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Happiness Doesn’t Require Permission

My friend Sid called to tell me he had found his next big thing. He decided to take flying lessons and couldn’t wait to get started.

After hearing my Mom’s stories over the years, I have always wanted to learn to fly. Her father was a contractor in Wilmington, North Carolina. When an airport client couldn’t pay, he offered lessons. She was 15 years old.

Her stories of landing on the beaches of North Carolina were thrilling. Flying Solo before an arriving hurricane was captivating. We’ll forget that she 3-days short of being legally old enough. Her adventurous spirit took control. With a hurricane coming, she wasn’t going to ask for permission. She took command, and it put her in the record books.

By the time I began flying 50 years later, things were more controlled, and speaking on the radio to Air Traffic Control was required – and challenging. Being nervous, I often asked for permission when I wanted to do something. I would say, “This is Cessna 67508 requesting permission to…”

One day, while waiting for their response, my instructor taught me a lesson I could have learned from my Mom, “You’re the Pilot in Command. Your seat is moving, and theirs isn’t. Don’t ask for permission. Tell them what you want and let them work it out.”


I don’t have to ask for anyone’s permission to do what I want. 

I never asked again, in flying or anything else in life. I decide what I want to do and do it. If somebody else needs to know what I’m up to, I tell them, work out the solution, and keep moving. If not, I keep moving.

Some days, it feels like we need permission from everybody else. Don’t fall into that trap. Your destiny is your choice and yours alone.

And what happened to Sid? He asked his wife for permission, and she said “no.” He never took a single lesson.

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