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The "Dark"​ side of ambition: How to conquer your fear of success.

Updated: Feb 25, 2023


How do you "get out of your own way?"​ Start here.
Don't let your fear decide your future-Unknown.


A few years ago, I had a coaching session with a bright, young, aspiring #fempreneur.


A trained engineer, she'd pivoted into graphic design-joining one of the top companies in the region, where her skillset was in high demand.


She reached out to me because in her own words, "The organization's become toxic-so much so, that I'm now looking to step out on my own".


Looking at her portfolio, I had to agree. She brought "all the heat"- she was extremely competent in all aspects of design-especially laser-cut-which she was using to create wedding invitations that were simply "out of this world".


She confided that often clients on seeing her work, were awestruck-shocked that craftmanship they'd seen only on Pinterest and Etsy was available locally.


However, during the course of our session, as I probed her reasons for leaning towards full-time #entrepreneurship I realized there was more hesitation than #strategy.


She seemed plagued with #selfdoubt and #overthinking.


Finally, it clicked.

She wasn't afraid of failure-after all, she had all the "smarts"- the ability, skills and knowledge required to make this "Dream" a reality.


Her fear?



When I brought this to her attention-She burst into tears.



Building a successful business requires mindset as much as skillset-Even more so

Since then I've had at least 5+ clients who've struggled/are struggling with this phenomenon.


But what is "Fear of success"?


According to the research, "it's the concern that once we achieve something new, we'll be incapable of sustaining it or may suffer because of it".


Most of the time this fear is unconscious, since as human beings we're usually focused on achieving goals, so we visualize positive outcomes - how we'll feel when this goal is achieved.


But what if, instead of feeling the "Thrill of Victory"- you're feeling:


📌Like you don't deserve it?

📌As if it's a fluke?

📌As if you're a fraud?



Has this happened to you?


Is this happening to you right now?



Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision-Gina Rodriguez.


Here below, are 6 signs that you may have a "fear of success":


  1. You're starting projects-and failing to complete them:


You're using procrastination as a crutch to remain in your "comfort zone". This helps you to convince yourself that you're good here-so why reach for something more?-even though you know you're capable of that "more".


2. You're experiencing heightened expectations:


Diddy said it first-🎶More money, more problems🎶 Your success is coming- with a side of increased expectations-and doubt- which is stressing you out.



3. You're excited-but...:


Often the road to success feels like an uphill battle-or you feel as if you have the weight of the world on your shoulders (Think Atlas). You feel your level of excitement rising as you near your goal-but so does intense episodes of self-doubt or worse yet, trauma.



Changing opportunities means in many cases-she'll be the "Boss"-which is still difficult to accept in more traditional family structures-and which places a burden on many women.


4. Fear of change:


This is probably one of the most overlooked fears of success-and yet, one of the most common. You think you're ready for the "Shift"-the "Breakthrough"-and then the fear overwhelms you.



5. Fear of losing friends:


How often have we heard the phrase, "He/She got rich...and switched". With success, comes growth. You may move out of the old neighborhood. You may gain new friends. This fear of appearing "different" (Brand New) to those in your social circle is a real fear-especially since some of those people may be persons you grew up with/family members whose opinions/approval matter to you.


6. Fear of backlash:


This is a fear faced by many female professionals and #founders. Many will shy away from a deserved promotion/business opportunity, if they feel it doesn't align with traditional gender/socio economic roles.


Of course there's a lot more...but I'll stop here...



You attract the right things when you have a sense of who you are-Amy Poehler.


So, if you're identifying at least one (or more) of these points above as "fears" you're currently experiencing, here's some suggestions you can apply:



🥊Take responsibility:


When you find yourself procrastinating at a task/project, ask yourself: "What's causing it?" Once you're able to identify the cause-the easier it becomes to apply a "solution" - allowing you to push through your "mental log jam". Not sure you can do it alone? Find an "accountability partner"- and cheer each other on!



🥊Start Journaling:


It's a proven fact-most of our trauma can be traced to childhood experiences. When "fears" come up - fears that are keeping you stuck, try using prompts such as: "How does this make me feel?", and write them down. Use journaling to address whatever negative thoughts/words you're feeding your mind with-and all the reasons why you keep getting in your own way.



"Checking on self"-identifying your triggers - and addressing them, helps you move past them quicker.


🥊Change those "Mind blocks" to "Positives":


We increasingly become what we believe about ourselves-the mind, is a computer -"Garbage In, Garbage Out". Feeding your mind with "positives"-affirmations and thoughts helps flip the switch from can't to can.



🥊Play "Success Scenarios" in your head:


Your life can be a highlight reel-or a train wreck-the choice is yours. Here's the thing, your mind will create what you feed it-so feed it a diet of positivity, by visualizing your success. So go ahead and shoot your "Success Scenarios"-with you as the hero/shero, complete with everything you desire-the awards, and the accolades-you deserve it.



🥊Consciously let go of what others think/say about you:


Often, I'll tell clients -"When you're building for success, sometimes your circle becomes so small-that at times you're the only one in it". The truth is, you will lose people-they'll fall off. Your success will upset some-they'll see you as arrogant-and they'll try to make you feel bad. But your "true friends"- your "Tribe"? They'll remain invested in you-AND IN YOUR SUCCESS. Choose wisely.



Believe in yourself, push your limits, experience life, conquer your goals and be happy-Unknown.



And there it is, How to diagnose (and conquer) the "Dark Side of ambition"-The Fear of Success.


If you need some help to move past these fears and move forward to success...let's chat!



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