Take a weakness and turn it into a strength. If you are dedicated to overcoming failure and achieving lasting success, then you need to be willing to do the same.Work on the weakness that weakens you, and there’s no telling how far you will go. – John C Maxwell
It sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? The courage to SUCCEED? Who would ever be afraid of success? Well, maybe you. I know I have been at times.
But this post is not just about having the courage to persevere in the face of failure to ultimately succeed, this post is more so about having the courage to ALLOW yourself to succeed. That, can take just as much courage as it takes to fail.
Why would people be afraid to do well? Honestly, for lots of reasons, and it is more common than you think and I am finding that this is the most difficult blog post I have written, to date. I found this post to define it better than I:
Fear of success is the following:
* Fear that you will accomplish all that you set out to accomplish, but that you still won’t be happy, content or satisfied once you reach your goal.
* Belief that you are undeserving of all the good things and recognition that come your way as a result of your accomplishments and successes
* Opposite of fear of failure, in that fear of failure is the fear of making mistakes and losing approval–Fear of success is the fear of accomplishment and being recognized and honored.
* Lack of belief in your own ability to sustain your progress, and the accomplishments you have achieved in your life
* Fear that your accomplishments can self-destruct at anytime
* Belief that no matter how much you are able to achieve or accomplish, it will never be enough to sustain success
* Belief that there are others out there who are better than you, who will replace or displace you if you do not maintain your performance record
* Belief that success is an end in itself; yet that end is not enough to sustain your interest and/or commitment
* Fear that once you have achieved the goals you have worked diligently for, the motivation to continue will fade
* Fear that you will find no happiness in your accomplishments–that you will be perpetually dissatisfied with life.
These fears ring true for me in many areas of life -though they were most brought to life as I was finishing grad school. It had never occured to me that I was afraid of success, I thought I was merely afraid to fail. It was during a time of intense preparation and I was feeling overwhelmed in life and began to have feelings of not being able to live up to other’s expectations. I had actually begun putting my validation into what others said of me instead of what I knew of me. I was becoming a “human doing” instead of a “human being” and it was tearing me apart.
One part of me desperately wanted to succeed, and go into the fear of conquering the unknown, doing well in the future without guidance from a teacher, and one part was deathly terrified.
What are the negative consequences of the fear of success?
Fear of success can result in:
* A lack of effort to achieve goals you have set for yourself in school, on the job, at home, in relationships, or in your personal growth
* Self-destructive behavior, such as tripping yourself up to make sure that you do not sustain a certain level of success or achievement you once had in school, on the job, at home, in relationships or in your personal growth.
* Problems making decisions, being unable to solve problems
* Losing the motivation or the desire to grow, achieve and succeed
* Chronic underachievement
* Feeling guilt, confusion and anxiety when you do achieve success–this leads you to falter, waver and eventually lose your momentum.
* Sabotaging any gains that you have made in your personal growth and mental health, because once you become healthier, a better problem solver, and more “together,” you fear that no one will pay attention to you. You are habituated to receiving help, sympathy and compassionate support.
* Your choosing to do just the opposite of what you need to do to be happy, healthy and successful
* Reinforcing your chronic negativity, chronic pessimism and chronic lack of achievement since you cannot, visualize yourself in a contented, successful life
* Denouncing your achievements and accomplishments, or seeking ways in which you can denigrate yourself enough to lose what you’ve gained
Do you do any of these things or have any of these beliefs? Do you find yourself being very negative towards yourself and putting yourself down regularly – unable to accept compliments? It could be that truly you are not afraid to fail, you are actually afraid of success and using the mask of considering yourself a failure to prevent yourself from actually succeeding.
What do those who fear success believe?
* I have worked so hard to get this far, yet I need to keep on working hard; I’m not sure the effort is worth it.
* I know people care about me when I am down and out, but will they like me when I am on top and successful?
* I’ve never been happy before, so how can I be sure I’ll be happy once I achieve my goals?
* I am nothing, and I deserve nothing.
