Rolling Out

Top speaker and life coach Lisa Nichols shares her journey and tips for healing

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lisa Nichols
Photo courtesy of Lisa Nichols

Lisa Nichols life reads like a fairy tale rag to riches story. She is a top motivational speaker, a best-selling author, and a master life and executive coach. Through hard work and many blessings, the former mother on public assistance is now the CEO of a multimillion dollar company. Her global company, Motivating the Masses, has reached and served nearly 30 million people. She was introduced to the world in the movie The Secret, which educated people on the law of attraction. Her work has been acknowledged by Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey, and many other influential people.

Rolling out sat down with Nichols to hear about her journey to success.

Tell us about your story.

I feel like the little engine that could. I feel like it is a story that says average and ordinary people get to become extraordinary. Without me tooting my own horn, I am the surprise and I make it possible for everybody else to make an amazing life out of what felt like crap. I was a C+ student for 12 years in school and I struggled academically. I didn’t learn fast and I don’t learn fast now so that caused a lot of hiccups in school. My English teacher told me I should never write and my speech teacher told me I should never speak in public. So by 19 I had a history of average learning and struggling. I was kicked out of college because I couldn’t afford it. In my 20s I had five different jobs that I got fired from. So literally, my formative years were full of rejection and a lot of questioning and wondering if I was good enough. I prayed a lot to God. Then I got pregnant with my son at 26 and what I thought couldn’t get worse — got worse. I had to get on government assistance to take care of my son. That was a very humiliating moment.

I stepped into the current version of Lisa Nichols because the old version was not working. I was just trying to find my own oxygen. I begin to pick up books and I am ashamed to say that was a first for me. All the people around me that looked like me were struggling. So I began to learn from people who didn’t look like me. When I changed my mind, I knew I couldn’t go back to the same way I was living because it was incongruent to who I was. That was the turning point. It didn’t happen overnight. My son and I ate beanies and weenies for the next seven years. The weenies were diced so small you couldn’t tell it apart from the beanies. I knew a sign that things were changing financially was when the weenie size started getting bigger [laughs].

What was the game-changing moment in your career?

I was little hustling Lisa. A single mother trying to make a living. I had written two books – “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul” and “Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul”. I was primarily speaking at churches, and was running Motivating the Teen Spirit when I was asked to be a part of The Secret movie. When the movie was released, The Secret tsunami came and changed everything.

The Secret introduced the world to the law of attraction and was a huge success. How were you chosen to be in the movie?

I didn’t even know I would be in The Secret. Better yet, one of the four stand out teachers. They interviewed 54 people to be in it and chose 26. I thought I would be on the editing floor. What is funny is, I didn’t even know what the secret was. For years, I was afraid to tell anyone. They didn’t teach that theory at Mount Tabor Missionary Church on Crenshaw. So I said, I’m just going to roll with this until I get kicked out of the club. So a year later we are sitting in Phoenix and the premiere was shown, and for the first time I was able to see the whole conversation and what the secret is. I also saw how my message fit inside of it. And then a year later, I got a call from the producer-director saying we got more requests for you than anyone else. I believe it was because I was speaking layman’s terms. I represented the masses that didn’t know about the secret.

Were there signs on your journey that gave you glimpses of where you are today?  

I never saw money, success, and labels. I just saw people. I just knew I was going to touch the masses. In 1993, my girlfriend said you motivate the masses and that is what I named my company.

In your work what has been your biggest lesson?

I learned no one can do my due diligence for me. Also a partner has to feel good in my gut. Not your gut. I have also learned that I have to be more committed to being Phil Jackson as opposed to Michael Jordan. Meaning, I have to spend my energy fine tuning and cultivating great coaches and speakers and leaders than just being the main thing on the court.

You just released your seventh book, Abundance Now. Tell us about it. 

Abundance Now will disrupt everything we need to know about the term abundance. I love the book because it challenges the myth that abundance is just wealth and prosperity and it opens up how you get there. That book is a culmination of 25 years of the best parts and the worst parts of my life. It’s the piece of work that I would want to leave as my legacy. Abundance Now is the doorway for someone beginning to make that pivotal shift in their life.

What has been one of the biggest pivotal shifts in your life?

My son’s father went to prison when my son was 8 months [old]. My son will be 22 and his father is still in prison. For years I was ashamed of that and made it define me. This last book, Abundance Now, is the first book I ever say his name in the acknowledgements — not in chapter four or eight when I survived. No I didn’t survive him, he is a blessing in my life. I acknowledged him because my son’s father has been more engaged with my son from prison than some fathers that are down the street. They talk on a weekly basis. I used to mail my son’s homework to the prison and my son’s father would correct the corrected version and have more things because he was an English major and he is brilliant. My son’s father has authored 14 books from prison. He was a published author before I was.

On Dec. 12, 2014, I came to a point in my life when I was ready to release some weight. I had been wearing a 85 lb. jacket. I had just come back from being the expert on the “Steve Harvey Show” and I said OK, I have to do this work. I went back to the year I put the weight on when I was 28. What was I protecting myself from?  A lot of it had to do with my son’s father. When I tell you Dec. 12, 2014, I addressed the shame, the hurt, the pain from that relationship ending and him going to prison. I picked up the phone and called him and said I was in love with you when you went in and I never told you. I waited for you for 10 years but I never told you. I dared not because I said, I don’t do jail or people in jail. But I lied to myself and I had been holding on to it. That was so big and I did it crying. Doing that allowed me to release the physical weight as well as the emotional weight.

What would you like to share with our readers?

My chapter four was funky. Things in my life were not going well. My life is my life today because I realize that my chapter four does not have to be my chapter 24. So as you are reading these words, realize that you hold the pen in your hand. You are the writer of your autobiography, you are the designer of your destiny. Don’t cut and paste your chapter four into your chapter 24. The pages are blank. Write your next chapter exactly how you want it to be.

Follow Lisa Nichols on Twitter @2motivate. To learn more about her and her book, Abundance Now, go to

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