You Just Got Screwed Over… Now Do This.

In 2008, I was hanging 18 feet above the ground. My only anchor points were a tiny crimp-hold the size of a nickel and a rounded foot hold about 14 inches from my right shoulder.

This was my favorite bouldering route inside the rock climbing gym that I had founded, designed, and built just 15 months earlier. The gym was a huge success and had almost 500 members and a thriving community of passionate rock climbers.

After finishing my route, I walked back into the lobby to help a customer and was asked by my Co-Founder (and majority owner) to join him in the yoga room just around the corner. He asked me to sit down on a pile of rolled up mats to have a discussion.

“Dale we have to let you go.”

Wait… What?! I'm an owner… I responded. He continued on with his reasoning of how he felt I was pushing the company in the wrong direction. He believed that my job of “starting the organization” was done and now I should remain “just an owner” and let the rest of the team take it from there.

I was hurt.

I felt betrayed and almost left without concern. I spent weeks evaluating the scenario. What did I do wrong? What did they do wrong? How will I ever get passed this? And most importantly, what do I do now?

After a few weeks, I decided it would be best to sell my stock and walk away from the very thing I had poured my recent life into.

But the question still lingered. What do I do now?

How do you come back from such a fall? How do you respond? What do you tell your friends and family? How do you avoid further embarrassment and humiliation?

You do this.

1. You Never Talk Bad About People
Over the years, I've learned that hurt people hurt people. And I was hurt. If you've been screwed, release your tension in a healthy way. Talking poorly of others never benefits your situation and it almost always makes it worse. People assume that since you're willing to share bad information about someone else with them, then you're willing to share their flaws with others. They don't feel safe and you've successfully pushed even more people away in a time when you need them the most.

2. You Refocus & Rebuild With Tenacity
Setback is an incredible season to refocus your life. It's a time of serious introspection and honest feedback. It's also a time to fuel the passion required to spring back hard. To be better, smarter, and wiser. Like the old saying goes,

“the best revenge is a life well lived.”

In my scenario, I wrote out an entire 5 year plan. I was specific about the things I didn't like about myself and the traits I wanted to amplify. I set my sights on the future, and pulled the trigger.

3. You Focus On You, Not Them
Whoever thinks you can just “move on” in moments of betrayal has likely never experienced it. You will have nights of regret. You will miss memories, people, and moments. But you will get through this. Provide yourself a healthy window to process the situation. Maybe a week or two. But then you must move forward. Guard your heart and maintain a mind of intentional focus on the future. After all, you can't fix them, only you.

And for those of you wondering what happened to the rock climbing gym, it's no longer. The owners were unable to keep the organization growing and were forced to sell the company for pennies on the dollar. Who did they ask first? Me.

My answer was no.

Have you been betrayed or screwed over? What helped you get through it?

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64 Responses

  1. what if you are so far down a well you can’t even see sky anymore? I’ve lost my home, my car, I think I am the only person in the US that doesn’t own a cell phone…I have even lost my faith. Not completely I guess because I am still here but it has gotten really bad. I was screwed over and it is something that will affect me financially for the rest of my life. I will have to live on $760 a month for the rest of my life and it is not living. No way to get out of it unless I will the lottery so I am stuck. I hate my life and my stupid trusting incredibly dumb self.

    1. You don’t HAVE to live on $760 a month for the rest of your life. Why would you have to do that? You have an entire future ahead of you – don’t let the “victim” mentality consume you and rule the rest of your life. You very much have a choice, no matter how difficult or how hopeless your life may seem right now. Hitting rock bottom is the worst thing you could ever feel, but it’s also usually the kick in the butt we need to help get our lives on the right track. And don’t lose your faith – you’ll need it most for the days ahead. Remember that God is GOOD. We are the ones that screw everything up and stray from the good life He wants for us. Luckily, he is a patient and forgiving and kind Father who is always waiting for us with open arms, no matter how many times we turn our back on him. You are not alone in this, my friend. I am glad you are here.

