I’m more afraid of success than failure.
I always had this feeling that if I were truly deserving of success – if I’d actually earned the rewards – I wouldn’t be afraid. And then my promotion came, and the fear made me want to puke.
Lead a team? I’m not ready for that.
A new title? I haven’t earned the right.
New responsibilities? I don’t know how to do any of that.
I felt like I was being set up for some awful joke. Or worse – being set up to fail.
I felt like an imposter. Totally undeserving and now with a title I was totally unqualified for.
Have you felt this way before?
I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
Even if this is a position you’ve worked months (or years) for, you can’t shake the feeling that somehow, the powers that be made a mistake.
That you’re undeserving; an imposter, even.
And soon, you’ll be found out.
What is a fear of success?
There are several ways a fear of success can present itself, but the most common is simply a roundabout way to say you’re afraid to fail. You’re afraid you’ll succeed to the point where all eyes are on you, expecting great things, and then you’ll fail. Hard.
So, you’d rather stay where it’s comfortable – even if you’re miserable. Your current job is safe. You know you’re a success because it comes so easily to you. It doesn’t matter that the work has become boring and you’re passing up the opportunity for growth and recognition. You’d rather stay where it’s comfortable.
The alternative is new and scary. Once you take this promotion, there’s a whole new level of expectation and responsibility. More people are counting on you to do well, and you’re left vulnerable to more scrutiny and criticism.
Signs you’re afraid of success
There are a few ways to realize you might be afraid to succeed. These include:
- A constant feeling of agitation
- Procrastinating (especially important projects)
- Creating petty arguments with coworkers
- Difficulty concentrating when it used to come easily
- Talking about completing more projects than you work on
- Second-guessing yourself often
- Becoming a perfectionist
- Negative thoughts about yourself or your position
- The feeling that you’re undeserving or an imposter
If you begin experiencing these feelings, especially right after a promotion or job offer, you may have a fear of success.
Promotions are meant to be exciting
It doesn’t have to be this way. We aren’t meant to feel like a fraud in our own office.
It took me some time to come to terms with this truth, but ultimately, everyone is out for themselves. From your direct supervisor all the way up to the owner of your company, everyone is looking to hire individuals who are qualified for the job simply because it makes their lives easier. If one individual could run the entire company, don’t you think the owner would save a few bucks and just do all the work himself?
The point of being an employee isn’t to build up your own resume or to give you an easy way to kill 8 hours. It’s to contribute to the growth and development of your company. Whether you’ve been brought up to be an office-level executive or you’re one step above support staff, you were put into this position because someone with a higher pay grade believed you would make their life easier.
But, this truth doesn’t always drive away the scary thoughts immediately. It’s still hard to walk in every morning wondering how you could possibly deserve to be there.
Thankfully, there’s hope.
Here are three things you need to remember to accept a new position and learn to see yourself as deserving.
#1: Remember: You earned this job
To be placed into this new job, one of two things likely happened.
Option one: you lied, cheated, deceived, or otherwise manipulated the circumstances to get the job. If this is the case, you’re right. You are an imposter and you don’t deserve the position.
My best advice is to come clean and prepare a list of reasons you shouldn’t be fired immediately.
Option two: you were totally honest through the resume/application process and were given the job legitimately. Otherwise known as earning it.
You earned this position. Through hard work, experience, and skill, your supervisors saw in you the ability to do this job well.
Remember: the point of hiring/promoting an employee is to make the boss’ lives easier. A manager wouldn’t hire an unqualified subordinate just to watch them fail. That’d be a waste of the manager’s own time and energy.
You were hired because someone legitimately believed you were qualified for this job.
#2: Remember: You’re not working for yourself
Even if you still feel like you haven’t earned this position, it’s ultimately irrelevant.
The position is yours, and it’s your duty to do the job to the best of your ability.
This means setting your own insecurities aside and putting your whole heart into the job in front of you.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
– Proverbs 16:13
One of the biggest lies we can believe is that we’re working for ourselves.
As an employee, your job is to make the boss look good. As a manager, your job is to help your subordinates perform at their highest level possible (while making your boss look good).
Either way, it’s not about you – and you don’t have to do it alone.
God wants us to depend on Him.
He wants us to succeed.
There’s no shame in failure, but life becomes infinitely easier when we start letting God fight the war on our behalf.
#3: Remember: This battle is not against flesh
When the scary thoughts do come up to tell you you’re not worthy, that you don’t deserve this job and that you’re going to fail, give it all to God.
We’re always going to have these voices in our ears whispering lies and exaggerating our inadequacies.
Experiencing fear, worry and anxiety is not a sign of unfaithfulness. Living by these feelings is.
Letting the fear of failing keep you from trying is unfaithful to the opportunity God has presented.
Spending so much time worrying about the outcome that you can’t enjoy the journey is unfaithful to God’s presence walking the path with you.
Letting your anxiety become so severe that you lash out at coworkers or self-sabotage your job is unfaithful to the peace and provision God is aching to give you.
Trust that God is bigger than your fear
You will face doubt and fear in this world. It’s inevitable.
That’s why every day, we’re called to prepare for battle against these dark forces.
Will you just roll over and submit to the fear? Or will you tell God, “I’m afraid of failing, but I trust you to lead me in victory through this new position”?
Will you waste effort in worry? Or will you tell God everything you’re worried about, then trust Him to provide the skill, creativity, discipline and focus you need to be successful?
Will you let anxiety control your behavior and emotions? Or will you stand firm in the face of your anxieties and trust God to fight for you?
To stand firm as the shield of faith extinguishes every one of the enemy’s flaming arrows.
The choice is yours.
Fear, worry and anxiety are a part of the “real human” package. But, they don’t have to take center stage.
Trust that God led you to this job for a reason.
Trust that God wants to use this calling for something big in your life and in His kingdom.
Trust that your weakness can never outweigh His strength.
Just surrender it all, and trust Him to do the rest.
Have you ever faced a fear of success? If so, how did you deal with it?
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