We’re all familiar with the fear of failure and may even say that it’s the biggest obstacle to our progress. I’m not sure about that: I’ve noticed that more people seem to be scared that they might actually succeed. It’s a fear that stops people in their tracks before they’ve even taken a step towards a goal.
‘In what way could I possibly be scared of success?’, you may be wondering. When I’ve been working through this experience with my clients – and, in the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve also experienced it myself – the fear seems to come from what that success might mean for us.
Have you ever found yourself thinking something along these lines?
‘If I get that promotion, I’m going to have to work with a whole new team and I feel like I’ve just built good relationships where I am’
‘If the publisher accepts my synopsis, I’ll actually have to write the book’
‘If I run the 10k, then what’s next?’
‘If they accept my proposal for flexible working, I’m going to have to really make the most of my time, both at the office and at home’
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we’re not scared of success but unsure of the unknown or concerned about change. So what do we do?
Let’s go right back to the beginning: what is it that first encouraged you to set this goal? Now you’ve reignited that spark of excitement about the goal, what can be done to tackle any concerns you have about the impact of achieving it?
‘If I get that promotion, I’ll use the same approach I took with my current team to make sure I get to know the new one and create strong working relationships’
‘If the publisher accepts my synopsis, that must mean they think people will want to read my book. I’ll be so excited that I finally have the chance to write it’
‘If I run the 10k, I can decide which charity to run for in my next race’
‘If my flexible working application’s accepted, I’ll plan my week to be really effective in the office so I can enjoy my time with the children’
Notice when you start to sabotage your own goals and undermine your own success: then take action to get yourself back on track.
This week’s pebble for your thoughts:
Are you fearful of failure or scared of success?
I’d love to know what you think,
ps If being scared of succeeding is getting in your way and you think it might be helpful to work through that with a coach, feel free to email me to see how we could work together.
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.