“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama
One of the many things that I learned from my clients since I started coaching is about the concept of fear for success. It all started with questions from my clients,
“What if my family sees what I am doing on social media?”
“What if my friends come to know about my business and judge me?”
“What if this actually takes off?”
“I don’t think I am ready for such a huge change in my life!”
The above questions are from some of my clients who in hindsight did not know they feared success. I have learned to listen with a different cognizance and understand where the client is coming from, not just what they were saying. The above questions do not exhibit fear of success itself but the consequence of success. The fear of how these clients will be perceived by their friends and family, the fear of not being on the same wavelength as their loved ones, maybe even the fear of losing some of these loved ones because of a change in their personality.
What causes fear of success?
Fear can come from many things including parental influences. It can be internalized due to lack of a parent in the household, due to a father being highly cynical of the child, an overcontrolling mother who likes to make every single decision for the child even into their adult lives can all be causes for not pursuing success and a growth mindset.
I have been obsessed with Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality which talks about the idea that we as humans hide away our unpleasant experience as a child that may masquerade into our adulthood as unpleasant thoughts and emotions. This may affect our ability to face others in the real world. Some may find it hard to attend fancy work dinners, some may find it difficult to approach and profess their love, some fear that others will find out about their lack of confidence.
Perfectionism is another cause of fear of success. A perfectionist is usually a high goal achiever. If a perfectionist feels the goal is not attainable, they would choose to avoid the goal rather than pursue it due to fear of failing. It is important for them to take small steps to achieve the goal to reduce the fear of failing.
Disbelievers are people who believe they do not fear anything or they do not need help. They are probably the most skeptical of the lot who are adamant about the idea that something is not possible and hence an idea should not be pursued. This group of people will benefit highly from coaching even though it is a rare occurrence that they accept the idea of coaching. They are usually pushed to coaching by their spouse or superior.
The steps in overcoming fear of success:
Change is not easy. Personal development sometimes comes at the price of losing your old friends who do not share your mindset and values. When people decide on a change in their life, they usually have to get out of their comfort zone into an extremely frightening and startling state of affairs. This is a time when they get affected by people’s opinions and thoughts. It is also important to understand that being a beginner at this newfound change, people may take advantage, which is why it is important to pick your players wisely. Over time, you will realize your desire for what matters and gravitate towards it. But what is important is to keep going even when the path seems bleak. When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I had reservations and qualms about the success of my coaching practice. The one thing that kept me going was my immense passion for helping people through coaching, writing, and the knowledge I had acquired because of my passion through reading and research.
The learning zone succeeds the fear zone. This does not mean your fear completely disappears. The learning zone comes with new challenges and problems. Over time, you will realize that no matter how much skill and training you have acquired, the real-life challenges are unique to each individual and the solutions to these problems are also inimitable to those challenges our peers may have faced. It is imperative that you navigate your classroom training and learning to adapt to the real world. You will also learn that the journey towards success has its ups and downs and hence you may experience an emotional roller coaster ride.
The passion and love for your goal make the journey so much easier. Your goal is unique to you and hence only you can feel the immense fire inside you. It may be disappointing at times to feel that others in your life do not feel the same enlightenment. Once we have dominated this path through perseverance and grit, your life purpose is clearer and you find it easier to conquer the objectives that you set to achieve. You will have solid set goals and will be in pursuit of living your dream lives. Retraining your brain to be aware of your unconscious thoughts and feelings is not easy and one may need to get professional help to achieve this. Avoidance is a dangerous thing that can get in the way of your success if you have issues that need to be sorted out. Pretending that everything is fine and going on about your lives, may not be a good solution to your problems.
If you can resonate with any of the information said above, please do not suffer in silence with it. Please get help. If you feel you would like to learn more about yourself or improve your personal and professional life, please book an intro session with me. I look forward to helping with your personality development and get you the success you need in your personal and professional life.
Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.
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