In today’s rebroadcast we are revisiting a topic that I still get asked about every single week: Fear of Success. So let’s dig deeper: What is it? Once you've identified what you're really afraid of (hint: it's probably not “success”), how do you overcome it? That's what we'll cover today.
In my experience working with creatives, what looks like “fear of success” is usually a fear of something else:
Fear that you need to have the kind of “success” other people want … which doesn't appeal to you at all.
Fear that you'll change into something you don't like
Fear of being seen, noticed, paid attention to
Fear of being overwhelmed
Fear of disappointing others (when you're so overwhelmed you can't fulfill expectations)
Do you let failure convince you to stop? Is it a sign that you are not going to ever get what you want? Or do you use failure as fuel to push you farther?
When I was reading Abby Wambach’s new book Wolfpack, one of the lessons in it really struck me. She said: Use failure as fuel. She talked about how women so often use any failure as a reason they can’t do something. They feel like everything has to be perfect before they have permission to try something or be something.
The problem is, success is built on failure.
You’ve got to experience failure to get to success.
If you let the first failure stop you from going forward, you won’t have any success.
As I read, I realized: Oh man, I’ve been using recent failures or just small things like not hitting a small goal, NOT as fuel, but as a kind of proof that I can’t do it.
And I know I’m not alone, because so many of you tell me that “Well, I tried that and it didn’t work out, so I’m just not good at it.” or “I guess I can’t have that.”
This is something women struggle with a lot, I know I have. We’ve got that internal fire, we have a mission, the motivation to do amazing things, but so often we are looking for reasons to distrust it, reason to not trust ourselves, proof that we’re not good enough. And failure provides the perfect excuse. The perfect proof.
And I get it, when we go into a project (or anything really) with self-doubt, anything that doesn’t go perfectly seems like proof of what we already believe: “I’m not good enough. I really can’t do this. It’s for other people.”
But that’s just wrong.
Failure is not a sign that there is something wrong with you. Failure is just data. Data on how to get what you want. Maybe you need to grow, maybe you need to work more, maybe you need to try harder. Maybe it’s just gonna take more time. Failure is information about what your goal or your dream will actually require.
So the question is: are you using failure as an excuse to stop doing what you’re doing? Are you using it as proof that you shouldn’t be doing it? That you’re not good enough? Or are you using failure as fuel for the next step?
One of the stories in Abby Wambach’s book was about using failure as fuel. In it, she told the story of how the women’s USA soccer team used a four-man loss as a reminder the need to work harder to win. As fuel for their fire to keep going.
I want you to think about this for a minute. What if failure actually inspired you?
What if it could be the fuel that pushes you forward, what if it could be the inspiration that keeps you going? I know, I know, that’s a major mindset shift from failure as a sign that we’re doing the wrong thing, to failure as a sign that we need to go harder.
But so often, in so many of your own businesses, that’s exactly what failure is. It’s the sign that you needed to work harder, it’s a sign that you need to commit more, it’s a sign that you are capable of so much more than you think.
I want you to think about it like a sports game. I know, I am not the best at sports metaphors. But I do know this: losing one game, does not mean that you lost this season, it does not mean that you lost the championship. In baseball, players are expected to “fail” most at-bats. A GREAT hitter only hits a SMALL amount of the balls that come at him.
Because…FAILURE IS NECESSARY FOR SUCCESS.
I talk about this more in episode 171 – because in order for your business to grow, you need MORE failure, or as I phrase it in that episode get MORE rejection. You need to be told “No” more often, so you can get to yes. You need to not hit your goal, so you get closer to hitting it.
Let’s do this together, let’s reframe how we think about failure, about falling down, about not getting it right.
Let’s remember that this is not the last chance you’ll ever have, that there are more at-bats, there are more games, there are more months.
In fact, you have endless at-bats, you have endless opportunities to work hard or learn more reach that goal in the future. You’re closer now than you’ve ever been!! Don’t quit when you’re minutes away, weeks away, months away from hitting your goal.
I wanna hear how you’ve used failure as fuel or how you’re ready to reframe this. Come tell me on Instagram, I’m @TaraSwiger and you can use the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm.
Do you struggle to set goals, because you’re afraid of missing out on everything else you should be doing? Do you feel like you’re pulled in a million different directions? Today we’re going to talk about why that is, and how to clarify what you want from your business, both from the Big Picture to what you’ll actually do today, and all the stuff in between.
This is the image I mention in the podcast episode:
Inspired by your replies to the #BizConfidenceChallenge, today we're exploring the intersection of Fear and Success. We think they're mutually exclusive. We think that we need to wait until we have confidence before we take action. We think that if we feel fear, we definitely won't be successful.
This month I've been reading Shawn Achor‘s second book, Before Happiness, and HOLY COW. I can not get over how very applicable it all is to what we do here, in exploring and crafting a business (and life) we actually love. I took copious notes all through reading it and wanted to share just a few with you. (I highly recommend reading the book for yourself!)
