Do You Have Success Guilt? 4 Things to Help You Get Over It

Maritza Parra | April 3, 2011

As an entrepreneur, there are many wonderful things that come with success. Freedom and self-direction are just a couple of them you will experience. There are a few things that you may not have expected. Success guilt being one of them. As a successful businessperson, you will encounter it or have it thrust upon you by people who may be envious of your success.

When you become more successful, start making more money, having more clients and more success than your friends, colleagues and neighbors, sometimes you experience success guilt. You probably already know exactly what I mean when I talk about that term.

So, let's look for a moment at what exactly "guilt" means. Guilt, as explained in the dictionary is, the "fact, state or feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, violation, wrong whether real or imagined." Success guilt is completely imagined, unnecessary, and in fact extremely harmful to your future as a businessperson. First, why would you ever feel remorseful for serving your clients and customers and helping them achieve their results? Why would you ever feel responsibility or remorse about doing better than someone else? It took work to get where you are, didn't it?

Most of us have at one time or another experienced success guilt. I've been riding Andalusian stallions since I was in middle school. At one point, I was traveling all over the country with a horse show I created. I worked hard to prepare and choreograph the show. After school, on my summer vacations, and on the weekends, I trained and rode for hours and hours on end. I worked so hard, it looked effortless. It looked easy, like a dream. When other riders would see me performing at the Kentucky Horse Park or for the Belmont Fair, they would come to me after the show and say "You're so lucky. If only I had fill-in-the-blank, I could do that too". Fill-in-the-blank was "a better horse, more time to ride, a better teacher, a better saddle", etc.

These people were simply complaining about why they weren't as good as me, and giving excuses as to why this wasn't their fault. To them, it was simply my good luck. But, it wasn't luck. It took a lot of backaches, my bruised rear end, and a lot of work to make my success look so "effortless".

Success guilt happens to most entrepreneurs at one time or another. When I think about success guilt and help my clients get over theirs, I ask them to think about the following five things:

1. There's a level playing field. Realize that anyone who wants to be successful truly has a level playing field. If you really want to do something or learn something, you will find a way. Look at all the amazing success stories of people who became mega successful and began not only with nothing, but with some huge obstacles in their way. Most everyone has two legs, two arms, two eyes, one mouth, one brain, and one attitude. Of those, attitude may well be the most important one. Know that those people who are not as "successful" as you can do the same amount of hard work and creative thinking as you have to get where you are.

2. Success is a series of learned behaviors. I've studied Napoleon Hill and his findings when he researched the most successful people of his time. Hill found that the common denominator between successful people is they were able to learn "success habits". A series of learned behaviors that help propel a person to success instead of mediocrity. These success habits and behaviors were not inherited. They were not passed down like a golden key from one generation to the next and no one but the wielders of the golden key could have success. These were habits and behaviors anyone can learn. So, success is training and re-training yourself to have those learned behaviors.

3. You must set the agenda as a business owner. There are too many business owners who let everyone else, including their customers and clients set the agenda. As a successful business owner, you know how to set the agenda and be proactive rather than reactive. You have to let people know how you work. You don't react to everyone else and what they need from you. You know what it is you do best. You serve in your manner. And don't allow your cousin, neighbor, or even a fellow entrepreneur give you success guilt trips. When you start hanging out with other entrepreneurs, particularly in your own line of business, some of them will say "Oh, you're so lucky, because you can fill-in-the-blank". Fill-in-the-blank being a 2 week first class trip, your new car, etc. You're so lucky? Well, it's not luck, it's smart work and your learned habits that make it possible. Be sure not to react to or allow these success guilt trips to be laid on you.

4. Don't be guilted into "Free". At one point or another I think all successful entrepreneurs have fallen into this dangerous little trap. When you are teaching something that can help people, that can change their lives, whether it be a change in their business or personal life, you probably have been "guilted" into giving something away for free. And this probably occurred with someone you were close to, say a relative or a very close friend who was struggling? Most of us don't want to see people we care about struggle. So immediately we try to help in the best way we know how, with our area of expertise. You may have said "You know what? I'm going to give you a free consultation" or "I'm going to sit here and let you pick my brain over lunch." Then your loved one leaves and never does one thing with your advice or strategies. When you give things away for free, they are devalued and often completely ignored. The recipient of this amazing free gift you've given them of your time, energy, expertise, and strategies, goes away and never actually uses them! Your life's work! It doesn't matter if it's your brother or your best friend. They don't use your free gift and they end up resenting you.

Why is that? I believe it's because they didn't make a serious commitment and an investment in themselves, so they really didn't have anything to lose or gain (in their mind) by not using your free gift. So if you really want to help those around you, don't give them free gifts because this ensures they will most likely never be used. Give them an opportunity to work with you for a fee. An opportunity to step up and follow in your successful footsteps. In fact, most people who have not been successful haven't made the time or monetary (or both) investment in themselves to acquire and learn the things that equal success.

"Nothing is more costly than something given free of charge." - Michihiro Matsumoto, The Unspoken Way

5. Enjoy your success. The last thing to tell you about success guilt is get over it and enjoy your success. Savor it and know that anyone who decides to stop making excuses and stop arguing for their own limitations can be just as successful as you. Don't feel sorry for them. I give you permission to relieve your success guilt. Remember that anyone who decides to learn the habits and behaviors you've acquired, and who stops defending their own mediocrity, can be successful. So, get over your success guilt and get on with the business of adding value to other people's lives through your business.
Maritza Parra

Maritza Parra trains and coaches entrepreneurs to use the principles of self-empowerment combined with easy and powerful tools of the Internet to create financial freedom and abundance. After being featured on "Oprah & Friends: The Soul Series" Maritza became an expert at creating products quickly via TeleSeminars, eBooks, Video and other Easy Product Creation Strategies. Known as the Product Creation Queen, Maritza now teaches her students how to create their own products. Maritza teaches from her private membership sites and at the Hacienda, her Retreat Center in San Antonio, TX.

Glazer-Kenndey Insiders Circle, owned and operated by internationally known marketing personalities Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer, is THE place where truly smart, progressive, aggressive entrepreneurs with a love for marketing, a sincere desire to get rich and richer (with no apologies for doing so), and an optimistic, forward-looking attitude, gather' to exchange and share timely information and "what's working today" strategies and examples. Get Bill Glazer's #1 Bestselling Book, "Outrageous Advertising" for FREE. Click here.


Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY!” Passionate leader of small business strategic equity value creation & implementation mastery. She is CEO& chief strategist of Value Growth Institute. Creating business value that transforms your world. She is the Award-Winning author of Show Me The Money and you can grab a free sample of PROFITS MATTER® 1GAP to grow your business at


Leave a comment

Security code