Wonderhell: Why Success Doesn’t Feel Like It Should
SUCCESS is not a destination but a journey. And each achievement opens yet another door to our potential. The achievement feels wonderful, but just when we thought we reached to top, we feel the burden of the invitation to take another step into our newfound potential. We’re in what Laura Gassner Otting identifies as Wonderhell.
Wonderhell is that place between who you are and who you are becoming. The wonderful excitement of who you are and the burden (hell) of the realization of who you can become.
In Wonderhell: Why Success Doesn’t Feel Like It Should . . . and What to Do About It, Otting presents the ride of your life like entering an amusement park—Wonderhell. And every success invites us back to the entrance to take the ride again.
Just when we thought we could rest on our past, we are invited into a future of new opportunities. We step into the Imaginarium, and we can see the new life we want to have. It’s bigger and bolder, and we enter Impostertown. Who am I to take this next step? Who do I think I am? Otting wisely points out that we are not who we think we are. We are not what others think we are. We are who we think others think we are.
It’s time to deal with our inner voice. “Standing on the edge of our incompetence” makes us fearful and feel like an imposter. “You could run from this fear. You could hide from this future. You could lie to yourself about what you want. Many people do, swallowing that dream down into their belly, where it becomes a cancerous lament, festering away disguised as malaise, dissatisfaction, or worse, prudence.”
In Impostertown we see the fortune teller and enter the Hall of Mirrors, the Tent of Oddities, and the Haunted House. We learn to make our own luck, let go of the things that hold us back, and turn our limitations into invitations. Stick to the facts. They are greater than our emotions. “The more we observe and absorb information about a potential change, the more we begin to understand how to make that change happen,” and make our own luck.
Once we’ve gotten rid of that internal voice in our head that limits us, we now enter Doubtsville. We face the uncertainty, the discomfort, and doubt about our new potential. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. You will never be ready. Control what you can control and take the first step. Accountability motivates.
Much of the fear and anxiety that comes from all of the external voices. In Doubstville, we learn to create boundaries over who we listen to. We turn up the volume on those who believe in us and turn down the volume on those who only see our faults and obstacles. “Got a family member who always worries you’re taking too big a risk? Share some details of your plan when you’ve already got it in place. Bear in mind: most of the people who are busy sharing opinions wouldn’t have the time to do so if they were just as busy as you, bringing their own goals to fruition.” Who do you need to have on your team?
You’re on your way, but there’s one more dimension to the amusement park: Burnout City. “Wonderhell isn’t just a place you visit once. If you have a vision (and the stomach for going after it), you get to come back over and over again. Anticipate this repeat voyage—and even welcome it!—and you’ll live to tell the tale. But the key isn’t just to survive Wonderhell. Your goal is to thrive in it.”
You might be tempted to hold on to where you’ve already been, but that will slowly steal your wonder and leave you with nothing but the hell.
Performing the same roles and responsibilities over and over—even as this brings you greater and greater success—leaves you with nothing but emptiness and tedium.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to break the monotony and step into the unknown. Say goodbye to your past success, and prepare to jump out of that perfectly-functional-but-entirely-automated airplane. Increase the challenge. Build a new offering. Or pack your parachute and move on.
Understanding how the rides work reduces our stress and helps us to enjoy the ride. If we are in Wonderhell, we’re on the right track to live out our potential.
If you have a dream, a plan, a demon, a potential, or an unshakable goal that excites you and scares you at the same time, Otting offers the Wonderhell Quiz to find a way through it. Where are you in Wonderhell?
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