Pursue What Matters
Episode 14: The Jonah Complex
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Have you ever heard of that phenomenon? The Jonah complex? If your answer is no, I don’t want you to feel too badly about yourself, because I’ve been a psychologist 30 years, and I have just recently learned about it. But I am so excited to share my findings about it with you. And I’m also going to share with you a fear that is greatly hindering your work, work in your career in your life and your beliefs, and give you some great solutions on how to overcome that fear. I’m so excited for today’s episode. So let’s jump in.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:30
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Have you ever heard of the Jonah complex? I’m a psychologist, and I’ve been doing this work for a long time. But I had never heard of the Jonah complex until about three months ago. And I am telling you it is fascinating. I hope I’ve piqued your interest, you’ve got to join me and learn all about this very intriguing concern. And of course, more importantly, discover ways the Jonah complex is showing up in your own leadership. When most of us think about our leadership and career, we assume that we want to be successful. I mean, no one sets out to be mediocre, to fail or to just get by. There are hundreds, probably 1000s of leadership books written each year, teaching us how to be successful in our careers, and how to overcome the fear of failure. And most of us can definitely relate to a fear of failure. Of course, in recent years, the topic of failure has become a really popular topic. Clayton Christensen, who I talked about not too long ago, in a podcast declares that failure is part of the process of innovation and the innovators dilemma. And of course, he is right. Many of our most highly respected business leaders are starting to open up about their own failures, often, though, only after they’ve been ridiculously successful. And there are even conferences dedicated to failure. For real there is a conference dedicated to people sharing their failures, which is actually kind of a cool idea if you ask me. But today, I do not want to talk about fear of failure. Maybe we’ll save that topic for another day because it’s definitely an important topic that is pretty salient. For many of us high achievers. Today, I want to talk about another kind of fear, that may totally surprise you. Especially if you are a high achiever, you may assume that there is absolutely no way that you could have this fear. But I hope you will hear me out. Because as you learn about this fear, you may be really surprised. This fear is actually more common than it seems. especially among all of you high achievers. Okay, so enough of the suspense. What is this fear I’m talking about? It is the fear of success. See, I told you, you wouldn’t believe me, you as a high achieving leader who’s totally successful, could possibly have a fear of success. I mean, how could you most high achieving leaders feel kind of desperate to achieve success. Sometimes you may feel that you actually want it too much, that you sacrifice too much for the chance of success. Let’s learn more about this psychological phenomenon and the ways it shows up in leadership, and how it might just show up in your own leadership, even if just a little bit identified by the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow known for his theory on self actualization. So if any of you remember your undergrad psychology classes, he’s the one that had the famous pyramid of self self actualization. And he he talked about, we start with the foundational needs of society, safety and security. And then we move up on the Hierarchy of Needs towards that pyramid, or on that pyramid. And at the top of that pyramid are those self actualization needs.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:46
So that was some of the most famous work of Abraham Maslow that he coined the term that Jonah complex to describe this fear of success that includes a fear of one’s own greatness. The evasion of destiny and the avoidance of developing talents. I think this is so fascinating. So it’s this idea that sometimes we play small to avoid big changes in our life. So I’m so curious if this resonates for you. And I think it’s really interesting phenomenon. So of course, the jhana complex was named for the biblical Jonah, who resisted his destiny when he refused his calling to preach in Nineveh. So Maslow argued that we too often resist our calls to realize potential. So I don’t know if any of you are Bible scholars or remember your, your Bible study days, or if you’re a scripture reading person these days. But as the story is related in the book of Jonah, the prophet Jonah is called by God to go to Nineveh, it was a great Assyrian city, and to prophesied disaster because of the city’s excessive wickedness. So it was very, very wicked. And you know, of course, Jonah did not want to go. And we certainly can’t begrudge him that I don’t blame Jonah, I would not have wanted to go to Nineveh either. So Jonah really felt like the city was so wicked, and that it, it would inevitably fall because of God’s judgment against it. And so, you know, Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, he did not want to go and preach to the people because they were really wicked. He felt like the city was gonna fall anyway. And you know, it was probably kind of scary for him. But also, Jonah doesn’t want to go prophesied because none of them might repent and thereby be saved. So what does Jonah do instead? He rushes down to Java, J. O ppA, I don’t know if I’m saying that exactly right, and takes passage in a ship that will carry him in the opposite direction of Nineveh, thinking to escape God. So we see, we see Jonah, you know, running