A few years ago, I saw a quote that went something like this – “People say that they’re afraid of failure. But what they’re actually afraid of is success.”
I couldn’t understand what it meant. How could anybody be afraid of success? Isn’t success a good thing? A wonderful thing, even?
For years, I tried to understand the quote, but I never could. Still, it lingered at the back of my mind.
Right now, years after reading that quote, I am happy to say that I finally understand what it means.
All It Took, was a Podcast Interview.
I stared at the email invitation for a good 15 minutes. Or maybe even more. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never expected for such a huge channel to want a nobody like me on their show.
It took a while for me to register the news, and my eyes glistening a little. I was incredibly stoked. Over the moon, even. Of course, I happily agreed to go on the podcast. There was no hesitation in my mind whatsoever.
So, I set the recording date about 3 weeks away. I figured that this would give me sufficient time to obtain the necessary equipment, as well as to prepare for the interview.
I started by bingeing on the already published podcast episodes. Blown away by all the remarkable people who have been interviewed, I started to wonder why Denis and Katie (the amazing hosts of Chain of Wealth) would want me on their podcast.
Anxiety started building up within me. Doubts filled my mind, chasing away all the confidence and joy that I had in the beginning.
“What if people don’t like my story?”
“What if more people visited my blog and realised they hate it?”
“What if my voice gets recognised?”
“What if I completely suck and there are so many awkward silences?”
“What if I annoy Denis and Katie?”
I thought about the podcast while I was at work. I thought about the podcast while I was showering. I thought about the podcast before I went to bed. A couple of times, I actually dreamt about the podcast.
I don’t think there was an hour that went by, that I didn’t think about the podcast. The “What-Ifs” never stopped hounding me.
I started feeling incredibly stressed out. My sleep got affected, and my mood deteriorated. At times, I even felt nauseous, struggling to not spew half-digested food all over the place.
It got to a point where I started wondering, “What if I put in all this effort, and I just completely screw up? Is this even worth it?”
If you had asked me whether I would want to be on a Chain of Wealth podcast, 6 months ago when I first started blogging, I would have been like, “Hell, yeah!”
Yet, here I was, a week away from my podcast interview. A week away from one of the biggest opportunities that I’ve had in my entire life. A week away from something that means so goddamned much to me.
And a part of me wanted to throw that away.
I was, completely and utterly, stricken by fear. Fear, of success.
Why People Are Afraid of Success
Here’s the thing about success – it’s never easy. And it’s never comfortable.
Because success never occurs when you’re in your comfort zone. Inside your comfort zone, everything is simple. Everything is safe.
When you’re afraid of applying for a tougher, higher-paying job, and you settle the current job that you don’t like, you’re in your comfort zone. When you constantly procrastinate going to the gym, and you stay home to watch Netflix instead, you’re in your comfort zone. When you’re scared of losing your stable paycheck when you start chasing your dreams, and you stay in a job you hate instead, you’re in your comfort zone.
When you turn down an incredible podcast opportunity, because you’re incredibly introverted and you don’t think you speak very well, you’re in your comfort zone.
And inside your comfort zone, you’re not being your very best self. You’re not living the most amazing life that you can live.
If you want to be successful in whatever you are doing, you’re going to have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
That’s why people are afraid of success – Because it’s uncomfortable. And hard. People just don’t like being uncomfortable and in tough situations.
People stay where they are instead, where it’s safe and comfortable. All the while telling themselves that they’re afraid of failure.
When in fact, the very thing that they’re afraid of, is success.
You can give yourself all the excuses in the world.
Like me, you can tell yourself that you’re too introverted to appear on podcasts. You can tell yourself that you don’t have decent speaking skills. You can tell yourself that your story isn’t inspiring and no one would want to hear it. You can tell yourself that you’re an absolute weirdo who may completely weird her podcast hosts out.
But ultimately, these are just excuses. They’re excuses that you give yourself, to allow yourself to stay in your comfort zone.
You can tell yourself, all you want, that what you’re afraid of is failure. And you can give yourself plenty of excuses.
But in actual fact, you’re just plain afraid of success.
How to Overcome the Fear of Success
At this point, I can’t say that I’ve got a lot of advice to give to you on this topic. But from my experience with the podcast, I’ve distilled the following learning points.
First, recognize that success occurs only when you’re out of your comfort zone.
