Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission

“Ask forgiveness, not permission.”

Have you heard this around your workplace? It’s basically a pithy way of saying “I’d rather you go too far than do too little.” Instead of getting bogged down in the bureaucracy, they’re telling you to move forward with your work – even if you have to bend a few rules.

Whoever says this to you clearly trusts your judgment and approves of your past work. The phrase may sound a little strange, but consider it a compliment and a testament to your reliability. You’re getting permission to bulldoze through the roadblocks instead of stopping the whole operation – you get to keep the “flow” going for both you and your organization.

Just don’t take it too far.

Have you ever worked for an organization that endorses this philosophy?  Punishes those who follow it? Let us know in the comments.

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Peter is Vice President of Digital Marketing at an investment holdings company in Washington DC and Co-Founder at True North.


  1. Paul Maddock on the 8th June

    I used to work for a company that was fairly political. I was told this beautiful line by a senior manager that I really respected, and it has help fuel my work philosophy ever since.
    It was basically a way of getting what you thought needed to be done, when it needed to be done without getting caught up trying to predict every argument against it.

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