How much do you fear success?

Its a wierd question, isn;t it?  Fear and success should not be found in the same sentence together, should they?  When someone challenged me with the idea in late fall i had to think about it for quite some time.  Do i fear success?  Do i somehow sabotage my ability to succeed?  And if i do, why?

Before i explain my thoughts on fear of success I want to tell you that one of the big determinations i made in my life a few years ago is that there is no room for fear.  Fear is not always logical, rational or reasonable, and will stop you cold whether it is with a relationship, a business transaction, or something simple.  Fear wants to creep in and take over, like a clinging choking vine in the garden.  While there is a good sense of fear (Like being very wary of a high place, big snake, or dangerous situation), the kind of fear i am speaking of is not that at all.  It is a wild hair of an idea that takes root and grows into a full blown issue.  When fear prevents us from living a normal life, or doing normal things it is irrational.

So do i fear success?  What might be some of the symptoms?

  • Guilty Feelings – as you look around you notice friends, family members or fellow artists are not having the same amount of success and you feel guilty that you are seeing success.
  • Silence – You stop communicating about your business or your movement forward because you are apprehensive to share what is going on.
  • Compromise Goals/Projects – You don’t adhere to your business plan, your higher standard, or the quality that is your brand.
  • Self Sabotage – Quietly you continue to believe you are not good enough to achieve success, so you dont adapt your thinking to see the possibilities.  You dont allow yourself to dream.
  • Fear of sustainability – in the back of your mind you dont fully believe that your success will continue, because you have known failure in the past.
  • Procrastination – you put off working on things that would give you market exposure or recognition.
  • Lifestyle mindset – you cannot get out of the mindset that success has never been part of your life, your family, your work, or your history
  • Fear of the unknown – Success is uncharted waters.  The path may be unfamiliar, or may result in loneliness when you travel it.

Wow.  For the sake of full disclosure i have to say some of these points describe my thoughts very clearly.  And you may identify with some of them as well.  The good news is that the fear of success can be overcome.  It is a matter of beginning to change how you view yourself, and how you view success.

First it is important to realize that failure is the training ground for success.  Every great idea, invention, concept or organization began as one of many ideas, born out of the drive to find a success.  I am often comforted by the story of how Thomas Edison knew his idea of a light bulb would work, and he persisted in his testing well over 99 versions of the idea before that light bulb lit, and the formula for success was found.

What can you do to work on this fear of success issue? Assess yourself.  Here are a few questions to answer honestly.  They might help you understand yourself more, and understand what it would take to step away from the fear and make tangible steps forward:

  1. What kind of support do i have from family and friends?  In the past how did they support me, encourage me, cheer me on?
  2. Do i have a clear plan for the future?  If i have a business do i have a blueprint or business plan that lays out clearly what the direction will be?
  3. How willing am i to put the work into it to become successful?  Am i willing to take on seasons of extreme busyness, increased communication, and the stress of growth demands?
  4. How motivated am i?
  5. Why do i want to succeed?  Be clear, list everything that comes to mind.
  6. What fears do i perceive?  Be clear, list them down.
  7. In what way or ways have i sabotaged myself in the past?
  8. How can i move beyond the fear – what do i think it will take to do this?
  9. If i were to succeed what would the best possible outcome look like?  What do i have to loose if i pursue this best scenario?

Once you have taken the self assessment be honest with yourself.  Develop a plan to overcome your fear of success by knowing what the triggers of the fear are.  Surround yourself with information and people that share the goal of succeeding.  Feed yourself with knowledge that will give you more confidence, and make plans to get out and meet people who are growing, succeeding.

The biggest way to defeat the fear of success is to succeed…. overcome fear by changing how you view success, and embrace forward movement.



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