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By David Harder on January, 12, 2018

Fear of Success is a Big Fat Ugly Lie

Early this morning, I woke up and thought of how frightening it would be to pay all my bills, buy a spectacular beach home in the Malibu Colony and purchase a brand-new Azimut 77S foot yacht with a crew of two. My mind wandered towards getting up and visiting Amazon book reviews on my new book which include, “It sets a new bar in the creation of iconic business books” and “David Harder does it again.” Tomorrow, perhaps we would fly in our private jet to Milan with an afternoon shopping in the Fashion District and an evening at La Scala for a breathtaking opera. In the morning, we would be whisked to our beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Como.


Who, on earth, is frightened of that scenario?


There is no such thing as fear of success.


The real fear is in drawing enough healthy attention to ourselves to become successful.


I am not another self-help author priming you to overcome fear once and for all. Millions of tapes, books, videos, and courses have been spent in that hollow pursuit. I don’t know anyone who is hugely successful who has jettisoned and removed fear. Cher has crippling stage fright. She still sings in a G-string at 70. Richard Branson continues to be terrified of making a presentation and yet he continues to build his empire. They succeed because they take necessary action whether that action frightens them or not.


In our culture, many people run from drawing healthy attention to themselves. In fact, the reaction is some form of, “They will hurt me.” Of course, greater visibility does increase the probability of getting hurt. However, when we lower our visibility, we actually increase the probability of starving. So, many of us draw just enough attention to ourselves to get by but not quite enough to thrive. Candidly, the most powerful way to move beyond this state of mediocrity is to develop a compelling and deeply personal mission, vision, and purpose.


As the remnants of the Industrial Revolution slip away, the opportunity and imperative to develop meaning and purpose in our lives only grow. Without that revolutionary and deeply personal action, the returns on old work only dwindle. Unfortunately, many of the systems that educate our children are still deeply immersed in thinking that began 300 years ago. For example, we gave a keynote recently to an educational organization. Not long after we spoke, they gave out an award to the #1 student in the local high school. She was too afraid to come to the front of the room to accept the award. That is a practical failure by her school and possibly her family. Here’s why. According to Cathy Sandeen, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, today’s average college graduate will change careers, not jobs, four to six times. That means they will be selling themselves more than we ever imagined. They will need to build support systems and communities more quickly. They will need to connect with others more skilfully. And yet, we cannot find one Kindergarten to Graduate School that requires sales training, presentation skill training and community building as a required part of the curriculum.


We have successfully launched thousands of careers. Quite a few initially respond to drawing attention to themselves as irritating and uncomfortable. But, I make it clear to them that we are not just looking for a great job, we are looking to reinvent the way people manage their careers. Want to have employers fall all over themselves to hire you? Walk in the door with the skills they need and a Rolodex so large that you can solve virtually any problem that comes your way. When we learn how to build a sizeable support system, we grow beyond that urgent need to find a job because jobs find us. We stay ahead of change because people are feeding us the very information we need to reinvent ahead of time.


This journey, for virtually everyone that I’ve watched, is surprising. Connectivity is quite different from the dark images many people have when they think of drawing attention to themselves. For example, great selling isn’t about making a pitch. It isn’t about us. It is all about them. Connectivity ultimately is about becoming far more secure because the single greatest cause of failure today is isolation.


Let’s tell the truth. I believe that most of us would love real success. But, if we are not willing to pay the price for that success, let’s be honest. Because the moment we take action to stop fooling ourselves, we are one step closer to the light.


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.


(C) Copyright, 2018, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)


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