Have you ever done something to avoid the potential of success?
It seems like an odd question, right? But I know from first hand experience that it’s an important one.
For too many years, I routinely sabotaged my desire for success and it was FAR MORE DISABLING than my speech impediment and coordination differences have ever been.
After all, my speech impediment and coordination differences could be
2) adapted to.
4) turned into gifts.
But by embracing a fear of success, I refused to
1) accept the talents I possessed and the opportunities I was given.
2) adapt to the constant fluctuations of life (which it turns out is necessary to navigating life).
3) learn to love myself and others by growing into the person I could be.
4) view my struggles as potential gifts.
Basically, I was continually ripping the bandaid off my wound of fear, anger and self-doubt, re-opening it constantly without ever allowing it to heal.
You may say that I’m a bit of a recovering failure-aholic.
And recovery is going rather nicely. For example, during a SINGLE WEEK last October, I had FIFTEEN speaking engagements. It was an utter dream come true! What a journey it has been going from the teenager who attempted to hide the sound of his voice by not speaking, to literally standing on stage and speaking to THOUSANDS of people in a single week.
Success feels wonderful! So, why on earth did I take such pains to avoid it before?
Why would any of us want to avoid, even the potential of, that level of joy?
A few months ago, I found myself writing a poem that I think contains at least a partial explanation:
If I get too successful,
there will be failure.
If I feel too happy,
there will be sadness.
If I experience too much joy,
there will be pain.
If I grow too great,
my disabilities too become greater.
My success will only bring danger
to myself and those I love.
Other people, perhaps the universe,
will smite me for my brilliance.
It’s not worth
It’s not worth
It’s simply not worth the risk
to even attempt success.
Now, this isn’t the cheeriest poem I have ever written. But I suspect on some level we’ve all felt the underlying feeling it conjures.
It’s almost as if our desire for success gets tangled and snarled up in our fear of what we IMAGINE the negative effects of being successful could mean.
We may find comfort in playing small and minimizing the height from which we may fall.
But whatever “security” we gain from this approach could cost us the sum of a life well lived.
How important are your dreams?
How much do they haunt you when neglected?
For me, the answers are VERY and CONSTANTLY.
What say you?
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.