in the opposite direction of God’s destiny for him. And of course, what happens is a great storm of unprecedented severity strikes the ship. And in spite of all that the master and the crew can do, this storm is going to take this ship down. So lots are cast, and Jonah confesses to the crew, that it is his presence on board that is causing the store. So Jonah knows that God is calling him to his mission. God is is calling Jonah to his purpose. Jonah knows this. And so he says, The ship’s captain, hey, I’m sorry. I know this. This storm is because of me. And at his request, so at Jonah’s request, he is thrown overboard, and the storm subsides. So that must have taken a lot of courage that Jonah knew that God had him in his sights. So a great fish or Well, in the Bible, it refers to a great fish appointed by God swallows Jonah and he stays within the fish’s ma or the fish’s mouth for three days and nights. I’m sure that was quite an experience. Jonah, of course, prays for deliverance, and is vomited out on dry lap. So that’s from chapter two of Jonah. Again, the command is heard, Arise, go to Nineveh. So right. God is not done with Jonah yet. God has a mission. God has a purpose for Jonah and tells him to get to Nineveh, right, you need to go preach in Nineveh. And so Jonah has been schooled,
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:16
Jonah knows there is no way to escape his purpose. There is no way to escape God’s purpose for him. And so Jonah goes to Nineveh and he prophesized against the city, causing the king and all the inhabitants to repent. And so, you know, he is able to fulfill his great purpose, right, he’s able to fulfill God’s purpose in him. And so this great Assyrian city, this great Wicked City, he was very frightened to go to when he was eventually willing to go and prophesy, the inhabitants of this city. Eventually, were Willing to repent and the city was not a lost cause. So, of course, there are some great lessons for us in the story of Jonah. I mean, certainly for Christendom, there are some pretty important lessons for us from Jonah. But if we look at this from a leadership perspective, and certainly, if we think about it from Abraham Maslow, the great psychologists, who looked at Jonah, in terms of this fear of success, right, Jonah was trying to outrun his destiny, he and he had fear of success, he had fear of what it would mean for him. Fear of, of following following purpose, reaching potential, what what, what would this mean for him. And so that is kind of the larger lesson here that we want to pay attention to. So let’s look at some quotes from some of our modern day prophets, or, or truth speakers. So of course, Bernie Brown, she has talked about this. She said, the true underlying obstacle to brave leadership is how we respond to our fear. And this is from dare to lead. And I think what is important about this quote, and I think more and more attention is given to this truth is that to lead doesn’t mean that there’s an absence of fear. And I think that that is important to pay attention to. So whether that’s fear of failure, or even fear of success, or what that might mean for you. And especially when we think about this fear of success,
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:56
it’s important to keep in mind that any life transition can trigger the fear of success, but especially new opportunities, a big decision, or a challenge. So career change, a new stage in life of move, a marriage, a divorce, a birth of a child job interviews, you know, these are really big changes. And a lot of these changes can be very exciting. And, you know, we would, we would probably label these as positive changes, or growth enhancing. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t come without stress or without challenge. So these life transitions can lead to certainly self consciousness as you struggle to move into the new role. I have certainly felt this sort of uncertainty and self consciousness during some of these life, life transitions, whether due to my own lack of confidence, or worry about what will others think and you know, that certainly has been a plague for me, in my life that I’ve been working really diligently to overcome. But I think that is part and parcel of this fear of success, what will others think will they think I’ve gotten too big for my britches, and for a young girl from Idaho, that is a big concern. And I think that I’m not alone, in that worry, and in life. So old beliefs and roles really die hard, sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to grow. And sadly, sometimes those in our circles struggle to allow us to grow. And it you know, it’s not coming from a bad place at all. So sometimes others struggle to see our growth. And so they may feel the need to knock us back down to size, or judge us for you know, getting too full of yourself, you know, or some, you know, some similar version of that, but the message is the same. You’re not okay, there’s something wrong with you. If you’re too successful, you threaten the loss of connection with your loved ones. And I think that’s kind of the underlying message or the underlying fear that comes with some of these judgments or some of these messages. And of course, at the root of these difficult experiences is fear, fear of judgment and fear of loss of connection on the part of those who, who may be judging or maybe teasing or labeling. But sadly, guards go up. And loss of connection is often the result, rather than being able to build bridges and reinforce connection, despite the successes and challenges that come with growth. And I think, you know, ultimately, we want to be able to bridge some of those gaps, because I think it I think it can be a real concern when someone you love maybe gets an education or moves on to a big job