Do you fear success?

When I set up my business 10 years ago, I feared failure. What if no one wanted to work with me? What if I couldn’t earn enough to pay the bills? What impact would it all take on my health and relationships? Nobody told me about the fear of success.

Success can be overwhelming and the dark side of it is rarely discussed. I soon got over my fear of failure – people did want to work with me, I earnt more than before and, to my surprise, my health and relationships improved. But I found the fear of success took a lot longer to overcome. And as I’ve discussed the subject with many other entrepreneurs in my ‘Merri-Cast’ podcast, I’ve realised that I wasn’t the only one.

It’s rarely being successful that is feared. Instead, the potential price of success is the concern – and especially the way that your life may change. Having success often means making sacrifices along the way. For me, it involved constant worrying about imbalances that could emerge as a result, instead of the freedoms and choices that successful people can make. This has led me (several times) to self-sabotage my ambitions and full potential.

Whilst I was excited at the prospect of working for myself, there was a part of me that felt overwhelmed by how busy I was becoming. What would happen if I got lots of business and couldn’t cope? Would I become a ‘busy fool’ working 18 hours a day and not charging enough?

The truth is that in business, you have more independence but also more responsibility.

There’s no single way to overcome this fear but, as with everything else, the answer begins with mindset. I realised that I needed to shift my thinking in three ways:

  1. Stop thinking about a business based around me. Start thinking about how my team can serve the business.
  2. Find a regular routine that empowers the team to manage me at least as much as I manage them.
  3. Aligns the team to work with the external rhythm of what the market wants, that ultimate arbiter of success or failure.

This has been my way forward. But how have you handled the challenges of success? What have you learnt along the way?

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