  2. I want to give a special thanks to the prophet that helped me got my partner back. my name is Danielle steven, early this year, i and my wife started having some issues and she left me and the kids even when i loved her so much. I was frustrated to the extent that i started looking for links on the internet on how to get her back. One day i came across a testimony in which a lady was testifying of how this prophet helped her got her man back i was able to contact this Dr Dros and helped me put everything in order and my wife came back to me just as i wanted. this prophet is great if you know you have any problem here is his Drossuva@gmail.com

    1) If you want your ex back.
    (2) if you always have bad dreams.
    (3) You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4) You want women/men to run after you.
    (5) If you want a child.
    (6) You want to be rich.
    (7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
    (8) If you need financial assistance.

    you can contact him Drossuva@gmail.com

  3. 🙂 God is Great – All the time & I Give Praise! …. I was with my husband for 8+ years (I am 35, he is 33), we have children, a home, family & a life together. I was raised believing and trusting God & he was not. 8 months ago, he walked out (with his daughter) and left. He, my children, our home & family were my everything – this was my Life and he walked away like it was just a game. This Betrayal was painful. You know, the picture is so much bigger now & even though I don’t know the plans God has, I do know that I trust HIM more and what HE has planned will be Greater than what I thought I wanted. Our God Almighty knows the beginning and the end and HE will never leave us forsaken! HE is Faithful!
    Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you, for you to prosper & not harm you, for a future and a hope. … We just have to Trust HIM!

  4. Hi Dale, wonderful article as I am too going through closing my business. I appreciate the care you take with answering the comments, you truly are invested. I would love to hear more, do you have more articles on this like how you discovered your next adventure, How your family reacted? I’m a month out and feel stuck and scared to make a decision on what to do next. Us entrepreneurs are always thinking so there are always opportunities it’s WHAT is the question. Did you stay in the same area? I keep wanting to move away, fresh start and all, but fear I’m just running and not a great way to react. Anyway continue to enjoy your writing Thanks Jenn

    1. Moving doesn’t help. Problems created by others follow the attitude they are attached to. Change your attitude stay put. Unless of course your location isn’t appropriate for your business. Unless it’s internet and location doesn’t matter. You find out what created your problem which is easier in reflection. Some people have been groomed for their business by being around the kind of attitude it takes to succeed which makes them look like geniuses. Some learn from education. Some need the experience.

  5. To Dale and the others that have posted, thank you. I’ve been searching for some kind of answer or meaning for the past 2 months to what happened to me in a business situation with a former friend. It has kept me up at nights and I have been through the whole emotion gauntlet – anger, fear, frustration, hurt, betrayal, regret, etc. several times over. I find truth and inspiration in your post and the responses and a measure of strength. My story is probably one of the oldest. My husband and myself work as computer engineers and founded our small company last year in the hopes of making it something big. Hard work is no stranger to both of us, me especially. I have and did work up to three clients at one time to bring money in – working 14 hour days. After a year of basically being on the road constantly, we had managed to save up around $50k. I was so proud, I can remember looking at our business bank account and being so happy and proud of how much progress we were making. Well, pride hurts, I can tell you that. Being a first time business owner, I was green in so many areas. My husband had a friend since he was a teenager that he talked to occasionally. The guy was supposed to be some kind of great salesperson with some computer experience. We chatted with our friend and told him about how great things were going and that we hoped one day to expand and bring more consultants in and grow the company. He told us all about how he could help with sales, marketing and even consulting on some projects with his ‘systems’ background. No more than 2 months later the guy was literally BEGGING us for a job. Supposedly he had been done wrong by his current company he was doing sales for and if we didn’t hire him he would have to go drive a dump truck for a living. So….. we made a dire mistake – we hired him on salary with an hourly bonus for any client work done. He thanked us a million times, as did his wife and swore that he would do anything and everything to advance the company. We even made him an officer. As the months wore on, one thing after another began to happen. Although the first couple of months were good, he was eager and I thought we’d made the right decision the truth quickly began to appear. First it was his financial problems, he was behind on his mortgage and could we please advance him salary. We wanted to help, I wanted to help – so we did. Then he was behind on HOA dues, etc. etc. the list goes on and on and on. Every month it was a new financial crisis. Then he began not wanting to interview or speak with clients or potential clients. He was extremely happy to draw that bi-monthly salary and do nothing. He is in Texas and we are in Colorado so when he wasn’t here I was finding out he did nothing but ride his motorcycle and bar hop. I would beg him to study, learn, contact clients, sell, market, etc. All the things I paid him for. He never did any of them. Lastly his father, which is sad, got cancer and he spent 6 months running him back and forth to the doctor. I’m happy he could spend the time with his Dad and gave him a lot of space and time and asked little of him. Big Mistake. He took huge advantage of our friendship and kindheartedness. It became evident after his father passed that he had no interest or motivation to work at client sites or sell projects. The last straw came when I set him up on an interview for a local client and he phoned in 15 minutes late and then hung up on the client in the middle of the call. He lied to us and told us the call dropped. I called the client and found out differently. I finally emailed the friend and asked him just what the heck was going on – “Do you not want this job?” “Do you not want to work?” He of course said oh yes, of course I do – but this, but that and finally came the 15 minute ‘I’m so broke and I’m behind 2 mortgage payments and its so bad’. I had just paid him his salary 1 week before. At that point, I blew up. All the frustration came out and I told him I had enough – that I was so sick of hearing about his ‘financial issues’ that I couldn’t take it anymore and that he obviously wanted to draw a salary and do nothing. I demanded our company phone and laptop back but he never returned them so I reported them stolen. He literally drained us financially – 7 months of not billing and doing nothing cost us over $30k – most of our business equity. Not to mention the business trips, training, etc. And then there was all the time I invested in training him. I felt so betrayed, angry, etc. it ate at my soul and has been since. I blame myself most of all – I let this person in – my husband blames himself as well. Now we are scraping by and our bank accounts are almost zeroed out – all because we wanted to help this person and listened to his lies. I’m trying to move on – its hard. Its hard when I need new glasses for computer work but cant afford them because we kept this loser on way past when we should have. It has eroded my confidence and my happiness. But your quote ‘ The best revenge is living well ‘ is helping. I can’t tell you the long list of revenge scenarios I have played out in my head. But you are right on all points. I am going to try harder to move on and rebuild. It was a terribly expensive and traumatic situation. When it comes to business everyone, be smart – don’t be taken in. Don’t let your good heartedness make you blind – it will cost you in every way.

