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Is it fear of failure or fear of success that is holding you back?

by Wendy Piersall :: eMom  |  3778 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

My second home based business was a great freelance graphic design business. I ran it for 4 years from home, never took on any debt, and made money every year (until the end… but that’s another story). There were several times in which I tried to figure out how to grow the company without taking on more clients - and the obvious solution was to subcontract some of my work out to other freelancers.

This worked for a while, but I found that I was a little lot outside of my comfort zone to delegate work - especially work that had “my name on it”. I wanted to run the show - wanted to maintain control. At the time, I knew I was dealing with an internal struggle - and deducted that I was just afraid of failing :: that if I didn’t control all of the pieces of the puzzle, something would go terribly wrong.

So I eventually stopped trying.

It wasn’t until few years later that I realized that perhaps it wasn’t fear of failure at all. In fact, I was damn good at failing :: I failed to follow up on a ton of leads, failed to grow my business to the level I wanted, failed to manage my time efficiently, and in the end the burnout got to me and I ended up closing my doors (which may or may not be considered a failure - for me, it truly was the right time to move on).

It was a dear friend who helped me to see that failing was indeed comfortable for me. What I was actually afraid of was becoming a success. Megan over at eBay Selling for eParents wrote a heartfelt post about this yesterday. And instead of buttoning up her article, she left it open ended and asked for some input from others.

So here’s what I have found. Becoming successful has a whole slew of perceived baggage that comes with it: I feared that if I became hugely successful…
  • Friendships and relationships would change because I would become more successful than the people I loved
  • That success would go to my head and I would become a raving bi*ch (hahaha)
  • That I would become materialistic and spend a lot of money on things that I didn’t need
  • That I would teach my children that success is more important than relationships
  • That once I became successful I was going to have to be perfect all of the time, because that’s what people would expect of me

When it came right down to it, being super-successful was so darn foreign to me that the uncertainty that it caused was more frightening than just staying in my ho-hum business and never getting anywhere.

About the Author

Wendy Piersall is the CEO and Founder of eMoms at Home, the home business magazine for moms and dads at

Read more by Wendy Piersall :: eMom

2 comments so far...

  • thanks, this is great. I certainly asked myself same thing and sometimes it's fear of success that can stop us.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 18th March 2009

  • Wendy, thank you for this. Truly, thank you. As a fellow entrepreneur, I fight the same internal demons - and knowing that I am not alone and someone as awesome as you with a rockin' business like yours is in the similar boat means a lot!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 26th November 2007