The most fascinating subject for me to explore in my new book, The 5 Habits to Mine Your Gold, was the fear of success, perhaps because it doesn’t get much air time. We don't know seem to know much about it.
In his classic book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield goes deep on the subject and describes it as “the mother of all fears.” He believes the fear many people have is that significant growth will ostracize us from our ‘tribe’, so we don’t try to test our limits in life and push to see what we are truly capable of. It’s easier not to make waves plus we might be uncomfortable with putting ourselves in the spotlight. Here’s what I share in my book:
I met Nadia networking at a high-end jewelry event in London. I was helping out a client’s wife by making introductions to people in my UK network so she could expand her brand in Europe. When I struck up a conversation with Nadia, I was struck by how much fun she was having. When I later interviewed her for my podcast to learn her story, she told me that she had started out in the working world as an air hostess. Her family, devout Muslims, had no issue with this, but when she started building her own business as a celebrity make-up artist, there was instant tension.
“I always had a passion for art…what excited me about make-up was the transformation – that it could help women look amazing. They could be the best version of themselves.” Her parents discouraged her, so at first after leaving school, she acquiesced and went to college to train as an accountant. “They didn’t see being an artist as a talent. It was not very respectable, not a high-profession job – they were influenced by the community… Sitting behind a computer, IT WAS NOT ME!”
In the end, Nadia dropped out of college and got a job for British Airways figuring that at least she could work with people more and travel. Then one day when working in business class, one of her passengers was Charlotte Tilbury, the world-famous make-up artist who has her own skincare brand, was honored by the Queen with an MBE, and has worked with many of the world’s top models inc. Kate Moss and Kim Kardashian. Tilbury was impressed with Nadia’s knowledge of make-up and offered her a chance to train with her.
Nadia’s family did not want her to do it, but she really felt she was making a difference for the first time in her life. “I have come across a lot of obstacles from family. (They’d say:) “People will talk about you. You are not part of this family. Don’t put your name out there.” I had to stand up for myself and say: ‘This is what I love.’ I’m not doing anything wrong. If you support me, fine and if not, fine, but I’m going to go ahead and do what I love and what I have a vision for.” Fortunately, her parents came around over time and are now happy for what she’s achieved.
You too may feel a pull from your family or your community that playing full-out to mine your gold may alienate you from what’s socially or culturally acceptable in your family or social circle. It may threaten other people’s status quo too much. Steven Pressfield describes this fear as “terrifying.” It’s also possible that you hadn’t been able to name the fear or its source before.
Do you feel safe emotionally (and supported) to shine – at home, at work and in your community? Surely in your one life you want the real you to live out loud.
As a parent, I know it’s not easy to keep your own opinions and biases to yourself and let your children march entirely to the beat of their different drums. Nadia adds: “That’s the hardest part. You have to be strong when you feel down and don’t have family support. You have to ignore what people think. Luckily, there are other great people who will support you such as clients and colleagues.”
Make a point to really seek these supportive people out (see Habit 4, Key 10: Elevate Your Support Team) and spend much more time with them and ever less time with those who give you mixed messages and undermine your morale.
She got to work with Middle Eastern VIP clients during the launch of a Charlotte Tilbury event in Kuwait and oversee the Arabic Fashion Show in Dorchester, England in 2016. Nadia went on to coordinate events with 20 of the top Middle Eastern fashion designers and be responsible for numerous press events and shop launches in the UK and internationally and take care of high-profile clients from the Saudi Royal Family and do work done at the personal request of a family member of the Bangladeshi elite.
How has she handled going from being a trainee accountant to having 90K+ Instagram followers? “I’m very genuine, honest, and simple. I love what I do. I care about and love people. If I interact with somebody, I always give my best advice. I see their beauty.”
The key to her finding peace with the conflict between doing what you most want in life and fear of becoming estranged from your family or community is this: “I LOVE this. I enjoy it and I see myself at other levels. I see no limits. I’ve become someone who took risks, is a hard worker, is strong, determined, and clear about what I want.”
Nadia deserves huge accolades for her courage and overcoming the fear that holds so many people back. In his inspiring book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes about how hard it is to overcome the fear that we will succeed and risk being alienated from our tribe: “We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us…What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family who will no longer recognize us…But here’s the trick: we wind up in space but not alone. Instead, we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, and companionship. Yes, we lose friends, but we find friends too in places we never thought to look and they’re better friends, truer friends, and we’re better and truer to them.”
Pause for a moment to do a gut check about your willingness to shine in your community. Don’t subconsciously or consciously hold back because you’re afraid your greater success will make someone you care about feel badly or that they won’t talk to you anymore. Avoid being around anyone where you find yourself playing smaller. As you increasingly mine your gold, what you discover on the other side of your fear is exhilarating. You may well feel separate from your old world until you pay attention to all the new connectedness that exists. Remember Marianne Williamson’s words too: you will inspire other people to shine too.
Let your love drive and listen to your heart and soul.
To breaking through!