The Jonah Complex is defined as a fear of success which prevents the realization of one’s true destiny. Besides being the dumbest thing I ever heard, it is also the most asinine thing I ever heard. Fear? Of success? I guess this explains why everyone expects a trophy now just for showing up. Or we could Missy Elliot that thought and say the presentation of unearned awards has taught recent generations that no actual effort is required to succeed. When effort is required, they avoid it – wouldn’t want to get dirt on their delicate psyches!
This “fear of success” thing is so offensive to me that I had to look it up. And as you might expect, there is a medical explanation. Are you ready? The body responds to stress and excitement in similar ways. The body, which is always trying to protect itself, will eventually equate trauma with elation and your brain will urge you to avoid both. This will be a long, drawn out process, but by avoiding most of the risk in life you’ll also eliminate the possibility of sustained joy and success. Mired in the murk of mediocrity, as it were. How? By developing “coping mechanisms” (i.e. excuses). For those of you in sales reading this, does anything below sound familiar?
- You know more than your boss
No you don’t, sunshine. If you did, then you’d be the boss. I’ve learned something from every boss/manager I’ve ever had. I chose to garner the good, take it and mold it in such away that would spur my career. Sure, I’ve had bosses that I didn’t like. But I never thought that I knew more than them.
- You won’t follow directions
Won’t or can’t? Sometimes stupid just gets in the way and some people simply don’t want to do well. They don’t want to be the leader because they can’t give direction and they can’t (or won’t) follow direction.
- You have a problem for every solution
I have 2 gears. Problem and solution. If I’m not in one, I’m in the other. The problem gear is full of negative energy unless I quickly jump gears to the solution. Negative energy is draining. Except for the one stirring the pot and looking for followers. And it’s the same moron that can’t follow (or give) direction!
- Your pride trumps your hunger
Pride is crippling. False pride is paralyzing. I suffer from acute more-ism. The more I get, the more I want. And not because I’m greedy. But because I want to bless others and be a vehicle for good. I’ve suffered from false pride and still do on occasion. It sucks. It prevents me from moving the needle and recognizing more success. When I’m aware of it, I can silence the noise (negativity) and focus on the mission that matters.
If any of these “coping mechanisms” are part of your daily life, you will never succeed. Just for the record, I’m still having a real hard time with this whole “fear of success” concept. I do believe that we write our own destiny, and agree that fear will prevent us from achieving what is possible. I preach this gospel quite frequently, but what is most important is how do you recognize and confront the Jonah Complex head-on? I’ve thought about it, and rather than soar off on some theoretical, buzzword-infested, value-added blah blah blah, I’ll offer this idea. Ask yourself, can I do it? Can you run that half marathon? If you can’t do it tomorrow, can you do it after training? Can you exceed your sales target? If you can’t do it tomorrow, can you do it with the help of a weekly debrief of your efforts with the COO? Can you be happy and successful? If you can’t do it tomorrow, why the hell not? Sorry, I’m losing patience. As luck would have it, I blogged about how to tackle fear recently (see 50 Ways Afraid from March 9). The main idea was to identify what is holding you back and address it.
Address it unless you believe you have already achieved your destiny. Jonah tried to avoid his destiny – he ran from it and got three days in a whale’s gut for his trouble.