Skip to main content


Lesson 2 from: Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change

Beth Comstock

staff favorite money & life

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

2. Permission

How do you grant yourself, your team and your colleagues permission to take risks? You are often your biggest obstacle in facing your fears and taking that jump of faith. Beth shares examples from her time at NBC and leads you through the course’s first exercise: give yourself a permission slip. Learn how to navigate “gatekeepers” and “goalkeepers”.
Next Lesson: Learn Courage

Lesson Info


So let's dig in to a critical, I think, sort of mindset that I think you have to undertake in going forward and change. It's a bit of an optimist credo, if you will. Ah, this sense that tomorrow has to be better than today and you have the power to make it so. And this is kind of timeless philosophy. But the reality is we can't change others. But we can change our perspective, and that's tried and true. Um, and we often lose sight of that in the midst of change, and it really starts with this basic premise. It's about permission granting. I almost called my book permission granted because I just in the course of work and working and change situations, I felt this was the essential thing. Are we granting ourselves our teams, our colleagues, our family members permission to take risks and try things? Um, it means giving people the space to do this, and this is how team trust happens, and often trust is the trust. Not often always, trust is the essential thing. So let's dig in to permissi...

on. And first I have to share with you a story about how I came Teoh kind of think about permission, Um, in what was holding me back. So here I am. I am not me. But imagine me back. I was, Ah, 20 plus years ago. I was Ah ah, working as, Ah, a company that had established a company called CNN. I was working in a media company called Turner Broadcasting, and my job was had a publicity. And I got to work with Ted Turner, who was swashbuckling media titan of the day, kind of the Richard Branson of his day. And as the head of the communications office in New York, I had to do a lot with him. But I had worked for him for nearly a year and he did not know my name. And it wasn't his fault. It was because I did my job well, but I didn't put myself out there. And so here we were at the U. N. He was getting an award. Um, and I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I was pregnant with my second daughter and I had on a hideous maternity dress, and it was so hideous that blended in with the wallpaper and all you could see was my face. Um and I was like, This is a This is what I feel like I am invisible here. I've got to fix this. What's holding me back is may. So I see Ted Turner go into the men's room and I say, Aha! Here's my lucky moment. I'm going to change this. And so as he goes into the men's room, I took action, as one does when your boss goes into the men's room, I strategically positioned myself. He comes out. I say, Hi, Ted. I'm He shakes my hand, his hands incredibly wet. Um and he looks at me like, What do you doing here? Why are you what And like, Look at me like, What do you have to say for yourself? I lost my nerve. I kind of walked away and he stepped away and he walked away and you never knew my name. But at that moment, I was incredibly proud of myself. As awkward as it was, it was so awkward. I did a high as an introvert. It was incredibly painful for me to put myself out there. I'm also shy, but I did it. I did it I gave myself permission as silly as it waas to step forward toe unto, to kind of undo what was holding me back. And so that's the kind of act I'm talking about often what holds us back is ourself, and we all have our things. You don't have to be an introvert to necessarily feels what stands in our way. But what does stand in our way? Often it's fear, right? It's fear of being exposed, its fear of feeling uncomfortable of not knowing the answer. And so I had to learn a critical act of courage, and in this case I call it social courage. The ability to engage with other people is how you make change and get things, get things happen, happening. And in my case, it was overcoming some of my introversion that was holding me back in a very extroverted world. So I gave myself permission. And so sometimes I think you need this. You may recall this if you went to high school and I ever had to forge your mother's name to get out of his ad or chemistry. I, of course, was too much of a goody two shoes in high school to ever. I was too afraid to take a risk to do this. I've made up since then, but this idea of a permission slip, what are you going to give yourself permission to Dio? Now, I use this as a really simple behavioral modification hack that I tell you. It works, and that's our first exercise. So what I want you to do is give yourself a permission slip for those of you have paper or you have your phone. I want you to think of one act of social courage or maybe Euronext over didn't have to be introverted, but something you've been afraid. Ah, fear you have. It can be so small. It can be meeting someone to have coffee. It could be pitching an idea that could be changing an agenda of ah meeting or could be pitching a new business idea. A new start up. It could be whatever is relevant to you. And I want you to write I Beth Comstock, you put your name there. I give myself permission to what? What are you going to dio one thing when you leave here. I used to keep a stack of these on my desk and I would give them to colleagues who would tell me they were afraid they couldn't do something. And I'd say I'm think if I give you permission, that's not enough. I think what's at the heart is you're afraid. So this is Take yourself back to high school. You don't need to forge your mom's signature. It's you saying, What am I going to dio? As they said, I kept a stack of these. This is really great if you happen to manage team or a team Prada team or team project, um, again, kind of silly, right? It's kind of silly, really. I'm going to give myself a permission slip, but I swear it works the act of writing it down, and there's also an active making it accountable. When I gave these out to colleagues, I would say, Are you going to share with me so I can hold you accountable so I don't if anyone wants to share anything at this moment? Jewels, jewels and I was thinking probably the hardest thing for me right now is to ask for help in ways that I feel uncomfortable with, so that's what I'm gonna give myself. Permission for good. That's a good one. That's a really common one. I think we have a lot of hedge head nodding on that one. Thanks, Jules. Anyone else? My name's Jane. Hi, Jane. And I'm a new Ah, Seattle police officer. And, uh, I read that, and I thought, I give myself permission to share an idea. Roll call. So it's been a month and 1/2 and I've just been kind of quiet, and we looked that good for you. Well, I I'd love to hear from you afterward to tell us what your