The fear of success and why it’s more deadly to your long-term goals than you think

The Fear of Success - www.alliepottswrites.com

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock

I mentioned last week that I was readying myself mentally for being my husband’s plus one at his high school reunion and my struggles with impostor syndrome. My husband had told me not to worry. I should have listened, though not for the reason he intended.

After all that build up I was only asked once about myself.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James M. Barrie

Admittedly that might have had a little to do with the fact that I spent the much of the evening chatting with a couple I’ve known since college, one of whom was also in my husband’s graduating class. But still. After so much preparation and nervous anticipation, it felt a wee bit anticlimactic, disappointing even, not to have been asked to launch into an over the top justification of all my life’s decisions at least twice.

This is not to say I was disappointed in the event. The venue was lovely. The handful of people I did manage to meet were great, though our conversation typically consisted of: “so where are you living now?” , “how many kids do you have?” , and “did you see which way your husband went?” It seems they were just more interested in catching up with their long-absent classmates than learning all about some stranger he brought in from the street. It was enough to make you think that was the entire point of a reunion. Go figure.

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.” – Stephen Hawking

So I didn’t dazzle, nor did I amaze, but I had a good time, which I think counts for something. The question is, does it count enough?

When researching impostor syndrome, I came across another social fear, one even more destructive: achievemephobia, the Jonah Complex, or the fear of success.

At the time, I skimmed over it. I brushed it off. I didn’t fear success. I’ve told myself and I’ve written on this blog, that I view success as something different than giant houses or fast cars.  It is freedom, security, and time with the family. It’s not fame or fortune (though I’d somehow find it in myself to accept either). It’s not something to be feared.

But then, like the glutton for punishment research, I am, I clicked on links. I read further.

Questions that plague the achievemephobic:

  • What if success is only temporary? How will I handle success begin taken away? After working so hard to get this far, would I really be willing to do it all again?
  • What if my success makes me a target? What if it endangers those I love? Do I really to risk that kind of attention?
  • What if success changes me? What if it changes my relationships with others?
  • What if the world finds out I don’t have what it takes? (Impostor Syndrome rearing its head)
  • What if my success means I no longer have time to spend with the people I care about or doing the other things I love?
  • What if I like routine? Why should I risk disrupting it?

People with this fear aren’t typically lazy but they make excuses like “I don’t have the time right now,” or “I’ll get it done after I take care of xyz.” They procrastinate while to everyone else it looks like they are busy achieving. They redirect. They go out of their way to ensure the goal line remains right where it is, in sight, but just out of reach. This way they never have to truly deal with their fear of the what ifs or learn the answers to these questions. Their fear of larger success is a killer and makes their failure a certainty.

I don’t blame them. Seeing these questions in black and white, the lack of certain answers scare me too.

I had a good time at the reunion, but after so much preparation, I now feel as if I could have done more. I am wondering if there might be a little more fear of success in me than I’d like to admit, but the past is past. All I can do now is be aware and try harder the next time.

Fear can actually a good thing in our lives. A healthy fear of pain keeps us from sticking our hand on a hot burner. Fear of heights keeps us from dancing on a cliff’s edge. A fear of sharks can make for entertaining stories and awesome blog fodder. We all have them.

  • You fear the burner because you’ve been burnt.
  • You fear the edge because you’ve fallen
  • You fear sharks because … well, that’s just good sense.
  • You fear success because … because the unknown is stubbornly uncertain and terrifying in its possibility.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H. P. Lovecraft

The difference between a fear of success and other phobias its focus on what could happen in the future rather than what has happened in the past, but that doesn’t mean it is a fear any less able to be managed or overcome.

Just as we wouldn’t recognize the good in our lives if we didn’t experience the bad, understanding our fears and finding the way to rise above them is what separates the brave from the idiotic. Fear can be a teaching mechanism too. So I am not afraid to admit I have fears, but I am learning to ask better questions, like how I can stop poisoning my goals, and how I can stop standing in the way of my own success.

