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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven't thought much about it, but the concept of "fear of success" holding people back sounds suspiciously like bull.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that the only thing stopping you from being successful is fear of succeeding? Rather comforting. You had the ability and the odds were on your side...but you chose to fail instead. Due to fear of success. Uh...

I'd like your opinions on and experiences with this topic.
 
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Fear of being held responsible for future decision making is legit. After being successful, people may pour forth their burdens to you. For some people, that might be stressful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Fear of being held responsible for future decision making is legit. After being successful, people may pour forth their burdens to you. For some people, that might be stressful.
That's not so much fear of success as fear of responsibility. If fear of success is really fear of responsibility then it should be called as such.
 

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That's not so much fear of success as fear of responsibility. If fear of success is really fear of responsibility then it should be called as such.
That's what I was about to say.
 

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Fear of success may have to do with the intrinsic vs. extrinsic reasons of why we do what we do. The thing about success is that it is external to the thing that was being done; to have done something to achieve "success" would defame the act itself by shifting the focus. It was never about "me" it was about what I was doing. A small-time musician achieves fame and suddenly it is less about the music and more about the fame. But the music was what it was originally meant to be, that's where the love came from in the first place. Success is dead, stagnant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Interesting observations but kind of unrelated to my inquiry.

I'm saying that many people claim to fear success as they, not society, define success. They fail to finish degrees when they are a few courses away from completion, they buy a guitar but fail to take lessons and practice, they fail to apply for jobs they claim to be interested in pursuing and think they'd be good at, they claim to want to lose weight but continually create wildly complex and unsustainable diet/exercise plans in order to ensure failure. Basically, they seem to really want something but fail to take necessary, basic actions and continually self-sabotage.

Some might tell these people that they have "fear of success".

I once heard a man on an airplane tell a seasoned lawyer beside him that he wanted to go into law himself, like his cousin, but he didn't because he "feared success".

I'm not talking about fame, which is a rather dubious definition of success. Many people are famous but all that means is they were successful in becoming famous somehow. I'm talking about success in reaching the goals one has set for themselves. These are usually a combination of goals related to health, lifestyle, relationships, and skill acquisition.
 

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Interesting observations but kind of unrelated to my inquiry.

I'm saying that many people claim to fear success as they, not society, define success. They fail to finish degrees when they are a few courses away from completion, they buy a guitar but fail to take lessons and practice, they fail to apply for jobs they claim to be interested in pursuing and think they'd be good at, they claim to want to lose weight but continually create wildly complex and unsustainable diet/exercise plans in order to ensure failure. Basically, they seem to really want something but fail to take necessary, basic actions and continually self-sabotage.

Some might tell these people that they have "fear of success".

I once heard a man on an airplane tell a seasoned lawyer beside him that he wanted to go into law himself, like his cousin, but he didn't because he "feared success".

I'm not talking about fame, which is a rather dubious definition of success. Many people are famous but all that means is they were successful in becoming famous somehow. I'm talking about success in reaching the goals one has set for themselves. These are usually a combination of goals related to health, lifestyle, relationships, and skill acquisition.
It's related! For example, the person who buys a guitar but fails to take lessons and practice did so for different reasons in the first place; the "extrinsic" reasons I was talking about above. She bought it so she could have success, not so she could play the guitar. That's why people don't know what they want. They view things in terms of success when that's not what it is really about at all. Success is a byproduct.

The guy on the airplane thought he would achieve a sense of self-worth, would look impressive, if he went into law himself like his cousin. Problem is, he has no intrinsic desire to do it. It's just something he thinks would make him look good. "Afraid of success" is just how he is trying to explain this to himself. In all reality he probably doesn't have the talent to achieve success in that area, let alone be afraid of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's related! For example, the person who buys a guitar but fails to take lessons and practice did so for different reasons in the first place; the "extrinsic" reasons I was talking about above. She bought it so she could have success, not so she could play the guitar. That's why people don't know what they want. They view things in terms of success when that's not what it is really about at all. Success is a byproduct.

The guy on the airplane thought he would achieve a sense of self-worth, would look impressive, if he went into law himself like his cousin. Problem is, he has no intrinsic desire to do it. It's just something he thinks would make him look good. "Afraid of success" is just how he is trying to explain this to himself. In all reality he probably doesn't have the talent to achieve success in that area, let alone be afraid of it.
So fear of success does not exist?

It is more often fear of failure in an endeavor masquerading as fear of success?

Perhaps fear of finding out what one is "made of"?
 

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So fear of success does not exist?

It is more often fear of failure in an endeavor masquerading as fear of success?
Yeah I don't think fear of success exists in the intended sense. When the person buys the guitar, is he afraid of being really good at the guitar, or being really popular and feeling responsible? I think the former is unintelligible, no one would fear that. The latter is fear of other things, not success. Unless you really do just define success as the level of approval you get from other people.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah I don't think fear of success exists in the intended sense. When the person buys the guitar, is he afraid of being really good at the guitar, or being really popular and feeling responsible? I think the former is unintelligible, no one would fear that. The latter is fear of other things, not success. Unless you really do just define success as the level of approval you get from other people.
You seem to be framing fear of success as a defense mechanism that covers up for feelings of inadequacy. I'd agree.

I really think that most people are afraid 1. change 2. discovering their limitations. 3. the struggle and fear that comes with good old fashioned toil and opposition a.k.a. work. 4. Starting from the bottom of the totem and feeling/looking silly - which is unacceptable to them. Many people have a small ego in the Freudian "three part psychic apparatus " sense and this causes them to be anti-novice.

The fear of success thing is bull until someone can explain to me otherwise.
 

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I think it's a load, too, except that I do fear being in the spotlight but I equally fear lack of success and not being in the spotlight.

So I continually plod forward, rather than fall into obscurity.
 

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I know what you mean. There is an element of success that I've learned to fear though. It is the complacency that you sometimes have in the face of success. I learned to fear that part of success from the sports world. In particular I like mma and one thing I've noticed is there are two types of champions: those that win a title and continue doing the things that got them there, those that win a title and become complacent. The latter gets dethroned immediately. All it takes is for you to get a few wins on your belt and then underestimate your next challenge and BAM you get knocked on your butt. In that sense fear of success is real to me.

Outside of that though fear of success doesn't make much sense to me.

Honestly though what I described might be better labeled fear of contentment or something like that so fear of success may actually be a load of crap .
 
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May be more of a fear of confirmation. Something will get confirmed, pass or fail. Failure could spell out just why you fail, indicating why you may never succeed. It's easier living in limbo with false hope than the consideration of putting it all on the line. Even if this all-or-nothing attitude is irrational.
 

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Enneagram 3 - This does not compute.
 

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That's not so much fear of success as fear of responsibility. If fear of success is really fear of responsibility then it should be called as such.
Then there must be a benefit for being a failure and the benefit varies from one person to another. The question is what sort of benefit you will gain for being a failure? I once heard that once a person has reached the pinnacle of success, things starts to go downhill. Just like civilization.
 

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I haven't thought much about it, but the concept of "fear of success" holding people back sounds suspiciously like bull.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that the only thing stopping you from being successful is fear of succeeding? Rather comforting. You had the ability and the odds were on your side...but you chose to fail instead. Due to fear of success. Uh...

I'd like your opinions on and experiences with this topic.
Low self esteem, that is all.
 
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