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Are you scared of success?

Are you scared of success?

This week I watched a TV program on unemployment in the UK, Panorama on BBC 1, that followed the fortunes of four unemployed teenagers over the period of a few years. Two of the teenagers looked for manual work, and didn’t want any interaction with the general public because they didn’t feel comfortable with it. They were low achievers, but seemed to genuinely want to work. By the end of the show, after a few years, they were both doing well in jobs – one of which was working behind the bar at a Wetherspoon’s pub – contrary to what he’d originally wanted.

The other two teenagers however were clearly more intelligent and had something about them. One came from a well off family, a family of high achievers, and both were well spoken and articulate. However, despite their advantages they were still unemployed at the end of the program, and had both given up on looking for work, branding it as pointless.

Were they afraid of failing to find work, or were they afraid of actually finding work?

Internet entrepreneur John Chow wrote a post recently about a similar thing, where he explained how two competitions run by him and Shoemoney (another Internet guru) only received a handful of entries, despite the prizes being worth thousands of dollars each.

John commented on his post:

“I had a friend who once said, “The person who least needs it is always the person who wins it.” and it seems to apply here. Zac, Gyutae and Lyndon didn’t really need to win those contests to be successful but they won because no one else entered. People did not enter because most are used to having excuses for failing and going to an event like Elite Retreat or Affiliate Summit would remove all those excuses. No more excuses mean they now have to succeed and that scares of the living daylights out of them.”

This raises an interesting question about being successful online. It’s easy not to try, and to blame your poor website, or even lack of a website, for your business not having a successful online presence – but if you were to invest in SEO and Internet marketing for your website, winning more traffic, the excuses for failure would dry up.

Are people afraid to try SEO because they’re afraid of failing, or afraid of succeeding? Perhaps you feel that the new business you would receive through using search engine optimisation would leave your company unable to cope, which shows a genuine lack of ambition.

How successful do you really want to be?

  • I think not everybody conceives of ‘success’ in the same way. Some people want money to buy lots of consumer goods (this has been called commodity fetishism) and foreign holidays, while other people are motivated by different things like helping others. When it comes to the experience of being out of work, it is an individual thing. How many jobs do you apply for? How many replies do you get? How do you cope with being ignored? How do you adjust to having too little to do? How nervous do you get at interviews? How do you cope with rejection? It is not that people are scared of success, but that some people find failure (even if it is temporary) harder to cope with than others.

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