or moves away, there can be a fear of what will this mean for our relationship? And will the other person change so much that we won’t be able to relate to one another again. And so I think there needs to be real effort made to bridge that connection and to really cultivate connection and, and so having awareness about the need to bridge those connections, I think is really important. So some of the specific fears related to the fear of success. And some of these transitions include appearing arrogant or self centered, difficulty envisioning yourself in a new prominent role, fear of responsibility, that can be a really big one associated with the fear of success, fear of pressure overwhelm, that, that you perceive comes with success and the realization of potential. So this fear of like, Can I handle it? Can I handle the responsibility, fear of disconnection with loved ones, I’ve already talked about that. And that an extraordinary life would be too much out of the ordinary, to be acceptable to those in your life currently. So you know, they wouldn’t be able to relate to me or they don’t think that they will think that I’ve changed too much. And so they won’t, they won’t want to connect with me. So these are some of the specific fears that can come up for people around this fear of success. So again, Bernie brown talks about manufacturing smallness, as a way of avoiding criticism, and risking putting our creativity on display. And some of the ways that she talks about manufacturing smallness, may include not completing projects, missing deadlines, perfectionism, that’s a big one, a sabotaging at the finish line. So you get really close to finishing a big project. And then you just don’t finish it. I think, a really classic example of this and how it shows up in the education realm, which of course, is an area I’ve spent a lot of my life is the ABCD, which is all but dissertation. So someone spends years and years working on the doctoral degree, but they never complete their dissertation, which is like the last main requirement for the completion of the doctoral degree. And it’s a really important requirement. And it’s really very self directed. And so the student has to be at the reins. And I think that is a really good example of this fear of success. And some of this manufacturing smallness is putting in all of this time and investment in a doctoral program, but then not completing the dissertation. So limiting yourself on projects, so maybe you’re, you’re just taking safe projects, rather than taking on a bigger project, or taking on a stretch goal at work that would stretch you but of which you are capable to do limiting yourself in relationships, on you know, with a job avoiding responsibility. I think this is a really big one in the work setting. So have you ever been in a situation where you hide out in your job, I mean, there have been some people like they hide out for years at work, they you know, certain jobs have been hiding out, rather than really being in a role and in a position where they are growing, and they are pushing themselves. And you know, I’ve said this many times and it, it, it is true. You can choose growth or comfort but you can’t have both. And so you know, if we think about choosing work that is comfortable, but you’re not growing, that would be an example of manufacturing smallness. So second guessing yourself feeling very indecisive, not making decisions. Not to not make a decision is definitely a decision not setting goals. So just letting life live you and being very passive turning down opportunities. So maybe you know you have your supervisor or your boss come to you and say hey, I’ve got this really great opportunity. I’d like you to do take the lead on this project. And you say no. And one of our books, Bernie brown talked about submitting op eds to her local Houston newspaper instead of the New York Times and said that this was one of the ways that she was manufacturing smallness. And so you know, whatever that might be for you, I think it could be a really helpful self reflection exercise, to identify some of the ways you might be manufacturing smallness. And so maybe it’s maybe it’s that you’re not setting goals, maybe that it’s that you’re not reviewing goals, that you’re not holding yourself accountable to goals. Maybe it’s that you’re hiding out in your job, or that you’re saying no, to a project, when you should be saying yes, so I would really encourage you to take some time and do some self reflection. And you know, get honest with yourself about some of the ways you might be manufacturing smallness in your life. So I’ve got to share an example of how I see this fear of success show up in a cultural way. And it can be really insidious. So in my faith tradition, women and men have taken on quite traditional roles historically, with many women being full time homemakers. And even though much about this faith tradition has shifted. And even the messaging around this has shifted somewhat, I still hear women within this faith tradition, apologize for having ambition outside of the traditional homemaking roll, definitely not all women, but enough that it really, you know, whenever I hear it, it makes my blood run cold. And even, you know, even this idea of ambition being perceived as like a bad thing. For women, it just, it makes me so sad. Now, I recognize that this totally gets into gender, politics, the politics of religion, and all of that, like I get that I get that there are a lot of layers here. But there is also a theme, tied to fear of success outside of traditional domains, specifically for some women of traditional faiths. So what does it mean for these women to be successful, and to be successful outside of the home, to be successful outside of traditional roles to be successful in relation to a spouse? Right?
