Do you remember how empowering it was to get a permission slip or a hall pass when you were in school? Those little pieces of paper, as simple as they were, seemed to hold such great promise.

Permission slips

A couple of weeks ago we held a sales training session in Phoenix and as we were debriefing afterwards, the idea of permission slips surfaced. Many of the ideas we presented and challenges we made were around practices and behaviors many in the room already knew they should be doing. The unbelievably simple reason they hadn’t done so already? Nobody (including themselves) had given them permission to do so.

One example in particular stands out. It involved a young producer who has already developed a relatively large book of business, but hasn’t built that book in an ideal manner. His book is made up of several hundred accounts and generates about $800,000 in revenue, which means his average revenue per account is about $2,000. The eye opening exercise for him was when we had him profile his book of business and he had to face the reality that the bottom 80% of his book only generated 17% of revenue and the bottom 50% was only about 5%.

This is a producer who can obviously sell. However, when you are dealing with almost 40 renewals a month, there isn’t much time left to sell new business. He simply needed permission to transition those accounts that were holding him back. When he realized that this was okay, you could visibly see the change in his attitude.

Hall passes

And hall passes, how cool was it to get a hall pass? In some ways, hall passes are even better than permission slips. Everyone received a permission slip for a field trip, but a hall pass was usually given out specifically to you. Remember how it felt to be the only one walking down the hall while everyone else was still in class?

I give myself a hall pass on occasion. Sometimes I sit here trying to work through a problem or find creative inspiration and it just isn’t there. The harder I try, the further away from an answer I get. So, I “take a walk in the hall”. To be more specific it usually involves taking an afternoon run, but the point is I get away for a bit. Inevitably, I solve the problem or find the creative inspiration while “walking the hall”.

Write it down

So, here’s my challenge to you. Permission slips and hall passes still hold all of the power they did when we were kids. So, why not use them?!

Sometimes this is just the thing we need to get unstuck. We might not even know what it is that’s holding us back, but maybe someone else knows. Or maybe you see someone else in a situation from which they need to get un-stuck. Talk about it, then give yourselves permission to make the change.

Need Permission?
What is it that you want or need to do, but just can’t seem to take the necessary action? Whatever it is, write it down and formally give yourself permission.

Need a Pass?
And, the next time you are stuck on a problem or not finding needed inspiration, give yourself a hall pass. This doesn’t mean surfing the web or gossiping with a co-worker. Hall passes are for you and you alone. Leave the office and take a walk by yourself with nothing other than your thoughts.

Permission granted!


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Photo by ulkas