3 Problems with Permission

We live in a world where we love permission and sometimes it just drives me batty. I get that we're all sharing this space on earth and we want to be cognizant of the impact we have on others in an individual and collective basis. The politeness of permission doesn't bother me so much. Rather, the kind where we feel like we need an O.K. to DO ANYTHING. This week I've been trying to make a few things happen, both at work and in my calling and I've come across three responses that are, to me, just the worst.

1. "I don't have the Authority" 
This is a direct quote. I'm trying to arrange this dinner for a church thing but it is taking place outside my area, so I've been trying to track down someone in that area to help (because heaven forbid phone numbers be easy to find). Blah blah blah, I ended up asking my aunt for the contact information of my cousin's wife's mom, who lives in the area. After asking for her help and finding out she was going to be out of town, I asked her if she could help me find someone else who might be willing and able. In my head, this meant thinking of helpful people and asking them if they were available and interested to help in this instance. In her head, she didn't have the Authority to ask someone to help out for a church-ish thing without a church calling titles, so she went to the Stake President, who talked to the Stake Relief Society President who will be helping me.

I'm getting the help I need, but this idea that someone doesn't have authority to ask someone to help out is something I see often in the church. People want to do good but don't think they are allowed to. At work, it's a good idea gone to waste in the slow churn of bureaucracy. I swear, most of the time no one actually cares if the answer is yes or no, they only care that permission was asked.

2. "I'm not Obligated"
Another direct quote. Same dinner request, but back before I found the cousin's wife's mom to help connect me, I asked the Stake President's wife in another Stake for advice on who she thought might be able to help me out with this same favor (I was looking for him because I have his phone number and it turns out it's his home phone and she answered, so I asked her in the meantime). She first said she didn't really know anyone, then kind of paused and said that she's not obligated to tell me anyone.

OF COURSE YOU AREN'T OBLIGATED. You happened to answer the phone when I was looking for someone 'in charge' and I am asking you, as an innocent bystander, for advice. As if NOT having a calling was a free pass to withhold information. In fact, being alive is a free pass to withhold information.  If you're at the grocery store buying cookies and someone asks you if you like that particular brand of cookies you are not obligated to tell them. If someone in the airport asks you to help them lift their bags, you are not obligated to help.

At work this is a fairly common 'not my job'. It's self-preservation, I get it. But you can simply say no, and not blame it on your job title.

3. "First let's check with [Perceived Authority Figure]"
Not so different from Number One, but more timid. At work today there was an idea for this event we're throwing, a pretty innocuous idea, and instead of just planning it and executing it, the suggestion was to wait until our boss and our boss's boss OK'd it. Makes sense for big things. HUGE waste of time on small things.

Can't we just all make good decisions?

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