top of page

Are You Afraid of Success?

When I deliver workshops on career development, the conversation with participants always comes around to them telling me why they can’t have a job that they love.

Regardless of which country I’m working in, I hear statements like ‘you have to know someone’ or ‘the competition is too tough and I’m not good enough’ or even worse ‘the only way you’ll ever get a job there is if you pay someone in HR’. Frequently I’m told that success isn’t possible because of background, or financial situation, or political situation, and so it goes on.

As a Professional Development Coach it’s my job to challenge those statements, because they are all excuses. We are brilliant at convincing ourselves that we can’t do something. But the truth is that if you’ve already told yourself you’re going to fail and therefore decide to take no action, well then of course you will fulfil your own prophecy.

And before you come up with more excuses about why I’m wrong, please read this blog to the end, because I know for a fact that YOU are special, and YOU can do whatever you want to. But only if YOU want to.

Can't or Won't?

Much is written about us being afraid; fear of failure, fear of being judged or criticised, fear of making a mistake, fear of being laughed at, fear of being different or not ‘fitting in’ – the list is long. But consider this: the only real fear we have is of being successful.

To demonstrate exactly what I mean I want to share a personal story. My school years were the unhappiest of my life. I was a bit of a loner but told myself it was ok to not have a ‘best friend’. It wasn’t that I didn’t get on well with others, there just wasn’t anyone that I wanted to spend all my time with – and ‘they’ apparently felt the same way about me.

My school work was ok, but I didn’t see the point of algebra and a lot of the other subjects. At 14 my routine of keeping my head down was upset when I was put into the group of pupils who had to learn a second foreign language, instead of being allowed to learn how to type or continue with needlework.

I didn’t want to be in the ‘upper stream’ and that year I was off school for four months with glandular fever – coincidence or psychological warfare with myself?

My school leaving report included words about ‘could do better if she tried harder’. In fact, the year that I left school, exam results were so poor that nationwide discussions began on how to reform the UK education system (yet again), resulting in the new ‘GCSE’, and making the ‘O’ level obsolete.

So how come that the number of exams I passed was higher than the average? I couldn’t understand it. My school grades had been mediocre, and I had never excelled in any of my subjects. Weird!

It left me feeling extremely uncomfortable. I didn’t go to my school graduation ceremony, and it was only when I was driving past the school some 11 years later with my Mum that she suggested I collected my certificates. I had to wait a while (and still shudder at the thought of having to spend any time in that old building) whilst one of the staff went to the cellar to get them for me (schools aren’t allowed to throw such precious documents away).

What I had been doing throughout school was trying hard to not be successful. By setting my goals very low, and in some cases not at all, I knew that I wouldn’t have to disappoint anyone. Because if the expectations that others had of me were low, if I failed, it wouldn’t matter.

By telling myself that school wasn’t worth it and that I wasn’t clever because I didn’t understand any of the science subjects, and by making a false assumption that I would go to college and become a music teacher, I had convinced myself that my life was already mapped out. Whilst my future would be ok, it wasn’t ever going to be amazing.

Success Still Scares Me, and I Love It.

Thankfully things are different now, and today I understand that what I was afraid of had nothing to do with not fitting in, or being seen to be a ‘geek’ or a ‘show-off with a posh accent’. Rather, success would have been painful for the teenage me because I would have brought attention to myself, so I didn’t go after it.

Some of the goals I set for myself these days are frightening beyond belief, but now I know that it’s a good ‘scared’, because instead of telling myself what ‘cannot’ be, I’m excited at the thought of what ‘could’ be.

So next time you begin to tell yourself that you can’t do something because you won’t succeed, just stop. And instead ask yourself, what if I knew I was going to succeed? What if I knew that this opportunity was going to change my life for the better forever? What if I knew that I was going to love my job every day from now on?

I’m betting you’ll get a different answer.

My final question to you is, what will happen if things stay the same for the next five, ten or twenty years …?

Just get on and shine, and dazzle everyone with your unique brilliance - because there is no law to say that you cannot be successful. It's perfectly safe and legal to have a job that you love.


Please go to to find out more.

If you're an action taker and not an excuse maker, you might enjoy one or both of my online programmes aimed at helping you create your own professional success. Find out more here: Online Programmes


60 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page