Most of us are creatures of comfort. We go through the same motions each day. We stick to the same routines. Because it’s pleasant, and it’s comfortable.
During periods of extreme discomfort, however, we feel nauseous. (At least this is true for me, when I’m being put in situations like networking and speaking.) We feel sick. We hate it. We want out. We just want to get it over and done with.
But going back to your comfort zone isn’t where you’d be successful. This upcoming thing that’s giving you lots of anxiety? Perhaps it could be your next big break.
Second, focus only on a single problem at any point of time.
Stop thinking about everything else that you must do, and how much farther you must go. Instead, be laser-focused on the problem right in front of you. Get through that, then solve the next problem.
Just like that, you’ll keep making progress. One step at a time, you’re paving your way to success.
When I was preparing for the podcast, I encountered a lot of obstacles. I had problems with my computer. My microphones didn’t seem to have decent enough quality. I had a mental block when trying to prepare for the podcast. Thinking about everything I had to do and how I may screw up was overwhelming, and led to a lot of anxiety.
But I pushed through, tackling just one problem at a time. In the end, it all seemed to work out fine.
Third, remember to give yourself a break. And remember to be grateful for how far you’ve come.
Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone usually comes hand-in-hand with a bucket-load of stress. When improperly handled, it’ll cause burn out.
After accomplishing something you’re proud of, take the time to decompress. To look back on how far you’ve come.
When I was done recording the podcast, I was so relieved. I gave myself a pat on the back and then proceeded to take the day off.
How Did the Podcast Turn Out?
To sum it up – It was a remarkable experience.
Over the couple of weeks before the podcast, I prepared a lot. I went through 3 different microphones, until I managed to get my hands on a Blue Yeti. I spent a lot of time listening to their already-published podcast episodes, making mental notes of how to improve my own podcast interview. I spent many hours preparing the questions that I was going to be asked.
In the run up to the podcast date, I pretty much lived and breathed the upcoming podcast. I did all I could do, so the only thing left was to sit back, and (try to) relax.
On the actual day, I woke up 6AM to wash my face, eat a quick breakfast, and get my equipment all set up. By 645AM, I was sitting at my desk, a coffee in my hand, and my heart in my mouth.
Promptly at 7AM, Denis and Katie dropped me a call. And they were incredibly supportive. They knew that it was my first time on a podcast. And they made me feel completely at home, dispelling many of the doubts that I originally had. No stress, no doubts, just relaxed conversation.
Granted, I was still nervous. My voice sounded lower than normal, shaking and breaking at certain points. And my Wi-Fi had connectivity issues!
But Denis and Katie were completely understanding about everything. My nervousness, the technical issues, my possibly nonsensical rambling.
At the end of the interview, they told me I did a good job (even though I’m sure I didn’t). And I was on cloud freaking nine! I spent a good hour after the interview bouncing around my room, my palms to my cheeks, yelling, “That was amazing!”
And it truly was.
After the interview ended, I reflected on how I could have improved. I did wish I had said things more eloquently. I did wish that I hadn’t rambled so much. I did wish that I could have been a little less nervous and less awkward. But I did the best that I could have, for my first podcast interview.
Everything was worth it. All the hours that I spent researching an appropriate microphone. All the hours that went into preparing the questions. All the nights I spent worrying. It was all worth it, completely.
I guess being an insecure person works against me all the time. I’m constantly thinking about the worst-case scenario. I’m always letting the anticipation eat me up. And I completely worried myself sick (literally) with this podcast interview.
But all those fears were unfounded. Sure, I encountered a few issues. But by and large, it went fairly smoothly.
I told myself that even if my podcast interview doesn’t make it to air, I wouldn’t regret a single thing. I had an amazing time with Denis and Katie. I learnt a lot about podcasting, microphones and audio quality.
I’m so happy that I wasn’t stupid enough to throw this wonderful opportunity away.
Sure, I stressed myself out a lot over the last few weeks because of this opportunity. But if I had to go back in time, and choose again whether to go on this podcast or not, I would choose to reach beyond my comfort zone and say, “hell, yeah!”
Yeah. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
To working through our fears of success,
Note: If you love podcasts, I would seriously recommend the Chain of Wealth podcast. Denis and Katie are the most amazing hosts, and they have featured incredible people with equally incredible stories. You can take away a lot of things from every 30-minute episode.
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