What To Do When Success Is As Terrifying As Failure


photo: maffashion


At the moment, I have an Elizabeth Gilbert obsession. That woman speaks so much sense, I downloaded her podcast and am working my way through her books because everything she says inspires me.

I was looking for inspiring talks on success and failure last week, and I came across another talk by my heroine and thought, well that’s a delightful coincidence. After the roaring success of her book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, it’s easy to imagine she’s just living the high life, sitting in a fabulously chic study where everything she creates is gold dust. But that’s not the case.

In this TED talk, Elizabeth says “. . . all of those people who had adored ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ were going to be incredibly disappointed in whatever I wrote next because it wasn’t going to be’Eat, Pray, Love,’ and all of those people who had hated ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ were going to be incredibly disappointed in whatever I wrote next because it would provide evidence that I still lived.” She talks about the burdens of success and feeling like you are living under your own shadow, and how blinding success and debilitating failure feel exactly the same.

“. . . failure catapults you abruptly way out over here into the blinding darkness of disappointment. Success catapults you just as abruptly but just as far way out over here into the equally blinding glare of fame and recognition and praise. And one of these fates is objectively seen by the world as bad, and the other one is objectively seen by the world as good, but your subconscious is completely incapable of discerning the difference between bad and good.”

If there’s no real difference between success and failure, Elizabeth says, then the only real thing we can do is just get our asses back to work! If you need a reminder to keep going even under the fear of success and failure, this talk is it!


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  • Simi Atanda Lindgren

    I have to hear this talk! Essentially face the fear and continue!

  • Camille Beygui

    Great post

  • Yankified

    A great post


  • Mama Sow

    I did see that ted talk very inspiring and true. Success can be as scary as failure because when you are at the top we fall from a higher point, hence it would hurt more.


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