Fear of success can be stifling: Part 2

Fear of success can be as paralyzing as fear of failure

As we live our lives, both personally and professionally, we are encountered by choices and consequences; successes and failures; challenges and alternatives.  Our human nature is one of comfort and safety and an inherent fear of failure.

  1. Fear of failure can hold one back as the failure can have a negative impact
  2. Fear of Success can hold one back as the unknown consequences connected to the success can be stifling and hinder continued pursuit of the successful outcome.

In part 1 of this article series by Michigan State University Extension we began the discussion of the fear of success.  In this part, I will share a personal example of this.

Now let’s discuss the fear of success.  To illustrate, I will use a recent example in which I actually made the choice to pull back from a venture that likely could have been very successful, however I am not positioned at this time in my life to pursue this venture.

As part of an experience conducting research for another project, I was involved with the creation of a product for potential further development and launch.  Though the potential success was a long shot, its potential to be successful based on the process that was being undertaken was good.  This two part article entitled “Startup weekend was an eye opening experience” is a retrospective of the experiences our team encountered during a recent participation with a Startup Weekend event.

It is highly likely that a product such as the one we had considered developing will be on the market within the next few years, likely produced by an already established company.  I pulled back from further exploration and product development to avoid a conflict with my initial purpose in attending this event…research on behalf of my current employer.  My decision was purely professional.  However, I believed in the product and it’s potential.  Had I chosen to stay involved, though it could have been in conflict with my current employer, it could have led to a much great impact for me, both personally and professionally.  The key word is could have. 

At the end of the day, we all may have actions or decision for which we regret.  However, we all find a way to cope, by either making peace with our decisions or by re-engaging the decision we walked away from, even if many years later.  Greatness and success will only be allowed to occur once we simply get out of our own way.

Either path we choose, we need to understand that both success and failure can have the same unintended consequences even before the venture is explored.  Use facts, data, others experiences, and most importantly, your gut to make a decision and live with it.  Opportunities are abound.  Seize the ones for which you believe and don’t let the others worry you.  It may not be easy—often times anything worth doing requires a little effort.

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