Podcast – Episode 0242 – Why People Fear Success

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia explore the reasons why people fear success and what we can do about it.


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In this episode Joel and Antonia explore the reasons why people fear success and what we can do about it. #podcast #fearsuccess #personalgrowth

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Showing 13 comments
  • kate

    One thing you left out is the first question everyone should ask themself. What does success mean to me? Why?
    Success is different for everyone. Money, aside from meeting basic needs, with some left for fun, will not make you happier or bring you joy. Success in business is not the only success. Success in terms of business is not the only success you should be talking about.
    Thanks for your thought-provoking podcast.

  • Erik Bland


    I do want to make one more comment to Joel and Antonia – you guys mentioned that you felt like you were doing something wrong because some other content creators have more viewers/listeners than you. While I do not have experience operating a business (and so perhaps you may disregard my opinion as inexperienced), I do not think that number of viewers, subscribers, etc., alone is reliable metric for success. It is important, but it is not the only important parameter.

    As an example, I am a dedicated martial arts practitioner, and the first school I trained in did a lot to attract and maintain members. But in doing so, it maintained an environment comfortable for those who weren’t really dedicated to martial arts. You could say the quality of the students, on average, was fairly low. I have since trained in other schools with fewer members and less influence, but the quality of training available to those practitioners was greater. The maximum capability of a student training in those schools was higher.

    I think your content is similar. I think growing your viewers is great, but I hope that you will not do it at a cost to the depth of content that I (and likely many others) currently enjoy. Joel mentioned that focusing purely on personality type would grow your business. However, I listen because you focus that content towards personal growth. You demonstrate that personality type is a tool for personal growth. Without that, I would probably not be listening to you.

    Thanks again for all of your hard work!

  • Erik Bland

    Thanks Joel and Antonia (and team!) for sharing this. I am leaving this comment a little late, since I didn’t hear this video until it was posted to Youtube.

    I think at this time in my life I am struggling with this “fear of success” as well … hopefully I can use this podcast to find motivation to help me make some difficult decisions.

    I am at a position where I need to decide if I want to start technology business. I have the technical expertise to atleast give it a fair try, but I do have some significant fears around starting a business. I strongly agree with Joel and Antonia’s reasons that people fear success given in this talk (atleast from my own experience), notably:

    1) I am aware that success will be costly, and I don’t yet know if I’m willing to pay that cost (to be fair, I also don’t know exactly what the cost will be).

    2) I don’t know if I will like who I would have to become in order to be successful. Again, to be fair, I also don’t exactly know who I would have to become. I’m not trying to vilify success or money.

    I think these points both culminate in a fear that we may have, and that is, will success ultimately make us happy? In order to be successful, we fear that we will have to put in a lot of dedication and energy, likely over many years. We fear that we will have to change and give up ways of living that might be comfortable now. I think the biggest fear regarding this is, when we do the hard work, and maybe we get lucky and we’re successful 10 years down the road – will it be worth it? Or will we realize that it didn’t really satisfy us, and we’ve just burned ourselves out for nothing?

    Another point for me, and maybe many others here who are interested in personal development, is that there is always a struggle of balance between personal growth and achievement. The highest epitome of personal growth might be the monk sitting atop a mountain their entire life, and accruing approximately zero external achievement. I don’t really want that. But I don’t want to be the billionaire who gives up working on personal development in order to accrue influence and wealth – or aside from wealth, even just impact in the world, even if it’s positive. And this is not just a problem for me or others who work in areas unrelated to personal growth. Even Joel and Antonia, whose job is directly related to personal growth, likely often have to struggle with growing their business versus growing themselves.

    I think it’s a big struggle to balance external achievement and internal growth, and to be honest, I don’t know the best way to achieve that balance yet.

    Anyways, great talk again, thanks for sharing!

