The “fear of success” and how to overcome it

It was November 2, 1968, I was a sophomore at Vale Union High School and had just finished participating along with my team in the state cross country championships in Salem. As a treat for us, our coach had secured tickets to an Oregon home football game vs USC featuring the legendary running back OJ Simpson. I remember sitting in what is now the student section up high and watching Simpson just run and run and run over the Oregon team. USC would win that game 20-13 and in fact would go on to beat Oregon in most of the games till 1992. Oregon was a perennial loser in those days and I remember watching many games when they somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, fumbles and interceptions just at the time it seemed they had momentum on their side. There is a phenomenon associated with that called “fear of success” and it is more common than you think. It is a subconscious sabotage we do to ourselves when we get close to success. I have read many theories on this, and the most common explanation is that success for most people is frightening, it carries people to an unknown place and it becomes actually more comfortable failing because we know about that. Mike Belotti on becoming the head coach at Oregon established the winning tradition the Ducks enjoy today by teaching his teams not to fear success. He had a common statement that to be the champions you had to be prepared and willing to beat every other team, EVERY OTHER TEAM in the league no matter if it was USC or any other team. Today they don’t fear anybody.

How many of you have come so close to success in your lives and let it slip away? You are doing well then you start missing work, or missing deadlines or letting little things pass by. Champions don’t fear success any more than they fear failure and they live for the big moments and the chance to succeed when the odds are big, and the outcome uncertain. We should embrace these challenges and look forward to being on a big stage, we are Guaranty after all.



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