91. What If They Buy? Overcoming Fear of Success
16 February 2021 | By Salome Schillack
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us - Marianne Williamson
I’ve loved that quote for years. Though I didn’t always fully understand it, some part of Marianne’s words have always stuck with me.
And recently, it all came full circle.
The other day, a student of mine posted a question on our A-Lister Facebook Page that went something like this:
How do I deal with the fear of success?
She’d recently added 500 new people to her email list and was terrified that her course wouldn’t be able to deliver. That she would be a disappointment to her students and that she would be discovered as a fraud.
That post got me thinking. When I dug into myself, I realized I’ve faced this fear multiple times in my own career.
And I’m sure you have too.
So, in today’s episode of The Shine Show, I break down the fear of success (with a little help from psychology, coaching theory, and my 7-year old daughter) and give you FIVE top tips on how to get over it.
Listen to the episode now and come find me on my Instagram to continue the conversation!
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Hello, and welcome to episode number 91 of The Shine Show. Today's topic is, What if They Buy? How Are You Going to Overcome the Fear of Success? To listen to the episode, stay tuned.
Giving up your time and freedom to make money is so 2009. Hi, I'm your host Salome Schillack, and I help online course creators launch, grow, and scale their businesses with Facebook and Instagram ads so that they can make more money and have an even bigger impact in the world. If you're ready to be inspired to dream bigger, launch sooner, and grow your online business faster, then tune in because you are ready to shine and this is The Shine Show.
Recently, one of my students posted a question inside the A-Lister group, and she said, "How does everyone cope with the fear of success?" And then she continued to say, she has now added 500 people to her email list and she's really scared that a lot of them will buy her course, and what if she can't deliver for that many people?
When you read something like that, the first time I feel like that is something that we often dismiss because fear of success sounds like, "Why would you be afraid of getting the thing that you actually want?" But there's so many different layers to the fear of success that I wanted to unpack it a little bit with you.
I was listening to one of Marianne Williamson's audiobooks, I absolutely adore all of her work, and I was reminded of the quote that I think Nelson Mandela made this quote famous because he quoted Marianne Williamson, and she said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us." That has been one of my favorite, favorite quotes for the longest time. I think it resonates with me because I am driven person. I long for success. I want to be successful. I want to make it. And to be honest, I want to be seen making it. But with that also comes a ton of fear because, what if I get rejected? Or what if I don't get it right? Or what if I look like a fool? Or what if my family rejects me? Or what if my friends on social media make negative comments? Or even what if strangers says nasty things about me online?
I was at an event a couple of years ago, and somebody at the event was talking about someone that they considered to be a competitor. Her competitor had recently hit the million-dollar mark in her business, and this person said, "Sure, it's good for her to brag about making a million dollars, but how much of that is actually profit? I'm more interested in how much profit she made. Because if she spent $990,000 in ads, then a million dollars is not that impressive." When I heard her say this, something felt a bit yucky about it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why this was feeling yucky for me. Now, thinking back, I mean, this happened years ago and those words stuck with me and I still think about it, and now I can see that this person who said these words where immediately she heard someone else express a success and immediately jumped to finding the loophole, or the cheater's way, or the untruth, or the way that possibly what this person's shared as success could be misconstrued.
Now I know why it bothered me that she said that and what it is that bothered me. I know now that what I felt that ickiness that I felt at the time was me understanding that she is coming from a place of judgment of the other person who is successful and that that actually reflects on her judgment of herself. It kind of made me sad because I realized, "Oh, hang on. If that judgment is present there, then that's maybe why she doesn't have that success anymore or yet. As long as she has this knee-jerk judgment of someone who made a million dollars, I don't think she's going to get there." A couple of years later and she's still not there. I mean, I think she can get there, but I'm pretty sure that this is one of those great examples of a money mindset block that she's going to need to overcome. There's definitely a judgment there about someone who's made a million dollars, and I'm thinking that may be holding her back.
The funny thing is thinking back to the starting years of my business, I remember one of my first clients that I took on in 2018 when I started freelancing. After I quit my job and I started freelancing and just staying at home and being a freelance Facebook ads manager, I took on a client who I had the biggest admiration for this person. I had followed her for years, had wanted to buy her courses, and then she became one of my clients. I will never forget how many times she repeated to me over and over and over, she said, "Whatever you do, don't grow too fast because I've seen many people crash and burn from growing too fast."
