Opportunity is an interesting word. Some see it as a happy thing, while others feel nothing but fear when the word is mentioned. This is because it can evoke the thought of doing something different or stepping outside our comfort zone.
We have all had opportunities come into our lives but then slip away (or go to someone else) while we stalled in our decision to act on them. Maybe we have an incredible idea for a book, but see a similar title published the next year after we neglect the urge to write it ourselves. Or maybe we have an idea to streamline productivity at the office only to see another employ get promoted for implementing the same idea three months later because we refused to speak up.
I know my own father created several tools to help him around the house that later showed up at big box retailers after someone else had the same ideas and took the time to patent them. (We could all be rich now, Dad!)
What is it about opportunity that paralyzes us sometimes? This can differ from person to person, of course, but there are a few common causes. Some of us may suffer from all of these issues, but even one is enough to hinder us from fulfilling our potential.
Let’s look at some of them:
- Fear of Failure
It is fair to say this has dominated most of mankind since the beginning of time. Luckily, some individuals have managed to overcome this fear or we wouldn’t have many things we now consider necessities, such as electricity, running water, modern medicine, the Internet, etc.
I would offer here that the only thing scarier than failure is knowing that you never tried. Earl Nightingale said, ” Most people tiptoe their way through life, hoping they make it safely to death.”
I can’t think of a sadder way for us to live our lives.
2. Fear of Embarrassment
This is tied closely to fear of failure. After all, this is why failure is so bad, right? Everyone will know.
But I have noticed something about successful people. They have all had failures. Every single one of them. The difference between them and us is they never seem to care what anyone thinks or says about their failures. They are so busy moving on to the next opportunity that they seem to be completely unfazed.
Their thoughts are always on the opportunities and successes of tomorrow, not dwelling on the failures and mishaps of yesterday.
3. Fear of Success
Yes, this is definitely a thing. And I believe there are three components that frequently play into this.
- Fear of the responsibility that comes with success
- Fear of being disliked for being successful
- Fear of losing success
Let’s start with the first one, fear of responsibility that comes with success. If you are the first person in your family or circle of friends to reach real levels of success, then you might fear that your loved ones will ask you for money or favors. If you spread your money around too much, then you will soon have no money yourself.
This can be easily sidestepped by planning ahead.
First of all, keep your financial information to yourself. People are less likely to ask for money if they don’t know your exact financial situation. Second, when someone asks for money, offer instead to teach them to make their own money.
Next, there’s the fear of being disliked. Guilt can also tie into this one. Being successful is a wonderful thing and you should never let other people’s jealously hold you back. Neither should you feel guilty for living up to your potential. It is not your fault if those around you chose not to live up to theirs.
Opportunities come to all of us in life. Every person must decide what to do with them.
Last, there is fear of losing success. This is more common than one might think. Which is worse: never having success OR having it and then losing it? Neither. Both are bad. So remove that fear from your thoughts now and it will never be an issue.
Success is your friend. Don’t overthink it and turn it into something stressful.
Go live your best life.