(30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #18)
“If you avoid failure, you also avoid success.”
— Robert T. Kiyosaki
The fear of failure and the fear of success are almost always talked about in the same breath. One reason for this is because people experience some of the same anxiety symptoms when faced with failure or success. There is a legitimate fear in being aware of one’s potential for failure and success and the reality of both failure and success when it hits home.
As human beings, we are all very complex and intricately designed. A large part of that complex and intricate design is how we respond and react to different situations. How we anticipate outcomes and interpret results is also largely based on our individual psychological and physiological makeup. It can be difficult to put every person into a one size fits all generalization of how to handle success and failure when we all are so different.
Similar to fearing failure, we are not consciously aware of our fears until we get very close to it. In our heads, we want to reach this goal or we know this idea is bound to be successful but when we get very close to completion or near a deadline, we seemingly begin to drop the ball. A perfectly normal day suddenly turns into a major disaster. And it happens this way not because we consciously do something but because we are unaware of our inner processes that feel the pressure that comes with achievement.
So have you ever found yourself right on the edge of a major success? I mean you’re down to the very last little minor thing you have to do in order to be finished. Then you start to see something that’s not right or someone else doesn’t put their last little part into it. You begin to feel agitated and your brain is going in a million different directions. It’s getting hard to focus. You’re forgetting things, procrastinating on simple steps, and failing to meet deadlines. What is going on?
That’s the fear of success kicking in. And before you know it, the project you’ve worked so hard on doesn’t even get off the ground. You’ve gotten this far, why would you not want it to launch? All your hard work and brain power are going down the drain. In our society, it’s drilled into our brains that we must be successful at all costs. Never once, does anyone stop to tell us that success comes with a huge amount of pressure. Pressure is absolutely scary.
We think success is so much fun because that’s all we see around us. And success is fun providing you have the right amount of balance in your life to handle it. All we see in other people’s lives is the box office hit, the #1 song, the bestselling book and that’s how we define success. We define success in terms of status symbols. We never see the sweat, toil, tears, and blood. But underneath all that success is a great deal of pressure. And it isn’t the success that scares us as much as the pressure and the great possibility that we might not be as successful as we’d like.
So here is how you get past the fear of failure: admit to it. Tell yourself, ‘I’m nervous. I’m downright scared. Everyone is going to look at me as this widely triumphant person and I don’t view myself that way. But I’ve created this awesome [insert your thing here] and I want it to be a success. This fear is normal. This pressure is normal. I’m okay and I’m ready for what is next.’
You overcome fear, any type of fear, by acknowledging that the fear exists first. Then you find a way to deal with the fear so that it doesn’t deal with you.
Achieving success is the goal of almost every individual. It’s always more comfortable to stay where you are because it’s more familiar. Success requires that you step out of your comfort zone and sometimes tread deep water. You are putting yourself out there to be judged and critiqued. You have to decide whether you want that kind of attention and demand on your life. Indeed, it is a challenge. But remind yourself that every tough situation you’ve gotten through before has shaped you into the person you are today for this very moment.
There is another factor in the fear of success. Many of us have been taught to think that success involves risks and it does. But we’ve been conditioned to believe that anticipating the rewards of hard work and effort can lead to disappointment or backfire as failure. We don’t want to fail or end up in a state of bewilderment and disappointment so we may internalize the false idea that we don’t deserve success.
Learning to differentiate between feeling and fact can go a long way in determining the level of our success. If you are satisfied with your work and with the person you are, then no amount of negative hearsay from others or self-talk should deter you from the success you are worthy of. If you’ve done the work, don’t lose sight of the ultimate end goal which is to be successful at what you do. Besides, true success comes from within. It isn’t defined by status symbols, box office hits, and bestseller lists. It is defined by you and when you define your own success, there is really nothing to fear.
“Sometimes the only thing we do to avoid success is refuse to be energetic on our own behalf.”
— Barbara Sher