3 lessons I learned from becoming bankrupt at 24

At the age of 24, I declared myself bankrupt. I was a young real estate agent with a shattered ego. All of the success I had created vanished overnight.

So how did I end up in this dark place?
A series of choices and beliefs about myself led me to this place. And there are three important lessons I learned along the way.

Success starts with being true to yourself
The best way to build a successful life and career or business is to begin with you.

It sounds simple but the only way to reach your goals and dreams is to look inwards and be true to yourself.

And when I started out in real estate, purely by chance, I struggled with this.

At the age of 20, I met an inspiring real estate agent, Geoff and he saw something in me and said: “Why don’t you come work for me and sell them yourself?” 

A former SASR Soldier, he quickly became my first real mentor and not just a boss. Geoff was fit and strong and mentally tough and really into personal development. I was impressionable and I found myself wanting to be like him. 

I began to dress like him and write sales scripts like him and mimic everything he did. Except I wasn’t getting results – I wasn’t selling anything!

One day, Geoff pulled me aside and said,: “Stop being like me Shane and start being you”. When I was completely myself, everything changed almost in an instant.

My clients could tell I was more aligned and authentic and they felt comfortable working with me. I started to win a stack of sales awards and make more money than my family or I had ever seen.

The main lesson? Be yourself – everyone else is taken!

Your mindset is everything
The sooner you realise that mindset is everything, the sooner you’ll have a fulfilling and rewarding life and business.

Even when my real estate business was booming and sales were on the rise, I did not have the mindset of a successful person.

I had a broke mindset. A weak belief system that was filled with scarcity and doubt. A flawed approach to money that was starting to crack at the seams.

This meant I spent money like it was going out of fashion. I enjoyed long boozy lunches and took out loans on fancy sports cars and thought the cash would keep rolling and flowing freely forever.

Then suddenly the property market took a massive nosedive and interest rates soared. And my life and career completely bottomed out. Massive debt and big income but living on a knife’s edge, only just balancing the books.

Hot tip: Work on improving your mindset – this always improves your bottom line.

The grass is not always greener
Along the way, I received an appealing job offer from a competing real estate agent.

It seemed like a winner. A slight increase in commission. The prestige of a new job title. A chance to be the sales manager of a brand new office. I handed in my resignation to my cherished boss and mentor, Geoff, and jumped ship.

I was under the illusion that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  There was zero support and the opening of the new office was delayed.

I struggled to sell properties and things were looking grim, with barely a month’s income left in my bank account. Eventually I lost it all.

The lesson? Don’t think the grass is always greener. Be grateful for what you have and always take the time to perform your best, right where you are.

What lessons have you learned from your career or mistakes?

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Shane Kempton

Shane Kempton is the CEO of Harcourts WA and the network high performance coach.