Do You Fear Change or Fear Success?

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fear success

Do You Fear Change or Fear Success?

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We know change is happening, sometimes to our liking, and sometimes not so much. Fear change or fear success, which one do you fear, or is it both? What causes you to think twice about your next move?

Growth is Success

Years ago, I planted one hundred tiny twigs (Ligustrum amurense) in a row across the front of my property. It was going to change the front of my property. Privacy, beauty, and a lot of work.

Successful growth of the plants meant change. Cutting, trimming, care along the bottom, and care on the top. A great place for leaves to pile up in the fall.

Was there some fear of success? Certainly, I had an idea what was coming. There was going to be a lot of work and care involved. I planted them, it worked, things changed.

Fear Change

Any time we start something new, any time someone suggests a change, the fear of success may be just as important to consider as the fear of failure.

Most people blame the fear of failure as the reason people don’t like change. Certainly, failure is a possible outcome, but so is success.

The status quo is comfortable. People know and understand the workload. Groups have normalized (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Bruce W. Tuckman) and are performing. The outcome is generally known, the atmosphere feels stable. There is a sense of safety.

When a change is about to occur, the stability is threatened. There is new risk with an unknown outcome. Of course, if the change fails, not much will really be different.

Considering that change you see coming, do you fear success?

Fear Success

Vinyl, imitation clapboard, is popular for modern suburban home siding. It doesn’t change as often as the wooden clapboard of yesteryear. There is less fear of maintenance. A change that is desirable, no fear of more work, things stay stable longer.

The kids want a new puppy, with a new puppy comes change. Sure, who doesn’t love a cute puppy, but with the puppy comes a lot of care.

A house with a bigger yard, an apple tree, and a swimming pool would be nice. Well, on second thought, that seems like a lot of work.

Change is scary, it is really scary when it works.


Originally posted on June 14, 2018, last updated on December 4, 2019.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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