Watching our dreams become realities is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences.
Most people, after all, only get to dream their dreams. Few people actually get to live them.
But if we’re one of the lucky ones, something we have to watch out for is speed. Because if the wish fulfillment process happens quicker and earlier than initially anticipated, and if we manage to satisfy so many of our dreams that we become lost and burned out and disconnected from the work, that’s when the dream can invert into a nightmare.
And we start treating ourselves like we’re doomed. Asking devastating, soul crushing questions like.
How am I ever going to top that? Is the rest of my life going to be anticlimactic? What am I going to forego because of this success? Should I just quit while I’m ahead?
It’s classic fear of success thinking. Which, arguably, can be more pernicious than the fear of failure. Because at least with failure, you’re off the hook. You don’t have to show up the next morning.
Maslow researched this phenomenon in the early seventies. He cited the fear of success as the evasion of growth and destiny and greatness. Running away from our best talents. Fearing our highest possibilities. Evading our constitutionally suggested vocations.
He wrote that humans were generally afraid to become that which they could glimpse in their most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, and they shiver with weakness, awe and fear before these very possibilities, partly a justified fear of being torn apart, losing control, being shattered and disintegrated, and even being killed.
It makes perfect sense. Success is uncharted territory. It means more responsibility and less freedom, more fame and less privacy, more change and less stability.
What’s not to fear?
All we can do, it seems, is to keep working. It seems impossible and unfair, but at least it creates compound interest over time.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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