By Jack Cumming

Whenever something new enters our lives, we quickly decide whether we’re afraid or welcoming. Do you fear change? Worse, are you afraid of success?

Fear of success may be the most widely spread career malady of our time. Why fear? You might think that everyone would want success. If that were true, though, there would be many more entrepreneurs and fewer job seekers. Having a job comes with the pretense of safety and security. Many people — probably most people — willingly trade success for security.

Lucky or Not?

If you have a job, perhaps a mid-level executive job, you may bristle and be ready to challenge that observation about fear. Hold on just a second. Do you often think, “I’m so lucky to have this job?” If so, is it because you love your job or because it seems safe, you feel that you are paid well, it’s close to home, you like your boss, they give you flexibility, etc.?

But if you don’t love the job, are you really lucky? If you could accomplish the corporate mission better if you were free to do so, are you really lucky? If you see no incentive to provide better services with less waste, are you really lucky?

Consider what’s holding you back from pursuing that which might make you really lucky. We can start with responsibility. Let’s say you’re a working-level caregiver. You love helping people to feel better both physically and about themselves. Do you yearn for advancement, or do you fear that you might not be as successful as a supervisor as you are as a worker?


Fear of responsibility is one of the greatest inhibitors to the pursuit of success. With responsibility comes the fear of failure. The worst failure is not the one that a boss or someone else accuses you of. The worst failure is when you yourself feel that you’ve fallen short. It’s a self-inflicted wound. Do you believe that others are always better than you? Think again. That’s more often not true than it is true. Don’t be your own worst critic. Perfection is a hard taskmaster.

Fear may keep us from seeking advancement at work. Or, it may prevent our going out on our own, freelance, or taking a more challenging position elsewhere. In our personal lives, fear can hold us captive in a malfunctioning relationship, or prevent us from reconciling with estranged family or friends. Like the fear of failure, fear of rejection can be debilitating.

Embrace Hope

Enough of how fear shortchanges us. Hope is found in our dreams. What is it that you dream of when your mind turns to what might be? As an underpaid caregiver, are you weary of working corporate shifts for a stingy employer? Could you handle your own more intimate board and care home?

Are you weary of a spouse whom you can never please? Could you handle the isolation of living alone? Have you given up on being promoted from custodial work? Could you handle your own custodial services business targeting small enterprises?

Hope opens our hearts and extends our lives. Fear keeps us in quiet desperation and is unhealthy. You may rationalize that you work just to get your employer’s health care benefits. Despite the difficulty, it is possible to get health care protection without submitting to thankless employment. Beyond that, opportunity beckons. No one should have to endure unhappy employment, especially when beautiful dreams are calling.

Getting a Push

Find your motivator to make the leap from fear to hope. It may be a life coach. It may be as simple as joining a local public speaking circle to find others like you. Or, your motivator may be a mentor with the wisdom to suggest you pursue your dream. Wise bosses put individuals before corporate and help unhappy workers learn how to make the leap. Don’t wait till it’s too late to discover that it’s better to have followed your dreams and fallen short than to have wallowed forever in an unhappy situation.