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:47
Is this acceptable? Would this undermine the marital relationship? Would this call into question their religious ties? Would others question their faith? Would this somehow make them less faithful? And so I think this is an example that really cuts to the core of some of this fear of success. Right? It also cuts to the core of some of these questions around faith and relationship. And what does it mean in terms of purpose and potential? And there are so many layers to this question. And I would just say, you know, as an ambitious woman of faith, and I do not think ambition is a dirty word. And I think as women, we should reclaim that word, I can tell you that my career success has made me a target in faith circles, I’ve been accused of lacking faith. I’ve been called a horrible mother, I have been in writing. By the way, I have been judged a poor wife, that people judging me were complete and utter idiots and to say nothing of their complete lack of Christian kindness, right. So like, let’s not even start talking about that. And I completely understand that, and I understood that at the time. But of course, it doesn’t change the fact that these judgments were totally hurtful. And they leave a shadow on what should have been, you know, loving connections, and in what should have been a safe community, I was okay. I was very grounded in my decisions and in my faith and in my relationships, so that I could weather these really stupid and cruel comments. But of course, not everyone had some of some of the benefits. And the grounding that I had, you know, I was really fortunate to have some very secure and strong relationships, and I had some I had some great support. And I was very clear on my decisions and where I was coming from and my sense of purpose, but these are harsh judgments. And so you You can really see how it could leave a person reeling, and potentially feeling like striving for success may not have been such a good idea after all, because moving into the arena makes one a target. And especially if you feel like you have a sense of purpose that is personally meaningful. And certainly if it’s a purpose that is consistent with your faith or consistent with fulfilling potential, and then that is that is targeted or judged or criticized, that can really unhinge you that can, you know, to have your integrity or, you know, your sense of self called into question, I could leave a lot of people reeling, and really questioning whether success or striving is worth is worth going after. And so I think that this fear of success, it can be a really powerful thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:15
One of the most damaging ways that we manufacture smallness is to say, Who am I to do something big, we limit our dreams, we apologize for them. And we don’t even dare to dream them, let alone to share them out loud. Is it any wonder that they never come to fruition? And you think that this is humility, but at the end of the day, it’s just plain fear. So some of the self talk includes I should be content, you know, what would my mother think I’m selfish to want more, or I should be grateful for what I have. So it’s really interesting, actually, last night. So I was I was listening to podcast with Cheryl Strayed. And she has a newer, newer book out, I don’t know exactly when it came out. I think it’s been within the last year or so. But it’s called brave enough. And she was, she was talking about this idea of humility. And she was talking about the value of greatness. But she was actually challenging that a little bit and saying that greatness is important. And greatness is something that helps us to really look to purpose. And you know, that dreams, our dreams are important. But she said, Don’t let dreams ruin your life. And I thought that that was actually really, really profound. Because sometimes, sometimes, when we, you know, we have these great dreams, we put so much darn pressure on ourselves. And it becomes incapacitating. And I think that that actually is a big part of this fear of success. And so one of the things that Cheryl straight talked about in this podcast, is embracing humility, and actually learning to embrace our own mediocrity and recognizing that, you know what, we’re all humans. We’re all fallible, we’re all media mediocre. And that’s also what makes us unique, and wonderful and awesome. And even in our mediocrity, we have a unique voice, and we have a unique contribution to make. And to be able to embrace that in humility is actually a really beautiful thing. And so she talked about when she was writing a book, and she said that she put all of this pressure on herself to write the great American novel. And she said, she didn’t she was not writing the great American novel. And she said, the thing that undid her was reality television shows. And she said she had to, she had to do a reality check with herself, that, you know, she was not this incredibly amazing, great person. And she had to face her own mediocrity that he or she was being undone by, you know, these reality television shows. And so she said that she had to relinquish this idea of greatness. And even this, she had to relinquish this idea of this, of writing this great American novel, and hold on to this sense of purpose, which was She knew she needed to write this book. And even if it was the worst book ever written, she had this compelling need to write this book that that was her purpose. The purpose was not that she had to write the greatest book ever to be published, but that she in her humility, and in her mediocrity needed to write this book. And so in her humility, she got the book written. And it was a pretty darn good book. And so I actually really loved that perspective. And I think it’s a refreshing perspective that is very different from what we hear about in the self help movement, which is all about greatness. And you know, you’re amazing, and no one’s as great as you are. And it’s like, we’re all human, we’re all flawed. Not any better or any worse. But what is the work that you that you can uniquely contribute to the world? And, and what is what is your unique contribution, and having some humility about that?
