Most people recognize the term fear of failure, where someone might be reticent to attempt a task because somewhere deep down inside they fear that they might fail. Rather than venture into a hopeless situation, they will rationalize that the smart thing to do is to not bother at all. Nothing ventured, nothing gained; but no chance of failure either.
Then, there’s another dynamic where some people fear what success may bring to them. It sounds counter-intuitive; don’t we all want to succeed? Isn’t there always that burning desire to grab the brass ring, to come out on top, to be the best that you can be? First, let’s define what is required to become successful:
- Success requires effort. While looks and luck admittedly can get you some currency in this life, it takes hard work and effort to reach the finish line. At some point, you must produce something tangible and meaningful and bullshit can be seen from a mile away. Nothing that we truly value is won without setting specific goals and trying our best to achieve them.
- Success requires accountability and responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required. No longer will you be able to live along the periphery of life. Others will be looking at you, toward you…for guidance and leadership. If you do not have enough faith in yourself to believe that you have the qualifications or the commitment to follow through on what is expected of you, you will fail. Being accountable isn’t a bad thing. It allows us to grow and become better human beings who consider the well-being of others as well as ourselves. It makes you want to come out from the shadows and step up to the plate so that you can be an example to others seeking to follow a similar path.
- Success requires discipline and sacrifice. Some people are not ready to put their noses to the grindstone in order to work hard with focus and purpose. It will require giving up certain habits, hard-partying friends, sleep and some activities. You will have to ask yourself if what you are pursuing is worth what you may have to put aside. Just keep in mind that anything worth having is worth fighting for because adjusting your lifestyle (sometimes temporarily) can be well worth what you gain in the end.
- Success – there are no shortcuts to it. You have to put in the hard work to achieve it. It won’t fall out of the sky and onto your lap. It will take sweat and frustration before you began to see any victories. But those victories will be made sweeter because you will know all that you put into getting there.
Nevertheless, there is always a reason why someone would secretly want to fail and each reason is somehow always cloaked in fear. Why is that? What is the main reason that people self-sabotage to assure that they will fail to make the grade? I believe it’s because they do not feel worthy of succeeding at anything. At birth, everyone is a blank slate. It is life experiences that cover that slate with positivity or its converse. If you have never been nurtured to believe in yourself, your worth, your goodness…..it would be almost impossible to wade through that murkiness and discover and reclaim the self that you could have been. It’s a much easier path to give in to the ones who’ve spent untold hours breaking your spirit because it’s easier than fighting your perceived value to the world.
I know that feeling because I’ve lived it. I’d never believed in myself because the universe that I was an unwilling occupant of had me convinced otherwise. It was only after I separated myself from old acquaintances that shared my former world-view but never got past it, that I began to see that there existed a world where I could be more than what I had allowed myself to be. There is nothing worse than knowing that you have the potential and never using it. What if Monet had decided that painting would never make him a rich man, so why bother? What if Garrett Morgan had kept his invention of the traffic light a secret because he felt no one would want anything a black man, a son of former slaves designed? I think that everyone has a purpose, a reason for being here in this moment in time where they have the opportunity to contribute to society. The only question mark lies in what we choose to do about it. Do we run from our destiny or towards it?
As strange as it may sound, sometimes you may have to be the one to tell the child inside that was overlooked and passed over that he or she really does matter. You may have to nurture that part of yourself to wholeness and wellness. There are a lot of broken spirits who’ve pushed the hurt down to a faraway place hoping to keep it hidden only to find that it appears when least expected and at the most inopportune moment. Everyone deserves that validation and if you can’t get it from those who should have given it freely, give it to yourself. Antoine Fisher’s book of poetry, “Who will cry for the little boy” speaks to his anguish of having been neglected and abused as a child. Many of us have similar burdens to bear and can speak to the same truth. The key is to not let the past define your future. You can begin anew….you can become that person that you were meant to be before life and circumstances took you on another path. Conquering those fears will get you closer to your goals, so fight for them because you deserve them.