Two weeks ago, I got an email notifying me that I’d be presenting Warrior Sculpt for LifeTime Fitness as part of Be Well Philly’s Underground series of events. Presenting for Be Well Philly is something I’ve wanted to do for years. In fact, it’s been on my vision board for the last three. When I received the news that I’d be presenting, and no less representing LifeTime, I was ecstatic, like beyond words excited. But, I was also very uneasy. Like crawling out of my skin uneasy. The only way to describe the nauseating drop from the pit of my stomach was to tell people, “I’m so anxious.”
All of my friends – and even my coach – chalked it up to being really excited. “It’s because it matters to you,” they said. It was true I was excited and that it mattered to me very much…but the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach assured me that this was more than excitement. It was way more than the usual fear I come up against when something big is on the table. Usually, when I’m afraid of failing, the idea of not getting what I want, wills me to inspired action. Come hell or high water, I’m not going down without a good fight. This time was different. Instead of the excitement of putting together a killer playlist, I fumbled through songs, half listening. Rather than the usual hours I’d put into a lesson of this sort, I found myself procrastinating…and, #realtalk, I’m not a procrastinator.
I didn’t understand it – here I was, experiencing more success than I ever have – I’ve stepped into a big role within LifeTime and now had the opportunity to present one of our signature formats for Be Well Philly, something I’ve wanted to do for years – and I was crawling out of my skin. Part of me was tentatively waiting for the other shoe to drop, thinking it’s just too good to be true. The rest of me just kept asking, “What if you do succeed?”
What if you succeed?
Duh. Of course, I want to succeed. This is something I want to do.
What if you succeed though?
That would be freakin’ awesome! Maybe I’d get to present for Be Well Philly again. Succeeding at this would no doubt benefit me toward my bigger goals of being a brand ambassador and master trainer at LifeTime and it might even…
I felt my thoughts trail off as a familiar, nauseating feeling permeated my body. It was then I had a major realization:
I was afraid of success.
Yes. You heard me right. I was afraid of success. I was afraid of what would happen if I succeeded: How would I continue that success? What if I didn’t deserve it?
When it comes to our big dreams and the fears that go along with them, it’s easier to understand the fear of failure or not getting something we want. In fact, most of us consider our fear of failure to be the greatest barrier to success. Rarely, if ever, do we find ourselves saying, “Oh, I’m actually afraid of succeeding, thank you very much.”
The fear of success is a real thing and it can prove to be a more powerful barrier than the fear of failure.
What we’re afraid of isn’t the success itself. It’s what surrounds the success. Once the confetti and streamers have cleared, once we achieve the success we’re looking for, reality and vulnerability set in. As we move from one place to another – physically or emotionally – we realize that we are no longer surrounded by the comforts we once knew. Once everything settles, fear rises up: fear of the failure that comes with success; fear of not deserving the success; fear of not being good enough and landing somewhere lower on the ladder than we had been before.
Success is a risk. A big one. And that’s because success doesn’t come in a vacuum. Expectations are higher, demands are greater and failures (and vulnerabilities) more visible.
But here’s the good news if you find yourself fearing success: it just means you’re merging with your vision. It also means there’s a price to pay to move forward. What you need to ask yourself is, Am I willing to pay the price to experience success? Is losing the weight worth buying new clothes? Is getting the new job worth relocating? Is having the success I want worth the fears that come along with the success? What will happen if I succeed and are my fears warranted?
Asking myself, “What will happen if I succeed?” forced me to focus my attention on my fears surrounding success. What I noticed was this: while fear wants to take you out of the spotlight, it doesn’t like being in it. When I consciously turned my attention onto my fears, the fears diminished. Shining the light of my consciousness onto the fear of constantly raising the bar and not being able to reach it, lessened the grip of my fear. Interestingly enough, the nauseating feeling in the pit of my stomach also subsided. I realized the cost of not stepping fully onto the path of my success outweighed my fears of being successful. That single decision allowed me to put myself back in the game, stop procrastinating and to get excited about the process again.
Last Monday, I got to live that success. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to present Warrior Sculpt as part of Be Well Philly’s Underground series – and for my fear of success. My fear of success was a powerful reminder to hold the vison, trust the process and always dwell in possibility.