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:30
Is, is really the work and if you can connect to that, you’ll be successful. And I think being able to take that stance can really help you sidestep this fear of success that we’re talking about today. So anyway, I loved that perspective from Cheryl Strayed. Okay, so I’ve got a quote that relates to this from Marianne Williamson, who apparently is running for president. Okay, that’s weird. I like Marianne Williamson as a spiritual leader. I don’t know I don’t know as a presidential candidate. But of course, this is a very famous quote from her. Nelson Mandela shared this at his inaugural speech, he’s been given a lot of credit for this quote, it’s actually from Marianne Williamson, 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. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be, you are a child of God, your playing small, does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. Very closely tied to the fear of success is the fear of critics. Because though it may seem surprising, you may be criticized when you are successful. No, Dorothy, not everyone wishes for your success. I mean, you will be targeted, some nvu. Curse you and wish your demise. Hopefully not that last one. But still, you know, you you’ll definitely be criticized. Others will feel threatened by your success. And so as you have more success, you really need to be prepared to be targeted by critics, this often comes as a shock, but really, it shouldn’t. Because I think we know in our hearts like we have good intent. And our intentions are pure. And so it’s like why would why would others attack us or criticize us but you know, not everyone’s intentions are pure. And so sometimes people are just looking to judge judges, judges are going to judge so. So when we think of judgment, ridicule, disappointment, disapproval, right, the list goes on and on. And in the age of the internet with anonymous comments, your worst nightmares about the critics may indeed be a reality. And of course, Theodore Roosevelt’s man in the arena spit speech given in Paris, April 23 1910, which is so great, says it is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who airs who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends some time In a worthy cause, who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls, who neither know victory nor defeat.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:23
Of course, the critics don’t count unless they are in the arena with you. So we don’t want you to accept criticism from the cheap seats. And that’s from Bernie Brown. So you should be open to some criticism, because you’re not perfect, you have blind spots, and you need to be open to feedback. But you need to be really careful about where you accept criticism from, you should not, you should not be open to criticism from everyone. And this is where building a community based in trust is so essential. So you share with those who have earned the right to hear your story. So that come that that language is from Bernie Brown, and from those who are in the arena with you. So those who who are Daring Greatly those who are striving and taking risks and know what it’s like to put themselves out there. You’re not gonna you’re not going to take criticism from the cheap seats, you’re not going to take criticism from anonymous people on a message board, like that’s ridiculous, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t do that. But people who are in the the arena, and who know what it’s like to do what you’re doing, those people could probably give you some really valuable feedback. So we do want to pay attention to them. Okay, so now let’s move to helping you overcome this job complex and really push through this fear of success. So solution, one, be clear about your purpose, why are you doing what you’re doing, if you are pursuing something for ego rewards, you will likely deserve whatever you get. And it won’t be enough to sustain you through the challenges of success. So you really need to have clarity about your purpose, and mission. So of course, this is, this is where pursuing what matters is so so essential. So key questions to help you clarify purpose. What do you feel compelled to do? Why is your purpose personally meaningful? How can you contribute meaningfully? And how can you serve a higher purpose, so you must have clarity about your purpose, if, if your pursuit of success is just about ego, you will get you deserve whatever you get, like it will not be enough to sustain you. Through the challenges of success. I promise you that. Okay, solution to recognize that true success is not selfish, because it’s never just about you. If it’s just about you, if it’s just about ego rewards, that’s a problem. But true success is not selfish, because it’s never just about you. So if you find yourself feeling guilty about ambition, success, or monetary rewards, remember that true success is never about you, and how great you are. It’s not about that. It’s about service. It’s about contributing to a cause greater than yourself. Success can be personally rewarding, and it’s often personally meaningful. I mean, it should be right. And there is nothing wrong with that. But to be truly successful and happy in life, we must find purpose and meaning in something greater than ourselves. So there’s a great quote from Viktor Frankl on this, I absolutely love it. He said, Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it for success, like happiness cannot be pursued, it must end soon. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as the byproduct of one surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen and the same holds for success. You have to let it happen by not caring about it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:47