Again, it was one of those things that I think at the time I did take it seriously. I did have a fear of success and I didn't want to grow too fast. I remember her words sticking so much in my head that I closed the doors on leads. I said to anyone who wanted to work with me that I don't currently have the capacity to take on any new clients and I closed the doors. And three, four months later, when I did have the capacity and I was looking for the leads, they stopped knocking on my door. They were gone. The leads were gone. And I had a bigger problem to deal with, and that problem was a problem of not having enough leads, not having enough business coming in and actually slowing down my growth.
In hindsight, now I can look at that piece of advice and I can see that, again, this was a judgment that this person had, that existed inside her heart and her mind and was probably, in some way, a limiting belief that she was carrying around with her. That if she allows her business to grow too fast, that's going to be a bad thing, and so she goes around telling everyone else, "Whatever you do just don't grow too fast." I don't know where she is now. I don't know if she's grown or if she hasn't grown, I can't say, but it's funny how these moments stick out and stand out in your mind for years and years and years. You think back about one-liner sentences that people say to you years ago when you started your business that had such an impact on your thinking back then that even now ... I mean, it is three years later and I still think about those sentences.
Today, I can see them for what they were at the time. They were fear of success. They were someone else imprinting their own fear of success on me, someone else imprinting their own fear of success on someone else. And I'm so happy and I'm so grateful that I've made it to where I am. Somehow by some miracle or some osmosis I have thankfully managed to absorb the truth, or at least a truth, a better truth than what these ladies were saying.
So when one of my students say is, "How do you deal with fear of success?" I can face that now. I can say, "Well, hang on. Yes, I do know what fear of success is. I do know what it looks like. I have suffered from it." I probably still suffer from it because I feel like ... When Shrek and Donkey's walking around and they're talking about food, who's the one that says, it's like an onion? He says Shrek is like an onion, you can peel off one layer and then there's another layer. I think fear of success is a little bit like that, you peel off the one layer and then the next layer reveals itself.
So what I've learned about fear of success is that it really comes from one of the three most basic human fears that we all have. I learned this when I studied coaching at the Coaching Institute in Melbourne. This was one of the first things I learned as a coach. It stays with me. It stays with me. That, as humans, there are only really three basic human fears. We all have all three but we tend to gravitate towards one of them showing up more in our lives. These three fears are the fear of not belonging, so feeling like you will not fit in or you will be judged. The second fear is the fear of not being loved, not being accepted, not getting love. The third one is the fear of not being good enough, not being worthy enough, not achieving enough, not believing that you are worthy exactly the way you are.
I know that, for me, I need to look out for the fear of not being good enough showing up in my life because it is a driver for me. Of the three fears, the fear of not being good enough is incredibly prevalent in my life. It shows up everywhere. I think, for me, it might have to do with the fact that I am really driven by significance, and significance in a way is being good enough. I've spoken about abundance and about how I've learned that once I accept that I am by birthright entitled to being enough and enoughness by definition is abundance. But for you, maybe it could show as a fear of not belonging.
I have a seven-year-old, Elle, who is just an amazing little human. She inspires me every single day, and she is a little bit more challenged by anxiety. She's prone to severe anxiety, I would say, or episodes of severe anxiety. And it goes hand in hand with some lack of regulating some of her particularly negative emotions. We've worked on it for many years. It's like an onion, again, you peel one layer off and it reveals another layer. But Elle has, over the years, become incredibly articulate in sharing her emotions with me. She can tell me in so many words, "Mommy I'm upset right now because I feel jealous that my sister has a friend coming over and I don't." I'm amazed that a seven-year-old can identify the feeling of jealousy because I know I was probably at least older than 30 before I had the words to say, "Holy cow, I think I'm jealous of someone." And I think a lot of adults still can't do that.
So she will have these episodes of anxiety, and in her beautiful way of expressing her feelings and having learnt to give words to her feelings, the other day she said to me ... It's the beginning of a new school year here in Australia right now. Our school year starts in January, and it's a new school year so she's got a new teacher, she does not have her best friend in her class, and there's just a lot of new things going on, and one of the new things that we have is gymnastics. We used to do gymnastics at a gymnastic school that took me 20 minutes to get to, and I just decided we are going to move to the school that is just down the road.
