Grow your success: what stops you?

Is this what stops you from achieving success?

We can probably identify many fears that stop us progressing in our business: maybe you worry about finances – spending too much or too little; competition from established brands; not having sufficient time or resources for production, and so on…

But a particular fear that very many people have is the fear of success


Of course you are striving away, juggling your life to get clients, sacrificing many things to get your business moving on the right tracks, work, work, work.  And then you get a breakthrough, a lead for you to follow up.  Oddly, you don’t do it because it doesn’t quite fit with your business model, it’s the wrong time, you want to finish off a project first or maybe you think that they won’t be interested after you have spoken to them!

Is this at all familiar?  Perhaps you sabotage yourself in other ways by taking a back seat or not fully explaining your product when you are introduced to people at networking groups.

Well, believe it or not, this isn’t uncommon. 

What effect does this have on me?

Have a little think about what you might have done in the past where you have missed out on potential business.  What was the real cause?  What could you have done differently and, importantly, why didn’t you?

There are a number of root causes for this strange phenomenon and it is the twin to fear of failure and is also based on false beliefs about yourself.

We sabotage ourselves because:

  • We don’t want to expose ourselves to potential humiliation if it doesn’t work out – I will feel a fool
  • We may feel guilty that we are succeeding – I think there are so many other people who are more deserving
  • We fear that we won’t be able to handle success – I might lose it all, better not to have it in the first place
  • We fear that we will change in some way and lose our friends or only attract people who are false and sycophantic – I might be alone
  • We fear that being successful will mean that we are shoved into the limelight – I will feel embarrassed as the centre of attraction
  • We fear losing control – I might lose my identity

How can you stop this self-sabotage?

So what are the symptoms and how can you remedy this malady?

You will need to be very honest with yourself.  This is not an exercise in being self critical or beating yourself up. Stand back and do some self analysis: just as you would analyse areas  in your business, only this time the focus is on your behaviour, beliefs  and emotions.

  1. Set some time aside and be totally honest with yourself.  This isn’t about seeking out negative aspects but to celebrate those things that you do well and where you have succeeded in the past.
  2. Make a list of your deepest dreams.  Sometimes we don’t give our true desires enough “oxygen” to help them to thrive.  By seeing them on paper helps them to take on an identity and grow.
  3. Keep on writing about why you deserve success, how what you do and dream of doing in the future will help others.  Create this into a short mantra, a sentence or phrase and place it in a spot where you can see it every day.  Say it out loud every day and your brain will become familiar with it and it will become normal, a reality.
  4. During this exercise, you are likely to feel uncomfortable at times.  Think about why, what is bubbling away under the surface?  Write down how you feel and any reason that you can attach to those feelings.  You are now identifying your fears and confronting them.

Other indications that you fear succeeding are suggested when you:

  • Have difficulty finishing projects – just never quite satisfied with it
  • You are highly self-critical, or habitually self-effacing
  • You plunge into an area of work regardless of whether it will bring you what you desire
  • You continually self-sacrifice always bending to other people’s needs ahead of your own

You are likely to be feeling inadequate or certainly unhappy with a situation and could well think that you should just give up, that success was never meant for you.  It might be that you didn’t apply for your dream job or let a closing date pass by without taking any action and compensate yourself by thinking; well it wasn’t for you anyway.  Such self-defeat and self-deception form a spiral as we lose our self respect, burying our disappointment .

But supposing that breakthrough is just around the corner, that a friend is recommending you to a potential client right now or that someone has been searching for just the service or product that you can provide for them.  How would you feel if you had just missed such an opportunity?  Thwarted? Disappointed? Or even relieved?  Maybe all of this and more?


Consider why you feel this way.  Do you always use some avoidance tactic or only sometimes?  When did you start to feel this way?

It doesn’t have to be this way!!

Now think about the habits that you have developed that prevent yourself from succeeding personally.  You may discover some barriers that you are erecting or habits developed to avoid certain situations.

What is your inner dialogue?  Perhaps you have become so used to self-talk that originally helped to protect you in a difficult situation but is no longer useful.  It is useful to remember that you can choose how you react and you can try out different approaches.  Take small steps to do something regardless of feeling uncomfortable. 

Be brave, what do you have to lose in the face of what you could gain.  Think: I can do this; it is my turn for success!  Why not me!  Think of all the things that will go well and what it will mean to you.

Keep at it and make lots of small wins.  If you find that you drop back into old habits, shunning opportunity, start with a new goal and see it through.

One last simple but very effective technique if you are a solopreneur. We often start out selling our product/service as an extension of ourselves. We think our business depends on it.  To a certain extent your skills are what make your business viable.  But you can step away from it being all about you, and develop a mindset of working for your business rather than the business being you.  Many people are then able to feel sufficiently distanced that they can describe products linked to the values of your business rather than be put in the personal spotlight.

As always, practice makes perfect and you will have some days when you could have done better.  So concentrate on those times when you do succeed (no matter how small) and give yourself a metaphorical pat on the back.