Business owners rarely experience a smooth trajectory from start-up to massive success. Navigating the ups and downs of business growth, only a few really attain the level of success and financial abundance that they desire. Hard work, dedication and talent are important, but a mental conflict between success and failure keeps most aspiring entrepreneurs stuck in mediocrity.
The success-failure conflict arises in leaders who have not come to terms with the idea of being a "successful person" because of their social conditioning around it. Although this conflict mostly arises in those who struggle to make their goals, even high achievers can be influenced by the fear of failure and the guilt of success.
Fear of Failure
While the fear of failure keeps you motivated, it can only take you far. In its extreme form, fear can create problems and stifle your business. Stressing about failing can hold you back from taking risks and make you pass up opportunities because you would rather not lose than go for a win.
The pressure to succeed can also have the opposite effect. You may be taking too many risks in desperation to make everything work so you don't fail. You can be rushing decisions and throwing money at problems in a panic, clouding your common sense, all to avoid failing at all costs.
In both instances, you are operating under fear and lack which will only lead to results that will reflect your self-doubt and desperation. You can always tell how good a company will perform by the mental attitude of its leader. A leader who operates under the fear of failure already believes they are a failure and is trying to compensate for it by doing something to make his or her mark to prove to the world they are not.
When I first started my business I could not stop worrying about reaching my goals. I was passionate about my work but I was also stressed out all the time. The pressure I was putting on myself to succeed was making me miserable and I was unable to enjoy the process of what I was building. My panicked attitude led to making poor decisions and bad investments that I would have been able to avoid if I was thinking clearly and not driven by fear.
Here's a quick way to know if you are operating under this fear. Think about a time when you did not have cash flow to make payroll, your competition beat you to market with a similar product, your sales tanked, or one of your best team members hands in their termination notice. What happened? Most people have an emotional reaction and that is perfectly normal. The real fear is not about money at all, but about what other people are going to say about you as the leader for failing.
Guilt of Success
We are social creatures and fitting into the group that you grew up around is unconsciously tied to your survival. Each social group has its own dynamics and each person plays a role. When a person steps outside of their typical role and becomes more successful, it upsets the dynamic of the group. Even if your family and friends are happy for you, you may feel guilty because they do not have what you have.
You may feel like you are abandoning those who have been around you most of your life. You are spending more time working rather than socializing, moving to a new neighborhood or city or having new entrepreneurial friends who have bigger dreams than the old crowd. You may sabotage your success to go back to being with your original group.
The root of both -- fear of failure and guilt of success is about what other people are going to think of you. You don't want to build a business and become a success so everyone else will think highly of you, but so many entrepreneurs do this without realizing it.
The best way to deal with the fear of failure and the guilt of success is to be conscious of them but not let them direct your decisions and life. You always know when you are being driven by past conditioning when you stop moving forward and feel a sense that you should slow down or pull back.
Remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. Are you doing it for personal success alone? If so, you will never really feel satisfied. Find a bigger "why" for creating your business and remember that purpose when you take action and make decisions. You will instantly feel like a success no matter what and you will not care what other people think about you.