When You're Afraid to Succeed

Is it just me, or is success really overwhelming sometimes? More and more, I realize that I have a lot of fear, worry, angst, apprehension — all around the concept of making it, succeeding, rising above, becoming known. So these are my musings on what it looks like when you’re afraid to succeed.


  1. Minimizing Language and Attitudes

    We use words like “Oh, this is just a side gig.” or “What? No, it’s a little blog.” and "It’s a hobby, really.” All designed to communicate - THIS doesn’t matter. What I’m doing doesn’t matter. Nothing to see here.

    I think I specialize in this because I’m afraid to fail — and the best way to never fail is to never try. That also happens to be the best way to never succeed, so it creates a bit of a bind. Listen for yourself to use this minimizing language that makes it seem as if your work, your dream, or your passion don’t really mean much.

    Try It: Choose someone that you know cares about you, and share your BIG pictures hopes and dreams with them. If your goal is to get picked up The Wall Street Journal, to be featured on NPR, to appear as a guest on ABC, to change thousands of lives a year - share that. Stop being afraid of what success sounds like and lean into it.

  2. Toeing the Line

    We do this when we are SO close to success…but we don’t quite trust ourselves to go all the way. We might jump on 10 calls with 10 different coaches, sign up for 100 free resources, research conferences we want to attend, add more ideas to our wish list…and yet never take the plunge and do any of it.

    My advice? Choose something, and commit 100% to investing the time, energy, or money into making it happen. Stop beating around the bush and thinking in terms of what “would be” nice. Dedicate yourself to creating the reality that will allow you to succeed beyond your wildest your dreams.

    Try It: Choose the ONE thing that gets you the most excited and scared and pour yourself into making it happen. Quit researching — you probably already know what it is. You just need to do it.

  3. Wanting to be Told

    Are you waiting for someone to guide you through every step you need to take, every word you need to write, every program and platform and strategy you need to use? If you just know that you could succeed if you some sort of secret key that someone has to give you, then what you really want is to be told.

    News flash - no one can tell you. You need to develop systems and strategies that work for you and allow you to share the content and message that are one your heart.

    Of course you can get a coach, join a mastermind, defer to someone else’s wisdom as you progress on your journey — the point is, you need to be on your own journey. No need to copy someone else’s formula for success (those don’t exist anyways). Have some faith in yourself and give yourself the freedom to make decision and mistakes, learn as you go, and keep improving every day.

    Try It: Identify an area that you’ve always told yourself you aren’t adequate to handle, and dip a toe in the pond. Try out something you wouldn’t normally allow yourself to do, and don’t worry if you mess up a bit.

  4. Adapting the Mindset of Fragility

    I just listened to The Life Coach School podcast episode all about anti-fragility, and I loved it! Bottom line - if you choose to use your weaknesses, fears, mistakes, missteps, and issues as growth opportunities and lessons to learn from, you GROW. When you use those same things as mini-lessons about why you can’t, shouldn’t, or would never try again…you lose out.

    At the end of the day, the messages we send ourself about what we are capable of are one of the most powerful indicators of what we will ultimately achieve.

    Try It: Take the dive and do something that scares you — worst case scenario, you’ll fall on your face. When you get up and realize that you’re still alive, life goes on, and you can learn and try again - that’s when you know you’re really doing something.

When you’re afraid to succeed, you absolutely have the option to fade back into the shadows and give up on your dreams. Or, you can put in half-hearted, secretive efforts and just hope that one day it will all work out. Either way — the odds of achieving your goals using those methods are extremely low.


Be willing to stand tall, proclaim your purpose, and experience failure along the way. As long as you keep on getting up and moving forward, you’re going to be just fine.