You can't be successful if you are thinking failure. This was inspired by something that I read recently and got me thinking…
Fear of success is just as real and powerful as fear of failure. When I was support my clients in their ability to connect with people in person, I would ask them what's going through their mind that's preventing them from going over and talking to that particular person or group.
Often times, I would hear from them say things like, “well, I don't know what to say.” “What if she doesn't like what I have to say?” “What if I get embarrassed?” “What if this happens?” “What if that happens?” “What if…?”
I get it, all these scenarios COULD possibly happen, but they haven't. And despite that fact, the feelings around these “what ifs” take away their courage and confidence to go over there and create a connection.
Here’s the truth: The reason fear of failure exists is it's designed to protect us from an emotional death – of the ego.
You don't want to make mistakes, be embarrassed and ashamed. So you do everything you possibly can to seek the most information possible. You create scenarios to make sure what you are attempting to do is virtually fail-proof. And while you do these things, you ALSO look for reasons why you shouldn't take this chance.
When you are out in social venues, you may not realize this but your mind will look for any excuse to justify why you shouldn't approach and talk to someone you’re attracted to. Or why you shouldn't talk to your boss about getting a raise or shouldn't go to the gym to exercise.
Your mind will say things like…
“The gym is too far.”
“I have to wake up early, I can't wake up that early, I’m already too tired.”
“She's talking with her friends and so I don't want to interrupt her.”
“My boss doesn’t want to give me a promotion.”
You’ll just start making up things. And while you are preparing yourself to avoid failure, going through all the scenarios you possibly can think of in your mind, you're spending ZERO energy preparing you for what would happen if you succeed.
Think about it – you put your mind through this process of experiencing every scenario where failure is possible to the point where it feels real due to the feelings you connect to those “what if's.” So what’s happening is you’re simulating these experiences so frequently to the point that it FEELS real, even though nothing has actually happened.
Then, your mind tricks you in believing you have all this “experience” around failure, when you've never actually experienced it – just thousands of simulations of it. So it starts to feel like you're building experience around planning, around failure, avoiding it, navigating around it.
Now imagine you've been spending all that time and energy into that and never once have you considered the other “what ifs…”
What if you went into your boss's office, asked for a promotion, and got it?
What if you went over, talked to that attractive person and they were so receptive and excited, it felt like they were waiting for you to do it?
What if you went to the gym, on the treadmill, and it felt pretty easy.
You don't prepare your mind for what would happen if you were successful, so it’s no surprise when it happens, you have no idea what to do. When my clients achieve a certain level of success that is unexpected and they did not prepare for, oftentimes they lose it.
In fact, you’re not thinking about success much at all because you’re so afraid of failure and put all your energy around how to avoid it. I especially see it when clients are researching more information instead of applying what they already know.
It’s as if that one last bit of information that's out there, but you can't find it, but you search for it because you’re praying it would make your path to achievement painless, frictionless, and easy, which is not possible.
What would happen if you shifted the energy and thought about success the same way you thought about failure?
What if you planned and prepared for success? Isn’t that what you want anyway? Your energy and focus tends to become reality, so if you're putting all your energy towards avoiding failure, chances are you're going to run into it. So if that’s true, if you put all your energy towards success, perhaps there might be a different scenario that could take place.
For most of our lives, we have have spent so much time and energy trying to avoid the inevitable and the process is totally backwards. When you plan for success, the very thing that you want, the way to actually do it is to focus your energy on it, so when it does come, you're not surprised or overwhelmed. It doesn't become unexpected and instead, It becomes a part of your plan.
If you're planning for failure, then you're expecting failure to come in and that's what ends up happening. I find so many of my clients who are looking to get to a higher level of achievement plan for the “what ifs” and they end up coming into their life because they're not putting any energy towards what would happen if they succeeded.
What ends up happening is your mind has no concept of what success would feel like, how to handle it, and how you can grow it. In other words, success is unknown. Your mind can't comprehend what success could be like because you never put your mind through those scenarios. So the fear of success is just as strong as the fear of failure.
The only difference is fear of failure is something your mind believes you've experienced enough to become familiar with it. You’ve never done that with your fear of success, so it's completely new and unknown to you.
If you are striving toward achievement in your life, no matter what it is, you've been planning for failure but not for success, and you want to learn how to make that shift, then let's have the conversation.
This shift has changed my life dramatically because I've stopped thinking about failures, the “what ifs” and completely focus on what to do WHEN I am successful. When I think that way and even use that language, the success becomes inevitable.
And my clients learn to prepare and plan for it. They know how to respond, leverage, and build more of it. And now you can too.