Here is the story. There was a kid who was very fond of music and playing guitar. All his friends were football players. Whenever he and his friends used to hangout together, the topic would mostly be about football. They would discuss quarterback techniques, defence strategies, and other football related stuff. And this kid used to feel left out and lonely during these times. He wished he had a fellow music lover for company. Nevertheless the kid kept his interest in guitar going strong and would practise regularly.
With the friends always talking about football and how to be successful in it, what was initially loneliness in the kid gradually turned into an inferiority feeling. Perhaps guitar was not the way to success! Happiness became synonymous with success. If you are successful then you are naturally happy!
As the kid reached his teenage, he began to believe that a football player is a more successful person than a guitar player; but he couldn’t leave his passion for guitar. Then came the big phase of critical decision making – should I be a guitar player or should I be successful? The teenager decided to give up music for football and success. He joined his friends and started rigorous practise. Of course, he could not ace in that sport because his heart was not in it. So the inferiority complex grew deeper. Another mistake he made was comparing himself with his friends who were into the sport from childhood. Naturally they were better than him for they had years of experience and practise. But he failed to look at that, he just compared by age.
He became a mediocre player who was allowed to play because the team needed sufficient numbers. He began to fear that he would be chucked out of the team anytime a better player turns up. In a few years his friends made it to bigger teams and games. But his growth was limited. By now he was in his late twenties. And married.
The fear of being kicked out of the team became a constant source of anxiety and stress. Burden of responsibility of family took its toll too. He withdrew from his social interactions and spent time brooding, worrying, and secretly crying. Children became new additions to his family. And his fears grew proportionately. Self-esteem was as low as his blood pressure. He believed his fear of failure was the root cause.
In all these years, the guitar lay in a corner (for he hadn’t the heart to dump it) gathering dust. Occasionally it would be source of short-lived motivation for the man to change his life, to start afresh but, in his words, it was too late! The truth was that he had grown too comfortable with his life and circumstances. He did not have the guts to dig up old beliefs about success and happiness and change them. He was too afraid to step out of his comfort zone.
The passionate kid who loved music grew up into a fearful man who hated himself, his life and his job. His mistake: he let others define success and happiness for him.
Many of my clients say they have a fear of failure when it comes to their profession. I ask them, do you love what you are doing? What’s the point of learning stress management when the source of stress is still active! That’s like wearing raincoat inside your house just because your roof is leaking. Fix the roof!
Picture Courtesy: Freedigitalphotos