May you find success overcoming your fears and never fear being overcome by success. – Me


*quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com

 

 

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The curse of the LEGO tape and the joy of crowdfunding

The curse of the #LEGO tape and the joy of #crowdfunding - www.alliepottswrites.comDeep in a dark and ancient pyramid, a forbidden chest was opened, and an evil the likes of which had never seen was loosed upon an unsuspecting world (well maybe not an ancient pyramid per se, more like a standard rectangular room, but the lighting back there is poor and the box isn’t allowed to be opened unless a parent is in the room. Okay, so the box’s contents probably aren’t evil, but you can’t say they are entirely good either, so I’m going with it).

It was a plot that would turn dreams into nightmares…It was the curse of the LEGO tape.

It all started innocently enough. It was Spring. Perhaps it was the pollen in the air. Perhaps it was the rising humidity. We may never know the reason. But on this day, the computer was on.

“Kiddo, look what I found.” This as become a rather ominous phrase in my house.

“What is it, dad?”

It’s something called LEGO tape.”

“Coooooooooooool. Can we get it?” Considering I’m pretty sure my son is on a singular quest to collect every single LEGO set ever manufactured, I can only imagine what was going through his head as he watched the video play. You mean I can cover my floors AND my walls in LEGOs? Sign me up!

“Well, you see it’s not yet in stores. They aren’t actually making any yet.”

If our son were a robot, I’m sure he would have said, does not compute. “But the video shows it. Right there.”

“That’s just a prototype. This is a crowdfunding site. They are asking money to make more and the people who give them money now will be the first to get the tape when it goes into production.” My husband launched a business several years ago and has a soft spot for others taking the plunge. Therefore, I can excuse the enthusiasm he projects when discussing entrepreneurialism with our children, but it can be contagious.

“Can we give them money?”

“Sure. Why not?” Why not? Is there another question in the English language that deserves more to go unasked?

May

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. I don’t think it was supposed to be ready until this summer.”

June

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. Be patient.”

July

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. They probably ran into a production delay. That happens sometimes.”

August

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet.” At this point you might be realizing my summer devolved into an extended version of the whole, ‘Are we there yet?’ question, which is the second most deserving question to go unasked.

You’d be right.

Still August

affiliate link – go ahead and click it if you are interested. Yes, it is this simple to find in stores.

“We just need to pop into the toy store to pick up a present for your friend’s party this weekend.”

“Okay, mom.”

“Oh, my gosh. Is that what I think that is?”

“It’s LEGO tape. But I thought I was supposed to get it before the stores.”

“Er, I thought so too. Maybe it’s another brand or something.” To be fair, there are now a number of variants in the marketplace. Who knew LEGO tape would have such fierce competition? Maybe had we known, we might not have been so quick to back the product, but those are the risks you take in crowdfunding. It’s also a good reminder to always do your due diligence on any investment.

Yep, still August

“I’m never going to get my LEGO tape.”

“I know you’re disappointed, but things like this happen sometimes. It’s in the stores now. We can get it for your birthday if we have to.”

September

“Hey Kiddo, you got an email from the company. They’ve apologized for the delay. Your LEGO tape is coming. There’s even a tracking number.”

“It’s going to get lost in the mail. I just know it.” Kiddo has a legitimate reason to worry. Our local post office is notorious for missed shipments and delayed deliveries. His disappointment would only be made worse after the build-up of the summer-long waiting game.

The next day

 

The day after that

 

I have to say I grew somewhat troubled by the fact that Kiddo had stopped asking whether the LEGO tape had shipped. Would his very first experience with crowdfunding go on to be his last? He’d been so eager to be a part of something bigger than himself, especially if it resulted in more LEGOs.

After seeing how high his hopes had flown, I hated to see them plummet like this, but this was one of those times that I couldn’t kiss a boo-boo and make it better. He’d taken a risk. It hadn’t worked out. Not everything he tries in life will be a success. He might as well learn to accept that now so he can focus on the positive side. As much as I wish it didn’t hurt so much at the moment, it is our failures that make us appreciate our later successes all the more.

We moved on. We started planning his birthday list.

I received a text from my husband one evening. “LEGO tape came in. He’s a little excited.”

The kids met me at the door and brought me to their rooms, eager to show off what they’d done already. You might have mistaken a day in late September as Christmas morning. If my husband entrepreneurial enthusiasm is infections, it has nothing on the joy that is knowing a child’s wish has come true.