I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do, and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run successful follow you Precisely because you had forgotten to think about it. I just love that quote, solution three, learn to live big without losing your center. So this is where clarity and grounding really make all the difference. So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with living a big life. Others may put a moral judgment on it due to their own jealousy. But this is where you must be true to your own heart, and what is guiding you while letting go of guilt, that you must somehow dress yourself in sackcloth and ashes. So now if you’re the religious type, you may recall the whole idea of a camel analogy business. So here are some self reflection prompts to help you keep your focus on living meaningfully, while living big if you so choose. So just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you should. Seriously heating this advice can save you a boatload of money, and could also save you from buying a boat, which almost everyone regrets? Are you doing things? Or are you accumulating things to fit into the right crowds? And what are the right crowds, right? Because that starts to really feel like ego. So just be really cautious about that. Are you doing things due to FOMO due to this fear of missing out wanting to fit in is ego pushing your decision making. So whether it’s related to career decisions, or where to vacation as a family, if ego is tainting your decisions, then happiness will be undermined, because purpose becomes lost. So really pay attention, you’ve got to keep yourself centered solution for stop trying to prove your good intent to others. So just like we wouldn’t want you to lose your center, as you learn to live on a larger stage. We also don’t want you feeling as though you need to apologize for your successes, or assure people that you are still a humble, generous person. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone, one way or another. Live your life, make your choices, stop trying to control how you are perceived. You don’t have control over how others will perceive you. So don’t even try to do that. And image management will take you from your sense of purpose. And it’s a complete waste of time, I mean such a waste of time. So keep your focus on pursuing purpose, serving meaningfully and contributing where you can most effectively serve. And that is all that will take up plenty of energy. And let’s let’s drop, let’s let go of worrying about how you’re being perceived. You just don’t have any control over that. solution, five, have clarity about your goals, and then consistently track them to accomplishment. So you must keep your eye on the prize in terms of why your goals matter. And then you’ve really got to have blinders on. And keep a dogged focus on accomplishing your goals. So there will be many distractions, many fears, and many people who question your goals, question whether you can accomplish them, or whether it’s even a good idea to have your big goals. So if you’ve got clarity that your goals are indeed right for you, then you have got to put your blinders on and get after your goals. So write the blinders think about the race horses, they have blinders on, they they stay in their lane, they they are not looking at the other race horses, they are they’ve got their eyes trained on the path in front of them. And that’s exactly what you’ve got to do. When you have clarity about your goals. You’ve you, you’re trained on your path.
Dr. Melissa Smith 44:40
Okay, solution six, don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places. Okay, so this solution alludes to song lyrics from the very famous Waylon Jennings song. And let me tell you, folks, I was raised on country music when country wasn’t cool. So okay, let’s see if you get that reference. Who knows? Maybe I’ll do Have an Instagram story and see how many of you know that reference. See how many of you know the old country stuff that might that might be fun. Stay tuned. Anyway, I’ll link to the great Waylon Jennings song in the show notes as it is the key to solution six, don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places. When you are going after big goals, you need people who believe in you and will encourage you. Sadly, these people may not be some of your loved ones or family of origin. You know, sometimes your fear of success is tied up with some of the fears and holdover holdover beliefs from childhood or a family system steeped in plain and small, or just the fear of change and and how they have seen others changed by success. So let’s go back to the whole idea of the needle reference. And I think it’s really important to point out here that there’s no ill intention. And, you know, the reality though, is that these messages from loved ones may not be very helpful, and may actually be pretty undermining to you as you’re pursuing big goals. And I think understanding this can make a really big difference in terms of preserving these relationships, rather than feeling resentful, because, you know, consider this if you go to these relationships, looking for encouragement for some of your audacious goals. And what you hear in response is some anxious hand wringing, or some Oh, I don’t know, dear, are you sure you can do that sort of response? Well, you know, first of all, that is going to be totally deflating, and not very encouraging. And if you’re not careful, you may begin to feel really annoyed, angry, and even resentful. Over time that when you go to these friends and family members for encouragement, all you get is a wet blanket, or anxious worry. And of course, this dynamic is not helpful to the strength of these relationships. So what I want for you is to understand this dynamic, this potential dynamic, and know this, don’t go to these loved ones asking for something they are not able to give you, they may not be able to encourage you in your audacious goals. And that doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it doesn’t mean that they don’t generally support you, it just means that you’ve bumped up against some of their fears and anxieties. And if you insist on asking of them, something that they cannot give you, which is the encouragement and the explicit support of your audacious goals, you will continuously be disappointed. And over time, this will sow seeds of resentment, and frustration in some of your most important relationships. And we really don’t want this, so don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places.
