The Fear of Success: How Success Stops Us From Being Successful.

Jana Novotna

Jana Novotna

I have always heard about the fear of failure and how it hinders us. Until last night, it really didn’t occur to me there could be a fear of success when @Sisi_yemmie tweeted:

“The Fear of success…. Wow.”

There and then my heart set racing, I must have read or heard something like this before. I absolutely had no idea why she tweeted that, but it struck a chord within me. Thank God Malcolm came to my rescue. So I came up with this and thought I should share.

Sometimes the fear of success keeps us from succeeding. The possibility of success scares the heavens out of us that we stop the projects we are working on. Hoping to continue when we feel more qualified. We look through our family, our lives, our society and say no one has ever done it. The dreams and aspiration blows our minds. The possibility of success dwarfs our ability and we ask. Can I do this? What will become of me if I do this? Who am I to try this feat. We look at the successes we celebrate and feel they are more qualified.

The reality of the matter is that we have compared our ability with the possibility of success. And we have fallen short of our own criteria. We often forget that some of those who succeed that we look up to were once like us. The only difference is that they defiled the odds, and plunged before second guessing.

The fear of success makes us aware of our mortality, our abilities and limitations. A sudden consciousness and awareness of self surfaces that rattles our imagination.
Shortly afterwards we tend to tell ourselves to be careful. Approach carefully. Don’t mess things up. By this time our train begins to lose its steam.

Perhaps this was whatJana Novotna
felt in the third and deciding set of the 1993 wimbledon final. Playing against Steffi Graf, Novotna was leading 4-1 and serving 40-30. She was just a point from wining the game and five points from wining the tournament. Just then, the game took a dramatic turn as Novotna began to play like a beginner. She netted her serves, missed her responses and eventually lost to Graf. Malcolm Gladwell goes on to report this phenomenon in his book What The Dog Saw, and calls it choking.
Novotna must have realized how close to victory she was and that shifted her focus from the performance to the performer.
That exactly is how the fear of success cripples us. We shift our focus from our goals and amplify our limitations.

In what ways has success scared you? Share your experiences in the comment box.

You can also join the conversation on twitter ~ @phemyte

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2 thoughts on “The Fear of Success: How Success Stops Us From Being Successful.

    1. Great to have you here ma’m. Your tweet lead to the Eureka moment last night. I just knew I had to post it before I lose the steam. So sad; how many projects & dreams we have botched simply because we choked. Perhaps you have an experience to share concerning this. I’d be glad to read about it. Thanks once more and great job with your blog.

      P.S : Congrats on the Naijblog awards too.

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