* How can people like me if I succeed in reaching my goals in life?
* I can’t sustain the momentum I would need to achieve my goals.
* How can I be sure that my good fortunes won’t go sour and be destroyed?
* There are always more demands and more needs that have to be met in order for me to be successful, no matter what I do it will never be enough.
* They are all better, brighter, smarter, and more talented than I am. I really don’t deserve to be successful.
* It’s hard to be at the top.
* Everyone is out to shoot down the head man.
* No one really likes a winner.
* Everyone goes for the underdog.
* I am happiest when I am under pressure and challenged.
* Hard work, no play and constant effort make me happy. What would I do if it were different?
* I feel so guilty when I realize how much I have been given in my life.
* I’m always afraid I’m going to lose it all.
* Starting over again gives me meaning and a sense of mission and purpose.
* I’m so bored with what I’ve accomplished. What’s left to do?
* Everyone has the right to fail in life, and I have the right to choose to fail if I want to.
I find this happens in a lot of different areas in life: we can be all gung-ho about losing weight, learning our instrument, doing well at our jobs, etc. that when we suddenly realize either how much work it will take and we get discouraged or realize that we are actually good at what we do and if we do allow ourselves to be as good as we can be…
we can end up going a lot further than we’ve ever gone, and not only is that scary, it will grow and change us as a person and you might not be ready for that. The people around you might not be ready for that. THAT can give you a fear of success. If you have a desire to stay in your comfort bubble, be honest with yourself and ask WHY? Are you afraid to fail, afraid to let others down and fear judgement? Or are you afraid to succeed, afraid to really fly and let yourself grow, and let the people around you either grow with you or leave?
What new behavior patterns can help in overcoming your fear of success?
* Learning to reinforce yourself for the hard work, effort and sacrifices you have made to achieve success
* Being able to honestly appraise your level of achievement, success and accomplishment
* Accepting yourself as being healthy, “together,” happy, successful, prosperous and accomplished
* Not giving yourself any excuses for being unsuccessful
* Giving others in your life permission to give you honest, open, candid feedback when they see you self-destructing or backsliding
* Monitoring your level of commitment and motivation to reach your goals
* Visualizing your life when you are successful
* Giving others credit, recognition, and support for their personal achievements, successes and accomplishments
* Honest, open, realistic self-talk that encourages you to work your hardest to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself
* Accepting the compliments and recognition of others with an open heart and mind
Read more: Handling Fear of Success
There is a wonderful book called “The Success Principles: Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” by Jack Canfield
If you are struggling with either allowing yourself to succeed OR fail, I highly recommend this book. He breaks it down into manageable sections that you can tackle one at a time and these principles will translate to all areas of your life. If you are struggling with allowing yourself to be the best musician you can be, the best father/mother you can be, the best architect/manager/plumber/writer/etc. you can be, struggling with allowing yourself to believe enough in yourself that you CAN lose weight and it’s really not the impossible obstacle you thought it was, etc. this book will help you learn to accept and achieve success in whatever area of life.
Trust – maybe the reason behind it all
You can see that a lot of these fears of success stem from a fear of trusting yourself. You could lack trust in yourself to make decisions, follow through, know what’s best for you, whatever. We all deal with a lack of trust in ourselves at some point, but in order to live life to the fullest, we must learn not only why we distrust ourselves, but learn to overcome it.
Did you dress yourself this morning? You demonstrated that you know how to take care of yourself.
Did you eat today? You demonstrated taking care of your basic needs – you trusted your hunger signals.
Let me leave you with a quote that I posted on my bathroom door while I was dealing with my own fear of success. I read it every day and let it sink in. I hope it gives you the empowerment you need to empower yourself to allow success into your life!
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
- Are You Ready to Change? (fluteangel.wordpress.com)
- Do You Have The Courage To Fail? (fluteangel.wordpress.com)
- Courage – what is it? (jimf.wordpress.com)
- Success: do you have it in you? (successful-blog.com)
- 11 Inspirational Quotes That Will Supercharge Your Day (businessinsider.com)