Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fear ... of Success?

OK, I'm starting to understand that there are two ways of looking at the world: through the eyes of fear or through the eyes of love. If it's not one, it's the other. Of course, without that awareness, I wouldn't know that I had a choice about how I see the world. And without the choice, I really would be at the mercy of my circumstance, whatever that might be.

So, given the opportunity to choose, I choose love. Got that.

If it is that simple, why isn't it easy? Or does my saying that make it so?

I think I speak for many out there who understand that fear still has a hold on us at some level. As we read Think and Grow Rich, we understand the ghosts of fear that have kept many people stuck: 1) Poverty; 2) Criticism; 3) Ill Health; 4) Loss of Love of Someone; 5) Old Age; 6) Death.

Now I may be wrong, but I believe that as we've evolved somewhat in our thinking and awareness, not so many of us are as affected as we once may have been by some of these fears; however, I also believe that there are others that have taken their place.

The one I'm most curious about - and I don't believe I'm the only one - is the fear of success. What's that about?

I did a talk a while back called "Getting Beyond the Fear Factor," where the participants were invited to come up with their own definition of fear, including the factors that keep them in that state. When I asked people in this particular workshop to share their fears, I got some of the typical responses: my kids' well-being, that I'll be able to retire without worry, snakes (!), failure (which always comes up) and one woman I remember said "success." That's not a new one, so we broke it down.

She was in sales and was working for a company where her quotas were set for her. She didn't want to "succeed" because she knew it would mean higher quotas and more work for her to achieve the goals someone else set for her. So I asked whether that definition of success: achieving goals and then having to do more, be more, was the way everyone defined success. One woman was very clear that her definition of success involved elements like a happy family, freedom, flexibility to do whatever she wanted, and peace.

What's scary about that?

So really, for many of us, the fear of success probably lies somewhere in our definition. I'll bet for every person who claims fear of success as one of their limiting beliefs, there is something in his/her early programming that involved some sort of external element - measuring up to a standard, having to do more as a result of a goal reached, or maybe even an overshadowing of someone else's accomplishments (a younger sibling, a classmate, a friend).

Our upbringing and our early conditioning is based on elements we can understand as children whose reasoning and logical thinking skills just aren't physically developed yet. We learn concepts like sharing through our physical senses and we just can't understand why we would want to give half our candy bar to our brother because it means we're left with only half. We learn that sharing means losing and we translate that to the sharing of information as we grow up. Keeping our ideas close to the vest means that we won't have to lose our intellectual property. We see that we can be right about seeing the world the way we've always seen it, and wonder why not everyone sees things the exact way we do.

And that's just one area. Our own worthiness as well as our learned relationship with money are two other areas that might keep us stuck. "If I make lots of money, then I'll have to worry about how to not lose it." "If I get that big house, then I'll have to clean it." "If my business is successful, then I'll have to put in more hours." We fall back into those old patterns, and more often than not being right - even if what we're right about is no longer true - becomes more important than living in a new paradigm.

This is actually a phenomenon called "Impostor syndrome," which, according to Wikipedia, is the belief by some people that regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study or what external proof they may have of their competence, they remain convinced internally they do not deserve the success they have achieved and are actually frauds. Although much evidence points to their true success, they dismiss it as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they were more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

The really interesting thing about concepts like this Impostor Syndrome is that it's real to the people who suffer from it and those who don't can't even fathom it. Fear of success? How crazy is that? You don't want to make money? You're nuts! You actually sabotage your own victories so others won't feel bad around you (those are the phony phonies - people who don't actually identify with the Impostor Syndrome, but feel they should!).

So, is it enough to just know ABOUT this syndrome and to identify with it in some way? Or are we really ready to get beyond it? Perhaps instead of looking for the answer, which in some ways comes from outside yourself and is someone else's way of solving an uncomfortable situation, we might do better to come up with a really compelling WHY for actually getting past this limiting belief.

I know that when the WHY is big enough, the HOW somehow materializes and we discover solutions we didn't even know we knew.

I'd love to use this idea as a topic for a Master Mind dialogue - or perhaps a community dialogue in our Wednesday evening gatherings here in Fargo. Is this something you'd be interested in pursuing and learning from others? Let's start the dialogue here.

Let's get beyond the fear of success and take on bigger and bigger challenges. As Marianne Williamson reminds us, "we've got a world to save."