Today, she came home, and I say to her that I've confirmed and that we're on for gymnastics, we're going to do a trial lesson so that they can see in which class she needs to be and then decide what she needs to do. And she was hungry at the time. It never is a good idea to have any fear-inducing conversation with her when she's hungry, so I picked the complete wrong time to tell her about this new gymnastics place with new teachers and new kids and possibly a new curriculum and so she had a complete meltdown.
But what she said to me while she was in this meltdown, she said, "Mommy, I just don't want to go to this place because what if I don't fit in? Mommy, I just don't want to go to this new place because what if I don't fit in?" I thought, "Holy cow, here's this seven-year-old saying to me, what if I don't fit in? She has the words to say, what if I don't fit in?" And I realized that it happens so much to all of us. "What if I don't fit in with my students? What if I'm not good enough for my students? What if I don't fit in to this online course that I just bought and I feel everyone else is further ahead than me? What if I don't fit into this mastermind that I've just joined and I feel like everyone else is already making more money than I am? What if I go to this live event and I just don't fit in? I just don't feel like I belong."
I think so many times our fear of success, particularly when we're building online businesses that involves building communities, making ourselves vulnerable on social media, running ads where any Tom, Dick and Harry can comment on it, and showing up for other people from what we've learned, from our life experiences can require a tremendous amount of vulnerability. A huge part of our fear of success is born from, what if I don't fit in, just like what Ell said.
I recently, you all know because you were here with me, recently closed the doors on the A-Lister, our flagship online course that teaches you how to build engaged audiences and make your first sale using Facebook ads, and I am so incredibly grateful for everything during that launch. I felt so proud of my emotional state as I went through the launch. I'll be very honest and share raw and real here with you now, when those doors closed, after the doors closed, I felt crippling anxiety. Crippling anxiety. I didn't identify it at first. I just woke up one morning with the most severe pain in my upper back and muscle spasms in my arms and my neck that I went for two different remedial massages, and it didn't make any difference.
The night before we had our opening ceremony, which is our very first live Q&A session and an introduction to everyone, I did not sleep at all. Didn't sleep a little bit. What I realized, and I thought it is so weird because the doors are closed, the launch is done, we smashed our targets, we have 56 incredible new students who are all making a huge difference in the world, who dove right in and is creating amazing ads and getting started with their engagement ads and getting results and getting list builders up and starting to put thank you page offers on and starting to make money from their ads. It's just an amazing group of people. I love them. What I realized is I didn't have anxiety during the launch because having done a couple of launches I knew who to hire to help me. I hired Louise Griffith, who is online launch manager, and she took all of my stress away. It was amazing. And also my team was amazing. My team just showed up on a whole new level, which I'm so grateful before. So I couldn't understand, what is this stress hitting me after the doors closed?
I realized that, for me, there is in the launch phase a level of showmanship that I'm very comfortable with. As a musical theater dropout, you put a dress on me and put some makeup on me and put me in a live webinar, and I am in my element. I love it because it is a live production. It is a show. I'm on stage, I know my lines, I know my moves and I can deliver them with flair. But the difference between musical theater and selling online courses is with musical theater you get an applause at the end and then you walk off the stage and you go home. No one sees you. No one talks to you. No one asks you questions. With an online course, the actual show starts after the doors close, because then you have to deliver to the students.
I realized that I had this insane fear that, "What if they don't get results? What if the students go through the course and they don't understand it? What if they can't implement it? What if there's some major error that is going to make them all want their money back? Will they be happy with what they get? Will they be able to get results from the support?" Immediately I go to this place where I go, "Maybe I should add more calls in. Maybe I should create more videos. Maybe I should add more content. Maybe I should invite more of my friends to come and deliver bonus content." I looked at my Kajabi, where I host the course, and I realized I already have 49 videos in there. That is already bordering on overwhelm hell. So in my effort to improve the support, improve the quality, if I do add even more, I will just be making it worse. I know that because I've done that.
So it was an interesting experience for me to go, "Oh, hang on. Hang on. Here is fear of success showing up in my life, not during the time when you expect it to show up, during the launch, but showing up after I've already closed the doors on my launch." So I wanted to share that with you because I hope that you can associate with that or with any of the stories that I've told you today.
I want to give you a few pointers, a little bit of advice, maybe share a few thoughts with you on if you did associate with that, if you feel like that is true for you, what you can do about it and what I'm doing about it, and what I'm telling my students to do about it as well.
