Is The Fear Of Success Is Real?
“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.” — Denis Waitley
I might risk alienating some people in this article, possibly offending others. However, if it means forcing you to think about the topic differently, I will have done my job to serve you.
Is fear of success real?
Is it possible to have a fear of: wealth, recognition, serving others, playing bigger, impacting humanity and having your work serve a wider audience?
Fear of success, I call nonsense.
I’ve never heard of someone being diagnosed by therapist with fear of success syndrome, notwithstanding those who experience trauma or some form of PTSD. There is always something else lurking beneath the surface. It requires deeper investigation to uncover what the hidden fears are.
Fear of success is a disguise because it convinces you success is possible.
It is not. It is never within reach.
Even at the last minute, circumstances can change at the drop of a hat.
You can toil away for years and not strike upon success while other people strike it lucky within a few months or years. They will tell you how they followed a specific formula that ensured their success.
There isn’t a formula that will ensure success because the term means something different to you and me.
The same formula that worked for them may not work for you and millions of others. That’s why online courses that guarantee results seldom work. You need to get close-up with the individual to serve their needs if they want to succeed.
Why would anyone fear the very thing they want so much?
The very thing they put their lives on hold for?
The very thing for which they sacrifice their: health, family and personal relationships?
I get that you can fear the trappings of success if it happens quickly, yet for many this isn’t something to worry about because not everyone will experience success like J. K. Rowling.
I don’t understand why the fear of success is real. Am I naïve to think that success will be handed to a person overnight if they follow the rules and work hard?
Come on, surely we know by now there is no such thing as an overnight success. Those who are ascribed this label have been toiling away at their skill from many years, maybe even decades.
Success Is Guaranteed To No One
“I’m doing everything I can to sabotage my career. It’s a little thing called “fear of success.” — Jon Stewart
Countless people come to mind who pursued their careers until they achieved success. You can’t apply a formula to success because in the hands of the wrong person, success is like handing the lottery to someone with poor money management skills.
I appreciate the idea of replicating your mentors to achieve success. Yet, some people starting out will experience a different result because there are many unknown factors that contribute to success.
For this reason, I believe fear of success is really the fear of hard work. It is what author Steven Pressfield calls resistance that stops many from achieving their finest work. Here resistance holds the individual back from writing the first draft of a book they’ve been wanting to pen for years.
Resistance stops you sitting down to hone your craft or focus on deliberate practice to fine tuning your motor skills.
Jeff Olson says in The Slight Edge that taking action can be easy or hard, it depends on your outlook: “Here’s the problem: every action that is easy to do, is also easy not to do.”
A client whom I working with recently shared a photo posted outside her young son’s classroom that read: “Why can’t I skip my 20 minutes of reading tonight?”
A ‘C’ student who reads one minute each day, equates to 180 minutes in a school year. This is the equivalent of 8,000 words per year or the 10th percentile on standardised tests.
A ‘B’ student who reads five minutes each day, equates to 900 minutes in a school year. This is the equivalent of 282,000 words per year or the 50th percentile on standardised tests.
An ‘A’ student who reads 20 minutes each day equates to 3,600 minutes in a school year. This is the equivalent of 1,800,000 words per year or the 90th percentile on standardised tests.
By the end of sixth-grade an ‘A’ student will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days. A ‘B’ student will have read only 12 school days. Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary? Which student would you expect to be more successful in school and in life?
Fear of success or fear of hard work you say?
Hard work and persistence is something children are made aware of at a young age, for they are taught that nothing comes easy. It becomes clear as they pass from year to year some of their schoolmates earn lower grades while others excel.
Hard work requires commitment, dedication and perseverance and if you have satisfied all these requirements, there’s still no guarantee the pot of gold awaits you.
Hard work is terrifying because it means putting your heart and soul on the line with little or no success guaranteed. It requires discipline, a tenacious will and determination to become a student of knowledge, skill and wisdom
Hard work is not for everyone and only a few become successful because they are willing to dedicate themselves to their skill. They are willing to become the best instead of mediocre skill and talent.
Pursue Excellence And Success Will Follow
“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.” — Sumner Redstone
The same principle I described earlier to students applies to many other areas such as sports, music and the creative fields. For example, there’s no such thing as a child prodigy violinist. Behind every genius is a student who practices 7–8 hours a day with the right mentors and teachers to guide their musical career.
You cannot leave success to chance. It must be nurtured and cultivated and given your undivided attention. You must greet it with humility and respect because like the wind, it can turn at a moment’s notice and go in search of someone else who will create the right environment for it to flourish.
“Bear in mind though, that there is a difference between demanding success and just merely wishing for it. You should find out what this difference is, and take advantage of it,” writes Napoleon Hill in The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons.
Success is fickle.
Success is an antagonist.
It will serve you if you oblige it through hard work and labouring away day in day out, month in month out, year in year out. Success is not something to be pursued, but is awarded you as a result of hard work, grit and dedication.
The message is clear according to author Brendon Burchard who writes in High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way: “Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self, and start acting like that person today.”
If you want success, put in the hard work.
If you want success, pursue excellence.
If you want success, dedicate yourself to your life’s task.
If you want success, stop making excuses why it hasn’t showed up and do the work to draw it closer to you.
If you want success, stop playing small and create impeccable value for others.
Put their needs first before yours. Serve them in the best way possible without wanting anything in return. Do it for the love of the game. The love of your passion.
If you want success, make a commitment and never give up until your hard work is rewarded for the years of putting your heart and soul on the line.
The hard work will accompany you as you realise your greatest potential and persevere in the face of unwelcoming circumstances.