Abraham Maslow is quoted in business and in life for his hierarchy of needs. You know the ones? The base need is physiological, which is food, water, and shelter. Followed by safety. Now, if you are in a war torn country or even in an area riddled by violence your safety needs are a little different. So if you don’t live in a war zone or a place where law and order is who has the biggest gun, than your Safety includes, personal, financial, and health.


The next three needs of Maslow’s hierarchy have an emotion element. The third need is Love and Belonging; friendship, intimacy, and family. Then there is Esteem, or self-esteem and self-respect, according to Maslow this is one where people struggle and it is said that Maslow himself was on this level (Feist, et all, 2013). The last step is Self-Actualization, or that the person is reaching their full potential as a human and has the full realization of this potential.


However, there is another theory that Maslow is credited for, the Jonah complex! Now Maslow felt there were many areas that could hinder a person from reaching their self-actualized potential. After reading up on it, I felt that the Jonah complex was worth some time behind my computer screen and was worthy of a read. I have seen it in every day life with others, with myself, and I have also seen it many times in business. You can’t have this impact you personally and not impact your business, can you?


The Jonah complex simply put is the fear of our own greatness. According to the Jonah complex and many explanations of it, the issue can be simply put “heavy is the head that wears the crown”. With success people know there will be responsibility, and they fear what that will look and feel like. I guess that is how the saying “the devil you know is less scary than the devil you don’t came about. (I wonder where this would fit into change management?) With this fear people don’t want to move into the unknown? However, if they played it out or could see a screen that showed them both paths, I would guess they would all be jumping into self-actualization with both feet because staying stagnant is much worse.


But, my own thoughts on this are that this is much greater of an impact to our business and ourselves than we might see on the surface. I have come up with a list of questions; let’s see how you do? These are all yes or no answers and the measure is how do you feel in your body after answering? If you feel great there is nothing to do, if you have some discomfort, that means you are onto something, stay with it, do the work required to move through it.


  • Has something or someone stood in the way of you being your greatest self?
  • Have you second-guessed applying for that job?
  • Have you second-guessed going after that business?
  • Do you have fear about trying new things?
  • Have you been embarrassed by your success and felt you were not worthy?
  • You start many things but finish few?
  • Do you fear people walking away from you if you are successful?
  • Bad luck hampers me?
  • I have some really great ideas, but those are for later?
  • Mediocrity is a safe place, nothing is expected and no demands are made of me?


Now these are ten of likely hundreds of questions that could show how you are standing in your own way. Being unwilling to face the discomfort of success may seem easy now or it might be totally unconscious. But, I can guarantee that the fear only grows when you don’t do something about it. Face the discomfort, step into the darkness, for in that darkness, you will find a beautiful light, and that light is your greatness; reach out it’s yours for the taking.


Let me leave you with a quote by Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”


If you want to discuss how this is impacting your business or life, leave a comment, send me an e-mail by clicking my name Steven Archambault or call me 587.577.9642.




Keep Chasing Those Cars:


With Love, Respect and Admiration.



One thought on “Are You Suffering From The Jonah Complex? Worse Yet, Is Your Company?

  1. WOW! You never cease to amaze me. A great blog Steven. Can’t wait to chat.
    We all need to listen to the very soft voice in all of us. Love Mom

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.