Everyone is familiar with "fear of failure." But did you know that "fear of failure" has a little sister? She seems wonderful, but she can be equally terrifying. Her name is "fear of success." Imagine Charlie Brown and his little sister Sally. Sally is cute and pretty and everyone loves her, but she could really give someone the business if she felt like it. (Remember how she yells at Linus in It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown?! Did I just date myself?)
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson
I am 40 years old now. I have had many brushes with fear of failure and I have always come out the other side better. I have learned a lot from mistakes in my past both personally and professionally. Fear of failure does not affect me quite as much as it used to.
But lately, I have been dealing a lot with "fear of success." Fear of my own light. I have been pondering this on walks. I have been journaling about it and through it for a couple of months now. Why the heck am I afraid to succeed? This question had really been bothering me, so I did some heavy journaling on the issue and really digging deep through the WHY.
I realized 2 things scare me about the "fear of success."
- I might be asked do something I am not ready to do
- I might be asked to do something that I don't know how to do
Thinking about those 2 things totally scares the hell out of me! I like to be prepared for whatever life throws at me...which is completely absurd and impossible. You can not ALWAYS be prepared in life.
So I forced myself to take a different approach to this fear. I am so much better at giving advice to others than I am to giving advice to myself. So I journaled what I would tell a dear friend if she approached me about her "fear of success."
This is how I would advise her to move through her fear:
Take to prayer. Vocalize your words to God. He already knows what is in your heart, but when you acknowledge a feeling and put words to it, it starts to minimize that feeling. Let God know that you are afraid. Remind yourself that you are not in this alone and that He has your back and has already equipped you for this task. He may be asking you to stretch and grow. He may be ready to push you to a better place.
2. Take small steps
Why is it that we immediately envision the whole picture and the final outcome instead of just thinking about the next small step to get there? Write down your big goal. Then break it down into small steps. Then just take the next small step.
If you have been asked to give a presentation to a large group of people, don't focus on the day of the presentation, focus on designing just one slide or write one paragraph that you feel good about and excited to share.
Take the next small step.
3. Ask for help / research
I am so guilty of this! I always think I have to have all the answers. ITS CALLED GOOGLE ERIN! Hit up the library, meet up with a mentor or email an expert in the field. If you do not know something yet, research it. Ask for help. Find your way to the answer. Nowadays, it is easier and quicker than ever to find the answer. Get out there, research, ask for help, and find your answer.
4. Listen to your heart
What is really scaring you? Are you scared or excited about the possible outcome? Fear and excitement can feel very similar in the body.
When I went to buy my first "real car," my Dad came along with me for moral and "don't mess with my daughter" support. Right as I was about to sign on the dotted line, I looked at my Dad and I freaked out. I was so terrified! I told him how afraid I was about buying this car and that I didn't want to buy it. I just wanted to go home. He reminded me that our bodies feel fear and excitement the same way. I was just feeling excited. He was right I bought the car and I was so damn excited!
Just breathe and listen to your heart. What is your heart telling you about the situation? Are you afraid or are you actually a little bit excited?
5. Talk it out with your champions
Find your champions. Everyone has a group of friends, mentors, family etc that champion them. Heck, even if you have a Gayle to your Oprah that is enough!
Ask for a quick meet up. Let them know how you are feeling. Ask for suggestions, thoughts, tips, tricks and ways other people you respect move through their fears. You may not even need to solve the problem. Sometimes it is nice just to hear your loved ones remind us how strong, brave and courageous we are! You've got this!
"Fear of success" is a real thing. It can stop you from doing your next big thing. It can stop you from opening that business that you have dreamed of since you were little. It can scare you aware from speaking up in a meeting. It can scare you out of making a presentation that could change the trajectory of your career. It can stop you from living big, from living your best life. That is not what God wants. That is not what we want. That is not what the world needs right now.
Everyone is equipped with special gifts and talents. Please do not shrink away from using yours because you are afraid of what will happen if you do. Do not fear your own light!
I am using these 5 tips to help me move through my own "fear of success" and help women entrepreneurs brand their dream businesses and achieve their own professional goals. I am moving through my fears to help encourage and champion other women to do the same.
Are you afraid of "fear of success?" How do you move through your fear?