The curse of the LEGO tape - www.alliepottswrites.com

What to get when you don’t want your feet to be the only body part injured during nighttime check-ins

 

A tale of two vines – how hardship led to better growth

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Ignoring the fact that my name isn’t Mary, nor do I consider myself contrary (well – at least, not most of the time), my garden may have looked better in prior years, but at least it is back in bloom. Thanks for asking!

A few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that would be the case.

February and March were rather dramatic months around here weather-wise with temperature fluctuations that were extreme even for North Carolinian standards. One day would be warm enough to turn on the air conditioning and let the kids run outside in their swimsuits – the next day cold enough to pull out the parkas. Is it any wonder then that I fell ill?

“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative” – Oscar Wilde

I don’t remember asking you Oscar, and really, what part of I was sick last week did you miss? Now, back to my story. Our news reported that much of the commercial plant life was equally confused and budded too early, causing several crops to be considered a total loss after the frost returned, which is a bummer as I always look forward to picking strawberries with my kids in May. Therefore I was delighted to notice green leaves and white flowers on the vines that grow in my backyard (kids there’s hope for us yet).

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need – Marcus Tullius Cicero

I’m not sure I completely agree with the statement above, but I appreciate where the thought is coming from. For years now I’ve been growing grapes as well as blackberries, among a few other foodstuffs, but though they grow side by side, the vines are as different as people.

blackberry blooms

thornless blackberry blooms

My blackberries, for example, barely needed to be covered in earth before they took off on their own, with several shoots of new vines popping up in other beds independent of my plantings. My grapes, on the other hand, required a little more attention.

The first year we were together, the vines grew, but never produced. The second was more of the same. I considered letting the blackberries take over, but decided to give them one more chance while doing a bit more homework.

“The more help a person has in his garden, the less it belongs to him.” – W. H. Davies

That may be true, but I think, in this case, my plants appreciated the phone-a-friend. I learned that grapevines produce best when pruned while dormant and the weather is still cold. In my area, that means late February.

I remember the first time I clipped away at the vines (which look more branch-like than vine-like at that time of year). I thought to myself how the practice must seem to the plant. Here they were, having barely survived the harshness of winter, they then forced to suffer further as their limbs were hacked away.

During such times, I imagine that if my grapes were people, they might cry at how unfair their life was compared to that of the blackberry. If they were religious fruit, they might also wonder if they were being tested and rage against their gardener. I understand what it must seem like for them, but still, I continue snipping away in the cold of winter year after year, not because of some cruel game, but because I care. I do this so that when summer finally arrives, they will be the best they can be.

“In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.” –  John Churton Collins

grapevine

in between the heart-shaped leaves, tiny buds that will one day transform into the most delicious jam are already appearing

And when summer does arrive, the situation in my garden is quite different. My blackberries, having produced small clusters of berries in the spring are only shadows of their former glory. Several of the vines, hunched over, touching the ground under the weight their leaves, as small as they are, are more brown than green and most vines will be forced to give away to the next generation of shoots now breaking through the dirt’s surface on either side.

“When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.” – Ray Kroc

My grapevines, however, will remain strong even under the weight of heavy bunches of fruit. The fruit itself will be protected from the cruel sun by gorgeous full leaves wider than a handspan or two, but not so protected they cannot ripen fully thanks to their vine’s earlier sacrifice. Meanwhile, tendrils of new vines, still growing, will stretch and twist around nearby surfaces, as much the bully in their newfound success as the blackberry once was.

The point is my grapevine should not envy my blackberry for its easy start (as tempting as that might be at the time). The grapevine that experienced and overcame hardship will bear fruit much longer. It will be made stronger in a way the blackberry, by its very nature, will never appreciate nor understand. That grapevine will become capable of withstanding the next extreme with a confidence felt to its roots, returning year after year in steady growth while others might rise quickly only to fall. It’s a lesson, and eventual outcome, I try to keep in mind when dealing with my own hardship or two.

While both plants produce their own delicious fruit in their own season, in terms of success per individual vine, there really is no comparison.

quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com

Contemplating success at the corner bus stop

contemplating success at the corner bus stop - www.alliepottswrites.comIt was my morning with the kids and their cousins. My morning to supervise them as they pulled out every toy I had so painstakingly put away just days before. My morning to ensure they reached the bus stop with backpacks and lunch sacks intact.

