Everyone is afraid of one or the other... or even both at the same time. We're afraid of being successful because we may fail along the way to reaching success. So, in your own way, as much as you desire success, your fear of failing along the way sabotages you from ever getting there.
Are You Afraid of Success?
Much is written about the fear of failure but did you know there is an even stronger fear of success by many? This doesn’t get written about as much because it doesn’t seem like it should be a problem.
Fear is a lack of knowledge. When people fear doing something, it is because they don’t know what the outcome of those actions will be. When people fail, they can often turn to excuses. They’ll think of dozens of reasons why whatever they tried couldn’t work. The conditions were not right or they didn’t have enough money. Perhaps a main supplier went out of business and that took down their own business. Whatever the case, blame is easily distributed all around.
But excuses cannot be made for success. Who can be blamed for doing something right? When people have success in something they are doing, it can form a sort of paralysis because they are afraid of what may happen next. They revert back to something that is comfortable which can take the wind out of the sails, so to speak, of the success.
Part of the problem with fear of success is not having a plan for when it happens. If you have a business and you make plans for what you are going to do when you succeed at various stages, you will not fear what comes next because you refer to your plan. Perhaps in the plan, you decided previously that you would hire five people in the event that you increased sales by 50%. So when you reach the milestone, guess what comes next? You hire five people. There is no paralysis and no fear (maybe a little). But you are better prepared when you have a plan as your guide.
Another problem is you could be trying to do everything yourself. As you see some success, you are going to be taking on more responsibilities. These responsibilities may be unfamiliar to you and that can bring back those fears. If you already have others that work for you, see if they would be a good fit for some of these new responsibilities. If not, hire others or outsource the work. You should try to keep within what you are comfortable with but also be willing to break out of that when the time is right.
Fear of success is not just a buzzword used by marketers and psychologists. It’s a real fear and it can have a crippling effect on anyone who experiences it.
Are You Afraid of Failure?
People can be so afraid of failure that they do everything imaginable to avoid it. They avoid taking any chances because if they try something and it doesn’t work out, they will be looked upon as a failure. To make matters worse, we often see successful people profiles in the media and think they must either be geniuses or they were naturals at what they did. And yet, if you look closely at the lives of these people, you will discover a much different picture. What is not shown is all the hundreds of times these people have failed, prior to being successful.
Failure is a great tool to figure out what not to do the next time around. If something you tried didn’t work, that is no reason to give up on your project. It should be used as a road map to reevaluate what went wrong and to adjust to try and make it work.
Sometimes, you may need some help as you won’t know why what you tried was a failure. In this case, it may be worth it to find a mentor who can evaluate what you are doing and help you to get back on track. This may cost you some money upfront, but good mentors are certainly worth it if they can produce results for you.
Even if you decide to try everything on your own, seek out influential people that can help you by reading about what they have done and how they handled their own failures. There are several biographies of famous people and what it took them to get where they are.
There is a side benefit to failure and that is showing others your tenacity. By keeping on evaluating what went wrong and never letting it get you too down, it is hard to imagine that you won’t succeed. There will always be setbacks, and sometimes it may be necessary to take alternative measures like side jobs, etc. But by keeping focused on what you are trying to accomplish and continuing to implement what works and discard what doesn’t, you are well on your way to succeeding in whatever it is you are attempting.
One aspect that you will see common among people that have used failure as a learning tool, is they never stop learning. They are constantly making themselves better at everything they do. They read and follow other successful people and try to emulate what those people have done. It is truly a case of success begets success.