The Fear of Success

How can this be?  How can anyone be afraid of being successful? Yet it happens and it is more common than you may think.  The Fear of Success that resides in many can not only disrupt your personal life, in business, it can disrupt your career and possibly even end it.


I’m doing everything I can to sabotage my career. It’s a little thing called “fear of success”. –  Jon Stewart

What causes fear of success?  There are many reasons but commonly it is the realization that your success may make others uncomfortable.  That is right, you are actually concerned with how others may view your success.  Because success in business commonly brings with it a financial reward, some subconsciously disrupt their own path to success.  They pursue the reward but deep inside they sabotage the achievement of that.  The reward scares them because they are afraid of how others will perceive their success.   Sometimes, when one has great talent and ability, yet has not really demonstrated it, the fear of success involves a deep-rooted belief that they are not supposed to be successful.  Some-one, some-thing has convinced them in their life that they were not supposed to achieve success.


Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison


Overcoming this fear and the personal sabotage that comes with it is easy to put into words, executing the strategy is the challenge.  All of the strategies start with one simple statement – be authentic.  As Shakespeare said it, “To thine own self be true.”  In other words, do not let anyone but you describe who or what you want to be, or can be.  This can involve replacing that fear with another; the fear of dishonesty and being unfaithful to your own values and ethics.  Using the latter to overcome the former can work.


Other methods are:


Accept Challenges – some fear the challenge because they fear the outcome could be a failure.  Start seeing the challenge not as a chance to fail but as an opportunity to excel.  As a chance to overcome some adversity that makes you feel better about yourself or your circumstances.


Stop thinking about it – That’s right, don’t think about it.  Like facing that cold water swimming pool stop thinking about how cold the water is going to be and simply jump in.  The cold will last but a second or two but you are in the water.  You are committed and now doing.  Replace cold water with fear of failure.  Instead of being afraid of being cold (failing) just get in there and do it, remove that fear of failure and replace it with action.  Removing the thinking and rethinking results in you doing.


Celebrate little victories – when you have a successful outcome, no matter how small it is, think “Yeah ME!  I DID IT!  This could be completing a tough work assignment, making that first cold call or simply asking a question.  You did it, Celebrate the victory.  It could even be a small step, starting that difficult project or challenge, the simple act of the first step of a project.  Enjoy the success of that moment and build on it.


These are but a few small things you can do that will eliminate your fear of being successful.  Each of these small steps is a part of a bigger journey, the journey to not only achieving success but enjoying success.  Rising to your greatest potential and enjoying the rewards that come with it are important to your personal life and your business life.  Take that first step today.  The journey starts now.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain.