Fear of failure or fear of success?

on Mon 23 Sep

For a brief time yesterday, I had a familiar feeling bubble up - something I shared with my coach and had a bit of a laugh about. I thought I’d shoot a video about it because this thing can be a sneaky sucker and it can stop us playing full out in our businesses, at school, socially, all of it. 

This thing is fear of success.

But surely the fear of failure is the thing, right?

If you’re about to pitch to a dream client, or you're launching a new event, or you’re inviting a friend you don't know well over for dinner, fear of rejection or failure may actually take a back seat.  It's actually fear of living up to expectations, being enough, being responsible, delivering, not letting people down and trusting yourself to rise to the challenge that triggers the sick feeling, self doubt and procrastination.

Things can feel a bit daunting and a bit serious.

I had a bit of a chuckle because when I do these videos or I present to a room of people, I sometimes feel like I’m 12 years old again. Like, here I am, standing here with a dodgy 80s wham inspired haircut and leg warmers, playing at being adult.  This isn’t about fear of failure, this is about what I’m doing or striving for feeling too big. 

And it can be just as crippling, just as limiting, because beliefs shape our actions and how we show up. 

And this can affect our kids too. 

""What if I’m seen...what if I win…what if I get through…what if this is a fluke..."

"What if I’m noticed and I can’t do it again?!" 

Imagine an Oxbridge undergraduate, having worked so hard for their place, feeling the pressure of living up to and continuing their academic success. That must feel pretty big and scary at times.   

So how can we shake it up and dissolve fear of success?


Know you’re falling foul of the sneaky fixed mindset (check out Carol Dweck’s book to learn about this) and get into GROWTH. Think about how far you’ve come...you’re still here, you’re on the path, it’s just another step. When I was 12 I couldn’t imagine what I would achieve at Uni, or in my career let alone what I’m doing now. Don’t think of the enormity of it and instead take it a step at a time.

I was thinking about the enormity of it yesterday, like how am I going to pull this off…me…creating and leading this thing... and my inner critic who has a fixed mindset on roids, saw an opportunity to question it all. Are you good enough?  Have you got what it takes?

And while it feels uncomfortable, I can also laugh at it because I know tomorrow, I’ll probably switch back to worrying about failing. It’s simply my brain’s way of keeping me safe. But all I have to do is take my next step…perhaps plan the next few…so my brain can calm down and drop the leg warmers.



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