Fear of success – part 2

Yesterday the blog was about the fear of success.  While it seems like an odd idea, it is very common.  The first time this was written about was in the 1970s, and was largely tied to the growing role of women in business.  Since then there have been a number of studies conducted, determining that fear of success is common to both genders and is more related to how we think of ourselves, and our ability to contribute to a larger picture.

Fear of success is closely related to fear of failure, which is much more widely known.  Both fears hold you back from your potential, and disable ability to do well.

Yesterday we discussed the possible symptoms of fear of success, and provided a self assessment tool to help clarify what is happening.

Fear of success is an unconscious fear.  It is thoughts that crop up because we have wired our thinking in a certain pattern.  One of the biggest keys to overcome this fear is changing our thinking.  In a tangible way we have all watched people make a new years resolution to loose weight, and they go at it for the first days of the new year with gusto… but after that initial weight loss success the effort put forth to continue drops.  Its because effort without mindset change equals failure.  To overcome fear of success we need to change how we think.

  • Subscribe to a publication that is motivational, encouraging, filled with stories of success.  In my case i routinely read enterpreneur.com, scour ted.com for videos that are stories of someone’s struggle to overcome and succeed.  Stories like Veronika Scott, a young Detroit woman who was the child of two drug addict parents.  She worked hard in high school and was given an opportunity to do art school.  In a class project for art school she was challenged to design something to meet a need.  No further detail was provided.  She visited a homeless shelter in her city and began a dialog with the homeless population.  The need for a warm coat that doubles as a shelter/sleeping bag was a real one… and after multiple prototypes she began production, hiring the people that were homeless and giving them a new sense of purpose.  Her company is a non-profit that has rocked Detroit, changed lives of formerly homeless, and altered the course of her life significantly. Check out this short video that Gap did on her work.   
  • Surround yourself with people who are your cheerleaders, mentors, strength.  It is important to take an honest assessment of the people around you, to know how they perceive your work, your dreams, your ambition.  Dont be surprised if a good portion of your family and friends are not your supporters.  The key is finding those who do support and encourage you.  Guard your heart from those who do not bring encouragement, or use their words as fuel to feed the fire of success.  I have to say that I continued on to get a masters degree with strong motivation from someone who told me I did not have what it takes in academia.  They were wrong, and i knew they were.  The best way to prove someone wrong is to give them tangible evidence.   But the better choice is to find mentors who have traveled the road ahead of you, and want to see you succeed.  They can provide the needed tools and information to take you to the next step.  Why do i hear my mother’s words echo through this thought – “Birds of a feather flock together!”  The great thing about surrounding yourself with people who are succeeding is that even if you perceive you a re not, give it time, and the encouragement and healthy thinking of others will rub off on you.
  • Save memories and momentos of your journey – Journal, blog, scrapbook – whatever you wish to do, just keep track of events, steps, milestones.  Why?  So you can see how you have grown, changed, and moved forward in your plan.   A friend of mine tells an object lesson story that goes like this:

“Two people were on a desolate island, washed ashore by a shipwreck.  They cobbled together boards and branches, and built a small raft to paddle out to the shipping channel, where they know they would be rescued.  Such a lot of labor to build this raft from found objects, and such effort to paddle out away from the island one of the men looks forward seeing only water for miles as far as the eye can see.  He says “We will never make our goal – we cannot see it at all.”  The other man, also tired, and longing for the goal stops him and says – “Ah, we may not see it yet, but its coming soon.  But what we can say is look how far away the island is now- and look how far we have come.”

The idea of building a history library, a memorial to those successes (and epic failures) is wise.  It helps us see the work that is going on.

  • Submit your thoughts to a plan.  We have written a business plan for our company, which details the purpose we exist, the goals we wish to achieve, and how we plan to do that.  Our business plan is the “plumb line” against which everything is measured.  We ask questions like “How does this fit with the plan?” or “Is this advancing our goal to be a part of this endeavor, or create this product?”  Business plans keep you on track, and that makes success a more accurate outcome.
  • Show Up – Be available to opportunity, be available and present when you are with clients, or vendors.  Your active engagement will be remembered, and honored.
  • Stay on course –  Hold steady, dont loose heart, assess and correct the course as needed, but if you continue to focus on success you will get there.  Just remain constant.