Unlike fear of failure and fear of rejection, being afraid to succeed can be far more insidious because it is almost always unconscious. Fear of failure is one of the greatest blocks to success, in every aspect of life. Everyone is closely familiar with fear of failure on some level. The fear of failure is closely related to fear of criticism and fear of rejection. Much like the fear of failure, the fear of success creates anxiety due to the fear of not knowing and not being certain of what will happen next. The next time you feel the fear of failure, think about how you feel about change and how it is impacting your level of fear. Unwittingly, the fear of failure or success can freeze you into inaction because you fear your actions will result in failure.
Failure is the best form of education known to mankind. Failure should be viewed as an opportunity to learn. Too many of us try something new, fail once or twice and decide we’re not good at it, it won’t succeed or some other unwarranted faulty thinking forces our decision to give up. Yet we’ve all heard about Thomas Edison’s refusal to give up when designing the light bulb. In fact, when you consider the major differences between those wildly succeeding and those that aren’t, social status, location, family, era, etc.; these things don’t have as much to do with someone’s success as does a person’s ability to treat failure as a learning opportunity. Their ability to quickly pick up, move on, and continually search for their goals, despite their failures, makes the biggest difference. Ultimately, it is what separates those successful individuals from the rest of us.
It takes a shift in our thought process, from all of the things we’re taught to believe about failing, to realize even failing to get the desired outcome is still a successful outcome in and of itself, because failure is a required part of every experiment. You cannot lead your life with fear of making mistakes, because you are bound to make them throughout your life.
So, if so many of us are consumed with making mistakes and failing, how is it we’re also afraid to succeed? Well, for the large majority of us, failure is familiar. After all, if we figured out how to overcome our fear of failure and fear of success, we wouldn’t need to read articles like this. As we all know, change is scary and what could be scarier than the uncharted territory of success?
You could be afraid of selling out, losing your integrity, artistic or otherwise, or just becoming a person that friends and family no longer recognize. These are common misconceptions about the sacrifice needed to become successful. Think about it, successful people are rarely afraid to succeed more. Even more interesting, a successful person can rebound after staggering losses, both personal and financial, to their former status or even greater status.
This is only achieved because they made it to success, realized their fears were unwarranted and therefore lost that barrier. Then, they learned from their mistakes (successful people will call, what most of us refer to as ‘failure’, a ‘learning opportunity’) and move on. It is within this ability to reframe their mindset and put a positive spin on most scenarios where we gain the most from studying their habits.
You can work towards overcoming fear of failure or success in a number of ways. By being overcome with the fear of failure or success, you become stuck. You imagine there’s more risk involved, and you will feel the fear more intensely. The fear of failure or success alone can be what is actually leading you to failure. Fear of failure or success looms on every human face but achievers overcome the fear and build the mechanisms to destroy it. The only way to conquer your fears is to take the shot.
Otherwise, you’re bound to repeat what you already know over and over.