What is Fear of Success – Really?
You wake up tomorrow morning with the news that all of your bills have been paid, you have paid cash for a spectacular beach home in the Malibu Colony and purchased a brand-new Azimut 77S with crew of two (picture above) docked and waiting in the Marina. Perhaps you would choose to take the jet to Milan for an afternoon of shopping in the Fashion District and an evening at La Scala for a breathtaking opera. In the morning, you are whisked away to a villa on the shores of Lake Como.
How many of us wake up in the morning paralyzed with the reality of being our perfect weight, of trunkloads of cash pouring into our bank accounts, and having the freedom to do whatever we want?
Perhaps it is time that we give up the phrase, “fear of success,” because our real fear is usually something else entirely.
I’ve watched so many people define what they most want to do with their lives. This also happens to be a very opportune time to define how they are going to draw enough healthy attention to themselves in order to succeed with that compelling vision.
How many of us have allowed the fear of attention to dictate our behavior to the point of reaching mediocrity?
We have been in the game of helping people define what they really want out of their lives and orchestrating their success for a really long time. I’ve learned that everything that allows a person to develop their own utterly unique career and to succeed in that venture is learnable. If anyone can make a good living doing what they love, why would we let an untruthful phrase such as having “fear of success” dismiss the journey?
Many people avoid drawing attention to themselves because they are afraid of getting hurt. Almost all of us carry around a few wounds from getting attention. But, the alternative is worse. Because, when we avoid attention, we starve. Anyone who has lived through a protracted job search will understand. Becoming visible was reserved for a select few. But, accelerating change requires that all of us learn connectivity. In other words, our ability to connect with others is today’s single most important life skill. In fact, the #1 reason we fail is isolation. But, connectivity is no longer reserved for the lucky. It is required whether we are doing the work we were born to do or simply looking for another job, just like the one we hated.
As an author, I have never nor will I ever propose that reading my books or attending our seminars will overcome fear once and for all. The self-help industry is filled with scam artists promising an end to fear. Sadly, I’ve observed many of the followers of this message still trying to master their fear years later. They still haven’t taken the very action that can change everything. And yet, the world’s most successful people get frightened all of the time. Cher has crippling stage fright. If she allowed that fear to dictate her behavior, she wouldn’t be Cher. She’d be Cherilyn Sarkisian, the crazy manicurist at the local salon. Richard Branson continues to be terrified of making a public presentation and yet he needed to do that in order to meet his vision of success. Taking action whether we are frightened or not is the big differentiator. Some of us used to call that courage.
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 skillfully. 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. For most, the learning begins immediately. Once again, a compelling personal vision tends to wipe away the obstacles and clear the way for learning.
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, can be enormously surprising and exciting. 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. Great selling isn’t about us! It is all about them.
Let’s tell the truth. I believe that most of us would love real success.
We live in a world today that is filled with more opportunity than ever before. Technology is taking away jobs. But, what kind of jobs is it taking? Tasks. Advancing technology is giving us freedom from tasks. It is removing monotony. In fact, the work that is emerging is so exciting that we ought to be running forward than looking backwards. As technology accelerates, we are being given options that can bring true meaning to our lives.
So, what is fear of success – really?
Could it be fear of attention?
Why not invest in that one thing that is so important to you, that it is worth all the attention in the world?
Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.
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