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What to Do if You Have A Fear of Success

What to Do if You Have A Fear of Success

One thing I’ve never heard anyone say to me is: “I’m afraid of being successful.” To hear it sounds off, it sounds counter-intuitive even. Yet as a small business coach for women and a small business entrepreneur myself, I see it all the time. In fact, you’ve probably seen it too.

So, how do you identify the tell-tale signs of success-fearing behavior, and if you see them in yourself, what do you do to overcome a fear of success?

Behaviors of Success-Fearing People:

  • You don’t complete your projects (this could be at work or at home).
  • You talk about what you are going to do more than what you actually do.
  • You work furiously on several projects at once, not really focusing deeply on any one of them.
  • You still have exactly the same things on your vision board that were there five years ago.
  • You second-guess yourself often.
  • Distraction is your middle name.
  • You don’t think your work is ever quite good enough.
  • And the big giveaway…you’re on the verge of ‘success’ and things start going really wrong.

What to Do if You Have a Fear of Success

All of the above are classic symptoms of the fear of success. It’s not that you don’t want to be successful, because you’ve probably been working your butt off and spending plenty of late nights planning, thinking and strategizing. The truth is: if success doesn’t come easily to you then, subconsciously, there’s a part of you that doesn’t want success. And your subconscious is running what you do up to 95% of the time, so it’s important we take a look at this at a deeper level.

3 Subconscious Fears Related To Success That You Might Have and What To Do About Them

1. Fear of Appearing To Be Unspiritual

“It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” “Rich people are greedy.” “It is better to give than to receive.” These are little sayings that popped into my brain the minute I penned the words “Fear of appearing to be unspiritual.”

I’m thinking this must obviously be one I’ve struggled with!

Our relationship with money and spirituality has always been complicated. Actually, money is more like a symbol: a symbol for what we want, what we don’t want, what we get, what we can’t get, what we’d give away, what we’d hold on to tightly, what we’d do anything for, what we would never do. In short, money has a tightly woven and complicated relationship with our integrity.

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‘Sell-out’, ‘over-ambitious’, ‘selfish’, ‘up-herself’ and ‘shallow’ are a few labels we have an avid fear of when we have an underlying fear of appearing to be unspiritual.

What to do:

You’re not going to be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. Not everyone will like you. Ever. Accept it! It doesn’t matter how good or how kind you are. Instead, focus on who you want to serve and why; whether it’s at home, in your business or in the community.

Get clear on what you are willing to give of yourself. Tithing is a spiritual practice that many successful people follow. It involves donating a percentage of your income, usually 10%, back to a religious organization or charity. You can also tithe your time and energy through allocating an amount of time to other people without the desire to get anything in return.

In other words, maintain your integrity by giving freely on a regular basis.

2. Fear of Standing Out

The fear of standing out can bring you to your knees. In the past I had a ton of brilliant ideas that would have helped me stand out more online, but I didn’t execute them. Do you know why? I told myself it was because I didn’t want the attention. Or all the hard work was not worth the effort.

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The biggest truth was that I was afraid to be extraordinary. Blending in with the crowd is easy. It means not dealing with rejection or worrying about the possibility of making someone else feel inadequate.

What to do:

Read this quote by Marianne Williamson. Every time you read it, you’ll feel like you just got schooled!

“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.”

There are all sorts of Ninja mind tricks you can use to overcome the fear of standing out, whether it’s for public-speaking or simply just speaking your mind. One of my favorite things to do is use the words ‘even though’. Simply say, “Even though [insert the situation and how you feel], I’m open to/happy to [insert how you want to feel].” For example: “Even though I have to give this talk in front of the class and I’m embarrassed, I’m open to giving a brilliant talk and feeling good about it.”

Now, just be awesome!

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3. The Fear of Change

Change is a natural, organic part of life. Nothing really stays the same, but the thing is, it can feel like it does.  Especially, when it comes to the ins and outs of your life from day to day.

Success by its very nature means you now have or do or are experiencing something different. Something you didn’t have before. And the Catch-22 is that we really want this change on one level, but on another level it could scare the crap out of you!

The thing is, when we fail at something we know what to expect. We’re already used to living the way we do. On the other hand, success can be scary because it brings uncharted territory. Imagine if you’ve been overweight your whole life. What might it be like to be slim for the first time ever? How will a slim you dress? How will a slim you behave? Who will a slim you hang out with?

What about creating a business that brings in so much money that it’s easy to share with and give to others. Yikes! You spend so much of your time juggling bills right now, can you even imagine what new habits you might have if you were rich? Would you suddenly be more wasteful? Would your children be ungrateful?

What about a relationship starting or ending? Or moving?

Change can be amazing or frustrating or liberating or scary. Quite often it’s tedious, character-building work. It’s also inevitable, so the things is, we should probably choose what we really want!

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What to do:

If change is inevitable (and it is), then the first thing to do is to begin the process of getting absolutely clear on what you want. Write a description of the life you really want, without judgment. Just let it pour out onto the paper.

Next gather a great support system around you. This could be sharing your vision of your life with someone you love and trust, joining a Facebook group of people who are going for the same goal, investing in a mentor, or reading a really good book that resonates with the description of the life you really want.

So, Now What?

Now breathe. Deeply. Success comes in stages. You’ll always have the capacity to improve and strive for yet another success. When you’re done breathing, look at the thing you want most right now. Break it down and focus on two things you can do today. And then just be (your own unique) awesome!

More by this author

Kushla Chadwick

Kushla is an Entrepreneur Coach and Mentor and Energy Psychologist.

What to Do if You Have A Fear of Success

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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