Not Quite Good Enough – Fear of Success

Posted: July 11, 2010 in Musings in General
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Since my interview with Ann Evanston for her Warrior-Preneur Facebook Fan of the Week I have been unable to stop thinking about our conversation about limiting beliefs where I said my deepest one is that of feeling ‘not quite good enough’ to succeed in business. In the interview Ann said that there are two types of fear – fear of failure and fear of success and I’ve been trying to decide which mine is and I think it’s the latter.

I’ve since been reading a little about fear of success and have been trying to decide why I feel this way a few things I read in the linked article resonate for me – particularly this part ‘You fear the changes in your lifestyle that will accompany your success: the loss of privacy, the decrease in time for your loved ones, the need to travel a lot, meet new people, be more on the move.’. Some of the other ‘symptoms’ of fear of success also resonate a little but I think this one is my biggest symptom.

I think for me it’s all about redefining how I look at myself having been a wife and Mum for so long now. Sure, I’ve always worked from home but I can see that I sabotaged some of those efforts myself really though it didn’t help that we kept moving countries and that I hadn’t found something that really clicked for me. When I first became a Coordinator for Cultural Care AuPair I just thought it would be a nice little job working for myself that would just keep me busy while my daughters are at school. However, as I gradually started to love the role more and more I started to want to really go somewhere with this.

I have no idea why I feel this way as my husband and daughters are very proud that I have found work that I love and that I’m enjoying so much. I think I have been finding it hard to change to looking at myself as a business woman but I’m now using  positive self talk to change that around and also meeting other business women more and more who, I’m finding, are mostly just like me – not all driven super women.  Like the article says though – ‘Confront your fears, speak to them, give them a face and the death of fear is sure’ and do you know something – I am feeling better already about this now I’ve thrown it out there. Ann Evanston you aren’t only teaching me about Social Media but your bootcamp is life changing therapy for me and I can’t thank you enough.

What fears do you have that you need to confront and how are you going to do that?

  1. Lisa Phinney says:

    Thank you for sharing this! My husband & I are both on an inner journey & that involves potentially living a new life. For my husband this means a new career that feeds his soul – Music & Life Coaching. He confronts his “not good enough” fears so honestly. I love it!
    For me, my fears are falling back into old ways – negativity, anger, and sadness. I no longer want to fear being happy. I am happy. I want to feel it!
    I also fear my voice. I’m working on speaking my truths and speaking from my heart. I fear that it won’t always be acceptable to do so.

  2. Lisa, you bought tears to my eyes! That’s all part of it for me too! Growing and changing is tough but so rewarding and confronting those fears is absolutely necessary. I’m glad I know you my friend, your positive energy always shines when we meet.

  3. Hi Louise, It was with great curiosity that I read your post, as I heard in your interview that we can fear success, as well as failure. I liked that you cited specific reasons for the fear of success and I resonated with them. I think the loss of privacy is the biggest for me, as my story needs to be told in conjunction with telling about the book. As Lisa said, that’s scary to tell one’s truth, as we do not know if it will be accepted, and we all desire acceptance. The key for me has been learning to accept myself as I am, and that seems to be allowing me to overcome that fear of speaking my truth, of giving up my privacy. After-all, I have guarded myself closely all these years with my deep truths. As I think about what you said, I realize I am frightened to travel across the country and put myself “out there.,” do author signing events. Yet, it has been my experience that, when I am fearful, to look at my fears, as you say, and they become surmountable, given my acting with the courage that graces me

    Carolyn CJ Jones
    Author/photographer “Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing”

    • Carolyn – wow! glad that you have faced up to another fear through this! I’ve been looking at your blog and videos as I find the time and I think your truth will help an awful lot of people so ‘just do it’ I say :). I sure hope you come close to here when you do your signings – and thinking about that I know someone here in Park City who is opening an independent book store/cafe……

      Thanks so much for commenting.

      • My pleasure to reply, Louise! I loved your writing style and the depth to which you questioned this issue. Thank you for your kind words about my posts and what I am all about. Get me the name of that independent store that is coming to Park City, as I plan to do a national tour in the spring. I will approach them. Thanks! 🙂 Have a happy day!

      • I shall! You have a happy day too.

  4. Andy Donovan says:

    Amazing post Louise and a true “stop and make you think” about what truly is the fear that takes hold here. I think for most of us it is a bit of both and something we need to embrace as the alternative is returning to a life that was most likely the catalyst to where we are now.

    I couldn’t see myself working for anyone other than my clients and of course my corporate entity…as much as there are challenges to running a small business the rewards far outweigh them…as a husband and father of 2 year old triplets it affords me the time to be with them. As an entrepreneur I am able to pursue what I’m truly passionate about…these together make the battle against the two fears less daunting.

