Fear Of Success

I started my professional career at just $4,000 PER YEAR plus an old uninsulated house and utilities. So it took some time before I could be comfortable making $4,000 a month.

As a Life Coach I have encountered many clients who don’t remember dreaming of what they would like to be, or do, when they grew up.


I remember my brother and I would get large cardboard boxes – like the kind large appliances like a refrigerator or stove would be shipped in. we would cut them to the size we needed to make a hamburger joint. We never thought of a fancy restaurant – we had never been in one.

I also thought I would like to drive a semi-truck. One of those big rigs would take me all across the country so that I could see all of the United States.

When my wife and I became involved with a multi-level enterprise, I envisioned seeing us grow into a large business. But what surprised me most was not the fear of failure but the FEAR OF SUCCESS. It would be years later before psychologists figured out that the Fear of Success could be even bigger than the fear of failure. There were doubts about worthiness. It almost became like the old adage "If God had wanted man to fly, God would have given man feathers."

"The fear of success is a very unique issue that arises when you are genuinely creating change and moving forward in your life," says Ti Caine, a hypnotherapist and a life coach living in California. "The fear of success is very real because the future is real – we’re all heading there – and what we imagine for our future has an enormous influence on us." Caine says that the fear of success is "the monster in the closet."

People fear success for all kinds of reasons. Some have heard the words "you’ll never amount to anything" or "who do you think you are anyway?" Even worse, one woman said to me that her ex-husband told her, "You’re ugly and have kids and no one would want you."

You may have decided you’re not good enough. You're not smart enough. You don’t have the right genes. There are those people who even sabotage their opportunity for financial success.

There are many issues that cause one to fear success. One is that success will lead to loneliness. An experience I had in the 1970s could illustrate that.

I was teaching moral leadership to the Cadets of a Civil Air Patrol Wing in Mississippi. I used the illustration that in a study of goal setting showed that only three percent of the people set a goal and write it down. Ten percent will set a goal but not write it down. Then the other 87 percent just drift through life. I spent the whole time fleshing out this topic. Then about six months later I used this introduction for another topic. A young boy of 14 raised his hand and said that since the previous moral leadership topic he had started setting goals and writing them down. Then he went on to say, "It surprised me that some of my goals have already come true."

Next a young lady, who was a senior in high school, hesitatingly, raised her hand. "I haven’t written my goals down but I started making them. But the strangest thing is happening, some of my friends asked me if I thought I was better than they." I don’t know what happened to this young girl some 30 years later but it is a sad commentary on how even our friends would pull us down – and many times steal our dreams.

At that time I hadn’t heard of John Goddard who at 15 years of age overheard his parents talking to a friend in the other room. That started John to start thinking and he wrote down 127 goals. Today he is in his 70s and has accomplished well over 100 of those goals.

Many women also are afraid of success. They’re afraid that achieving success will make them unlovable.

Hara Estroff Marano, in eDiets.com, states that many women fear success at losing weight because becoming more attractive to others could jeopardize the love and life they have. Losing weight can create other problems – such as changing your self-image. But this is a concern for another topic.

"All fears of success would go away if you totally took your power back," maintains Caine. "In fact, our very deepest fear is that when we really reclaim our power to succeed, we have to face the knowledge that we have always been powerful to change all along and that we could have changed a year or five or 10 years ago."

Joe Tye states, "Fear of success is far more dangerous than fear of failure, because the subconscious mind works to prevent that which it fears. People may fear success because of low self-esteem and feeling of not deserving it; because it will increase what others expect of them. Fear of success shows up as anxiety, indecision, avoidance, procrastination or acceptance of mediocrity."

Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do." So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

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