The darkest depths of depression hit me in the summer of 2013, just four months into my relocation to the Netherlands. I couldn’t remember who I was or what I had achieved. With six managers directly reporting to me, fifty-six employees in my reporting line, over twenty-three suppliers and corporate clients, I found myself stricken by mental paralysis and forgot the milestones I had crossed. Empty, lonely and anxious, I knew I had hit a wall. My confidence was almost eroded.
When the call came for me to move to the Netherlands to join my husband for his work transfer, it was a moment of pain and hard decisions. I had to shut down two of the most lucrative businesses I had ever run and packed my life and kids on a journey to another country.
The first few months of settling in were like deliberately putting my hands into an open flame. It burned. It felt like I had lost everything – my identity, my personal brand, my CEO title, my friends and fans. I had to start all over, but I didn’t know where to start.
I remember those long days vividly, and the only thing that could fill that black void was faith. My faith in resurgence, my faith in a God that could turn things around. All I could do was pray. Sometimes I prayed through the night and did not sleep for more than three hours. This void and emptiness continued for months. All I prayed for was to know what I was supposed to be doing in this new country, with a different culture and language. And all I could hear within myself was, “teach what you know”. I decided to make a list of all the things I knew and, surprisingly, I knew quite a few things – from starting a new business from scratch, Nigerian cooking, balancing motherhood and career, leading and scaling up a company, building a visible brand online, and of course, generating revenue and profit in business.
Also, I remembered how I overcame earlier adversity from a job loss.
It was in 1999 when I had just got married and was seven months pregnant; I lost my corporate job. The fact that I was seven months pregnant made it worse, knowing that no other company would hire me in that state. I tried starting a business after my daughter was born. Two businesses and one idea failed, and I was finally able to launch a lucrative restaurant business.
Remembering my past successes gave me the courage and confidence to start a business in the Netherlands and gradually, my life improved.
Remembering how I overcame the adversity of a job loss helped me with the courage to start all over. I started teaching cooking lessons and eventually entrepreneurship to women in business. Today, I have a successful business in food packaging and business development training.
My biggest lesson is the fact that I can overcome every setback by always focusing on serving others with my gifts. I share this lesson with my mentees.
All these setbacks have helped me to deal with the current crises situation we are faced with today.
If you are feeling concerned about the fate of your small business and financial stability, I want you to know that you can get through this season with the right mental attitude and mindset. I believe that this is an opportunity for us to become stronger and more resilient. This is our call to serve others with our expertise, gifts and talent.
Remember the saying that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Keep yourself and your family safe and stay connected with people online. Speak up and ask for help when you need it.
And remember, you can rise above any setback with the right attitude!
No matter what your situation is right now, during this pandemic, you can come out of it stronger, wiser and more resilient.