Moving Beyond Fear of Success (#5 of 5)

April 25, 2021

Moving Beyond Fear of Success | The Purposeful Career

Let’s start with a definition. In the simplest of terms, Fear of Success involves the fear of GETTING the very things that you want.


I know. I know. It makes no sense logically.

But as you dig into it, there are actually three big themes that come up around Fear of Success.

1.       Fear of Isolation that comes from the success. This is about the fear of what it means to be “different” from friends and family. It’s our primitive fear of being cast out of the tribe. It can also be in part concern around what it would mean to surpass someone that you admire. This is all about the fear of how your success will change your relationships with others that you know and love. And maybe a little about the guilt associated with WANTING a level of success that moves you away from people you love.

a.       Will I still have friends, or will I be all alone?

b.       Why can’t I just settle for what everyone else has and is?

2.       Fears around the consequences of having the success. This is about the new situations you’ll be in that you might not be equipped to deal with. And it can also be about the fact that being more successful makes you more of a target. So, with that comes concerns over what other people will think about you and/or say about you. And it’s about your own concerns about whether you’ll be ‘good enough.’

a.       Will I be able to handle it?

b.       What if I’m not good enough?

3.       Fears around your ability to keep the success. Many times, we know we can be successful in getting the thing we want, but we worry that if we DO achieve the success, we’ll be a one hit wonder. That we won’t be able to duplicate it. And then we catastrophize (which we talked about last week) and worry we’ll end up homeless and living under a bridge.

a.       What if I can’t KEEP being successful?

b.       Will I lose everything? (my job, my money, my business, my family, and friends)?

Bottom line, when you strive to become and do more than maybe the family you were raised in or the friends you have, the stakes get raised.

The success you want will always comes more responsibility. And with more responsibility there comes more pressure. More work. More demands. More expectations. More things to learn. More obstacles.

Another way the stakes get raised is that more success means doing more things you’ve never done before and that brings an increased possibility of…you guessed it…failure. But not regular failure that you might fear now, but failure with higher stakes. Next level failure. Failing when you’re more visible. When you have more to lose.

The problem with Fear of Success is that many times we don’t understand that’s what is really happening.

Check out the full episode to learn more.

Moving Beyond Fear of Success | The Purposeful Career
  1. myhome says:

    I agree with your point of view, your article has given me a lot of help and benefited me a lot. Thanks. Hope you continue to write such excellent articles.

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