Yesterday I tweeted “The only difference between creepy and charming is permission.”

Some explanation is in order. No, I did not go on a date last night. No, I did not have yet another awkward encounter with a woman. But there is a story here and an interesting conclusion.

The tweet was the result of three completely unrelated things blending in my mind.

Thing 1: Barrack Obama

There has been a lot of chatter online about this photo of Obama at the G8 summit.


In light of the chatter, I have been thinking about how men ought to look at women. And, how they ought not look at women. The base forces of nature seem to war with the moral law. The specific social rules seem to vary by community. What is appropriate?

Thing 2: Girl in Parking Garage


As I left the apple store yesterday, I walked to my car in the parking garage. A young woman drove past me and as we made eye contact she unconsciously whisked her hair behind her ear. I wondered why she would do that, at that moment.

Thing 3: James Bond


Yesterday my family watched Quantum of Solice. So, as I walked through the parking garage, the movie swam through my mind.

In the movie, James Bond’s credit card gets denied at an airport. He looks deeply into the eyes of the lady at the counter who denied him the charge… and she melts. He asks “in a few moments you will get a call. Tell them I’m going to Cairo.” She smiles at him and he walks away.

Why would she melt? Why is this scene believable? Why can’t I do that?

I started adding up all the differences between me and James Bond. It was a depressing 30 minutes. Then I started eliminating the things James didn’t have to help him at the counter.

He had no gadgets, no money and no bad guys to beat up. But he still had one thing: His striking good looks and crystal blue eyes. If he had been ugly and peered into her eyes she would have looked away disgusted. I know. But James didn’t get disgust. He got permission. The woman gave him permission to look into her eyes because she wanted to look back into his.

The only difference between Bozo and Bond is permission.


So What?

You girls who are probably saying. “I could have told you that!” I know. Several of you already have on Twitter and Facebook. But to me this is a profound truth and I feel it applies to much more than just guy/girl relationships.

Gospel Permission

There is a Gospel application here. Before we can talk to someone about their soul we need their permission. Otherwise they won’t listen. Permission does not need to take long. Permission just takes tact. I find that tracts and humor can help break the ice.

But how did Jesus get permission? He healed people, raised the dead and offered hope. But, he had also something more. He could look into a man’s eyes, say “follow me” and the man would. Permission is power. Jesus’ power is supernatural. If we want permission that goes beyond gimmicks like tracts and treasure lists we need supernatural power too.

Business Permission

spamI have given Amazon permission to email me book recommendations. The emails are relevant because Amazon knows about the books I buy. If Barns & Noble were to send me an email recommending the same books I would spam it. Why? Because, Barns & Noble doesn’t have my permission to talk to me. They haven’t earned it.

If you want to grow your business you need to stop thinking of ways to spam people and start thinking of ways to earn their permission. Twitter is a good way to learn this skill. It doesn’t take much permission to send 140 characters once every other day.

Political Permission

The more I get around the more a realize that most people actually do care about politics. They just don’t care to hear about my politics. This is an important distinction. It is easy to write people off as complacent when I really just lack permission. Are people apathetic or do they just distrust both parties? A political party needs permission before it can have discourse. It must have discourse before it can sway opinion. It must sway opinion before it can win elections.

How do you get permission to influence someone’s political views?

I’m not sure. Striking good looks don’t hurt. Why else would Hollywood celebrates and Ann Coulter get such power? Humor seems to work too. I’m not sure what the answers are here. I know I often get into a political conversations on Facebook after sharing a link to a political YouTube video. What do you think?

Take Aways

  • Permission is more valuable than money.
  • Money can’t buy love, but permission is an ingredient to love.
  • Money can buy spam, but spam can’t build a relationship between you and your customer.
  • Money can’t buy votes, but permission can get attention and attention can change minds.