“Use the Permission Slip to grant yourself the freedom to be okay with not being okay. To not have all the answers, to say no more often, to ask for help…”
Balancing a career in finance with her work as a Leadership Coach, Karlyn Percil is the creator of the SisterTalk Group—a women’s leadership network—and has appeared on Oprah’s Lifeclass three times.
By Karlyn Percil
Am I qualified for this role? Why am I not happy? Why do I hold myself back? Why am I so afraid to share my perspective? Why can’t I bring my whole self to work? These were the questions that kept on coming up for me year after year. Working on Bay Street, one of the very first lessons I learned was this: “Leave your personal stuff at the door and only bring your professional side to work.”
At the time I didn’t question it. As a new immigrant to Canada, I was more concerned with fitting in and finding my place. There was no handbook on what to do and what not to do, so I jumped right in, starting a new role in a new country with new people — and old beliefs.
Whenever I tried to stand up for myself, or negotiate a better salary, I felt I was doing something wrong. My old beliefs were entrenched: women should be seen and not heard; I should not be boastful; don’t share what you do well or else someone might try to sabotage you. I spent several years not applying for roles I was interested in, not speaking up, and often not sharing my thoughts on how things could be done better. I was micro-managed and given only menial tasks, and even though I was bursting with ideas on how to strategize and improve, my beliefs, like a gremlin on my shoulder, were whispering in my ear to be quiet, stay put, and just be grateful I had a job.
I kept working until I couldn’t deal with the stress anymore. I was tired of getting in my own way. I was tired of struggling. I was tired
of coming in to work unhappy. I called the Employee Assistance line for professional help.
“I tapped into a wealth of skills and abilities that I didn’t even know about. I’m more innovative and strategic, and my productivity has improved. I ask for what I want, and fight for better assignments.”
During my sessions, I realized I had to not only move past the beliefs of my culture and upbringing,but also those of my workplace. Rather than leaving my personal stuff at the door, I needed to grant myself permission to bring all of me to work. I needed to create new rules and tools that worked for me.
I decided to write myself a Permission Slip.
The transformation in my life was phenomenal. Through the process I felt afraid, but I also felt brave. I opened up and told my boss that I wasn’t happy and that I needed to move on, and I was able to negotiate a better salary for the next role I applied for. I tapped into a wealth of skills and abilities that I didn’t even know about. I’m more innovative and strategic, and my productivity has improved. I ask for what I want, and fight for better assignments. Most importantly, I can recognize when I am truly not okay. The Permission Slip allowed me to take care of my emotional health by aligning myself with what’s best for me.
Use the Permission Slip to grant yourself the freedom to be okay with not being okay. To not have all the answers, to apply for jobs where you only have 50% of the qualifications, to tell your boss that you need more coaching, to say no more often, to ask for the training that you need, to ask for help. Wherever you think that you may be holding yourself back, use the Permission Slip to break through self-imposed limitations and beliefs, and get to living the life you truly love.