Dr. Melissa Smith 48:06
Okay. So, solution seven, we do want you to find people who can provide you the explicit support of your audacious goals, and then to rely on them. So you don’t need a lot, but you need a few individuals. So maybe it’s an executive coach, maybe it’s a peer leadership group. Maybe it’s a spouse, a best friend, a project manager, someone who understands what you are facing, and who can provide not only encouragement, but also empathy, when your ship is crashed against the rocks, okay, so you don’t need sympathy. When times are rough. The last thing you need is pity. But you need someone who will listen without judgment. And you know what, sometimes you need someone to throw you overboard. Right? So think about Jonah. Jonah knew that he needed to go back to Nineveh. And when sometimes when your ship is about to crash against the rocks, you need someone in your support group who’s going to throw you overboard and tell you to get back to Nineveh. So you need someone who loves you, and will be a truth speaker to you. Someone who doesn’t say, See, I told you so you were getting too big for your britches. You need someone who will who will allow you to be broken and bleeding. But then once you’re ready, and you know, probably not a minute before will help pick you up and realign your sights on your big goals and remind you why your goals matter. And that you can indeed accomplish them. So sometimes these are the people that push you Out of the ship. Sometimes these are the people that bind up your wounds. And they get it. They’re in there with you. And you’ve got to have a few of these people. Okay, solution eight, be inspired by others who are achieving at the highest levels, you need to surround yourself by others who remind you that what you want to do is possible, especially if you’re not getting this message from some of your loved ones. So listen to podcasts, read leadership books, talk to mentors who are doing what you want to do, learn from those who are successful, and resist the tendency to be threatened by them, embrace the opportunity to learn from them, there is no shortage of resources. So you know, one of the ironies of leadership is that as you move higher in your leadership, there’s less direction for you at a time when you actually need more focused leadership guidance. It’s so ironic. So in a very real way, you are left to lead yourself if you’re not careful. For this reason, it’s really essential to take responsibility for your development. So I’ve talked about this before, but be an active learner and take inspiration from others doing what you want to do, and those achieving at the highest levels, regardless of the industry. So consider getting a coach joining a mentor leadership group, even meeting up with colleagues for lunch can be helpful. So of course, there are so many great books out there. But one that I really like on this very subject is Tim Ferriss tribe of mentors, of course, you know, over the years, Tim Ferriss has had the opportunity to interview so many leaders on his very popular podcast, the Tim Ferriss show. And so he’s collected some of the best advice, tools, habits and tactics from over 130, leaders, performers, artists, athletes, billionaire investors, to really help you achieve your best life. And so that book is actually a great place to start for some inspiration, regardless of what you’re pursuing. So I’ll link to Tim’s podcast, and to that book in the show notes, and I would say seek inspiration from across industries.
