Abandon all weakness, ye who enter here.

5 Tips to Conquer the Fear of Success

Have you ever been afraid of success? To the point that it resounds the beat in your chest? How do you conquer the fear of success?

I have always had what I consider a healthy relationship with fear. It’s something that shows be a boundary that I need to break through, to go beyond. That boundary used to be failure.

Imagine: a young kid, enthusiastic about being a strongman, hand balancer, martial artist, and much more is searching desperately for a mentor to guide his passions. But in the back of his mind, behind the passion and enthusiasm, is a fear that it’ll amount to naught. Or even worse, a subconscious desire to actualize that fear.

And that kid’s mentor is constantly saying that if the young kid will follow the process, he will achieve his goals...but the kid is hesitant. He looks up and sees the people already doing it, and thinks his own voice will sound like a whisper in the galestorm of wisdom that the professionals have to offer.

One of my mentors with some professional wisdom.

But he trudges on, because no one will get it for him, or give it to him. He doesn’t have a choice.

Well I’m that young kid!

And too much has happened for the fear of failure to shake me. Losing both parents, experiencing homelessness, and being entirely dependent on the support of friends or family before the first quarter of my life leaves me with an HD view of what rock bottom looks like, and I fear it no longer.

But...what about the opposite? What about a fear of reaching the top?

They say the fall doesn’t kill you, but the sudden stop does; still, neither the fall or the stop will bother me.

But if I reach the top...become the professional that I could never even dream of...then I won’t be the only one falling.

You see, physical culture is a community. It is an art that allows you, sometimes literally, to stand on the shoulders of giants. Being an oldtime strongman does that especially, because I didn’t learn my art from a textbook or class; I learned it as an apprentice, from a master who learned it from a master.

To go beyond the level of an apprentice, you need to develop your own inner strength, but you also need to awaken the strength in others as you all support each other on the way up.

Which means that if you make it to the top and fall, a part of each person who has helped you reach those heights falls with you.

That, to me, is terrifying.

And yet...well, this is how I’ve come to terms with that terror.

How To Conquer The Fear of Success

  • What goes up, must come down. It’s a law of nature, and it applies to life. You will fall. And as long as there is life in your breast, you can rise again, because as you develop your foundation, even rock bottom isn’t as far down as when you began.
  • Community. I’d like to draw on wisdom from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to drive this point home (with a little help from IMDB).

    Tony Stark: Does anybody remember when I put a missile through a portal, in New York City? We were standing right under it. We're the Avengers, we can bust weapons dealers the whole doo-da-day, but how do we cope with something like that?

    Steve Rogers: Together.

    Tony Stark: We'll lose.

    Steve Rogers: We do that together too.

    There is something primally satisfying about succeeding with a pack. Inversely, there are few heartbreaks that compare to failing as a pack. But the most important factor is this: you are a pack. When one of you succeeds, you all succeed, When one of you bleeds, you all bleed. But you fight, and you do it together, with bonds that grow in temper with each journey through the forge.
  • Embrace the art and science of your journey. When I approach my training and writing, I approach it as an art. A part of me goes into every article and video, and all of myself goes into each workout, as though that were the only way for me to emerge whole. That makes scrutiny much harder, because when your methods or style is judged, you feel like a part of yourself is being judged as well. 

    In a way, it is. But if you also approach your art with a scientific method, then you realize something: that expression of yourself is only a theory, only a snapshot of yourself at that time. You must grow, continue, and test your methods time and time again to prove your theory with each step.
  • Embrace the breaking. As an oldtime strongman, my career has an overarching message; destruction begets creation. You may take something that once had function (say, a wrench) and destroy the original function of it (bend the wrench). Yet, when you get before an audience and bend the wrench, that inspires the inner strength that each human carries with themselves. It introduces the concept that limits are self-imposed, and simply waiting for you to break them. This goes along with point 1 -- you will fall. Take it as an opportunity to rebuild. Take it as a chance to grow. Gaze upon the charred forest, and see the undergrowth that will make it more lush, in time.
  • Legacy. There will always be people ready to help support you, and others ready to tear you down. Your own journey is not simply your own, but there’s something even more distinct about that point: you will inspire people you will never meet. Your art will allow many people to know you in ways that you will never know them, perhaps in ways you’ll never know yourself. They will rise in their own ways, and create their own legacies, with your inspiring journey as a part of their foundation.

So rise, young phoenix. The sun may set you ablaze today, but what a light you’ll shine on the world. Your ashes may even scatter...but you will rise once again. All of you will.

Questions, Comments, Feedback...

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