    Cheers, Andy

    • Thanks so much for your comment Andy and I knew comments would help me deal with these fears. I too cannot see me working for anyone else but my clients and my company and I certainly can’t see me going back to a ‘job’. The time that this allows us to spend with our children is priceless in my opinion and I must always remember that.

  5. Donna McCord says:

    It is so comforting to know that there are other people out there that share the same doubts and fears. I have always had the dream of being a published writer, but life has taken me down other paths — mainly because I have chosen to be a help mate to my husband as a business partner and a dedicated Mom to our daughter. Even so, I could still choose to follow my dream, but I recognize now that part of what has kept me from pursuing it is my fear of both failure and success! It is safer to have a dream and keep it a dream than to actually risk going for it! Your post has helped me think more about this…Thank you for sharing, Louise!

    • Thanks Donna! Glad you got something from this. I think you should just start writing and see where it takes you. One thing I’m learning is to just go for it even if you have fears.

  6. Fear of success is such a fascinating concept to me but I think it’s probably more prevalent than anyone suspects. By achieving success one becomes “the man” or whatever moniker of oppression they express. One becomes who they perceive as the type of person who holds everyone else down. What a difficult existence for the brain to manage! It’s a shame that for those who stay in this state of “success” long enough, they find that it’s the position from which so many can be helped.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Shoot for the stars! 🙂

  7. Jean Bentley says:

    Thank you for posting this. I like others I fall in to the “not good enough” category, which I know is a lie but the battle between my ears rages on. I’ve been trying to remember to think about what I’m allowing my mind to think about!

    Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Louise what an interesting post. It really can be tough to face your truth. I have been looking at my values and beliefs in the face for a bit and its true, when you say it out loud, it frees you. Funny. I actually did a class, with Heidi Sloss which was amazing, involving a book called Overcoming Under earning and this book changed my life. That and doing Ann Evanston’s bootcamp. I think its true this process Ann has developed that we go through to become honest bloggers makes us face our fears. And burst through on the other side. Such an exciting time. I feel years younger! Freer. Going through a divorce right now and I am actually looking forward to being free to make choices without a safety net. Risk does free you.

  9. Jen, It’s so nice to be meeting people who are as excited about this whole process as I am. And I’m going to take a look at that book now 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  10. amy donovan says:

    fear is an amazing emotion because there are distinctly different ways that we can respond to it. you can let it paralyze you or stall your activity, which many of us (myself included) have experienced in the past. or, we can do what you’re doing now – acknowledge it, give it a face, + let it motivate you to overcome it. i completely understand what you mean about Ann’s coaching being so much more than just social media coaching. it’s also teaching many of us to acknowledge + overcome fears, + discover + embrace our true voices. + that is such a powerful thing.

  11. Thanks for commenting Amy! So nice to see others getting as much out of Ann’s training as I do.

  12. ChrisLWagner says:

    Louise, this could have been me writing this post. I am going through exactly the same feelings and journey that you are. In a class that I’m taking, they ask us to write an affirmation about what you needed the most to conquer. My topic was fear – fear of whatever may come. Here’s what I wrote and it’s really helped me. Fear is just an illusion of what MAY come to pass, therefore I cannot fear what does not yet exist.

    Keep moving forward and don’t look back.


    • Isn’t it nice to find that we aren’t alone in our fears and feelings? I’m so glad I gave into the urge to write this early on Sunday morning when I couldn’t get it out of my head!

      Thanks for commenting.

  13. I think the major fear i have is a variation of the “not good enough” syndrome. My fear is that if I try and fail, then what happens…a job? The truth is that I have been gainfully unemployed for years, but still the fear creeps in.

    Thanks for giving a forum to speak our fears.

    Bill Browning
    Mastering the Art of Work and Play

  14. Bruce Barone says:

    Excellent post.

    I have often asked myself similar questions. Felt similar fears.

    I have sometimes shied away from being myself. I am a giver of love. Of beauty. Truth. And sometimes, I have felt people think less of me because I am sensitive and loving.

    I want to thank you for this post from the bottom of my heart–my soul. It helps to awaken myself today to who I am and where I am going.

  15. Irene Turner says:

    Hey Louise….I’m with you…it’s fear of success, mostly from fear of loosing time with my family, and enjoying this terrific lifestyle I’ve built the last 8 years here in California. I’ve been working on this over the last two years, once I became aware of it. Thank you for sharing your greatest fears, it leaves the space to allow the rest of us to share ours as well!

