Career Pattern: Drivers with Brakes On
James Waldroop and Timothy Butler have written on the acrophobe/driver pattern where a person strives to move ahead but believes he or she shouldn't be advanced.
The acrophobe/driver will press on the gas pedal to get ahead and then slam on the brake when the feelings of unworthiness kick in.
In my coaching practice, I've noticed a surprising number of accomplished executives who suffer from this pattern. They differ from the individual who lacks drive and never seeks advancement. These people are in the race but tend to engage in self-defeating behavior once they near the finish line. In many cases they have had this pattern for years without noticing when it begins to surface. When they do achieve a goal, they quickly dismiss the accomplishment and instead of acknowledging that they earned it, they cite luck, charm, or some other feature as the real reason for their victory.
Part of the solution is for the person to keep careful watch for self-defeating behavior, such as not returning phone calls or missing deadlines, and to implement a plan to eliminate those negatives. The biggest step, of course, is to recognize that the pattern exists. We often assume that fear of failure is more common than fear of success. I'm not sure if that is true.