What are you scared of? 4 Real Reasons People Fear Success

Published by Kristin Eilenberg on

Seriously. What are you scared of?

It’s a simple question that shocks people when I ask it.

I am a very positive and upbeat person. I really enjoy helping people succeed – in business and in their personal lives.  And, I am so fortunate that people trust me with their stories and helping them figure out pathways forward.

Recently, I have found that some of my most confident and successful friends are facing challenges and are getting stuck in ruts.

It’s not because they do not know what to do, it’s because they are holding themselves back.  When I ask all of the typical questions – What do you want to accomplish? What are the assets and tools that you have at your disposal to get to that goal? What’s missing? Who do you have on your ‘bus’? Are they the right people? Who needs to be with you? How are you going to convince them to take a seat? – They’ve got the answers.

Yet, something is holding them back.

They are struggling.

That’s when I ask, “What are you scared of?” The question has the effect of putting electrical panels to a person’s chest and shocking their heart. So simple, yet, it makes the person turn their focus inward. It’s not about external tactics. It’s about them. Makes them ponder what’s really happening.  Getting in touch with the core of their struggle.

My first inclination is to assume that they fear “failure”. Right? Make sense?  Don’t we all fear failure on some level?

If I had bet on it, I would have lost some money.

My friends and colleagues are NOT scared of failure.

It’s the polar opposite.

They fear “success”.

Crazy, right? Success.

I am not a certified therapist of any type, but I get this.

I’ve been there. On the edge of leaping into something that I knew would be successful. More times than not, I overcome the ‘fear of success’ and go ahead and jump… Make it happen. Get shit done.

Yet, I get it. I have had my moments where I relented to the instinct to push pause. Held back. Didn’t push forward even though every bone and muscle wants to move. I still shake my head when I think of those moments. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.

Why the sudden inertia forced on myself? How could the thought of ‘success’ immobilize me or any other person?

The reasons may be shocking. Based on my own experiences and what I’ve been able to glean from discussions with friends and colleagues, there are a few things… 

1. Scared of exposure

Success typically means that more people know about you. Know about your skills and abilities. Exposure is a blessing and curse. Your network expands; now, you’ve got connections to do even more! New opportunities surface and, it usually means an increased work load.

2. Scared of being promoted

Having a quantifiable success under your belt typically means that you are going to move up in an organization. If you are not prepared for this type of move up, it creates anxiety until you get the new lay of the land and really rock it out.

3. Scared of abandoning the baby

In many cases, this fear comes from being separated from work that they started. It’s their baby. They feel an obligation to care for it. However, if they succeed, they may get expanded responsibilities and their baby will be handed to someone else. That someone else may not nurture and care for the baby the way that the originator would’ve.

4. Scared of the lack of future success

What if I don’t have another successful idea or project? What if this is where I top out? I have found that the fear of not having another success stops people in their tracks. Many people would rather slow burn something then be seen as a spark or flame that burns hot and fast, but doesn’t sustain.

 

Many of my friends know that none of these fears hold water with me. Yes, I’ve been there. I let these fears influence me. I pushed pause. However, when I think of those moments, I regret not taking the leap. Getting out of my own way.

Life is uncertain. Believe in yourself. Don’t let the fears keep you from realizing your potential and achieving the success that is at your fingertips.

What are you really scared of?