Do You Suffer From 'Fear of Success'?


Fear of failure, that ‘s easy to understand. For some people, failure means shame and permanent defeat. Maybe they haven ‘t learned the mantra: there is no failure, only feedback. But fear of success? Ridiculous! But pause a second. Why else do we sometimes set ourselves up for failure self-sabotage before we ‘ve even begun?

One article lists the ways we do this very thing. Any sound familiar?

  • Partying the night before the big presentation
  • Procrastination
  • All talk, no action
  • Negative, pessimistic thoughts and behaviours

Another articles takes us, I think, a little deeper down. It illustrates ‘fear of success ‘ by the following behaviours:

  • Impostor Syndrome feeling unqualified and unskilled to deserve any success achieved
  • Discomfort with change confidence is limited to familiar and repetitive tasks
  • Good luck illusion feeling that luck plays a great role to success and lacking it is unsolvable
  • Loser mentality finding rewards in self pity, dependency or complacency due to underemployment or a lack of challenge
  • Fear of greater expectations expectation that if success comes, other will expect more of the same results in the future

There are many different reasons why people fear success. Sports coaches in particular are familiar with this phenomenon.

So now that we ‘ve recognised what fear of success is, what can we do about it? One author recommends six strategies:

1. Figure out why you ‘re sabotaging your goals. Just accepting your reasons will give you a sense of freedom.

2. Prepare yourself. The more you prepare, the more your fears may subside.

3. Accept failure as part of succeeding. If you try and fail, you ‘ll gain experience, education, contacts, and self-confidence.

4. Be scared. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway will help you overcome fear of success.

5. Compete against yourself not others. Competition in which one person must lose in order for us to win tends to undermine the best in most of us.

6. See your skills as changeable. Research shows that if you think your professional skills and abilities are fixed, then you ‘ll become anxious if you ‘re successful.

My interest in it was sparked off during a lunchtime conversation with Mrs Sensei. Researching this topic was uncomfortable. Some of it hit a little too close to home for me. What about you?

Image credit: csc4u.