Fear of Success — Are You Afraid to Go All Out?

“You are not pushing yourself enough.”

I dropped down the weight and justified myself why I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted. It was too heavy. My body was sore. And I gave up.

“I see it in your face that you could have done one more. But your head got in the way. You didn’t WANT to do it anymore, but you COULD have. All you wanted was to get rid of the pain. You didn’t want to feel miserable anymore.”


But I didn’t want to hear all that either. Mostly because he was right. I just didn’t want to push myself so much anymore.

Why not be easy on yourself for once?

“What are you waiting for? One more round…”, he said.

And I picked up the weights again.


I was doing my laps in the pool. Preparing for the triathlon. 50 more to go. Half time. My friend already miles ahead of me.

And there I was in the water. Doing my lonely workout. All by myself. Exhausted and slowly getting more and more curious on why I am actually doing all this to myself.

You have no idea how boring 100 laps of swimming and breathing can be. No variety. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was tired. And not in the mood of doing 50 more laps. I wanted to go home.

There was a lot of resistance within me. I resisted because I didn’t see the purpose of it anymore. I couldn’t see the bigger picture. And all this didn’t make the workout any more easier.

“Come on!”, my friend said while he caught me catching my breath at the edge of the pool. “This is supposed to be a workout. You either suffer the pain now or at the race. And it’s better to do it now.” He gave me a slight punch in the stomach and headed off into his next lap.

Aw dammit. It sucks but he was right.

I picked myself up and pushed myself off the edge.

50 more laps to go…


All of this comes down to fear.

I didn’t want to do the last rep. I didn’t want to push myself until my body is sore. And my muscles tired. I just wanted to feel good NOW. I wanted to end the pain NOW.


I was not thinking long term. I was fixated on short term pleasure.

(But what does this have to do with fear? What was I afraid of?)

I lost track of my visions. Of the greater idea behind all these oftentimes painful and challenging workouts, rituals and tasks.

And when you forget about “your mission” you are no longer in control. You are not running the day. The day is running you. You get weaker every minute.

When you are no longer in control, that’s when you invite resistance into your mind. The fear of the unknown finally paralyzed you.

Just like darkness enters the room when you turn off the lights (metaphorically spoken). And no great work will be accomplished in complete darkness.

Resistance feeds on your fear.

Whenever we feel like we cannot do it (anymore) we are simply afraid. Resistance is just the manifestation of this exact fear.

  • Fear of the consequences of following your heart.
  • Fear of running out of money.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Fear of being not good enough.
  • Fear of throwing away your education.
  • Fear of being selfish.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of being ridiculous.

All of them are serious fears.

But they are not the reason you are not following through. They are not the reason I do a lousy workout. They are not the reason I resist doing my required laps in the pool.

Or pushing my business to the next level.

Or finishing the sideproject I was working on for like forever.

They are not the reason I haven’t turned pro yet.

They are just different manifestations of a bigger fear. The mother of all fears in some weird way. The one that is actually responsible for all our procrastinating, delaying and resisting.

The Fear to Succeed.

To actually make it. That’s what really frightens us. And it’s the main reason all of these other fears exist.

Three months into my workout not seeing the progress I hoped for I could easily look into the mirror and say:

“Well, I didn’t push myself very hard. Of course I could have gone for more if I wanted to. I could have done it.”

But there is a big difference between saying “I COULD”, and “I DID”.

It’s just easier to delude ourselves this way. It keeps our hopes high. The idea that we could have actually pulled it off.

But just decided not to.

Because deep down we are afraid to succeed.

Originally published at thomasmondel.com on January 4, 2016.