Initiative Does Not Equal Asking For Forgiveness

“Ask for forgiveness, not permission” is a dangerous motivational cliché. It is meant to address anxiety and the waiting for permission before acting.  The problem is that the underlying message is that the end justifies the means and asking for forgiveness will absolve you of the crimes committed getting there.

Take this to the extreme and you have: “I wanted to be CEO and I was next in-line, so I killed him. It’s okay though, I asked his widow for forgiveness.”

The problem is waiting for permission. My grandfather had a much more acceptable saying: “If getting a ‘no’ for an answer is not a problem, then why be afraid to ask the question.”  His version of “what’s the worst that can happen?” I think this is healthier than the asking for forgiveness model. It makes you look if the action is permissible and if is forgivable. It makes you look at what you are afraid of and, from what I have read, one of the better ways to combat anxiety is to examine what you are afraid of.