To confront her feelings, Nichols did what she calls “mirror work,” a practice she continues today in which she stands in front of a mirror and repeatedly expresses reasons she’s proud of herself, things she’s forgiven herself for, and her intentions for the future. During this process, she took the third step involved in overcoming a setback, which is to own the part you played in the experience Nichols acknowledged that she had allowed an abusive man into her life. If you blame others for your setback, she says, “You’re not in the driver’s seat of your life. You’re in the passenger seat, the backseat—sometimes you’re in the trunk.” She then asked trusted friends and family members to tell her what they saw in her. Their positive reinforcement taught her yet another lesson: “There are times when someone can see something for you that you’re not seeing for yourself, and you can borrow their faith in you.”
As Nichols became stronger—a process that took a little over a year—the shame she felt about the relationship subsided until she was ready to take step four, which is to reframe the setback into a positive experience. “Every setback can be used as a learning tool for future endeavors and plans,” says Wilson. Nichols realized that she wasn’t motivating and inspiring others in spite of her setbacks and breakdowns, but because of them. “I get to apply everything I talk about, and I get to show that it works,” she says. “Every breakdown has a breakthrough attached to it.” She’s living proof.
STAYING RESILIENT IN BUSINESS
When economic times are tough, it’s more important than ever for business owners to make sure their efforts pay off. Here’s Nichols’ advice for reaching customers during hard times and bouncing back after the recession:
Create a SNAP statement. Instead of giving people your profession or job title, describe your business with what Nichols calls super networking at an accelerated pace, or SNAP—a statement that explains what the business can do for potential customers. When describing her motivational company for teenagers, for example, Nichols would say, “Motivating the Teen Spirit teaches teens how to fall madly in love with themselves and how to make integrity-based decisions.” Not only is the statement “clear, concise, powerful, and quick,” she says, but you let the listener know what’s in it for them.
Magnify your focus. Most entrepreneurs spend their days doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that and “you look up and it’s six hours later, and you haven’t really done anything,” Nichols says. Instead, allot periods of one or two hours to specific tasks, such as marketing, sales calls, or strategizing. Let nothing else distract you during that time. By spending every day between 10 a.m. and noon making sales calls, Nichols grew her business by 175% in two years.
Keep your business relevant. For a business to survive, it must be unique, timely, and efficient. If your business is missing one of these three components, adjust your business model. Nichols explains, “[Your business] must serve the market like it’s never been served before at a time that it needs to be served with a product or service that works.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.