You must overcome your fear of success


“As far as I’m concerned, people who think they fear failure have got it wrong. They really fear success. If you truly feared failure, you’d be very successful. People who truly fear anything stay as far away from it as possible.”
Barbara Sher: I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was

I know what you are thinking: when your world has turned upside down, the last thing you need to worry about is the fear of success. But that’s not true. In fact, that is often when the fear of success can be most insidious. Why? Because when your world turns upside down, all sorts of new possibilities might open up. Even something as daunting as cancer can create opportunities. When Christine Clifford went through treatment for breast cancer, she found the inspiration to found The Cancer Club (www.cancerclub.com) and reach a wider audience as a speaker and author. But as we start to imagine our new lives, say as a successful entrepreneur, the alarm bells start to go off. If we fail, we’ve lost some time and some money, gained some experience and learned some lessons, and we go back and get a job doing what we were doing before. But if we succeed – then we are committed. And that can be a frightening prospect.

Fear of success is far more dangerous than fear of failure, because the subconscious mind works to prevent that which it fears. People may fear success because of low self-esteem and a feeling of not deserving it; because it will increase the hassle factor in their lives and what others expect of them; or it will run them headlong into the Peter Principle. The symptoms of fear of success include as anxiety, doing work that is less than your best, lack of focus and concentration, not working well under pressure, and not keeping your commitments. Here are some steps to overcome fear of success:

Clearly define your purpose and goals – what is your One Big Yes and why is it important to you?

Why did you choose those goals? Why do you deserve to achieve them?

What is the service component; how will other people benefit from your success?

Study role models who have accomplished similar successes before. What did they do that you can emulate?

Every day, visualize yourself in your new successful role; make it as tangible as possible, a “memory of the future.”

Do the thing you most fear to do but which you know should be done, and do it now.

Fear of success is sometimes manifested as a sort of internal circuit breaker. If it seems like things are going too well or too fast, and you suddenly run out of steam, ask yourself whether or not fear of success has pulled the plug on you, and if so, go plug it back in.