Anonymous Distributor

Several years ago, I wrote a column about “The Second Ten Commandments.” Commandment two stated: “Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.” Every crisis we face is multiplied when we act out of fear. Fear is a self-fulfilling emotion. When you fear something, you empower it. If you refuse to concede to fear, there is nothing to fear.

Success usually depends on overcoming your fears: fear of taking a risk, fear of asserting yourself, fear of exposing your deepest self to other people, and ultimately, fear of failure. But for some people, the real fear is — believe it or not — success itself.

Fear of success can paralyze your efforts just as severely as fear of failure. Avoiding success may seem irrational, but success brings change, and change is often threatening.

Another concern is that co-workers may look to you for advice or assistance once you’ve proven you can succeed. You may lose control over your time or your privacy. Or, you might offer advice that doesn’t work as well as hoped. Then, your achievements might become suspect. And you certainly don’t want to make non-believers of the people you work with.

Another reason we fear success is because it can bring expectations of continued success. Achieving a major goal is hard work. What happens if people expect you to keep doing it indefinitely? Can you continue to produce?

Some people feel actually reaching a goal can be terrifying: What comes next? How will people react? What if your goal turns out to be meaningless? These worries can lead to procrastination and self-sabotage.

Benjamin Franklin had some timeless advice for those who are afraid of success, as well as failure: “The man who does things makes mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all — doing nothing.”

Don’t let fear control you.


Seth Godin recently talked about “speedometer confusion” in his blog. That’s a term I wasn’t familiar with. He said, “The number on the speedometer isn’t always an indication of how fast you’re getting to where you’re going. You might, after all, be driving in circles, really quickly.”

“Campbell’s Law tells us that as soon as a number is used as the measurement for something, someone will get confused and start gaming the number, believing that they’re also improving the underlying metric, when, in actuality, they’re merely making the number go up.”

Here are a few measurements Godin shares that are often the result of speedometer confusion. Remember — the first measurement everyone tends to focus on, often has very little impact on the second, no matter how big the first is. For example, “Money versus Happiness; Income versus Skill; Facebook Likes versus Liked; Tenure versus Competence; Book Sales versus Impact; Twitter Followers versus Anything; Money Raised versus Votes Earned; Weight versus Health; Faster versus Better.”

Make sure the measurement you’re focused on really has value and meaning, and is not “just a number.”


Here’s a story by Aesop that I suspect you may not have heard before. It has a lesson that I think you will find relevant today, even though the story is very old.

“A man had two dogs: a hound, to assist him in hunting, and a housedog, who simply laid around the house. After a good day’s hunt, the man always gave the housedog a large share of his spoil.

One day, the hound, feeling much aggrieved at this, reproached his companion, saying, “It’s tough working so hard, while you, who never assists in the chase, luxuriates on the fruits of my exertions.”

The housedog replied, “Don’t blame me; it’s our master’s fault. For rather than teach me to work, he taught me to depend for subsistence on the labor of others.”

How do you feel about the hound and the housedog?


Harvey Mackay tells a terrific story about Alexander the Great.

“On his deathbed, Alexander the Great summoned his generals and told them his three ultimate wishes: 1) The best doctors should carry his coffin; 2) The wealth he had accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) should be scattered along the way to his burial; and 3) His hands should be left hanging outside the coffin for all to see.

“Surprised by these unusual requests, one of his generals asked Alexander to explain. His response: ‘I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal. I want the road to be covered with my treasure, so that everybody sees that the wealth acquired on earth, stays on earth. I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty-handed and we leave empty-handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted — time.’

“Time is our most precious treasure because it is limited. We can produce more wealth, but we cannot produce more time. The ultimate mystery: None of us knows how much time we really have.”

Use the time you have left wisely.


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