Here are a few of my thoughts as I read:
1. This book isn't so much about Happiness, as it is about having the life (and business) you really want, by paying attention to how you perceive the world around you. As a positive psychologist researcher (“positive psychology” is the branch of psychology that studies successful people as opposed to other areas of psychology which study the ways we can be unwell), Anchor is reporting on experiments (both his own and others') on how perception shapes reality.
2. When we talk about perception vs. reality it sounds a little woo-woo (but the science shows it's a measurable fact!), so you can think of it like this: In the middle of winter, after days and days of sub-freezing weather, a sunny day in the mid-50s causes you to exclaim that it is SUCH a nice, warm day! But a sunny in the mid-50s during the heat of the summer, will having you commenting on how cold it is. This is an example of how your perception changes the reality. The same temperature warms you up or has you shivering. The temperature (reality) is the same, but the perception of the temperature changes.
This same perception/reality thing comes into play in your business: Is a month with a $1000 in sales a “good” month or a “slow” month? Neither answer is objectively right or wrong, it depends on your situation.
So this book is about that, and about whether you are choosing a positive (and true) reality or a negative reality (which might also be true, but closes you to finding more opportunities and paths to success).
3. I love reading about studies about this, because it reflects exactly what I hear from YOU. Many of you have amazingly brilliant ideas and you did have lots of enthusiasm…until you started to focus on the competition, on all the hard work, and how very many things could go wrong. The enthusiasm and energy drains out of you, until you can't see any of the opportunities in front of you, and you can't spot any path that would lead you to success.
I was delighted to read that it's not just you, it's how our brains our wired (watch out for danger, in order to stay alive!). But I'm even more delighted to have learned ways of getting around the Inner Eyeore, to help you find the light + enthusiasm again.
4. As I suspected based on experience,celebrating successes (and being reminded of them) really is a proven path to success.Yay!
5. Your map needs to be centered around your very own meaning markers (Yep, Shawn uses the same language I've used in the Map Making Guide). It's not enough to just set goals or have dreams – they need to be centered on what really matters to you, and how you are going to most enjoy getting there. I talk more about this in this video+ I'm editing the Chart The Stars guide (available only to Starship + Solo Mission captains) to not just discover what matters to you, but to remember it over and over during your normal everyday planning.
6. I could very easily list every point in the book that lines up perfectly to what we already do inside the Starship + Solo Missions. (In fact, I started a big list for myself.) But I think it's sufficient to point out that all this science and knowledge is useless unless you apply it to your business – not just once when you read it, but again and again as you reassess and reorient as you move forward (which, by the way, is one of the best ways to make sure you end up where you want to be).
In order to make it truly useful, I've baked the book's “success accelerants” right into the experience of being on a Solo Mission or in the Starship. You don't just learn about them, you'll act on them, simply by opening the emails and filling out the worksheets.
My goal is to make your success, towards your very own dreams, completely unavoidable.
For more thoughts on books, check out the discussion around the New Domesticity.
Imagine, for a moment, that the path in your business – your to-dos and goals and plans – are a roadtrip. If I wanna drive from here to LA, I have choices. I could drive up to Minnesota (hi, Vanessa!) or down through Alabama (hi, Mercedes!), or I could just drive due West. If I fly, I'm going to end up going East first, through Charlotte.
What matters, as much as where I end up, is what I go through. That is going to determine how long it takes me, the experiences I have, and how satisfied I am overall with the trip.
Sure, I don't know all the tiny towns I'm going to drive through. I don't know all the sites I'm going to see. I don't even know if I'll change destinations halfway through. But picking the right Mile Markers (some of the in-between stops) will determine all that.
In Map Making, one of the first things we do is to make a list of Mile Markers. These are the things in between Where You Are and Where You Want to Go. These are the road signs you are going to pass on your way. To many map-makers, they seem like something extra. Not all that important. But, after 2 years of watching map-makers reach (or not reach) their destinations (and learn lessons either way), I've come to learn that the Mile Markers are the map. Mile Markers set your course, they pave the path between Here and There.
They help you:
Determine the direction you're going to go (through Alabama or Alaska?)
Focus in on what matters – and ignore all the distractions
Build confidence – each Mile Marker is a point of celebration!
Keep momentum – you only have to focus on the little bit of road between you and the next Mile Marker.
A lot of us get tangled up in is tasks that are unrelated to the destination.
We make To Do lists that are full of “extras”. (ex, I want to get press coverage…so I'll post on Facebook. I want to sell more blankets, so I'll post a tutorial.) Mile Markers can help you narrow down your to dos into the tasks that will move you in the right direction.
Setting appropriate, helpful Mile Markers is a process that takes time, trial + error, and lots of paying attention to what has worked (and what hasn't). But you learn all of this by doing it, again and again (and reviewing!)