I think the first thing that we need to remember is that there is no judgment outside of ourselves that is not also a judgment that we have on ourselves. Let me rephrase that. When we judge other people, and this is not ... When I'm saying judging, I don't necessarily mean mean gossiping. I mean, this can be good or bad. This is when you look at someone else's achievements and you give value to them, as a human, based on what they've achieved. Whether it's good, like you look at someone who has achieved mega success and you go, "Wow, that person needs to be put on a pedestal. That person has something I don't have." Or when you look at someone and you go, "Yeah, well, that's nice for them, but they didn't do this, this or that," and you immediately tear them down. The judgment lives only inside your head because the thoughts that we think are the only reality that we have.
So if I'm judging somebody else, I am not passing a judgment on reality. I am simply expressing a judgment that already exists inside my mind. And if it exists inside my mind and I am freely passing it on to other people, then I must be passing it onto myself as well.
That's why when I heard that person say, "Well, yeah, that's nice for her that she made a million dollars, but how much of that was profit?" I thought, "Oh okay, so you believe that you will only be worthy of making a million dollars once you can say that a certain percentage is also profit." Or the person who said, "Be careful not to grow too fast," growth is only good if it's not fast. So remember that every judgment you pass on other people is a judgment that only lives inside your own head.
The old expression the measure by which you judge others you will be judged yourself is so true here because you are actually just reflecting how you're judging yourself onto other people. So get in a habit of celebrating small wins, your small wins and other people's small wins.
It just breaks my heart, it breaks my heart when I hear someone say, "I'm not as far ahead as everyone else," or, "I'm just not as experienced as everyone else." As if to say that this is a race and there's a finish line and someone else is ahead of you in this race. It is just not that linear. So just because you see other people celebrating giant successes doesn't mean you can't also celebrate small wins. You should celebrate your small wins, so celebrate the small successes.
In my community, I encourage people to celebrate the first time they put a pixel on a landing page, because that is a big deal. Now, I'm going to be upset when the person who just placed a pixel say, "Well, I'm just not as far ahead as the person who's already made $10,000," because you're not. But you did just place a pixel on your website, which is the first step to getting there. So don't dismiss that. So be careful to dismiss the small things and celebrate those small wins. Appreciate them. Really get in a habit of appreciating, not just good things, but bad things also. When your ads get disapproved, appreciate that because it's an opportunity to learn how to navigate Facebook ads better. It's an opportunity to learn how to navigate the ads policy better. Appreciate it because the old saying is what you appreciate, appreciates. So start counting your blessings.
The other thing I want to share that I think you can use to help you if you do feel like you have fear of success, is to remember that life is full of problems. The only thing that's guaranteed in life is you are going to have problems. Now, [inaudible 00:26:36] death and taxes? Death, taxes, and problems. That's what you're going to have. You have death, taxes, and problems. But you get to choose the quality of your problems and you can consciously create better quality problems for yourself.
So, what do I mean by good quality problems? I mean, having the money to hire help in your business because you have too much work is a better quality problem than not having money in your business because you don't have leads. So either way, you have a problem, either you don't have leads or you don't have enough help. Which problem would you rather have? Or not having students buy your course is a worse problem to have than having so many that you need to hire people to help you manage it. So what I want you to do is I want you to remember that growing means you get to have more time, you get to share the wealth that you build in your business as you build a team, and you get to create systems and processes that automate the way that you help your students, which means you can create a bigger impact. You can reach more people. So I want you to focus on finding the better quality problem.
And I think there's another layer to that, and that is stop focusing on problems you don't already have. It's like the student who asked, "Well, what if I can't serve these students?" Well, is that a problem you have right now? No. So you're wasting mental space thinking about a problem you don't have, feeling fear about a problem you don't have. And meanwhile, you're not spending that energy creating problems that are good, problems like having too much, too much money or too many students. I would much rather have the money to go to the dentist when I have a toothache and have to find a dentist, which is a better quality problem, than not have the money to go to the dentist when I have a toothache.
