Lets be honest: All of us have doubts that block us from doing things. It's even socially acceptable to talk about some "fear of failure."
But "fear of success?"
How does it happen?
The Future/Change Factor: Personal
The good news is that when we experience this fear, it's because we're imagining a "better" future. We're actually thinking about change.
But we don't know what else that's going to bring. Since it's all about the future, we can imagine anything and everything about what might be. In the absence of factual information we fantasize, often negatively.
- "I don't deserve it"
- "If I achieve what I set out to do, everyone will know that I don't really deserve it"
- "If I get it I won't be able to sustain it. Why try?"
- "If I am successful, someone will come along who is better than me. Then, what will happen to me?"
- "If I am successful, the nature and equilibrium of my relationships will change and I'll have to make new friends. My current friends would never accept a more successful (bigger, deeper, better, healthier) me."
(Feel free to list your own and others you've hear in the comments section).
What happens as a result of this kind of thinking?
- Self-defeating thinking leads to self-defeating actions. Here are just a few:
- Doing the wrong thing even when you know the right thing to do. That way, one can avoid having to deal with success.
- Minimizing your accomplishments so they are ultimately negated. Then, you don't have to live up to being all that you really are.
- Feeling guilty when you have a success. This creates a slowdown in momentum, hesitancy to act, and a self-fulfilling inability to move on to another success.
What you can do differently
Here are some suggestions that aren't complicated but do place the responsibility clearly on our personal shoulders:
1. Act in a way that will genuinely help build a sense of self: Find ways to encourage and acknowledge accomplishments of those around you.
2. Get an accountability partner--or maybe a couple. These people have your explicit permission to give you feedback--positive and negative --about how they are experiencing your progress. This is a reality check. Honest, factual, periodic conversations will help you replace the unknown negative fantasies with reality-based information.
3. When someone compliments you, respond with a firm "Thank you!" No false modesty or additional talk. Simply hear the compliments and let them begin to influence how you see yourself.
In the next post, we'll look at how this plays out at work and in organizational life.