You may be thinking, why would I need help coping with success – I want success! But actually, when you start to grow, to become a leader in your field, and to be known for your work, it can feel a bit weird and unsettling. Strange things might start to happen, and you might start wondering what’s going on.
I recently joined a large mastermind program run by some very successful entrepreneurs. Many of the most successful young entrepreneurs in Australia have been mentored by this group. They help build million dollar companies.
I was actually quite scared of joining because I felt like an outsider as an online entrepreneur. These are proper business people who tell it like it is, and you have to be able to stand up and talk about yourself, often literally, in front of hundreds of other business owners. They aren’t hiding behind their keyboards because they have the type of businesses that require much more real-life interaction.
But I went, and it turns out I am loving it. I am learning and practising talking about my business with pride and mixing with successful people who have – oh my God – full-time staff, offices and other business-type paraphernalia that isn’t always necessary as an online business owner. I felt like I discovered a whole new world.
When I got home I felt really unsettled, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I actually started to freak out. I started to worry about what it could all mean for my relationships, friendships etc. Sounds dramatic, and I am really not normally inclined to drama, but it really shifted something in me.
I think I grew so much in a weekend that I couldn’t immediately reconcile it with everything else.
Why am I afraid of success?
Fear of success may seem strange, but it’s really just a fear of change – and just about everyone has experienced that at one point or another. The tricky thing with a fear of success is that it often manifests in sneaky ways.
You might find yourself procrastinating on the very tasks that will bring you success. Little mistakes – yours or those you work with – may start to bother you more than usual. Or, like me, you may start to worry about other aspects of your life.
At the most basic level, it’s more comfortable to remain at a familiar place than to climb into uncharted territory. But no one ever said that starting a business would be comfortable! We have to push through this resistance to reach our full potential.
How to cope with fear of success
Once you realise that you are feeling some resistance toward your success, you can take steps to move through it. Try these suggestions:
- Acknowledge the fear. Sometimes all you need is to say to yourself, “Wow, I’m really feeling nervous about this, and that’s ok.” Giving yourself permission to feel that nervousness before you move on to the next task can be extremely liberating.
- Remind yourself of past success. If you’ve reached this stage of the game, you almost certainly have had success in the past. Remembering how you felt then can help you move through your feelings now.
- Think of what you’ll gain. Our human nature causes us to focus on what we stand to lose in any given situation. Instead of focusing on what you might lose (your old self, an old relationship, etc.) try to focus on what you stand to gain.
No matter what your business, you will experience changes you are not expecting. You need to keep an open mind and recognise it for what it is – growth.
And sometimes you will grow past some people and that’s ok. It all comes back to the fact that a lot of business is personal development. And as you make these small steps and have successes in your business it will challenge you each time and change you, but that’s ok. In fact, it’s necessary.
If you follow this path of self-actualisation called entrepreneurship, your entire life is apt to change. They say there’s no better way to learn about yourself than to start a business, and I believe it’s completely true. The process may be bumpy, but the destination is worth a few bumps in the road.
Facing your fear
Have you ever experienced a fear of success?
How did it manifest for you?
How did you overcome it?
I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below…