ideas. When when you share it at roll call. And I'm thinking of, as you say that I mean, the power that comes with being a police officer. And how many people have to feel they need your permission. And is there some way you can grant them? Obviously not the lawbreakers. But, you know, it's sort of the world the modeling you can do by showing people you're not afraid to try those things. Great. Thank you. Canna Well tuning in online. And, um, I'm curious because we have some examples are Jay is saying that he wants to ask his friend for business, which often I guess that could be a challenging thing when it's people that you know, Um then Andrea says, I give myself permission to complete my book. But how specific do you want people to be mean, complete your book is a big I think. I mean, you know, she just needs maybe some encouragement. I think it to me. I like this because it could be as small. I mean, I told you my Ted Turner example. Anyone who's not who's who's not shy or introverted, you're gonna think that's the stupidest example you could ever give right. So it could be a simple is I'm going to raise my hand and ask a question at the next meeting, because I'm afraid to, um, I'm gonna ask somebody for coffee. So I think it could be is grand. And, you know, I I don't need this to be jumping out of a plane. And, you know, I'm gonna I'm going to skydive, but it could be, if that's important to you. All right, So why do you need this? Well, I think one of the reasons you need it is thes people. This is a gate but I'm gonna summon the image of a gatekeeper. Now, when I say the word gatekeeper and I want you to think of a person who it personifies a gatekeeper in your life, Um, my guess is, there's somebody you're thinking off. Perhaps it's even been you on occasion. What is the gatekeeper? The gatekeeper is someone who says no. You can't go through here. No, no, I don't like that idea. No, that's not a better way. Often they're in a position of power. They want to hang on to what little power they have. Or maybe they just don't think your idea is a good one will give a little bit of credit. But whatever the reason is, they say no. So you have a dilemma here? They've said no. What do I dio? Pull out your permission slip and you say, I've got to find a way around that gate. I like the notion of goalkeepers. And again, if you're a soccer fan, this is This is ah, taking some liberties here. Um, but a goalkeeper is somebody who helps you get through that gate and make the goal. The gatekeeper is someone who says no. You can't try something new. Ah, when I was early in my career, I worked for ah, man called Jr and there was a classic gatekeeper. He said no to everything. He's sat in his office all day. Any time we'd suggest an idea, he'd say No, I finally got up all my nerve. I wrote a whole report about how I thought things could be better. Was working at NBC At the time I got I saved the note. I still have it today. It was that important to me and he said no. He basically said, No, what do you know? And I left went to another company. That's how I ended up working with Ted Turner. But what I came to realize is that their gatekeepers everywhere and maybe you've realized this too, and so we can use it as an alibi back to that permission slip idea that they say no. Um and so I guess I can't do it or I got to find another way around the gate. And so one of things I want to challenge you with is to say when that happens, what do you what do you dio to me? I had to learn. Ah, kind of mindset shift that when someone says no, The gatekeeper says you can't go through here. I had to hear something different to me. No, was Oh, you mean, not yet. Me and I have to find a different way around the gate under the gate, over the gate. Let me tell you a story. I actually did come back to NBC. So you know, I left and came back because I realized there gatekeepers everywhere, and I ended up leading communications and licensing. And so our team pitched This amazing idea we thought was just brilliant. I wasn't going to save the future of NBC, but we called it the NBC Experience Store in New York. Someone could go visit the world, the windows on the world, and then go go shopping and have a tour behind the scenes. Well, the team we loved it. We knew this was just amazing idea. We pitched it. Tore Boss Bob Bob said no. We went back. We made it better by the third time. Bob. He said no twice. And by the third time, Bob looked at me and he said, Beth, I want to say No, I really want to say no, But you made it so darn hard to the answer's. Yes. And it was just such an important lesson. Um, of resilience And that one he was testing us. Could we make the idea better? Did we have the perseverance to keep going? And you know what? We did make the idea better with a little Die Rama's, we figured a better budget. Even the finance guy who hadn't liked it in the beginning like this sort of liked it in the end. But it's about perseverance, and, um and so sometimes I think you just simply have to refuse a No, no, not every time it takes contextual judgment. But sometimes, Aziz said, I think you have to hear it differently. And so, ah, bit of a rallying cry, I think a bit of ah, bit of a challenge. Too many times I've seen people who come in with an idea. They're told no, and you never hear from him again, whether it's C suite or they just like in their first week in the job. And so I like this as a bit of a test. When someone tells, you know Is it a way to say, huh? Maybe I don't like that idea so much. Is it an alibi? Is it away? The no means I don't actually have to fight for this idea. I can just let it go now. So it's a test of yourself. Um, I still committed to this idea. If so, I have a commitment. I see something better. I have to do it. So, look, nobody tells you to keep trying the gatekeepers, especially they don't want to hear from you again. So part of it is a bit of a resilience test. Do you have that? Have that within you. And I think for you, if you were in a position where you're overseeing people, you're managing a team project or just inspiring your colleagues. Sometimes people take cues from that. Say to your team. The answer's No, no, the answer is not know. The answer is no for now, but it's not know forever. And here's what I need you to do to see that it's OK. So I think there was a way you can also coach the people who work with you to keep some of this kind of Ah mindset. Um, it's about small acts of courage is what I'm talking about today. I mean, Jane's a police officer. I could hardly compete with that. I'm not talking about that kind of courage, but she still has to interact with people on a daily basis. I'm talking about small acts of courage. What you're doing is you're building up little pieces of courage to give you little bits of confidence you're putting in your pocket. So when you need it for something bigger, you pull it out, You hand it over that that's what I'm talking about.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Imagine It Forward Toolkit

