Lisa Nichols knew what rock bottom looked like. She grew up on a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles and found herself a single mother at 27, and the father of her son was in jail. She had about $12 in her bank account and was on public assistance. She described herself as “broke and broken”.
But the now-famous motivational speaker and best-selling author whose favorite quote is “Success is my birthright” did something to turn her life around. She told her child: “We will never be this broke again.” And she did just that, using her failures as fuel to succeed.
Nichol’s story is an interesting one. It illustrates the power of resilience even in the face of severe adversity. It teaches us how a series of tragedies in life can push a person to work harder and achieve her dreams.
Nichols, as many successful people before her, has learned to silence her fear. Fear is that nagging thought we have in the back of our minds that tells us to stick to our comfort zones because it’s safe. It’s the life many of us are living now: Staying in our current job even if it bores us to death simply because it pays (never mind that we’re struggling to make ends meet), or being in the same abusive relationship for years because we’re afraid that no one else will want to be with us.
Fear is more motivating than success
Other than Nichols, there are a lot of people who were saddled with numerous failures yet managed to rise above them. American media mogul Oprah Winfrey, North America’s first black multi-billionaire, was born out of wedlock to a housemaid mother and a coal miner father. She was a victim of sexual abuse.
British novelist J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter books and named by Forbes as the richest British celebrity in the world, is another classic example of a rags-to-riches story. This woman who had struggled for years as a single mother on welfare, overcame numerous rejections from publishers until one company decided to give her a chance.
What if Nichols, Winfrey and Rowling had an ideal, rosy childhood, would they still be as successful as they are now? Probably not. Whenever we fail, it brings forth a hunger to do better. When used constructively, failures can push us past our perceived limitations to challenge the status quo.
Killing the fear
Most of the time, we sabotage ourselves. We want something really bad, yet instead of thinking about a hundred reasons we can have it, we focus on the one reason we can’t. If we don’t feed our fear it will die a natural death. So, then we would free to go after something we truly want.
Fear is what holds us back from fulfilling our potential and being the best that we can be. It’s our fear of failure which paralyzes us and keeps us from taking action, says Rishabh Chokhani, CEO and founder of Naturevibe Botanicals.
Chokhani says fear of failure is the reason why many of us are living ordinary, uneventful lives. It hinders our creativity and prevents us from taking career risks. We’re afraid of tipping the scales too far, so we end up watching the world from the sidelines. Eventually, it will make us feel bitter about life because we keep wondering about all the what-could-have-beens.
Whenever we encounter failures, we have two choices: Feed the fear by focusing on the negative, or kill it by just moving forward. The latter is how we grow.