    1. I had a similar experience. I had a friend for many years and we talked about opening a company together. I set up the company while he carried on working at his then current job in order to financially prepare for self employment.

      When it came time to open shop, he had not saved up. He was divorced, had a kid and had many maxed out credit cards, and expected a huge salary every month from our brand new company in order to cover this.

      The company was doing ok but could not afford his salary expectations. I felt so bad for his situation that I gave him my share of the profits every months. instead of investing back into the company we were just paying out for his financial woes. This went on for years until I ran out of savings myself. At this point the company was in debt. I also spoke to him and told him that I would be taking my share of the profit every month in order to survive myself and that I couldn’t keep focusing on his personal debt and problems in life. This is when the fighting started and I was now the bad person for “cutting his salary in half”.

      The fighting got worse and worse and the more I insisted we start paying off the company debt, the more it was about him and his personal situation. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore but the damage was already done. I was left in a lose- lose situation. Do I carry on working with him, fighting all the time and get more company debt, or ask him to leave and settle the debt myself.

      So end result is, not only did I spend all my savings in the time working with him, I didn’t receive any salary and was left with all the company debt to pay off myself.

      It is obvious to say I no longer consider him a friend. The worse part is he contacts me asking to go for drinks and to be friends again like nothing has happened…. all the while I’m still paying off the company debt he helped build up.

      I have lost many nights sleep trying to figure how I ended up here after trying to only help “a friend ” out. All it got me was a lot of debt (company and personal). Life moves on and I have learnt from my mistake. I am now very weary and don’t give in to sob stories anymore. I put myself first and you are correct in saying the best revenge is living well.

  6. Great post thanks. It caught my eye because I an struggling with a sense of being let down and wanting to set my sights elsewhere but what do I do? How do I move past the hurt? Your advice is solid, and I am grateful for it. I have set some goals for the next year but must keep the faith and not lose sight of myself. You are right, I can only fix myself not others. Will keep that close. Thank you.

  7. Poor experiences consisting of greed, hurt, and borderline unethical behavior is a hard subject. I applaud your posts transparency while maintaining professionalism and kindness.

    I am a hair stylist in Arizona. A creative girl with no college education, a love of people and developed emotional awareness.

    2 1/2 years ago I found myself being bullied and verbally abused in a restaurant by the owner of my company. Our meeting was scheduled as an opportunity for me to suggest an alternative in makeup lines to guarantee work and cut cost. Perhaps even a chance to show my potential as a striving leader in my industry.

    5 minutes into the conversation, he came at me with such a wrath. I have never been spoken to like that before, the subject was both absurd and abrupt. I was accused of being “emotionally driven”, unprepared, and unimportant to a man in his position.

