Permission to have Gratitude

After revisiting Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, I realized that the need for “permission” does not extend only to marketing but also a whole host of other interactions that we have on a daily basis. Marketing is perhaps the most important with respect to our wallets or profitability but even more important is the way in which we cultivate our communities, the way we develop our own social relationships, the way we spend our money, the way we organize our communities.

The core concept of Permission Marketing is that if we are merely interrupting someone and not offering something of value then we have essentially spammed them. However, once we have permission we have the holy grail of marketing “frequency,” that is, the opportunity to send repeated messages to another person that are expected, valued, and to earn higher and higher levels of permission with them.


However, I want to turn permission on its head for just a moment. Think about all the ways that others have given us permission, and think about the gratitude that this can inspire. For example, we walk into a restaurant and we have permission to sit down at a table, to use the bathrooms, to be served. We have permission to go to a coffee shop and read the news or have a conversation. We have permission to practice our faith to the fullest extent. We have permission to start a business that is for the good of society. We have permission to pursue our dreams, to get an education and to build a family.

Yes, each of these permissions is given for the sake of a relationship. We go to the restaurant to be served and we in exchange pay for what we order, we keep the bathroom clean, we treat the ladies and gentlemen with respect and courtesy. We have an ongoing relationship with the business or person. Sure it isn’t super deep, but at some point maybe we become a regular, maybe our picture winds up on the wall of fame, maybe we get to know the owner and each of the waiters.

Yet so many people still may abuse the privilege of going into a restaurant and abuse the relationship that they have with the restaurant, which begs the question of why people choose to squander this chance?

I’m not always sure in every situation, but I know one thing that is lacking is gratitude: gratitude for the permission given and for the value of the other, gratitude for the relationship. In order to make a “permission economy” working well, we must first practice of gratitude in our own lives. Without gratitude for the restaurant and their bathroom, trash is too easily thrown on the floor, and water is too often left splashed around the sink. Without gratitude for the customer, they are too quickly treated like a commodity, they are seen as replaceable, and there is higher wait staff turn over.

If we don’t begin entering into permission relationships with gratitude, then we will quickly squander what we have been given.


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