Is Achievemephobia Holding You Back?

We all have the power to succeed and every one of us dreams of doing or becoming something great. But, what separates those who stagnate from those who shine? Oftentimes, it’s not the fear of failure that holds us back, but the fear of success.

The fear of success is called achievemephobia and it’s a real thing. Healthline lists some symptoms as: low goals, procrastination, perfectionism, quitting, or even self-destructiveness…any of these sound familiar?

On the surface it doesn’t seem possible that we can fear success itself. But, achievemephobia is more about the fear of change brought on by success and the unknowns along the journey. What ups and downs will we face? What obstacles and challenges will we have to overcome and how will we do it? And, what will we and our lives look like on the other side?

Achievemephobia can stifle anyone, but where we see it most often at Deaton Group is among entrepreneurs and small business owners. These amazing professionals have talent, great ideas, and experiences that are poised for success – yet they seem unable to see it as clearly as we do. As result, they inadvertently keep their businesses small, familiar, and within the confines of what they can handle and control on their own. It can happen to new or even seasoned entrepreneurs. Some stay in this state for only a little while and some forever.

Now, let’s be clear. If you are an entrepreneur who set out with the intention of staying small and are achieving the kind of success and fulfillment you dreamed of with this model, then more power to you. But, if your business is calling you to grow and scale, but you don’t know how or are overwhelmed by figuring it out, that’s a different story. These are the fears you must let go of so you can grow in a smart, measured way and build something that lives and thrives beyond yourself.

But, how? First, you must identify what true success really is for you and your business. Is it a revenue target, number of employees, or number of clients served? Is it the ability to remove yourself from the day-to-day so you can have more freedom and time for other priorities? Or, is it something else?

“For me, it was really clear that it was about impact,” said Michael Wilkinson, CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., the top facilitation company in the United States. “My first employee asked me, ‘How big do you want this (company) to be?’ And, it was simple. It’s not about size, it’s about impact…that’s really what has driven me and what I’ve been about.”

“People in my company have asked, ‘Why are you serving on that board?’ or ‘Why are doing something that takes your time away from the company?’ It’s always about impact. We have to take a step back sometimes and remember what the real goal is here. It all starts with our purpose.”

Your definition of success should be your primary driver. It should reflect why you started your business in the first place and serve as motivation when times get tough. And, it should be strong and compelling enough to excite others to join you.

Once you have identified that clear vision, then it’s time to figure out the roadmap to get there. Keep in mind this roadmap can and should change – in fact, it is important to allow for “emergent strategies” – but having and operating from a clear and intentional strategy is critical. This is often where entrepreneurs get stuck, again paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. It can be tough to break out of this mindset, particularly when you are used to doing all the work and figuring things out on your own.

The easiest way to move through it is to know what you don’t know and get help where you need it. From strategy and operations to finance and communications and everything in between, there are experts out there who can both supplement and complement your business acumen. The idea here is to understand that you don’t have to be an expert in everything and you can find the right resources to help take your business to the next level.

“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. 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.”
– Marianne Williamson

Achievemephobia can truly affect anyone, but it is those who recognize it and know how to overcome it who will shine. Have you experienced achievemephobia with your business or in your career? If so, how did you move past it? We want to hear your stories and may share them in a future blog or podcast!