    This conversation went on for 45 brutal minutes.

    Holding back tears, I called my husband immediately unable to speak but just sob. He thought I had gotten into a horrible accident and was screaming for me to say something. 3 days later I broke out in shingles on my back. I still have a love/hate relationship with those scars.

    That night I knew I was unable to give anything else to the company.

    “With every action, there is a reaction”. -Isaac Newton

    My experience led me to develop a Salon that allows stylist to become self employed independent contractors in a kind and supportive community. I have pioneered the way for a new concept in my industry with hopes to change the culture and dynamic of the relationships within. I am now a thriving Entrepreneur and was able to discover my biggest supporter…me. I have tripled my income, my time at home outweighs my time at work, and my family relationships reap all the benefits of that. In conjunction, I get to mentor amazing artists who welcome community relationships, positive support, and support the change in our industry flaws, starting with a simple act of kindness.

    In retrospec, my painful experiences pushed me to where I think i was destined to be all along.

  8. I’m glad I read this… What I’ve been doing is working out, eating right and I’m determined to take care of “me”. My story: I’ve been working 70-80 hours a week for the past year on a “critical” project that “gad” to get done. I finished it about a month ago. At the same time ( I’m divorced.) my son asked if he could come live with me. Well… there’s no contest there.

    So I explained my situation to my employer and that my work hours had to change. Suddenly I’m getting written up for unprofessional behavior and actions detrimental to the company. I came to work on a Friday and I was ordered to a conference room with HR and my boss. I was blind sided and pretty angry but kept my cool. I really should have know better though.My boss has done some pretty crappy stuff too me. I keep trying to figure out what I was doing wrong when he’s really just a turd. When he hired me he five years ago he used me to get rid of a guy he didn’t like. I was thrown into a project I knew very little about, worked for ten months, seven days a week and it was wildly successful. It that made him look like a golden boy too. But as soon as it was over he acted as if he didn’t even know me. I thought well maybe that’s just because he’s busy. Now I feel like such a fool. I asked him if he’d like to go to a baseball game with me. He said sure!. I bought three $80.00 tickets on the first base line. One for him, me and one for my son. I told him I got the tickets and he replied “Really, well what about my son?” So, I told my son he couldn’t go, that I had to use the ticket for my bosses son. All the time my gut told me he’d bale on me. But I really wanted to believe he wouldn’t. The day of the game, “two hours before start time” he text messages me to say had to attend to a “crisis” at work and couldn’t go. So I ended up with a $240.00 baseball ticket. I went and had fun but I felt like I’d been taken advantage of big time…I’ve learned that loyalty means nothing today. The employer will label you a job-hopper if you move around too much but they can cut you loose at will any time..

  9. That awesome that you moved on. I was screwed over professionally and after several months it still burns. I worked over 10 years for this organization and believed at the time I was a trusted asset. Boy was I wrong.

  10. Great words. I just got screwed myself for pushing a conservative-leaning ad agency to be more creative/bold in their ideas and they recoiled and let me go. One hard part is that only the people who know you really well, or the ones who share your creative mindset, will believe you where others will simply think you’re in denial—which can include family. It’s a new frustration but I’ll conquer it. I’ll remember your positive words as a mantra moving forward. Onward!

  11. I had a great job in another state that was my second home and the employees there were my family. But I had to come back home to help out my family with a new baby, and different stuff. Decided to transfer as I wanted to stay with the company. A place took me and the manager said she could get me full time no problem. On my third day there, she comes up and tells me, “The only reason why you have so many hours is because someone is going on maternity leave. When she comes back, you’ll only be getting two days a week.” That was the first red flag. Even though I’ve been with the company for a while, the manager treats me like I do not know how to do anything and always shows me what I did wrong, but does not praise me for what I did right. Second flag was when the manager told me that the woman on maternity leave decided to be a stay at home mom. So I would be getting her hours. Within a few days, I was told I would not be getting her hours and she’ll put me wherever she can put me. Then right after that another girl leaves. So I got her hours. But two weeks later, all of my hours got cut and now I’m looking for a new job while trying to get a new car before my chitty chitty bang bang dies out on me. I have only been at this place for two months. The whole time, the manager knew I wanted to move up, but told me the only way I can get promoted is if I was permanently in a department. Then repeatedly told me that she will put me wherever she could put me. For the past three weeks, I have been on a schedule where I work 7 days straight, 10 hour shifts. I am done.

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