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.
‘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.
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!
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!
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!