Is Fear Of Success Holding You Back?
Many of us inadvertently sabotage our own success because we are scared of what will be different if we actually succeed.
Everyone fails from time to time. For many, fear of failure is paralyzing and holds us back from trying something new, taking a risk, or taking a step toward our goals.
Overcoming that fear of failure, not letting it stand in your way, has fueled an entire industry of motivational speakers and writers. At some time or another, we’ve all probably sat through some sort of corporate workshop or watched a motivational presentation on TV or the internet about overcoming our fear of failure.
𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗳𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀?
Success means change (even if it’s the change you always wanted). If you try something and fail, you go back to what you knew. You may not be happy about it, but you go back to your comfort zone.
If you try something and succeed, you head into uncharted territory. Things are different. Things change.
We often hear about athletes, musicians, or actors who are catapulted from relative obscurity to the big time. Although that kind of success may have been their dream and aspiration, many say that they just weren’t ready for that level of success.
Many talk about not being ready for the financial and social pressures, the lack of privacy, and the lifestyle changes from when no one knew them compared with now being household names.
Public limelight aside, many of us experience the same kinds of fears about being prepared for what success is going to mean for us.
I’ll explain further by using my own story…
When I left Merrill Lynch to start my own investment firm at the age of 27, my manager told me when I resigned that I’d never be as successful outside of Merrill as I would be if I stayed. I remember walking out of his office wondering if I just made the biggest mistake of my life. There is no doubt that from that moment forward, I was propelled by a fear of failure. I didn’t want my boss at Merrill Lynch to be proven right so I worked my ass off to achieve success.
What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the overwhelming sense of insecurity I’d feel when success became a reality. I had never really considered what added self-induced obstacles my success would bring. Everything became different, and I didn’t really identify all the ways things would be different right away. It was uncharted territory with limited visibility. Kinda like running through a corn field with no ability to see what’s coming.
Would I become a different person as a result of being a successful entrepreneur? Would I like the person I became? Would there be more pressure? Was I really good enough to sustain the success?
It turns out that my concerns weren’t symptoms of my own neuroses but are actually common perceptions.
Success also often means having a bigger impact on more people. It could be a bigger role where more people depend on you. It could be that more people care what you do and say, and that your opinions are further reaching.
It sounds great, but bigger impact can also actually make you feel vulnerable because you are now more in the spotlight to more people. It can be easy to be scared off by that and feel ill equipped to handle the scrutiny, the judgment and everything else that comes with that broader exposure.
When it comes to losing weight or making healthy lifestyle changes, maybe we fear how our relationship with our spouse may change if we’re successful at making big changes. Or maybe we’re afraid we won’t be able to sustain the positive life changes and our fear of letting people down consumes us to the point we cave in and give up.
It often prompts questions about whether you can live up to people’s new expectations of you or if you even want to have to deal with those heightened expectations in the first place.
𝗪𝗲 𝗼𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝘀𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁.
Often, if you give it everything you have and still fail, you get pats on the back and respect for having put it all out there. It’s the “you left it all out there on the field” concept.
What if you convinced yourself that you were putting it all out there and were giving it everything you had even though you knew deep down that you weren’t? You’d still get the pats on the back and could walk away from it knowing “it just wasn’t meant to be.” Then you could go back to what you knew. You basically set yourself up for failure and subconsciously fell back into your comfort zone.
We set deadlines, create to-do lists, write down our health plan, get a gym membership and tell people about our incredible plans to make lifestyle changes. Nothing else is in the way of getting us to where we want to go, except self-sabotage — the pesky excuses why we didn’t get something done, telling ourselves mediocre is good enough or believing that huge goal we set is just too big.
The real challenge is that we don’t even realize we are doing it.
𝗦𝗼 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗼 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗶𝘁?
There isn’t a magic solution, but simply knowing that you could be sabotaging yourself is half the battle. The next time you are confronted with a new thing and conquer your fear of failure, make sure you also give some thought to your fear of success too, so you can really move all of the barriers out of the way.
After all, there’s nothing worse than getting to the top of the mountain only to fall off because you never considered what you’d do when you finally got there.
𝗩𝗜𝗦𝗨𝗔𝗟𝗜𝗭𝗘 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗦𝗨𝗖𝗖𝗘𝗦𝗦!
𝗛𝗢𝗪 𝗪𝗜𝗟𝗟 𝗜𝗧 𝗠𝗔𝗞𝗘 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗙𝗘𝗘𝗟?
𝗠𝗢𝗥𝗘 𝗜𝗠𝗣𝗢𝗥𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗧𝗟𝗬— 𝗛𝗢𝗪 𝗪𝗜𝗟𝗟 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗦𝗨𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗜𝗡 𝗜𝗧?
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