Ratings and Reviews

Julie Hankes

Wow, this class was such a privilege to be a part of! There are so many gems in here, but what I loved most, is that she opened my thinking even bigger and offered me tricks and tips to facilitate that for myself and others long into the future. This is a tremendous gift as I'm already pretty outside of the box (i.e. I just took a client kayaking and then out in a seaplane yesterday for a visioning session) and creative in my work, so yes, what a gift! She also profoundly underscores the vital role the creative/imaginary mindset plays in the role of innovation and greeting our world's most wild challenges and opportunities. What a joy, have shared her work with many since this class took place. Thank you Beth for your courageous offering of imagination and championing it's vital role in our everyday work place and in our world's next steps into a more thriving, creative and innovative future!

Arthur Yakumo

I really enjoy this class. If you want a mind shift, having difficult seeing opportunities in front of you, especially living and working in a corporate job, this class is for you. Working for a fortune 500 job, I see how work is constantly changing, I didn't see the opportunities and how we can influence the change or be part of the change. This class helps you see and be part of the changing job revolution.

Christine Denker

If you want a mind shift to create change for yourself or your organization, then this class is a no-brainer! As a middle school English Language Arts teacher, I thought about how I could apply the concepts Beth teaches to my students who I have the privilege of interacting with daily. As a writer, I thought about how much I'm holding myself back and how I need to give myself permission to try new things knowing I'm going to fail and it's okay to do so. I really appreciated this course and had several takeaways that I can't wait to implement.

Student Work