During my coaching sessions, I run into a lot of "Fear of Failure" discussions. People who are paralyzed because they feel if they take action (any action), they will fail and the world will come crashing down upon them. I also experience "Fear of Success" with some of my clients. This one is even more insidious — it tends to show you the way to success and then the right side of your brain kicks in and you begin to worry about all the life changes (usually negative) which will impact your relationships, your routine, and your work. So you stop in your tracks.
But there is an even more sinister dysfunction out there — I call it "Fear of Completion". And a lot of people have it.
I do. I think it stems from having a perfectionist streak in certain things you do and it causes the person to never reach completion on certain actions, projects, or services. You're always afraid you can do it 'just a little bit better'.
In addition, it plays nicely with Fear of Failure and Success — you don't want to deliver it because you are afraid of failure (you have to fix it or do it again) or success (you have to then do more of it).
You see this happen when people are writing books, or developing a workshop, or rolling out technology. They keep adding areas or functionality to the deliverable so they never have to experience the reality of their actions.
They like to live in project limbo. I call it Maybe-Land. They're not getting a 'Yes this is great' or a 'No this sucks' — they get no response, because they haven't delivered it yet. Maybe-Land is a warm and fuzzy place to live. Most people out of work like to live in Maybe-Land — they don't follow up on leads or interviews, because they might get a 'No'. Or even scarier, a 'Yes'.
How do you eliminate "Fear of Completion"? Two suggestions:
- Set a firm deadline and let everyone know about it. You have to deliver it within 90 days. You are going on a diet and losing 50 pounds by this date. Publish it everywhere — tattoo it on your forehead.
- Promote someone on your team or ask a colleague to physically take the presentation, the site, the project and launch it when they think it's ready. You will never think it's ready and continuously add functionality. They will stop the insanity and launch it (on-time).
Do you suffer from one of these fears? What do you do to ameliorate them?