Some mornings those tasks are easier than others.

I informed the crew that it was time to clean up. My youngest, LT, pouted. “Now, honey,” I started. He pouted some more. “Five-year-olds are big enough to pick up their own mess.” He grumbled and whined, but I was satisfied to see the toy go back into its spot.

Now typically on my morning, I drop LT off with the wonderful woman who watches him while I work before taking the rest of the kids to their destination. But this morning, one of the kids asked if LT might come to the bus stop with them instead. Another chimed in – they wanted to race. I looked at the clock. We’d have to wait outside longer than normal, were they sure?

Spring has come early to my neck of the woods this year. We’ve spent the last two weekends with the kids outside and the windows open. Already the trees and flowers are budding and small pink petals dot the streets. My concern about a few minutes extra exposure to the great outdoors fell on deaf ears.

Fine. I’d be democratic about it – this time.

I altered our course and soon we were at the stop. The children dumped their bags at the corner by my feet and congregated a few yards away – close enough for me to keep an eye on them, but far enough that they might whisper among themselves unheard. The next thing I knew they were running down the sidewalk back toward me.

Or more specifically, LT ran. Kiddo, my eldest, and my nephew, Casimir, took turns moving in what can only be described as spastic hop, yet tiny tip-toe sized step that might have only impressed a snail with progress. LT, passing them with ease, ran around me, grinning from ear to ear. As LT returned to their starting point/finish line both Kiddo and Casimir tried to one-up each other in exaggerated groans about how fast their youngest competitor now was. It was a far cry from the fits and tantrums we used to experience about ‘unfair’ contests and proof of how mature the boys had become.

Before long other children began to arrive, filling up the sidewalk and preventing further races. One child shouted “Bus,” like a whaler of old spotting a blowhole out at sea as the big yellow vehicle appeared from around the corner. The kids scrambled to pick up their backpacks and gathered in a line as LT returned to my side.

Picking him up, we waved at the faces grinning at us from the other side of the windows. “That’s going to be you soon,” I told my youngest as the bus pulled away. “Are you ready?”

He smiled and nodded, undoubtedly thinking that the coming school year would be filled with fun and games like the time he’d just had.

Recalling the display at being asked to put toys away, I decided to make this a teachable moment. “You know, when you are in school, you are going to have to listen to your teacher when he or she tells you to do things.”

LT looked at me and cocked his head to one side. “Why?”

“Because you don’t want to go to the principal’s office or get bad grades.”

The look of confusion on LT’s face only deepened. He repeated, “Why?”

“Because they will call mommy then or give mommy a bad report. You don’t want that.”

He chewed on my answer for a moment or two. “Okay mommy, I’ll listen to my teacher.” I smiled and patted his head. Then, so softly, I almost missed it, LT muttered, “sometimes.”

LT might think he is ready for school, but I now have to wonder if his school will be ready for him.

Later, our conversation made me think of my own plans for the future and some of the stumbling blocks I’ve already encountered. Often, I complain about how long these plans are taking as patience is not my best virtue. The morning then became a good reminder that while I might achieve the measures by which I currently judge my success, there will always be challenges I have yet to envision.

Therefore, I cannot, will not let those unforeseen bumps discourage me completely. I have to remind myself of those that traveled a similar path before me, of those who didn’t know then what they know now, and how they matured along the way. Every day, as I take another step down that path, I tell myself, I am closer now than ever before, even if I am forced to retrace a few steps or take the occasional detour.

Because that is what I do. That is what I’ve done.

Though it sometimes seems I still have a long way yet to go, I know that when (not if) I finally do reach the future of my dreams, the bigger question is now will my dreams be ready for me?

The Pokemon Exchange and one elementary success

The #Pokemon Exchange and one #elementary #success - www.alliepottswrites.comIt was a quiet morning. This was most unusual as it was also my turn to escort my kids as well as two of their school aged cousins to the bus stop. Now normally, I would have soothed at least one tear fest, brokered a toy sharing deal that would make a UN negotiator proud, or cleaned up someone’s accident by this point, but none of this had happened. I was immediately suspicious.