Now that's a success I'm willing to stand for!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Steve Farber is coming to Fargo!

In the video below, Steve Farber gives an overview of his new book Greater Than Yourself. Watch and be inspired - and join us September 30 to experience Steve Farber, live and in person!

Register for Steve's presentations in Fargo at www.bocksoffice.com. Sponsorship opportunities are also available - contact Jodee (jodee@bocksoffice.com) for more information.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Go Ahead - Take The Leap

I must admit, before I got the opportunity to read the preview copy of this book, I had never heard of Rick Smith. But I'm adding this book to my list of favorites, and Rick Smith is now my Facebook friend.

This book is very inspiring to me because in it Rick proves, through various stories (both his and others), that anything is possible for those who really know what they want. We've all been stuck at one point or another in our lives and careers, and Rick proves that this does not have to be a career breaker. In fact, it might be at that point of restlessness and discontent that the best ideas can come to us. The trick is to act on those ideas.

During his career as an executive recruiter, Rick hit a burnout stage. Instead of becoming disengaged, Rick decided to create a night and weekend opportunity for himself - with his boss's blessing - to interview highly successful people and find the commonalities (sound familiar, Think and Grow Rich fans?). His research found its way into a book, The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, and the book took off.

To make a long story short, Rick did such a good job at his night job, that he was relieved of his day-job duties and found himself brushing off his resume. From there, Rick tells the story of how he created World50, or w50 for short: a network of the 50 most important chief market officers, CFOs, heads of human resources, etc. from around the globe (see w50 for more information). What began as a wild idea, has turned into a very lucrative career.

In addition to his own story, Rick shares stories from others who took what may seem to be unreasonable leaps to achieve equally unreasonable success in their career aspirations. He sums up the transformations of these people in three counterintuitive principles:

1) To unlock your potential, you don't need to change who you are. Instead, match up what you do with what you love to do - your greatest strengths and passions.

2) You don't need to go it alone. Big, selfless, simple ideas attract a supportive team and multiply your successes.

3) You don't need to make dramatic and risky changes. There are ways to stack the deck in your favor gradually, with little or no risk.

The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be released in September and would make a great master mind study.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

How's Your "I" Sight?

Back in 2006 I finally took the leap and had lasik surgery to correct my vision, which had been poor since I was in 3rd grade. I remember the first speech I gave on the Monday after my surgery. I called it "I Can See Clearly Now" and I used all the metaphors I could think of that married vision and leadership. It went over quite well.

In the Master Mind groups I facilitate, I hear time and time again about the things participants don't like - government, education, bosses. But that doesn't last long in those settings, because we are dedicated to standing for what we DO want, as opposed to complaining about what we DON'T want.

So I've been thinking again about the vision metaphor and am now in the process of taking it to the next level by creating a leadership immersion experience for leaders who are ready, once and for all, to transform their results and focus on what they DO want.

The class is called "Transforming Your Leadership I-Sight" and here is a synopsis:

Our conditioned reactions produce most of the results we get in our lives. Since we spend most of our waking hours at work, it stands to reason that the way we are at work translates to the way we are at home. If you have a bad day at work, you may find yourself taking that frustration out on your family when you get home. What's going on here?

There's more than meets the EYE, but most of the time we don't want to meet the I.

We just can't see that when we HAVE problems, we ARE the problem.

When we are blind to the problem (we turn a blind eye/I), all the solutions we can think of to address that problem will actually make the matter worse. We look outside ourselves for "the answer," not realizing that the only answer is in us.

As leaders, we are most effective when we make matters BETTER, not worse. If we are not awake to the I, we will actually undermine our own objectives.

The results we create, produce and allow in our lives are in the I of the beholder.

This immersion experience will enliven the desire for teamwork, enhance individual accountability, magnify the capacity for achieving results, and deepen satisfaction and happiness.

There is no painless quick fix to the problem, but there is a painful quick fix: Meet the I.

Painful does not mean bad. Coming out of your comfort zone is going to be uncomfortable, but it means you're growing.

I know the benefits of taking the leap into the unknown of higher awareness - I've experienced and witnessed them. But I'm not sure about the marketing of this experiential learning. Any ideas to invite leaders to meet the I?

If not now, when? If not you, who?