“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 and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

This quote, which Mandela cited in his 1994 Inaugural Speech, was given to me years ago by my dear friend Liz, who is a hugely successful HR professional in NYC. She has interviewed, managed and advised hundreds and hundreds of employees in her long career. She has mentored, encouraged, and, as she says, more often than not, even cajoled her advisees into taking the next step in their career paths. She shared this quote which she keeps on her desk to remind herself and others how important it is to be fearless in our careers. “Playing small,” she says, “doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose.”

When we think back on lost opportunities in our careers and ponder the causes, we might see that often those missed chances are due to indecision and procrastination. Once we finally decide to take the plunge, we are told that the position has already been filled. What causes us to hesitate? Perhaps we shrink in the face of competition, fear a new environment, or are terrified of disappointment and rejection. One observation Liz shared with me is that so many lost opportunities are due to a misplaced lack of confidence, even though the employee may be extremely competent and have excellent experience. But what causes this disconnect? Psychology Today suggests that one reason could be a fear of success.

Livestrong.com, whose byline is “The limitless potential of you,” states that a cause of fear of success can be the “belief that you are undeserving of all the good things and recognition that come your way as a result of your accomplishments and successes.” This can lead to a “lack of effort to achieve goals” and “self-destructive behavior”. Livestrong.com is a fabulous resource to get energized in all phases of your life, including your career management. They suggest new behavior patterns to overcome one’s fear of success and even outline a five-step process to help your progress. All these steps can be applied to your career if you find yourself "playing small" and underestimating yourself. Check out the Livestrong site to get more details.

Here are the steps to resolve a fear of success as outlined by Livestrong.com:

Step 1: Identify the fear in each area of your life.

Step 2: Ask yourself a series of questions about yourself and your motivations

Step 3: Identify and address the beliefs that lead you to fear success. If these beliefs are rational, they can be replaced with positive self-affirmations. If they are irrational beliefs, they should be replaced with rational, self-affirming ones.

Step 4: Ask yourself a series of questions about what new behaviors you need to develop.

Step 5: Make a commitment to develop these new behaviors.

The Nike commercial spouts “Just Do It” but obviously that is easier said than done. Identifying and addressing whatever obstacles hinder our success is the first step to liberating ourselves from them. Freedom from the deep fears that hold you back creates a sense of energy, of fearlessness. And once you become fearless, you can truly realize "the limitless potential of you."



06/05/2016 3:22pm

You done very well to share this post for us because it teaches me a lot of great things. I am really impressed with your fearless approach because it makes me strong. My believe become more strong because of fearless approach.


Fear is a difficult problem to overtake. It grips minds of many of us. Fear prevents people from achieving success and kills any opportunity or chances in life. As a result, people lose the sense of life. However, they attempt to overcome their fears which come in variety of types. Some common fears are fear of failure and fear of loneliness. But fear is just us. We just need to be strong, to be able to overcome it.

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