  16. Thanks for commenting Irene. I think for me it’s not only losing the time with family (though that is HUGE) but also the fear of what the balance shift will do to my family unit if (sorry, when!) I’m successful. I just have to trust that it will gradually shift and be good for all of us I think..

  17. I have had the fear of success for a long time. I am successful at what I do by my peers standards but my vision has always been bigger and I usually find an excuse not to pursue it. My husband has a chronic progressive illness that seems to stop me and usually is my excuse. I can see that I will soon need to provide more care for him. I am afraid that if I become successful I wont have time to pursue the dream to the fullest so I just dont put forth that extra effort that would get me there. On the other hand if I put forth the effort I could afford to hire help.
    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    Julia M Lindsey
    Our Little Books

  18. Thanks for your openness Julia and what a difficult situation you are in. I hope you don’t mind me saying but having seen my mum nurse my Dad when he was chronically ill I think it might be better for both of you if you were able to hire help as it wore both of them down and didn’t do their relationship any good at all. You would then have quality time together in my opinion. Thanks so much and I wish you all the best.

  19. Hi Louise – your post reminded me of the movie “Akeelah the Bee” – if you haven’t seen it, it is a fun, feel good, “I can do anything’ type of movie. In it, the teacher talks about fearning what we might become…fear of our own light. Much easier to hide in the darkness. Also, the “who am I to…” doubts will at least make a brief guest appearance any time someone is trying something new, something bold, something wonderful. You go, Girl! Who are you not to succeed?

    Brandy Mychals
    Jewelry for Your Target Market

  20. My passion is empowering other yet I’ve always feared that I wasn’t smart enough. Consequently I’m somewhat of a professional student – my solution has been go to get another degree. Even as I’ve been learning social media the thought has crossed my mind that I should go get a certificate or look for some degree program to make me worthy to teach other. Interesting that for all the training I’ve delivered over the past 15 years I don’t recall anyone asking me if I have a degree.

    Lisa Ann Landry – Corporate Trainer – Unleashing the Genie!

  21. Louise–
    this post is perfect timing! Like many of the commenters, I have been struggling with this very issue as well. Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s fear of success or fear of failure that I’m feeling… or simply, fear of the unknown.
    As a “woman of a certain age”, I have radically changed my life over the past few years, which, in itself, creates fear. Divorce, death, a major move, and now a career change… all of which bubble with fear.
    For me to keep the anxiety at bay, and for a truer perspective, I look at Atticus. Seriously, looking at any situation through his eyes is very calming… He always sees the potential for success and for goodness, with unbridled enthusiasm. Another lesson learned through my dog 🙂
    ps: is this a new look/feel for your site? like it!

    • It’s true our dogs are a wonderful help with the fear and anxiety, Roxy and Ozzie help me a lot. Thanks for your comment. Oh and it’s a completely new blog – first post was last Thursday, launched with the help of coach Ann Evanston as I do her course :). I chose the punky theme because it reminds me of a poster I have from one of my favorite bands PiL.

  22. Louise- (wordpress just ate my comment (3x), so if it shows up 4x, I apologize!)

    In any case, I wonder if people’s thoughts on success are also shaped and framed by their environment. I am a child of the ’60’s and I know that environment certainly shaped my thoughts about money (evil- you need to help humanity, not get rich). That certainly can be tied into success as well, because if you were really successful and had tons of money, then it would be the same.

    I was a ‘successful’ lawyer for 30+ years, but had just enough- never more than enough (that would have been greedy in ’60’s thought). I know that I was always content with just enough money, so assume it is the same for success. Not really a ‘fear’ per se, just a way of thinking. Now that I am thinking really big in terms of money, I need to also think really big in terms of success! Thanks for making me think…always a good thing.

    Candace Davenport
    Our Little Books (thinking big success!)

    • What an interesting thought! I’m a child of the 60’s too and have never thought BIG. I think you are on to something for sure. Thanks for your comment and I’m off to start thinking big….

  23. Thanks so much for the post. I’m enthralled by the pouring out of fears that your blog has inspired. It takes a great deal of courage to start the conversation, for that I hope you are proud.

    My fears express themselves in sneaky ways. My voice of fear says things like, “you have to know everything before you begin” or “who are you to have received this opportunity?” or “if you aren’t the first to do it, why do it?”

    I realized just recently that procrastination is a product of fear as well. I always thought it was just laziness but I get a ton done and still put some things off…why? My little voice of fear was saying “if you don’t put it out there, you won’t be rejected.”

    Thanks for your candor.

    Darcie Newton
    My Wealth Spa

    • Thanks Darcie – I am proud that my openness has invited so much comment I have to say. I am also learning even more from those comments and you have a very good point about procrastination being a product of fear – it’s another thing I’m working on.

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