8 business lessons from one of the world’s most requested motivational speakers

Lisa Nichols is an awarded media personality, life coach, best-selling author of six books, one of the world’s most requested motivational speakers and corporate CEO of a business that has served more than 30 million people. From a struggling single mom on public assistance to a successful entrepreneur, Lisa has inspired millions of people worldwide to discover their untapped talented and potential.

She’s the founder and CEO of Motivating the Masses, Inc, a personal and business development training company that helps people transform their lives and businesses through a series of workshops and programs all over the world. She also runs a non-profit foundation called Moving the Teen Spirit that has helped to prevent more than 3,000 teen suicides, supported 2,500 dropouts in returning to school, and has helped thousands reunite with families.

Nichols’s inspiring story and success tips have helped countless people break through and reach their goals and dreams. She struggled all through school and was an average student. Her teachers told her she was the weakest writers they had ever met and they suggested she got a desk job because she was unfit to speak in public. She was fired from five different jobs before she turned 30, and her boyfriend went to prison when she was eight months pregnant.

Nichols had to get on government’s assistance to have the baby and she had to rely on Women, Infants and Children to feed him, but everything changed when she found herself with $11 in her bank account and no money to buy diapers for her son. “For two days, I had to wrap my son in a towel. Something happened those two days: I hit rock bottom. I was broke and I was broken. That was the day I promised my son I would never be this broke again," says Nichols. Her son was the driving force she needed to fight for a better life: “As an African-American male child in South Central Los Angeles with a single mother, whose father was in prison, he had a 66% chance of going to prison himself. Not on my watch. I had to be willing to drastically transform myself so that I could become the woman that I knew I could be. And that's what I began to do."

Nichols fought hard to change her life around and has been sharing her life story and learnings with people worldwide, hoping that these lessons will help others the same way they helped her. Here are some her top tips for personal and professional success:

1. Set challenging but realistic goals

According to Nichols, one of the main mistakes when aiming high is that we make unrealistic goals, not because we’re trying something that we can’t actually do but because we’re not choosing the right deadline. “If you think you can do it in 30 days, give yourself 60. If you need 90, give yourself 120. Be kind and gentle to your future. Your goal is supposed to stretch you, but it’s not supposed to stress you,” she explains. “When we fail to achieve our goals, we lose a little bit of faith in ourselves. You are supposed to set challenging goals but if you set unrealistic goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It won’t appear as failure at first but after a while you will stop dreaming out loud. You’ll begin to whisper your goal, you won’t even tell anyone out loud. After a while, you won’t even whisper, you’ll think it. And after a while, you’ll just stop setting goals. So give yourself a chance, set yourself to win.”

2. Give yourself 1,000 second chances

Sometimes we have the tendency to feel like we don’t deserve something better than what we have, either because we didn’t get it in the first place or because things aren’t going the way we wanted them to, and that lack of self-confidence can be the end of all kind of personal and professional endeavors. “Yes, you've made some mistakes. Yes, you've made some poor decisions. Yes, you've stayed stuck longer than you should have stayed stuck. Yes, you said ‘yes’ when you should have said ‘no’, or ‘no’ when you should've said ‘yes’, but you've also made some brilliants decisions. You have to make sure that you're keeping track, not score.” The secret to overcoming your fears is being kind and gentle to yourself and, most importantly, being forgiving: “My biggest accomplishment is being willing to give myself 1,000 second chances, and every time I get to 999, I press reset.”

3. Keep your ego in check

As Nichols says, not everything about the ego is bad: “Ego is great when it allows you to stand in your light, on the moment. It’s confidence and it’s a little bit of ego.” But the ego can become toxic when it’s misused, misguided and self-destructive, so you have to have complete control over it. “My shego (because, ladies, we have our own version of an ego and I call it ‘shego’) gets up with me every day and she wants to come everywhere with me. I know when to invite her and I know when I have to tell her when she has to stay at home.” Nichols says you have to ask yourself this important question while dealing with your ego: in this specific situation, is my ego going to bring me closer to what I ultimately want, or is it going to push me further away?

4.Go for abundance, not wealth

Wealth is possessions and money, abundance is a 360 experience. True abundance is your health, because if you don’t have great health, life doesn’t feel good. Abundance is relationships, at the end of your life, you will measure the quality of your life by the quality of the relationships you had. Abundance is spiritual ground, that doesn’t mean you have to have a religious origin, it has a lot do with the quality of your life – can you release? Can you forgive? Can you let go? Do you meditate? Do you have time for yourself?”

5. The importance of unlearning

Most of us go through life trying to learn something new every day, especially now that we have so many sources of information at our fingertips, but Nichols says the process of unlearning is just as important as learning. “I can guarantee you, every single one of us who wants something different than what we’re getting is unconsciously doing something from old patterns that doesn’t even serve our future. Sometimes your biggest breakthrough is in what you unlearn and then relearn. Sometimes you have to disrupt your soil, pull your soil up, take that dry dirt that has been planted for years and disrupt in order to plan a new seed that will grow a new fruit.”

6. Expand your comfort zone

“Go around your comfort zone, or as I like to call it, your ‘limit line.’ Instead of stepping OUT of your limit line by doing something courageous and then stepping back in, PUSH your limit line. That’s how to expand your life. You push your limit line by making decisions and taking action while looking at an expanded and forward-moving life.”

7. Make decisions based on your knowledge, not your longing

This is something we really need to be mindful of, as women especially. This means making decisions based on good, foundational information and not based on emotion. You can wrap some emotion around the logic, but the logic is where your decisions have to live and grow out of. Somake plans based on knowledge, not longing, based on information, not emotion.”

8. Break down your goals

Big challenges can be overwhelming if you’re looking for that macro-win, but usually achievable if you break it down into small, bite sized goals and work towards it, bit by bit. “You don't have to have a magnificent change over 20 months, you can have a small change over 30 days. Your breakthrough will come in needle point moves, and you’ll look up in 5 years and won't recognize your life," Nichols explains.

Nichols turned her life around when she had all the odds against her favor, and now she’s helping millions of people to do the same. We all can definitely learn a lot from her!

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