Are You More Afraid of Success Than Failure?

Are You More Afraid of Success Than Failure?


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One of my clients shared a powerful story with me that I know will resonate with many of you. His was a wonderful experience of long-awaited success that he had been dreaming of his whole career. After working very hard to earn it, he was promoted to a VP position. That sounds great, right? But that was where the plot took a disturbing turn. Once all of that goal attainment and coveted responsibility became a factual reality, he got an unexpected surprise. Suddenly he was having sleepless nights, worried about his newfound success and concerned that he would somehow be incapable of leading at such a high level.

The Success Conundrum

I have heard similar stories many times from high potential leaders and talented executives. They come to me seeking answers when this kind of experience they are totally unprepared for seems to pull the rug right out from under them. Just when they should be their happiest and most fulfilled, they are confronted by a perplexing feeling of dread and apprehension.

Confronting Your Internal Obstacles

The phenomenon is a big part of the reason why the most difficult roadblock to success for top executives is self-defeating internalized fear and lack of confidence. But don’t despair. There are solutions and I can share them with you – starting with this blog about the true story of my client’s situation that eventually we were able to resolve in ways that opened him up to a whole new world of confidence and resilience.

Externalizing Your Struggle

During our Discovery Call, my client explained to me that he felt he was, indeed, holding himself back out of a deep-seeded fear. “I have excellent relationships with my clients, fellow colleagues, and clients in the industry,” he said. “My clients have often awarded me performance bonuses. But I struggle with communicating with my superiors and senior management.”

Genuine Executive Presence Emanates from Within

Have you ever had these same thoughts? They soon manifest in your behavior. That’s why people who are otherwise confident can lose their composure when they have to present to senior decision makers. Those long-internalized fears or negative aspects of your mindset percolate to the surface and can sabotage you, because your executive presence ultimately depends upon your internal self-identity.

Proactive Positive Steps

With my guidance my client took positive action to start to close the gap and stop worrying about if he would be successful in his new role. Here is what he reported back to me soon after he implemented the strategies I taught him during our collaborative, intensive coaching sessions:

  • I realize that what you track and focus on expands.
  • I set collaborative goals and developed my team with bigger vision.
  • I tracked their performance metrics weekly.
  • I set in motion a strategic plan to achieve greater sales performance.
  • I learned to overcome my self-limiting beliefs like “I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have the right leadership skills to advance, I need another degree, class or certification.”
  • I have started to realize that change really is possible, and I have results to prove it.

Not only did this newly-promoted VP build a higher-performance sales team, but he generated new business that included a more than 195% growth in sales year-to-year and his team came in 40% over their previous year’s sales goal. Today he continues to be successful in his role and to advance further in his leadership and executive presence.

As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified image master (CIM) and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

Illustra Consulting
Copyright © 2015, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIM, CPBS 1-800-267-3245, [email protected]

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