The first time I heard those two concepts linked together, it gave me pause. I fully understood the fear of failure. I think we all learn that in school the first time we are called on to speak in front of the class. What if we bomb? What if the other kids fall out of their chairs laughing?
Many of us have carried that childhood fear into adulthood and worried about failing at our writing, but fear of success? What is that all about? In psychology, fear of success is about being subconsciously afraid of succeeding. According to a report posted by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen in Suite 101, "Fear of success can be just as paralyzing as fear of failure. Many people fear success because it tests their limits and makes them vulnerable to new situations. Even worse, success can expose weaknesses and force people to deal with their flaws."
I thought a lot about this phenomenon, if it can be called that, when our oldest son failed to follow up with a casting director who had loved his audition and wanted to work with him, even though he was not right for the current project. Apparently they had cast the lead for that movie and were looking for the supporting actor role, and our son looked too much like the star they had already cast.
In trying to figure out why our son did not jump on this opportunity to perhaps launch an acting career, I took a hard look at myself and realized that I have the same tendency to avoid stepping out of my comfort zone. I'm resistant to change, as any of my friends and family will attest to, and it is that little fear of the unknown that sometimes holds me back.
|This is not the least bit scary, but appropriate for Halloween.|
Shortly after receiving that advice, I got a call from a large institution in Dallas wanting me to do their PR work. I had no idea what a PR person did. I'd stumbled into the world of journalism via a weekly humor column, but I had no extensive experience and had never studied journalism or public relations. Nevertheless, I smiled and told the interviewer that I would be happy to consider the offer. Then I went home and called a good friend who had experience in PR and said, "Help!"
My friend did help, and for several years I went on to do all the in-house publications for this institution, as well as creating marketing material, slide shows, and corporate videos.
I still thank Liz Carpenter for giving me that push that I needed, and I think of her every time a new opportunity pops up.
If you deal with fear of success, perhaps this advice from Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen will help. She offers these tips and more in her article Overcoming Your Fear of Success:
- Figure out why you’re sabotaging your goals.
- Accept failure as part of succeeding.
- See your skills as changeable.
Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her latest release is a police-procedural mystery, Open Season, available as an e-book for all devices. The second book in the Seasons Series, Stalking Season, releases next month. It has received a STARRED review from Publisher's Weekly, and a nice review from Kirkus. If you would like to read the books, you can ask for them at your local library. To check out Maryann's editing rates visit her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas.