My Life Began the Day I Lost $250,000

It took hitting rock bottom for me to learn the real meaning of success

Michael Thompson
Forge
Published in
4 min readSep 24, 2019

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The phone rang. This was it, I thought. At last, all the years of struggle I’d endured were about to be worth it.

Growing up with a severe speech impediment and social anxiety, I had a very limited view of what I was capable of accomplishing. But as I grew into adulthood, I began to push myself far beyond my comfort zone. I hired a communication coach and threw myself into a sales job, where I’d be forced to talk to people every day. And I became good at what I did, working my way up to managing a sales team. I got a taste of success, and then I wanted more. I began dabbling in real estate investments in Central America.

I was 29 years old, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I could do anything. I was about to close the deal on the sale of my investment property, which would net me a $250,000 payout.

But the moment I heard the voice on the other end of the line, I knew something was wrong. My stomach began to drop.

After a long pause, the man — my partner in the deal, and someone who I’d once considered family — gave me the news. “Michael, the money isn’t coming,” he said. “The deal is dead.”

I did my best not to completely lose it.

Things would be okay, I told myself. No matter what happened, the house was still mine. I would simply list the property again, attract a new buyer, and get back my investment. Not the original plan, but not the end of the world.

But then I received another surprise.

Unbeknownst to my friend at the time, his father had changed the deed of the property to his own name. Then he sold it out from under me — for $30,000 in cash, I would later learn, and five luxury cars valued well over $200,000. One crossed-out name, one new signature, one measly phone call, and everything that I’d been working toward was gone. It wasn’t long before my sanity and confidence went with it.

To say that I felt completely paralyzed would be an understatement. I sat in my car, thinking about everything and nothing at all. I wondered what the hell I was going to do next. Then I did the only thing I…

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Michael Thompson
Forge
Writer for

Co-creator of two cool kids • Storytelling Coach •.Fast Co., Insider, Forbes • Free storytelling guide here: https://bit.ly/3h1KZeT