Is fear of success a real thing?

It sounds like a crazy notion, right? Why would someone be afraid of making it?

But it happens more often than you might think.

I just had a conversation with a coaching client, who has been working through some mindset challenges. And her big teary revelation today was “I'm afraid of success.”

She stops herself when it starts to get hard, uncomfortable, or there isn't a clear trail that someone has previously blazed first. And justifies it as “I didn't really want to do that anyway…”

Lemme tell you guys, this is so darn common. Fear of success has so many layers. Let's analyze a bit.

  • Opening yourself to public exposure and scrutiny
  • Fulfilling expectations of yourself, as well as expectations from those around you
  • Finding your own path, that might be different from others
  • Allowing yourself to enjoy what you have earned. (This one is so common for so many – “I don't feel like I deserve it.”)

So what is fear of success?

Another way of saying fear of failure: staying where it's safe, comfortable, and familiar. No one will notice, therefore no one will judge. The main difference between fear of failure and the fear of success is the fear of failure is not reaching our own expectations, where as fear of success is fear of others expectations of you, and the effect it will have on you.

Leaders often say, “I can't want it for them more than they want it for themselves.”

Yup, true statement. In the nature of solo entrepreneurship, we are only accountable to push ourselves forward, and hopefully inspire others behind us of what is possible.

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What causes a fear of success?

How would your life change if your business were to take off and you were making thousands of dollars a month?

On the surface, this might seem like an innocent question – something that's meant to draw out your ambitions and get you motivated. But it can also strike fear right into your heart.

And part of that is that word: change. How will your life change?

Will you be working all the time? Will your taxes still be manageable? Say you can finally afford those dance lessons or camps for your kids — will you be able to handle them being gone more?

How will your schedule be impacted if you're suddenly driving your kids to all the sports and classes they wanted to go to?

Change can be small and necessary or big and scary, but one thing is certain: change is always uncomfortable. Always. Even the change we know is best for us and our business can send shivers of apprehension up and down our spines.

And this is when our mindset is going to kick in, either driving us forward toward that change, or looking for a way to put off having to make that change for as long as possible.

And the change that comes with success is permanent. If you launch your business and fail, you just go back to that which you know. It might not be great, and you might lose money, it might be hard, but it's what you already know.

If you launch your business and succeed – that's uncharted territory.

How do you Overcome the Fear of Success?

First things first, you need to sit down and find the route of the fear. Is it really change? Is it someone else's expectations? Is it something completely different then those? Figure out what is holding you back.

Next, look at how it looks when it rears its head. Do you drop off the face of the social media earth once you start to gain traction? Do you “forget” to write up your weekly newsletter? How does that fear show itself in your business?

Visualize your success. This is tricky because success looks different for everyone. Put a non-monetary measure, as well as a monetary measure. You get a video or post that gets 1,000 views on Instagram, you get 10 clicks on your blog post from your newsletter, you raise your sales by one more order this month.

Your own mindset will be your biggest cheerleader, or worst enemy. Watch your own self-talk, and listen to what she's saying. You can't…. you won't…. it's too hard…. (enemy). You got this….. let's do this….. keep going….. be brave. (cheerleader) Mindset. The negative self talk will start to get louder the more successful you start to get. Don't let it win, friends.

Now to add the trite clichés that we all love so much, here are some of our boss lady quotes:

  • If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
  • No risk, no reward
  • Success begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
  • Climb the tree, that's where the best fruit is.
  • What if I fall? Oh but darling, what if you fly?
  • Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Choose your thoughts before they choose you.


Brenda Ster sitting at her desk with her phone in both her hands with the words Are you sure you're afraid of failure? Maybe you're afraid of your own success for the blog post The Fear of Success in Direct Sales

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