  • Eleanor

    Brilliant episode …. as always. You guys SOOOOOO deserve to do well and I’m glad you know it! Just ordered your book and can’t wait to get into it. 🙂

    What’s stopping me?

    1) Fear of success
    – excess responsibility and expectations
    – reduced privacy (I’m an INFJ and I have that conundrum of “I want to make a huge impact” vs “I want to stay at home whenever I’m off work because I already give so much of myself”

    2) Fear of failure
    – I’m a 2w1 or potentially 1w2; my perfectionism stresses me out and slows me down
    – I don’t want to let myself down but my standards are too high

    I’ve started small though, and while I build the habits I need to take things further, I’m also starting to work on my relationship/perception of money, my fear of “superiority” and how it will make others feel etc

    • Eleanor

      I forgot something else: fear of getting hooked on external validation and fear of subsequently developing more of an internet addiction than I have now!

  • Christine

    a) what do I really deserve

    b) what really strikes me here is that you have attached to succes much negative images. But success can not only mean being a prisoner of ones business but you might get more freedom, more choices. It must not only mean being targeted but also beinfg seen more, meet more people that are helping, are enthusiastic whatever. its also depednign on the vision. if its a negative one, then no wonder you subconsciously push it away.

    but success can cause much more feedom and much joy, happyness and appreciation and those people whos businesses are big often have much freedom for example. also the thing with “then I am stuck in that business” why? if you have more ressources ist so much easier to quit (sell or whatever) and do the next thing. some live it this way and thats ok also and they can do what is natural to them,. as long as you label success with negative aspects who always have an excuse to not really go for it.

    it felt like: no, we better talk ourselves out of it.

    c) I dont master this neitehr yet 😉 😛

  • Emilie

    What is stopping me, to answer your question, Joel, is

    1) Fear of failure.But I am taking good care of my self esteem issues 😉

    2) As quoted, fear of losing my freedom

    Thank you both for this inspiring session.

  • Of course I think it’s important to go through this questioning, I’m going through it myself. I do hope that if your business grows to be huge, that you will be able to maintain unity that you created.

    I’m in the midst of listening to this podcast. Your success/fear of failure definitely resonates for me. Perhaps she’ll get to this later in the podcast, but I’m wondering how you define success. I would say the reason I think your podcast is set apart from others, is because I would never think to me and feel comfortable and like I knew some of the other successful podcast or‘s that you mentioned. The two of you are so involved in your community of listeners, that I almost feel like you’re part of my family Of course I think it’s important to go through this questioning, I’m going through it myself. I do hope that if your business grows to be huge, that you will be able to maintain unity that you created.

  • Johno

    I just went back and discovered that former comments I’ve left have in fact posted

    I am really surprised because the experience of posting a comment on your website feels like a big fat zero. If you’re going to wait to post comments till they’ve been reviewed let me know when I submit that it’s been submitted and will be reviewed. But I don’t understand why you would do this. Far better to let people contribute and erase the garbage later.

    Because half the reason we want to post is to burn off that opportunistic energy that builds up when we see someone seeming successful and accessible. When i don’t see my comment post it feels like a big miss, like a huge letdown.

    Consider a change. I just think you clearly need a place to channel your users energy and a more functional forum is a solid solution. Otherwise the sense of being surrounded by opportunists will … persist.


    Sometimes I try to comment many times and it just doesn’t work, I really struggle with your website and I’m a millennial who works in technology. I really wish you guys would create a forum, I think it would give your audience a place to spend opportunistic impulses, which would prevent them from exhausting you. When people seem both successful and accessible like you guys do, you’re bound to get a lot of that opportunistic energy thrust at you. What you resist persists, I think you guys have some kind of a complex about the opportunism, it’s OK to let people contribute, and then to crush them when they turn out to be snakes. It’s OK to vacuum up the value from your audience if they’ll give it to you for free, it’s OK to charge people just to talk to you, charge people a monthly fee just to be on your forum, six bucks a month, 10 bucks a month, it will generate a steady stream of revenue. Look at what they did at stellarmaz what you resist persists, I think you guys have some kind of a complex about the opportunism, it’s OK to let people contribute, and then to crush them when they turn out to be snakes. It’s OK to vacuum up the value from your audience if they’ll give it to you for free, it’s OK to charge people just to talk to you, charge people a monthly fee just to be on your forum, six bucks a month, 10 bucks a month, it will generate a steady stream of revenue.

