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The Fear of Success by Bruce Elkin

March 20, 2018



Note From Rochelle


Dear Readers,


What’s keeping you from your writing? If you’re complaining you don’t have enough time to write, procrastinating when you do have time, or experiencing blocks when you face the blank page, you may be experiencing fear. When that happens to me, I’m tempted to do anything to avoid the feeling of fear. But avoiding fear only makes it worse. For me, the solution has been writing through the fear.


If you’re experiencing this, perhaps a coaching session could help? I have a few openings in my schedule for new clients. If you’re interested, contact me for a complimentary consultation.


Today’s tip comes from my colleague Bruce Elkin and will help you deal with the fear of both success and failure.






The Fear of Success

by Bruce Elkin


For many of my clients, their biggest fear is failing, looking stupid, and being laughed at. But, working with a coach, they sometimes discover an even greater fear—the fear of success—succeeding and being seen to be different. They imagine others might accuse them of excessive pride, or arrogance.


“Who are you to write a book on simplicity?” one commenter wrote to me, “or success?”


“What do you know about thriving?” quipped another.



The Tall Poppy Problem

In Australia, they call this, “the tall poppy syndrome.”


Don’t stand up, or stand out. You’ll get cut down.


Hardwired to feel part of a tribe, we fear losing our sense of inclusion—and being cut down—if we excel.


But true friends rejoice in our success. We belong to more than one tribe.


What other people think isn’t really our business. It’s their’s.


Our business is to do what matters to us, shed unhelpful criticism like water off our backs, and make changes based on helpful comments.



Could Our Deepest Fear Be Our Own Power?

Marianne Williamson refers to the fear of success when she says:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”


Have you asked yourself that question?


I did. It scared the crap out of me—until I read the rest of the quote.


“Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


Life Is About Failing, Learning, and Succeeding

Stretching for what matters most—creating what you truly want—is not hubris. It’s a way of being alive—choosing, trying, learning, and succeeding.


Our ability to choose and create results that matter makes us truly human.


I often work with clients who, at first, limit themselves to small, flat-sounding visions of results that don’t truly inspire them. Why?


They are afraid of sounding egotistical.


They don’t want to look like they are trying to be better than others.


They’re afraid they would be setting themselves up for failure.


But we all fail. It’s a natural part of learning.


Failure Is Merely Feedback

Kimon Nicolaides, author of The Natural Way To Draw, told his students that, “the sooner you make your first 5,000 mistakes, the sooner you’ll learn to draw.


In my creating approach, clients learn to view failure as feedback—vital information they need so they can learn from mistakes and successes, and, then, adjust their actions.


My mentor, Robert Fritz, urges us to “create and adjust, create and adjust….”



Start Small. Build Competence and Confidence

My clients start by creating small, concrete creations.


Doing so leads to quick successes that build the skills and structure they need to create larger results, and bigger successes.


As they build fluency in the creating framework, their deeper desires and higher aspirations often surface.


Then, equipped with the competence and confidence to create, they stretch for those results. Their energy soars. Often, their actions and results surprise even them.


How about you?


Are you shrinking from success, from creating results that truly matter?


Sometimes, all you need to create those results is a few new creating skills, and a tried-and-true organizational structure to guide your actions—backed up by support and consistent practice.


Then you can stretch for your mostly highly desired results—in life, work, relationships … almost anything!


About the author:

Bruce Elkin: Organize Your Life To Support Your Passion

Author of Simplicity and Success: Creating the Life You Long For, and the ebooks Thrive! and The ABCs of Emotional Mastery, Bruce’s gently-structured, results-creating approach helps clients clarify what matters, ground it in reality, and focus on action to turn vision into reality — personally and professionally. Visit him online at and


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