“I’m doing everything I can to sabotage my career. It’s a little thing called “fear of success””.

Jon Stewart

Hey there! Hope we are doing very well today. Like I said I would, I am here with the reasons why we sabotage our successes and how to identify the Fear of Success. However, for the sake of those readers who missed my first post (please update yourself by reading Part 1), I would do a recap.

“Sometimes you find yourself with a goal you think you should want to achieve, but you just don’t seem to be taking enough action to reach it. You aren’t really afraid of failure or rejection, the path to the goal seems clear enough and might even be an interesting challenge, and occasionally you’ll make some progress. But most of the time you can’t seem to get into that flow state, and you’re not sure why”. This is the typical state of mind of someone suffering from Achievemephobia (Fear of Success).

“Because success is heavy and carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.”

Denis Waitley

With that said, I would like to get right down to the business of the day. I believe that if we sincerely think these myriad of reasons through and select the ones that apply to us (they are all excuses, lol), we’ll begin to resolve these issues within ourselves.

  • Refusal to set Goals: So many people refuse to set goals in the first place and like it is said, you cannot give what you do not have neither can you reap what you do not sow, this is a sure and permanent route to failure. You might be uncomfortable setting goals, however, goals help us define where we want to go in life. Without goals, we have no sure destination.


  • Change Itself Is Scary: It’s easier to maintain status quo and go along unthinkingly. Like they say, life is easier when we can live it on auto-pilot. Change brings us into the unknown with its mix of exciting adventure and scary possibilities.


  • People’s Expectations: There is a new pressure to perform to a level that was not there before. You are aware of people watching and waiting for you to repeat your success. The thoughts of people waiting for you to succeed or fail can be pressurizing. Your old habits and processes will no longer cut it. You have to change your familiar and comfortable ways for new and uncertain grounds, maintain new levels of performance and new details you’ve never had look out for before. (Chai! leaving your comfort can be hard work).


  • Self- Doubt: You may begin to wonder after the first victory (where a series of victories are needed) if the first victory was a fluke and perhaps, you will not be able to perform that “magic” the second time. This pressure takes away the value of the first performance should you fail.


  • It’s Harder to Stay at the Top Than to Get There: It is tough succeeding, but repeating your success or staying on top is usually even harder. It takes more time, more planning and with your new distractions and obligations, keeping focus is even more demanding.

(See picture, observe that it gets more difficult as you climb higher (Uneasy is the Head that wears the Crown, they say))

One of the most difficult challenges in football is for the loser of a big game to come back the following year and reach the same height. It is difficult for winners as well. The pressure to repeat is intense.”   –Tony Dungy, Christian Coach and winner of the Super Bowl Championship

How do you identify the Fear of Success? I would try to describe it avidly in two ways.

Fears that are never evaluated consciously have a tendency to grow stronger. The simple reason is Behavioral Conditioning — when you avoid something you fear (either consciously or subconsciously), you automatically reinforce the avoidance behavior. So, consistent avoidance to work on one’s already set goals reinforces the habit of procrastination, so as time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to get yourself to take action. Insidious!

Secondly, often after attaining success, an individual could begin to do things that are incompatible with his/her character or against good sense. Sometimes, it is not the fear of success itself that is the problem but rather the side effects of success, many of which may be genuinely unwanted. For instance, a generally timid or modest individual after some level of success, in order to escape self-awareness can get involved in drug use and abuse (hope you know the difference), alcoholism or even drive oneself to suicide in extreme cases. I believe this is the case for many artists (not our Nigerian artists wey don tey for ground before them make am o) say the likes of Whitney Houston; her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown who died at age 22 (I cried); Prince Rogers Nelson popularly known as Prince, the Iconic Purple rain master who died at age 57 (google Prince if Purple Rain is lost on you, in fact let me gist you a lil’. He has seven Grammys, one AMA, one Golden Globe and one Academy award, his records went platinum, he got inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first year of his eligibility; he was number 27 on the list of 100 greatest artists as the most influential in the Rock and Roll era, thank me later); or even the world renowned Legend, Michael Jackson. I stand to be corrected.


  1. Look inwards and examine yourself, do you have any unaccomplished goals (written or implied) that you have been carrying over for the past three to eight years? Please note that I gave this time line because I recognize that some goals require years to accomplish.
  2. Do you find yourself “self-destructing” when you attain some certain level of progress or success?

If your answer is YES to any or both of the above questions, kindly consider reading my next post.