    I’m dictating this message because I get too frustrated by how often my comments don’t work on your site, and I’m not going to edit it to make it seem more useful than probably will be. Again because I get so pissed off at your website.

    BRenee Brown is always going to be useless shit. Tim Ferris is always going to be useless shit. You two Are doing way too serious of work to become that popular, which is to say you’re taking the ethical route, (at least from an ENTP perspective given that I tend to conflate ethics with Ti or perhaps almost derive ethics from Ti). Sometimes extroverted intuition doesn’t embrace enough fatalism, but it’s true that you guys are not an ESTP, so you’ll never be Tim Ferris, and you’re not INFPs, so you’ll never be able to ride on the strength of your own insights forever and ever giving not a fuck about whether you’re objectively right or not.

    You are obviously highly performing Ne doms and it’s been super impressive these past three years since I started listening religiously to your stuff. The Gods podcasts were life changing for some people I know. You are crushing it with quality.

    I was happy to hear Antonius say on his podcast “and I’m going to do it anyway.” I think that being very successful is a huge sacrifice, it’s not just lonely, it’s incredibly self sacrificial. So I think that’s very brave.

    But you guys need to Turn anything you can over to more NTJ’s. Do what nii says as fast as you can. Do what doesn’t scale. Charge people to talk to you. Charge a lot. And please find an intj to create a forum and administer it for you so your audience has a place to blow off steam—this thing that feels to you like opportunistic angling. Don’t use Facebook, use discourse. Charge money just to be there.

    Love you, thanks for all the work you do.

    • Wren

      Hey Johno,

      I think Joel and Antonia see the “Intuitive Awakening” Facebook group as their forum. There is definitely a lot of discussion there. I wonder what you see as a benefit of an actual forum over that? Is FB too big? Or not anonymous enough?

      I think Stellar Maze is a very different model from what PH is trying to do. I find SM values purity and exclusivity more, while PH values accessibility and expansion more. Stellar Maze has a more close knit community for sure, but I bet its reach is far less. I’ve actually been impressed by the community that has formed in the IA group considering how many people are supposed to be in it.

  • Phillip Jacobs

    As a former petroleum engineer in corporate America and prisoner that went through therapeutic community program. You have to define success for yourself and not what the outside world wants. At least how you percieve. Trust yourself and defend yourself. Listen to assholes. Getting under your skin can get you to reflect on why your letting it affect you and it makes you stronger on a mental level. Life coaches will blow smoke up your ads and you will not grow. It makes you feel good in short term. Don’t be afraid to fail no one’s perfect. Phillip Jacobs

  • Dana S.

    As always, thank you for unpacking this topic. Listening to your discussion around the Struggles of Success is bringing up a lot of gratitude for me around the guides, mentors, and fail-ers (not quite the same as ‘failures’) that have all been teachers in my life. Some of them are no longer here with me, literally or figuratively, but that doesn’t diminish the impact of the lessons they shared.

    I think it’s Oprah who refers to “losing oxygen” as part of journey to, and through, success. It certainly does feel lonely at times. Speaking of Oprah, I don’t mean to be sassy, but aren’t you already bigger than Brene Brown right now? I’m not a math whiz but last I checked there is only one of her and there are TWO of you!

    So-called metrics are fertile ground for confirmation bias anyway, so let’s focus on what matters right now. I am sharing this episode with a friend immediately. And another one tomorrow. Cheers to your continued success from the Corn Belt!

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