So here's what I want you to do, I want you to back yourself and your ability to solve problems. I want you to get really confident and comfortable with your ability to solve problems. See them in your business. When a problem comes up, no matter how big or small it is, and you've solved it, that customer service email that comes in that you handled really well, that request for a refund that you just issued the refund and moved on, that post in your Facebook group that was difficult to handle, that you stepped up and you handled, that Facebook ad that you were scared of putting out in the world but you did. I want you to start building up this fitness for solving problems and start asking for better quality problems. Start looking for better quality problems. Because when you can build that confidence in your own internal ability to solve problems, you're automatically going to choose the better quality problems every time. That means that you're going to know that when you succeed, and that success opens up new problems, that you will have the resilience to handle them.
And then I want you to remind yourself that if your success makes someone else uncomfortable, if your success causes anyone else to reject you, cause anyone else to stop loving you, cause anyone else to not accept you, to not make you belong, to not make you feel loved, to not make you feel good enough, that that is their monkey and their circus. It is not your monkey, not your circus. You do not need to take that on.
I love the old saying the rising tide lifts all the boats. I never used to get. I was like, "The rising tide lifts all the boats. What do you mean by that?" And then I started swimming. So my friend Jody dragged me to this swimming lesson in the mornings, so we swim now on Mondays and Wednesdays, and she warned me. She's going to tell me that some of the people who are there are triathletes, and I was like, "I don't know if I want to do that."
So Jody and I go swimming, and there's all these lanes for the swimmers and the lanes are marked. They're marked according to how long it takes you to swim 50 meters, so there's the one minute line and then there's the 50 seconds line. And there's all sorts of times, how long it takes you to swim 50 meters. And then there's a lane called, every stroke hurts, and I swim in the every stroke hurts lane. The first time I went swimming, I thought I was going to die. It was the hardest thing I've ever done.
I realized that the reason I felt so bad the first time was because I was trying to keep up with the triathletes and the next time I went, I wore flippers and now it's easier. Now I can keep up with them. They swim without flippers. I have flippers on. I'm still in the slow lane. But they push me to greater heights. When I'm exhausted, and the trainer says, "Flippers off, Salome." Take a deep breath and I take them off, and it feels like I've taken my motorboat off, but then I do better. I get better because I'm trying to keep up with people who are way better than me.
And if they were to say, "Oh, hang on, I won't swim as fast as I can because that's going to make you feel bad." Both of us would just be held back. Both of us would not succeed. Both of us would not get fit. Both of us would not get strong. But because these triathletes are saying, "I'm going to give this my everything and you got to keep up. And if it makes you feel insecure, that's your monkey, your circus. You deal with it. You come swim with me, you keep up with me and I'm going to give it my best." And you know what? I will let you guys know when I move up to the next lane. And I will, because I'm working hard at it. Every twice a week, I show up and I let those triathletes inspire me.
Just like I remember hearing Brooke Castillo tell the story of how Brooke Castillo said she heard Amy Porterfield say she had made a million dollars. I think this was back in maybe 2016 or 2015, I'm not sure, but Brooke heard that, and she was like, "Damn, this girl's made a million dollars. If she can do it, I can do it." And then Brooke started working to make a million dollars, and she did. And then the next year she made two and a half million, and then the next year she made five, and then seven, and then 11, and then 17, and 25. Brooke Castillo is on her way. She's working towards making 100 freaking million dollars. That's what she's working towards. And it's all because Amy Porterfield had the guts to say, "Look at my success. Come swim with me. Come follow me." Now Brooke is saying, "Look at my success. Come swim with me. Come follow me." And I know many, many, many coaches in Brooks community that are now making a million dollars. It's almost not even funny to make a million dollars anymore. I feel like 10 million is the new one million. How phenomenal is that? That we get to make an impact in so many people's lives and we get to create wealth beyond our wildest dreams? And when we do that, we get to lift up everyone else around us.
My dear friend, my sincere wish for you and for me is that we will get better at identifying our fear of success, that we will commit to not ever putting other people who succeed down or minimizing our own successes. Let's lift each other up. Let's cheer each other on. Let's call it out when we're feeling jealous. Let's say, like Elle said, "Mommy, I'm feeling a little bit jealous." And you know what? It magically disappears as soon as you say it. Let's lift each other up. That is my wish for you and for me, and you are welcome to hold me accountable to it as I will with you.
If any of what I've said today resonates with you, please send me a direct message on Instagram. I want to hear from you. I'm fascinated by this topic and I want to share more about it. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful week and join me again next week on The Shine Show. Take care. Bye.
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