Dr. Melissa Smith 52:24
So even if you’re not an athlete, or read up on successful athletes, because success is success is success. Despite that, despite the industry there, there are some core principles that that you can learn from, from all sorts of successful people. Okay, solution nine, don’t be afraid to set big goals. So utilize the concept of the big hairy, audacious goal. So this comes from Jim Collins and Jerry porras, in their excellent book built to last successful habits of visionary companies. And I’ll also link to this in the show notes. If you want to check it out. It’s also a great read. So the big hairy, audacious goal encourages organizations to define to define visionary goals that are, that are more strategic and emotionally compelling for their people. So most organizations just kind of set goals that are not very exciting. And their goals that it’s like, okay, like, we know that we can achieve these and it’s not very exciting. It certainly doesn’t motivate employees. But a big hairy audacious goal is clear and compelling. And it serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for Teen Spirit. So it has a clear finish line, so everyone knows if they’ve achieved the goal. And people really like to shoot for finish lines, and so have a big, hairy audacious goal for yourself, where you absolutely no, if you have accomplished it. So similarly, in a recent podcast, I was listening to Amy Porterfield, the online marketing guru, was talking about having an impossible goal for the year that you just don’t feel like you can accomplish which, you know, might feel kind of demoralizing, but have it anyway, because it starts to create a mind shift for yourself. I won’t go into the psychology of why that might happen as far as the mind shift, but for our purposes today, I’ll just say don’t be afraid to have big goals. Make sure though, that you have specific people who can support you in the accomplishment of those goals. So don’t be afraid to set big goals for yourself. Okay. Solution 10 hold yourself accountable to someone besides yourself, especially as you get close to goal accomplishment when the fear of success is strongest. So as important as it is to set big goals for yourself, it’s just as important to hold yourself accountable to accomplish those goals, especially in the final stages of goal completion, when the pull of procrastination will be really strong, requiring more accountability than just yourself. So build in this accountability at the beginning, don’t wait until you need it. Because at that point is going to be too late, you won’t do it. So trust me on this one. And then solution 11 recognize how sabotage shows up for you. So remember, sabotage is one of the main ways that fear of success shows up. So one of the most powerful sources of sabotage is procrastination. In the final stage of goal completion, it makes me sad, because you’re so close to accomplishing your goal. So it’s a head game and a heart game. Because of course, it doesn’t make logical sense that you would sabotage yourself. So of course, you need accountability with someone who understands the illogical nature of this fear, and can coach you through it, and help you be accountable to goal completion. So you need to be able to identify your red flags, and then be on the watch for them to know what you will do when you spot them on the horizon. And this is really where coaching can be very invaluable, because I think loved ones don’t always recognize the illogical nature of this, they just see like, you’re so close, like, why aren’t you doing this, and then that can feel really frustrating, not only to them, but also to you. And you know, if you’re working with a really good coach, they get it. And they can really coach you through that logical part of the sabotage and, and not only that, but help you to start to identify some of your red flags so that you can see those on the horizon. And you can start to sidestep those, so that you don’t become your own worst enemy.
Dr. Melissa Smith 57:19
Okay, and then solution 12, prepare wisely for anticipated transitions. So one of the sources of fear of success is the change that comes with life transitions, whether it’s the job change, move, or birth of a child, right, and that even with happy changes, which we’re focusing on today, the changes associated with success and growth, they can be really stressful. So we often make the mistake of assuming that because these are, quote, unquote, good changes, they shouldn’t be stressful. And this is so wrong headed. So think about getting your dream job. It’s totally exciting. And in fact, it’s a dream come true. But that does not make it a dream or a walk in the park, there’s a ton to navigate. There’s a new city, a new house, a new schedule, not only for you, but your entire family. And of course, there are 1,000,001 hassles associated with each of those factors. And you haven’t even shown up at the new job. So of course, once you show up at the new job, there are all sorts of fears, worries and expectations. Maybe you have big shoes to fill, maybe you have absolutely no direction. Maybe you have a control freak, trying to micromanage you. Maybe you have new colleagues who are threatened by you. Or maybe you have a chaotic team who want you to hold their hand. So again, it’s your dream job. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not also totally overwhelming and stressful, potentially. So let’s make it less overwhelming and less stressful. Transitions are typically more chaotic, there are fewer answers less direction. So increasing structure and predictability during times of transition can really help. So even though you’ve got more vying for your time and attention, during times of transition, don’t let go of the structure that keeps you steady, such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, meditation date night, even if you have to simplify some of these routines, make sure you are not eliminating them entirely, as it will really undermine your coping and management of transitions. So it’s really, really important that you pay attention to that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 59:43
Okay. Ah, look at that. We’ve got 12 solutions for managing this fear of success. So I hope that you’ll pay attention to those, make sure you check out the show notes at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-14. I’ve got a great link To the YouTube video of Waylon Jennings singing, looking for love in all the wrong places. If you’re not familiar with that song, you totally have to check it out. I’ve also got a link to Tim Ferriss and his really popular podcast, also his book tribe of mentors, which is a great place to start if you’re looking for some inspiration. And then, of course, the excellent book built to last successful habits of visionary companies, and then a little more information on big hairy audacious goals. So I hope you’ll check those show notes out. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai