Do you have the authority?

Are you allowed? Who said you could do this? Has someone granted you permission? 

These are the wrong questions to ask.

The question is, do you need to have the authority to do the work you want to do?

When I started NursEd a few years ago, a lawyer asked me if I had the authority to start my business. As if I needed someone’s stamp of approval to work on improving nursing and education. “No I don’t have authority, and I don’t need to”, I politely replied.

For sure, we need permission to diagnose, prescribe, administer medications and perform procedures. But no, we don’t need authority to look at systems and processes that aren’t working and try to make things better.

The problem is, from kindergarten all the way through nursing school we’ve been trained to believe we need to wait for someone to say we’re allowed do anything that falls outside the norm.

The people who are thriving in the world today are the ones who are creating new systems and ways of doing things right next to the systems that everyone else is too afraid to change.

Achievements of a lifetime rarely come to people who stick to the rules, keep their head down and wait for someone else’s permission. Once we realize that no one is going to give us the authority to do the work we care about, we’ve got to choose ourselves.