has brought hope into the lives of infertile couples. The Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups criticized the new procedures as radical interference in God’s design for procreation. Many observers suspect that religions and other opposition kept the pair from winning the prize long ago. Today, most of the criticisms have faded away, and although the Vatican still formally objects to in-vitro fertilization, it says little about the subject. Today, millions of destinies have been birthed just because someone stood firm and weathered the storm.

In his electrifying poem that has held the world spell-bound for ages, Robert Frost gave one of the most amazing quotes that I have always fallen back on in times of critical decision making. He said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference”. I would like to reach out to as many that have been talked out of their passion and those that have neglected their dreams for a lesser life. You don’t need permission to follow your dreams, you don’t need permission to pursue your passion and you don’t need permission to follow unconventional paths. Hold tenaciously to your inner belief and stop attaching your life to people’s opinion.

There are two things that we can perpetually live on: “permission” or “conviction.” Great people live on the latter while the former is meant for lesser souls. Live on conviction and stop asking for permission. If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.


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