Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fear of Success? You're not alone ...

The following is an excerpt from a speech I gave in July of 1995.  I was in front of a group of about 300 Independent Sales Reps and their Leadership team during a Regional Sales meeting for a Direct Sales Company I worked with from 1994-1998 

Success.  Everyone wants it.  We all talk about it.  It is the goal, isn't it?  Deep down we all want to be successful, right?  We dream about it.  We plan for it.  And for some of us, we are afraid of it.   Fear of success is not unusual.  It is actually quite common.  And it is a problem.  Being fearful of  our own success actually stops us dead in our tracks.  It can cause us to lose out on a lot of opportunities in life.  And when we're too afraid to take risks and move forward on our goals – either consciously or unconsciously – we get stuck in one place.  No progress.

Fear of success is as real as the fear of failure.  Both present with the same symptoms, and both of these fears will hold you back from achieving your dreams and goals.  The biggest problem for many people is that their fear of success is largely unconscious.  They just don't realize that they've been holding themselves back from doing something great. 

So what does the fear of success look like?
  • You feel guilty about any success you have, no matter how small, because your friends, family, or co-workers haven't had the same success.  
  • You don't tell others about your accomplishments because you worry that they will think you're being boastful.  
  • You avoid or procrastinate on big projects, especially projects that could lead to recognition.
  • You frequently set your own goals or agenda aside to avoid conflict with others.  
  • You feel that you're not good enough.  
  • You feel that you don't deserve to enjoy success in your life.  
  • You believe that if you do achieve success, you won't be able to sustain it.  

Fear of success has several possible causes:
  • We fear what success will bring it.  For example, loneliness, new enemies, being isolated from our family, longer working hours, or being asked for favors or money.  
  • We're afraid that the higher we climb in life, the further we're going to fall when we make a mistake.  
  • We fear the added work, responsibilities, or criticism that we'll face.  
  • We fear that our relationships will suffer if we become successful. 
  • We fear the reaction from others - jealousy and cynicism. 
  • We fear that accomplishing our goals may actually cause intense regret that we didn't act sooner. 
  •  We fear our own power to be successful - we fear how "big" we can truly become
Overcoming the fear of success involves strategy.   The good news is that the more you face your fears, the more you're likely to overcome them.  Overcoming your fears is the first step in accomplishing your goals.  And what if you do accomplish your goals?  What will happen if you succeed with your goals?  What would your life look like?

Don't look at what you hope will happen, or what you fear will happen.  Instead, look at what is likely to happen.  Take your time answering.  Examine the issues, and write down your answers to questions like these:
  • How will my friends and family really react if I accomplish this goal? 
  • How will my life change? 
  • What's the worst that could happen if I achieve this goal? 
  • What's the best that could happen? 
  • Why do I feel that I don't deserve to accomplish this goal?
  • How motivated am I to work toward this goal? 
  • What am I currently doing to sabotage, or hurt, my own efforts? 
  • Who can help me get out of my own way? 

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