I found my eldest, Kiddo and his cousin, Casimir, deep into discussions in the center of our den. Sipping my coffee, I carefully approached, stopping close enough to listen in to the conversation, but far enough away as to not alert them to my attention. The green folder laying next to them coupled with an open white box told me all I needed to know. The source of my peaceful morning was none other than Pokemon.

My brothers, who are a wee bit younger than me, were told under the most severe threats of doom not to discuss Pokemon with my kids. I’d seen the madness that was their individual collections first hand. I’d heard their conversations with my stepmom about rare species and evolved forms. My ears had suffered under the constant refrain of the cartoon’s theme song once before. Not in my house, I’d decried.

But then the unthinkable happened. Pokemon Go became a thing,

Okay, Allie, I told myself, no need to panic. Kiddo doesn’t have a phone or anything (or at least he didn’t at the time). He’s not going to get sucked into playing the app.

And he didn’t. Something even worse happened. Some kid on the bus gave him and his cousin a few trading cards. The kid thought it was no big deal. After all, the cards were his or her duplicates and being apparently a nice well-meaning child, the kid simply wanted to share. Darn you public school system on your new emphasis on empathy, inclusion, and anti-bullying behavior!

Trading card the Pokemon Exchange on www.alliepottswrites.com

Catching them all together truly presents a challenge

Before I knew it, three cards became ten, which somehow continued to multiply to twenty to fifty. Kiddo, as sympathetic as the child on the bus, wanted to share his good fortune with his brother, LT. LT was delighted and their joint collection grew further. Despite my best efforts, I was forced to accept that Pokemon mania had taken root in my house. Reluctantly I raised the white flag.

My stepmom, who is likely overjoyed at the chance to de-clutter her house, was kind enough to divide my brother’s collection into boxes for each of the kids, leaving it up to them to broker individual trades later, which was exactly what Kiddo and Casimir were in the process of doing that morning.

Deal done, Casimir proudly announced to his sister, my niece, Xena that he had secured ten new cards all for a single rare whatsityacallit. Xena looked at the cards in his hands. Her eyes grew wide. “I want ten cards!” she declared rushing into the den where Kiddo still remained.

“Okay,” Kiddo nodded like a retail proprietor, “what will you trade?”

“I want ten cards,” Xena stated again.

“What are you going to trade for them?” Kiddo repeated.

“Trade?” She batted her eyelashes.

“Yeah. Casimir gave me a whatsityacallit. I will give you ten cards, but you have to give me a rare card. That’s a trade.”

“But I want them soooooo badly,” Xena replied.

I took another large gulp of my coffee as way of fortifying myself against whatever tantrum was sure to follow.

“I can give you one card, but I won’t give you ten unless you trade me for it.” Kiddo offered, diffusing the explosive situation. I supposed I might have interceded at this point, but if Kiddo wanted to be generous with his collection and we avoided a melt-down I was all for it. Bless that child.

Xena scanned his collection. Grinning from ear to ear she proudly held out her newest card for all the world to see as we made our way to the bus stop.

Now when I first observed this entire exchange, I thought the lesson worth sharing here was that no one will simply give you what you want just because you state you want it. You have to do the work. You have to make the trade. But now that I’ve written it all out, I realize that while my niece didn’t secure the ten cards she requested, she still managed to leave with more than she started out with, and at no personal cost. All she had to do was simply state her intended desire at the right place, right time, and most importantly of all to the right person.

My niece may have a future on Wall Street.

So I guess the lesson here is this – while doing the work certainly helps achieve an exponentially greater result, if you openly announce your goal, others are more likely to help you on your path to success (however you define the word).

To that end, (and those who know me understand how hard this next part is for me to do) I am announcing that in addition to writing books, I also offer design services including logo design, covers, and book formatting, because apparently writing books, being a mom, and working full-time leaves me with free time in need of filling (yes, I also think my head needs examination). You can check out samples of my work at Logo and Book Design Services. While I do use stock art, depending on budget, I can also offer a quote with custom photography or illustration and I’d love the opportunity to discuss a project with you.

May your goals for the new year be equally successful.