Work on Your Game

Listening to Work on Your Game by Dre Baldwin and it's really resonating with me. Chapter 5 is about the fear of success.

A conversation with myself

"If you can't do the job well, than don't do it." This advice is contrary to the start ugly mindset.

He speaks to the fear of success, which is actually the fear of coming up short... exposing our own lack of ability (to achieve the outcome). It hurts to hear because it's so true. Fear of failure produces the failure we fear! Why am I afraid to succeed? I don't fear success, I fear everything that comes with it. With success comes more attention and with attention comes criticism, obligation, and conflict. I'm slowly figuring out that conflict is good. Turning away from it has not served me well.

I'll admit, I tend to lay low and avoid sticking my head out. When you do, it opens you up to criticism, reveals my weakness, my lack of expertise (good forbid someone knows more than I do)... tied a judgement by others. A biggie for me a reflection I see in myself when I say to others 'you're not better than me.' But I judge others all the time and compare my achievements to theirs. It's a form of resentment, envy, but ultimately self-limits my own potential.

When I draw attention to myself, I open myself up to criticism and ridicule. To avoid that attention, I sabotage myself by jumping to a new project and 'keeping my options open' which becomes a cop out to committing. If it's never finished, then nobody (including myself) can ever make a judgement on the end result because the end doesn't exist (yet). At a deep level, is this why I don't finish things?

True commitment requires letting go of having options to bail you out. Thinking back at some of my greatest accomplishments, I put myself in a position where failure was not an option. There was also a clear undeniable finish line.

I wrote about this in my review of The Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS):

"Too many people never achieve their highest potential for fear of getting tall poppied. It's subtle but is fed by our need to be loved. The greater your achievements, the more likely you are to be tall poppied. To achieve greater levels of success, it's vital to understand TPS so you can identify it when it happens to avoid letting it pull you down. Like crabs in a pot, when one tries to escape, the other crabs are quick to pull it back into the pot.

I like many others in our post-covid world have recommitted myself to living a healthier lifestyle. One that entails better nutrition and more exercise. As a result, I started working with a nutritionist and made exercise a high priority. I cut out alcohol and was sleeping better than I had in years. I lost 5 pounds, had more energy, and was thinking clearer.

As a result, those who are close to me are uncomfortable with this 'new Brian.' Maybe it's that they didn't think anything was wrong before, but it was to me. While at first supportive of my lifestyle changes, they grew resentful with my new level of success. I realize that as I began to pontificate my way as the 'right way,' it implies that their way is wrong.

My decision to 'level up' is my own, but in the process, those closest to me became uncomfortable.

This reveals why TPS is most prevalent in our tribes. You've most likely experienced yourself when a close friend gets a new job, a new partner, or achieves an audacious goal. In the end, as someone who is experiencing TPS firsthand, my advice is that you acknowledge that it's a part of human nature. You can use it as an opportunity to practice empathy for those who might be emotionally putting pressure on you to come back down. Put yourself in their shoes."

What kind of work do you do, and what are your biggest current challenges?

A: I am a publishing consultant, web developer, and music teacher. A common thread across all of these areas of work is that I write. Writing is as essential to me as breathing. It's something I could do for hours and it rarely feels like work. My biggest challenge is that I spread myself too thin and jump from project to project leaving too many unfinished. I overcommit and rarely say no to a request from a client (I see each request as a challenge to overcome and I gain satisfaction from completion). I'm an idea guy, and excited at the start of any new endeavor. While I thrive on adventure and change, I suffer from a self-imposed form of ADHD. Chap. 5 (What are you afraid of?) is really resonating with me. It hurts to listen to because is so true.

One of my clients pointed out that I'm like a bumblebee, hoping from flower to flower.