Last week I posted on the danger of limiting beliefs. These frequently take the form of fear of failure…the reasons that we believe we will not be successful. The truth is, we can also set ourselves up for failure by a fear of success.
I have had many clients who face this challenge. Here are just a few of the ways that it has been voiced.
- I would grow my business, but I don’t want the headaches that additional employees would bring.
- I know that I could make a lot more money, but I don’t like what has happened to my friends who have achieved that goal; they’re just not nice people any more.
- I would apply for my manager’s job when she retires, but I know the crazy hours she worked, and I don’t want that for myself.
The first question I always ask is, How do you define success? If you define it as a larger business with problem employees, that is what you will achieve…if you move forward. If success is making a lot of money, and becoming the type of wealthy person that you detest, that is what you will become…if you move forward. If it is getting a promotion and working untold hours as a result, that is what you will do…if you move forward.
Overcoming the fear of success requires that we refuse to accept other people’s definitions of what success means. You can grow your business, and avoid hiring (or retaining) problem employees. You can become wealthy and still “be a nice person.” You can obtain a promotion (whether to your manager’s position or another) and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
If you begin with the truly big picture, you can prepare–and plan for–the changes required to get there. If you start with only a piece of the picture, the other pieces will end up being challenged to accommodate that one. If you set your path toward someone else’s definition of success, it is likely you will undermine yourself along the way…or be extremely disappointed when you achieve it.
Overcoming the fear of success requires that you define success on your own terms. Your definition may include whatever you want…This is your success we are talking about. I encourage people to think broadly. We tend to look at personal success independent of our professional lives, and professional success independent of our personal lives; neither is true. What is the income you are seeking to earn? The bank balance (and/or retirement fund) you want to have? The nature of the job you want? The work environment you are seeking? The personal life you desire? The balance between personal and professional?
How do you define success? Are you able, and willing, to give it your definition, one that balances all aspects of what you are looking for in your life, and then work to achieve that? Comment below.