Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fear of Success

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Willamson

Marianne Williamson's quote has been a favorite of mine ever since I received The Champion Within for Christmas when I was probably 14.  We may be all too familiar with The Fear of Failure but are we aware of a Fear of Success?  Fear of success can present itself in any athlete from the weekend warrior or age grouper up through the professional ranks.  When I first learned about the fear of success I was skeptical, but as I grew as an athlete and my mental skills and as I continue to grow the fear of success is all too real.

The fear of success can present itself as:

  • a fear that you will not be content, happy, or satisfied once you reach your goal
  • belief that you are undeserving of all the good things and recognition that come your way
  • feelings of inadequacy
  • a belief that no matter how much you are able to achieve or accomplish, it will never be enough to sustain success
  • and of course any other number of ways specific to each individual athlete
W-League Soccer Action
As I've looked back at previous athletic ventures I've been able to reflect on different instances that I believe were related to a fear of success.  There is a fine line between being confident and humble or cocky and arrogant.  At times we shut down, perhaps lose confidence in our own abilities, because we don't want to hurt feelings or step on others toes.  As the quote above says, Your playing small does not serve the world.  Are you making yourself better or those around you any better if you shut down and give less than your best?

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  Giving all you have to all of your endeavors pushes those around you to be at their best.  The greatest respect you can pay an opponent is (humbly) crushing them.  I've noticed some athletes may set unquantifiable goals, goals they know (because they already have) they are able to achieve, or goals that don't push them to any limit.  Other athletes I know may fear their "real" result of a race and continually use the excuse, "I went out the night before, but hey I still did pretty well".  They are hiding from their own successes and prepared with an excuse if anything should go wrong on race day.

For some the idea of standing on the podium sounds great but they don't know how to handle it or they don't want to compete head to head with a friend.  For others, it may be on a much larger scale, of say qualifying for the Olympics or a Pro Card.  The idea of the Olympics sounds awesome but what happens once you do qualify?  Sure you've already committed yourself to qualifying and now you must commit yourself to competing on arguably the world's largest stage.  Trust that if it's what you want and where you see yourself the support will be their for you.  For other athlete's (most of us) it is on a much smaller scale - say achieving that new mile or 5k time you've been working towards.  Once you achieve it, what will you do?  Embrace your success, celebrate, and continue on your journey by setting a new goal.

Every individual has their own goals and limits, but one should not fear pushing those limits.  It's through mistakes and failures that we make the biggest gains and learn the best lessons.  As we all plan our 2012 season and begin to set goals focus on setting quantifiable goals - such as achieving new times, distances, or heart rates during specific workouts.  Don't sell yourself short, use 2012 to reach for your potential.

Have you set any 2012 goals yet?  Do you experience any Fear of Success?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, I read this article and the just of it was "the will to succeed means nothing without the will to prepare"