3 Fantastic Things I Learned When I Had Absolutely Nothing


Before I became ambitious at the age of 27 or so, I didn’t view myself as a failure or as having nothing. I didn’t view myself as anything really. I did know other people who were successful…I guess my emotional or social skills were always good because I always got on with people from all walks of life.

At about 25 though I did start thinking there must be more to life than what I was currently achieving, which was, well, zilch as far as success and monetary terms would be measured. I mean I had been homeless twice and just drifted in and out of various jobs. Not really a good measure for success.

After my intervention when I was 27, I went on to achieve some of my wildest dreams, which I am not going to list here. But since that time I have lost everything twice. And I mean everything.

Some people refer to this as “failing” but in NLP, we don’t believe in failure only feedback. Yeah, yeah, ‘There is no failure’ is tossed around social media like confetti. Most people who I coach who have lost everything, find it very difficult to apply that philosophy, initially.

There can so much to learn when you go from ‘everything’ to nothing

I can understand why. Until total ‘failure’ resulting in you having nothing really happens to you and I mean really happens to you, There is no failure is rather like a comfort blanket for your mind, just in case ‘failure’ comes knocking sometime in the future.

So here’s 3 fantastic things I have learned from my two ‘failures’ and ending up with absolutely nothing; the 2nd time being twice as bad as the first.

I learned So Much About Me

The 2nd time I lost everything was the worst. It made the first time look tiny in comparison.

But that’s where I learned a lot about myself. Boy, it wasn’t easy getting back on my feet. I had also slipped into a dark hole and I was labelled as suffering from “severe depression” by my Doctor and two different psychiatrists. So climbing out of that pit was a really, really hard slog.

My psychiatrist told me I was suffering from depression. I said I wanted a second opinion. He said ok, you are ugly as well – adapted from a joke by Rodney Dangerfield

But it shaped me into who I am today. If life sends me unexpected curve balls now, or in the future, I don’t think they will ever be quite as rotten as the last one.

Yes that ‘failure’ made me choose who I wanted to be. It was a strong test of my resilience, determination, focus and enthusiasm. I say, choose who I wanted to be, because it was a choice for me. I could have quit and given up on my dreams that still remained. I am glad I didn’t.

(I can understand why some people do give up)

I also found that it humbled me a lot more. Maybe that was something I had also taken my eye off. I would obviously like to think that it hadn’t happened; that I had become too egotistical, but the experience of suddenly having nothing, certainly made me become more aware of my humility.

I also think it added more empathy to my character that I can now use for other people who are going through tough times or who struggle. Especially when I am coaching.

Unless you have experienced the darkest valleys you cannot fully appreciate the highest mountains – Confucius

One of the most humble and genuine guys I have ever met was Wally Amos (From Famous Amos cookies) when I was a guest speaker at the prestigious Napoleon Hill International Convention in Kuching, East Malaysia.

robert d hamilton at napoleon hill

Me at NHIC. I’m 2nd from right, Wally Amos is on the far right (Sorry for quality)

One evening in the bar after we had both given our speeches, I sat with Wally and later had the pleasure of having dinner with him. After an hour or so, I told him that out of all the privileged guest speakers I had spoken to, I found him the most humble and genuine.

He told me that after going from the very height of success and riches to having nothing whatsoever; realizing that it can all be taken away from you in an instant, he found that his focus on success and wealth had drastically changed. It was no longer as important to him.

Other little, but more significant things now dominated his thinking and actions he told me. Money was now only 3rd or 4th on his list of priorities, even though at the time we met, he was once again ‘making it’.

(Wally Amos was sued and prevented from using his own name on Famous Amos cookies. He lost. I cannot recall the full details now)

I Realized I Was Still Rich

Not only did I lose everything in monetary terms, but I also went into debt. I never quite made it to millionaire status at my peak, but I almost got there, in GBP. I was about 44k in debt with credit cards and loans etc when I hit my lowest point.

That might not seem much in comparison to the millions and billions some big shots go bankrupt for that you read about. But for me it was a big deal. Debtors were calling me every day, twice a day, I wasn’t earning, couldn’t find a job etc.

This was the time I was suffering with severe depression which culminated me in almost hanging myself (I had the sheets tied round my neck). But after my second intervention, this one was more Divine in nature, and I decided to fight back, I took stock of what really mattered in life.

I realized that I was rich in so many areas. I found walking in nature made me feel rich. I found sunrises almost priceless. I found I still had my wisdom, my strength, strong resolve, good friends, great food – plain food, but my change of attitude, made it great.

Even walking my dogs through the woods was an extremely rich experience. I had my health too. Okay, not my mental health fully, but I was still able to think.

I was given a very old car when I was fighting my way back – for free. 12 months earlier I wouldn’t have been seen dead in it! Rusted, severely scratched down the side and a noisy engine. But how I appreciated it now!

I didn’t care what anyone thought. Or what I thought. Sure I was struggling to put petrol (Gas) in the car for a while, but when I did, it was great driving in her.  Yes, even this old banger suddenly made me feel rich.

Rich in appreciation for smaller things.

Yes I was just so rich in so many areas of my life that I had previously taken for granted. I really started to count my blessings.

I Discovered Who Liked Me for Me – Regardless of What I had or Didn’t Have

When I was doing well, I think even I forgot some important people in my life if I am honest. It’s not nice to admit, but admit I must.

And so it happened to me too. People who I thought were friends – good friends – simply ceased to contact me. It’s as if my nothingness was catching – as viral as a common cold except with more dire symptoms.

We hear about hanging around in the energy orbits of people who have what we want. That is true. So some people didn’t want to hang around with someone who had something they didn’t want: nothing.

You know who your friends are when you are in hard times. But the opposite is also true. You also know who your friends are when you are doing well

Never again will I treat people like that. And I will remember who helped me in my hour of need. I will pay it forward. I have already taken measures to do just that. And I have been very fortunate to have had some real friends – people who like me for being me. What I have or don’t have does not matter to them. They are your real friends.

robert d hamilton author book

When my book was published…I got mixed reviews – about me from friends

I also learnt too that when you are doing very well some people will leave you. Some get jealous and bitter. After becoming an author (No real big deal status wise in that, me thinks) I had some people who I thought were friends openly attack me on social media – totally unjustified too. They just didn’t want me to be successful or resented it.

Maybe I highlighted their shortcomings. Whatever their reasons, they left my life. I also attracted some people who thought they might be able to profit from me in some form or another. Like they could ride on the back of my success. They only fed my ego and not my soul. These were people who I knew, but we had drifted apart years earlier. Suddenly they wanted to be my friend.

Luckily for me, I have a knack of ‘knowing’ people. I have studied people for over 48 years out of my 54. I know others that aren’t so fortunate and are surrounded by ego fillers. It’s a shame.

So having nothing has taught me so much. I am so grateful for the life lessons learned. I will be ever grateful for all the experiences.

And all the not-so-nice people I spoke about above, I sent them all a silent ‘Bless You’ because they taught me so much too.

Hindsight is a wonderful trait. But if you are in a position of nothing right now, the very first and most critically important step I would suggest you take to start reclaiming your success, is to count your blessings. Try and find as many things as you can that you are really grateful for, no matter how small you might think they are. There will be something.

And I would hazzard a good guess there is probably much more than you think!


Robert is a coach who eliminates barriers to success and also helps people reclaim their success and bounce back bigger and better. If you would like to take advantage of his special offer and get 3 hours for LESS than a $100 then please go here for details (there is a very small catch)

Rob Hamilton

I am a published author and writer of several ebooks. Known as the Mind Coach, I help people unlock their true potential so that they can achieve their dreams and goals and perform better more of the time.

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Robert Hamilton

Robert Hamilton

Robert is a published author and expert mind coach. A certified NLP Practitioner, Timeline Therapy™ and Life Enhancement Coach (Dip). Rob has studied the mind and performance for 30 years.

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