Are You Afraid Of Success? The conversation about performance in any walk of life often turns to those individuals who struggle in their assignments because something is missing. They lack certain skills. Social graces are wanting. Whatever it is they need to do their work does not come together in a consistent way. Knowing this to be the case some go through life with an ever-present fear of failure. There is another group that gets far less attention but they, too, have a fear. It is a fear of success. This is the type of individual that gets close to achieving something significant or reaching a long sought goal. Then as if on cue, they begin to self-destruct. While this condition was first brought to my attention in my work with executives, there is application here for church leaders as well. Since I am not a psychologist, I will not attempt to work through a detailed explanation of this syndrome. At the end of this article, you will find a list of books on this subject that might be helpful to you, and the individuals with whom you work in your role as a church champion. I propose that you print out this edition of UPDATE and take the test listed below. You may discover something about yourself that would help explain the direction your life has taken. Those in pastoral ministry and denominational leadership are capable of self-destructing, but it need not be so. Maybe you can work on prevention thereby avoiding a situation that might be damaging to you, your family, as well as those you serve. Here's the test: If these statements apply to you, answer yes. Then figure your score as described below... 1. I generally feel guilty about my own happiness if a friend tells me that he/she's depressed. 2. I frequently find myself not telling others about my good luck so they won't have to feel envious. 3. I have trouble saying no to people. 4. Before getting down to work on a project, I suddenly find a whole bunch of other things to take care of first. 5. I tend to believe that people who look out for themselves first are selfish. 6. When someone I know well succeeds at something, I usually feel that I've lost out in comparison. 7. I rarely have trouble concentrating on something for a long period of time. 8. When I have to ask others for their help, I feel that I'm being bothersome. 9. I often compromise in situations to avoid conflict. 10. When I've made a decision, I usually stick with it. 11. I feel self-conscious when someone who "counts" compliments me. 12. When I'm involved in a competitive activity (sports, a game, work), I'm often so concerned with how well I'm doing that I don't enjoy the activity as much as I could. 13. A sure fire way to end up disappointed is to want something too much. 14. Instead of wanting to celebrate, I feel let down after completing an important task or project. 15. Mostly, I feel that I measure up to the standards that I set for myself. 16. When things seem to be going really well for me, I get uneasy that I'll do something to ruin it. SCORING: Give yourself one point for every question you answered yes to, except Nos. 7, 10, and 15. For each of those, subtract one point if you answered yes. Anything under 5 points means you're basically okay. Between 5 and 10 points, you're moderately at risk for self-sabotaging behavior. Between 10 and 16, you have a problem. Get some help. *Source of test: The Success Fearing Personality Some books to read on this subject: Your Own Worst Enemy (Berglas/Baurmeister--Basic Books); Why Smart People Do Dumb Things (Feinberg/Tarrant--Fireside); The Fear of Success (Tec--Signet) The greatest source of help on this fear syndrome may be found in the spiritual disciplines or practices of daily life. The Bible speaks to the issue of fear offering profound insights that are intended to give us encouragement and hope. A verse that helps me is found in 2 Timothy 1:7..."For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self control." Remember, fear is not of the Lord. To send feedback directly to Russ Bredholt, Jr. of Bredholt & Co. emails him at firstname.lastname@example.org.