After two years of developing a collaborative art space in the heart of Chicago, Maya-Camille Broussard, 30, and partner Chrishon Lampley, 34, hit a wall they couldn’t circumnavigate: Their landlord forced them out of their gallery space—where they had already invested $20,000 in renovations. To make things worse, they couldn’t get their loan underwriter to approve another location.
“Nothing was working. I broke down crying in traffic; I’d lie on my couch all day and not eat. I felt like a failure,” Broussard admits.
We all experience occasional setbacks, but these difficult times can make a flat tire feel like a blown transmission—you just can’t get into gear. Fortunately you are your own greatest asset when it comes to getting back on the highway, says Mason Weaver, motivation expert and president of Mason Media Co. “This isn’t the time to stop driving; it’s a great time to be driven.”
Weaver has suffered his own share of setbacks. While serving in the Navy, 2,800 pounds of steel plates fell on him, leaving him disabled. He was discharged with no marketable skills. “I was angry, depressed, and full of self-pity. But I soon realized that it didn’t matter who was against me, only that I was not against myself.”
Need to jump-start your life? First, believe that you can. “It’s your expectation that drives you,” Weaver says. Then ask the tough questions, including, “How could I have handled that differently?” And “What do I want to do now?” Next, do one small thing: Whether it’s taking a management course, seeking marriage counseling, or meeting one new person a day, do something that will move you closer to where you want to be. Finally, carry on knowing that problems might arise but that they can’t stop you. “Both good times and bad times are temporary,” Weaver says. “Neither last, but with perseverance, you will.”
It was self-affirmation and a bit of serendipity that put Broussard back on track: She discovered that her grandfather and Lampley’s dad had been business partners years before the budding entrepreneurs were even born. “After much meditation, I declared that my grandfather’s spirit wouldn’t have guided me this far to abandon me, and I started looking for properties again.” Just two months later, Broussard and Lampley secured a space that feels like home. Three Peas Art Lounge opened in March 2009, and it all began with a little confidence. As Weaver says, “You are successful—now go act like it!”
This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.