Thursday, September 23, 2021

The uncanny respect for action

From The Pastor’s Pen – By Brian Horrobin

Trevor Kletz, a chemical engineer and a pioneer in his field, was once asked how he was able to accomplish so much in his career.

Quick on his feet, the nimble Kletz replied, “If one asked permission there was a 50% chance it would be refused. If one just got on with it, 19 times out of 20 nothing was said.”

We have often heard the line, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

This popular phrase seems like a rationalization in order to excuse achieving a desired outcome without first doing the hard work of determining whether or not the outcome is right.

So, in many instances Kletz’ motto for success would inject questionable moral overtones.

However, not wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water, let’s consider the benefits of such a strategy.

I have been in enough long meetings to know that people will often be quite agreeable with someone’s suggestion if that person is at the ready to take action.

For that matter, there are times when one does not have the luxury to seek permission and the situation calls for an immediate decision.

Years ago I ran on to the field of a league soccer match after a player went down and passed out.

I felt an extreme urgency to pray for this man and time was of the essence.

In the end he miraculously survived.

I had actually asked a friend who was on top of the rules in such games who I should ask permission from in order to enter the playing field.

He told me to skip that process and do what I felt I must do.

I still think asking permission is the default course of action in most circumstances, but sometimes action trumps waiting.

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