Monday, Jun 18, 2012

Monday Makeover (Attitude): Fear of Failure and Fear of Success

As most of you already know, the writer’s journey can be fraught with many fears that seek to keep us from our God-given destinies.  Two of the greatest of these fears are the fear of failure and the fear of success. 

The fear of failure and the fear of success are two sides of the same coin.  One creates mental and emotional paralysis at the thought of failing; the other creates mental and emotional paralysis at the thought of success.  Each fear has its own set of symptoms and solutions. 

The fear of failure has its roots in perfectionism. Perfectionism is the lie that our worth comes from our performance.  When a writer believes the lie of perfectionism, she sabotages success in the following ways:

  •      By procrastinating;
  •      By revising ad infinitum and ad nauseam.
  •      By substituting research for writing.

The fear of success, on the other hand, has its roots in the need for approval.  Those who fear success believe the following lies:

  • Success will cause loss of friendship or relationship;
  • Success will result in loneliness;
  • Success will cause people to like me for my money or my fame, not for who I am;
  • Success will make me more vulnerable to public criticism if I make a mistake. 

Both the fear of failure and the fear of success have their roots in the spirit of fear that is from Satan.  Scripture tells us that “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).    

If you struggle with either the fear of failure or the fear of success, give your fear over to Jesus Christ.  Then submit to God, resist the spirit of fear, and that spirit will flee from you (James 4:7). 

Keeping your eyes on Jesus will serve you well in eliminating all fear from your life (Isaiah 26:3).

Now it’s your turn. Do you struggle with either the fear of failure or the fear of success? If so, what strategies do you use or have you used to overcome your fear?

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8 thoughts on “Monday Makeover (Attitude): Fear of Failure and Fear of Success

  1. Hi, MaryAnn. You put forth very well what goes through our minds. It happens at so many levels, not just writing. It is weird…but I can’t say I have a fear of failing….maybe you could say that is what it is…..but it is more like a fear of not being able to do the whole thing. By that I mean, what if I should write a book and then sell it, will I be able to pull off the whole marketing thing? That is more where my fears lie, when it comes specifically to the profession and calling of writing. Will I be able to jump through all the hoops, as it were.
    Thanks for your post. You are always an encouragement.
    June 18, 2012 9:13 AM

    • Thanks very much for your comment, Colleen. Yours is a common fear, that of feeling inadequate to the task of “pulling off the whole marketing thing”. It is a daunting task, but be encouraged that there is much help available to you. Although I do not claim to be a marketing expert, I would be happy to offer you any tips from my own experience.


      June 18, 2012 9:56 AM

  2. I have challenges with both sometimes, and don’t always think about their origin. I appreciate this reminder and encouragement. I’ve probably said this before, but your posts are often very timely. 🙂

    Thanks and blessings,
    June 18, 2012 4:00 PM

    • Thanks for your comments, dear Karen. It is always a blessing to hear from you. I’m so glad my posts are timely. Perhaps the reason is that Holy Spirit knows I need them as much, if not more, than my readers. 🙂


      June 18, 2012 4:19 PM

  3. I don’t think I fear either of these things. I’ve heard writers talk about them a lot, but I never stopped to ask myself if I feared them.

    Not on a conscious level, I don’t.

    I do, however, sabotage myself. Not because I fear failure or success, but because I grew up being taught that I didn’t deserve to be heard and that I had nothing of interest to say.

    So I’m kind of apologetic and self-deprecating. My face-to-face pitches are disastrous!
    June 18, 2012 9:17 PM

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Sally! What you describe is, surprisingly, quite common among writers and among people in general. You most certainly deserve to be heard, and you have much of interest to say. Your touching prayers on our ACFW Children’s Loop are a perfect example! 🙂 Satan uses lies to keep us from our destiny. He plants these lies in childhood when we are most vulnerable. So what you were told–no matter how well-meaningly–about your not deserving to be heard was a lie. The truth is that God has given you something very important to say that no one else can say in quite the same way you can. May our Lord use you mightily to speak forth–and to write forth–His purpose for your life.


      June 18, 2012 9:27 PM

      • Thanks, MaryAnn. And I should add that my parents didn’t ever tell me I didn’t deserve to be heard. But they were strict and leaned more toward a “Children should be seen and not heard” method of raising children. And more than that, my father had issues of shame that he put on his kids without meaning to.

        Thanks for the blessings and the affirmations. 🙂
        June 19, 2012 9:57 PM

        • You are most welcome, dear Sally! Thank you for sharing your heart. You are a beautiful person with a loving heart. 🙂


          June 22, 2012 10:02 PM