Legend has it that one day a man was walking in the desert when he met Fear and Plague. They said they were on the way to a city to kill 10,000 people. The man asked Plague if he was going to do all the work.
Plague smiled and said, “No, I’ll take care of only a few hundred. I’ll let my friend Fear do the rest.”
Can you actually die from fear? Most likely not. What fear kills is your spirit, your ambition, your confidence.
Several years ago I wrote a column about “The Second Ten Commandments.” Commandment two stated: Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass. Every crisis we face is multiplied when we act out of fear. Fear is a self-fulfilling emotion. When you fear something, you empower it. If you refuse to concede to fear, there is nothing to fear.
Success usually depends on overcoming your fears: fear of taking a risk, fear of asserting yourself, fear of exposing your deepest self to other people, and ultimately, fear of failure. But for some people, the real fear is – believe it or not – success itself.
Fear of failure can be crippling, but fear of success can paralyze your efforts just as severely. Avoiding success may seem irrational, but success brings change, and change is often threatening.
We fear success because success can bring expectations of continued success. Achieving a major goal is hard work. What happens if people expect you to keep doing it indefinitely? Can you continue to produce?
Another concern is that co-workers may look to you for advice or assistance once you’ve proved you can succeed. You may lose control over your time or your privacy. Or you might offer advice that doesn’t work as well as hoped. Then your achievements might become suspect.
And you certainly don’t want to make enemies of the people you work with. Some people delight in taking down successful people. Envious or hostile peers can make life miserable. Can you bring them on board on another project so they can also celebrate some success?
The prospect of actually reaching a goal can be terrifying: What comes next? How will people react? What if your goal turns out to be meaningless? These worries can lead to procrastination and self-sabotage. To overcome them, and achieve the success you were meant to enjoy, follow this advice:
Benjamin Franklin had some timeless advice for those who are afraid of success and failure: “The man who does things makes mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all – doing nothing.”
Mackay’s Moral: If you want to be successful, you must first succeed in conquering your fear.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
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