Fear of Success: How to Manage Career Fear

On March 27, 2013, in Blog, Career Fear, by Christine Glasco

fear_of_successRecently, I coached three different clients at different career stages.  They all had a history of educational attainment, regular promotions, excellent performance reviews, top producing reputations, and success in their personal lives.

All three were at a crossroad in their careers: one was offered a huge promotion, another had been contacted to form a new business partnership and the third had an opportunity to realize a long-held dream that would lead to achieving the next major step in business growth.

All of the three were paralyzed! They were en route to “making it happen” but they cycled through feelings of:

  • Inadequacy
  • Being overwhelmed
  • Afraid of what they couldn’t predict or know
  • Being stuck: unable to go back and unable to move forward
  • Experiencing vertigo at this new, unfamiliar height
  • Not wanting to disappoint family, friends and supporters
  • Being unprepared for center stage
  • Being alone and not being able to share their true feelings

Career fear, is part of a larger set of emotions normally categorized as Fear of Success.  Many psychologists have studied the manifestation of fear of success. They generally agree on the causes and issues associated with this phenomenon.  However, coaching someone through the fear is a tall order.

It’s time to confess.

I am one of the three ‘clients’ I mentioned in the beginning paragraph. I had lots of advice, homework assignments, role plays, etc., to help my clients manage their fear and get through to the other side of their career success gap.

I wasn’t prepared for experiencing my own career fear.  Imagine: you are on the brink of achieving the thing you want most. And then, WHAM – you’re hit with reality barreling toward you at the speed of light.

While feeling grateful and humble, you also want to turn back time and continue along the safe, known, well-traveled path.

Here’s what I know.

  • Whether you feel it or not, you have the strength and the competencies to be successful. This is the time to discover  – your X Competency: an additional talent (or two) that effective leaders possess, often without their knowledge. We often attribute past successes to luck or we might say: “I had a great team.” Rarely do we take the time to deconstruct our successes and examine all of the elements that contributed to success.
  • Belief does impact performance.
  • Being alive means continual learning.
  • Asking for help doesn’t make you weak.

So, while fear of success is alive and well, we can make inroads in managing career fears by sharing concerns, knowing that we can learn, and finding and using our X Competencies.

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Christine M. Glasco, Career Coach – consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management, career transition and strategic leadership development solutions.  To request a complimentary copy of Five Tips to Transform Your Executive Career  and to receive Who Needs a One Page Career Plan? You Do!   Website: www.christineglasco.com   Email:  info@christineglasco.com  Phone:  1.940.367.0837

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