We all know about fear of failure, but what about fear of success?
I talk a LOT about dealing with NOs and bouncing back from rejection in sales. In fact, that’s what my weekly podcast, Success Unfiltered, is all about. No question, fear of the NO can make you stop yourself short of asking for the sale.
But believe it or not, sometimes the thought of a YES can be just as scary as the fear of a NO.
I’m talking about fear of SUCCESS. And believe me, it’s a thing.
But why do people fear their own success? What’s so scary about having everything you ever wanted?
More than you might think, actually!
Holistic Sales Strategist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) rockstar Gretchen Mall tells us why we resist victory nearly as much as we dread defeat.
“Whatever it is that you want, whatever success means to you, is outside of your comfort zone. I guarantee it,” says Gretchen.
And when you challenge your comfort zone, all those nasty subconscious beliefs come out of the woodwork.
- Who are you to make more money than your parents?
- Why do you think you deserve more money than other people?
- You can’t be “spiritual” and have money. Shame on you.
Those subconscious beliefs turn to negative self-talk. And self-sabotage is never far behind.
“Self-sabotage” means all of the inexplicable things we do that block our success. And if you’re human, it’s going to show up for you at some point no matter how successful you are. (“New level, new devil,” as they say!)
And everyone has their own particular brand of self-inflicted roadblocks, too.
Maybe you have a chance at a game-changing deal, then out of the blue, you get sick.
Perhaps you know you need to reach out to a new contact or make an important sales call, but you decide to binge-watch Netflix all day instead.
It shows up in numerous ways, and often appearing as “sensible” or “logical” reasons for NOT taking action.
But where does this fear of success that breeds self-sabotage come from? What part of the brain is dead-set against change?
Gretchen gives us some insight from an NLP perspective.
“It’s your ego. And its motto is, ‘What is known is safe, what is unknown is not safe,'” says Gretchen.
We’re talking about that part of your brain that strives to keep you safe. But unfortunately, staying safe usually means staying SMALL, too. Hence, fear of success and self-sabotage go hand-in-hand.
But if you catch yourself falling into old patterns and blocking your sales success, does it mean that you’re doomed to repeat these patterns forever?
Not at all!
“We all have neural pathways in our brain,” says Gretchen. “And 20 years ago, we thought that those pathways were set for good. But now we know that you can create new ones. You can create new ideas and new ways to go. And if you want something different, you can create neural pathways that will allow new things to happen. It’s a practice.”
So how do you practice creating those new pathways in your brain using the power of NLP?
Let’s look at four steps that’ll help you knock out self-imposed roadblocks and clear the pathway to YOUR sales success!
Step #1: Define what SUCCESS means to you. One of my goals these days is learning the Spanish language. Now, there are many reasons why people set out to learn new languages. But I have my own specific end in mind.
My goal is to be fluent enough to conduct a 30-minute podcast interview with a Spanish-speaking entrepreneur IN Spanish. And do it with the ease of a native speaker.
I’m nowhere near that yet. But I DO know what “success” means to me in this endeavor. That gives me something to shoot for, get excited about, and start making REAL.
So no matter what your goal is, be honest about what “success” means to YOU. Get clear and specific, feel into that vision, and start building your plan from there.
Step #2: Take it one step at a time. Let’s say that you know what your version of success looks like. Now it’s time to break the journey to your goal into small, achievable, and most of all BELIEVABLE steps.
Recently, I was working with a business owner who couldn’t seem to move past a monthly income of $3,000 in revenue. Her dream was to triple her revenue, but for whatever reason, her monthly revenues wouldn’t budge.
We discovered that the reason she kept stalling out was twofold.
First, she was terrified of succeeding in a way she never had before. And second, she couldn’t bring herself to believe that her goal of $9K a month was even possible.
It made tripling her revenue feel not only terrifying but also so unlikely that it was barely worth trying.
This is where “stretch goals” come in! A stretch goal is a goal that is enough to push past your comfort zone, yet at the same time feel possible to achieve.
In her case, taking it from $3,000 per month to $5,000 per month would constitute a “stretch.” And from there, maybe up to $6,000. And after that, continuing to take baby steps until $9K months feel like a new normal.
And of course, with every baby step, remember to celebrate accordingly! Which brings me to Step 3…
Step #3: Celebrate ALL the wins (because winning begets winning!) Here’s another quirk about your brain: it’s not naturally wired to see long-term results. So to keep it moving toward something that isn’t in plain view, it’s going to need all the encouragement it can get.
Your job is to be your brain’s biggest cheerleader.
That means you need to celebrate every baby step, milestone, and benchmark on your journey. It’s a part of the process that a LOT of us goal-driven entrepreneurs often overlook (myself included!), but it’s well worth your time.
Because when you allow yourself to get excited about every win, a funny thing happens…
You stay in a happy place. Winning starts to feel like the new normal. And little by little, the good stuff keeps on coming your way.
Gretchen agrees. “We’re entrepreneurs. We grind it out, hustle, hustle, hustle. But the key to enduring success is to enjoy the journey. And to do that in small steps,” she says. “If it’s always, ‘I’ll be happy when my business is successful,’ then ‘happy’ will never happen. Be happy NOW. And celebrate that, too.”
Step #4: Act As If (Or, what would “future you” do?) Here’s an action step that Gretchen swears by. It’s combining all these tips into a single step, and letting it work its fear-busting magic for you!
First, get really clear on your goal. Let’s say it’s making $15,000 per month in revenue in your business, for example. Now, ask yourself this: what does the life of the YOU who makes $15,000 a month look like?
Consider things like this…
What does she wear? What does she eat? Where does she live? When does she wake up in the morning, and what’s on her daily agenda?
Consider what your life would look like when you meet your goal. What would you have, what would you be doing, and most importantly, who would you BE?
Maybe the $15K a month version of you has a sharp new wardrobe. Maybe she indulges in a regular skin care or exercise regimen, and it’s her non-negotiable time. Maybe she occasionally has a glass of champagne at dinner because she’s celebrating another big win.
Make a list of ALL these things. And then choose something that you can do right NOW.
It’s not about being extravagant. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost you any money at all. It could be something as simple as setting aside time for the self-care practices. Or setting the intention for a new wardrobe or a new home with a vision board.
The goal is to take baby steps in the direction of the future YOU. And establishing powerful habits to help you embody that new version of yourself.
When you reframe your goals using these steps, success seems a LOT less scary…and a lot more possible!
Remember, you have to BE someone new first. Then DO something new to move you in the right direction. And then you’ll HAVE the success that you’re looking for.
And FEAR won’t be a game-stopping factor again.
Ready for the ENTIRE scoop on why the fear of success is the sneakiest dream-killer of them all, and how NLP hacks can help you stop it before it stops YOU?
Join me and Gretchen Mall for this episode of Coffee Is For Closers, where we share the full TRUTH about fear of success. You’ll also learn how to shut that fear down for good so that you never talk yourself out of a sale again!