It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #6.

by Patrick Liew on July 23, 2018

It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #6.

Some of the worst con men may just be your friends.

They may be circling around you and in close contact with you.

There is one story which I have kept in my heart.

It has left me bitter for a long time.

I could not even think about it, let alone talk about it without feeling a sharp ache in my heart.

Sadly, every now and then, when I thought that I have gotten over it, something would trigger my memory about this painful experience in my life.

I had to relive the hurt and disappointment of betrayal again, and again, for many years.

I met Michael (not his real name) in the strangest of places – a funeral.

For years now, I made it a point to go to funeral wakes.

Having lost loved ones and knowing how it felt, I made it a point to stand by my friends and sometimes, even acquaintances during their bereavements.

I would offer words of consolation and do everything possible to help them cope with their griefs and other challenges.

It was hard to believe but in this story, the funeral was for somebody that few people would ever be able to guess – a family member of a business competitor.

When I went to the wake to pay my respect and condolence, you could imagine the murmurings and expressions all around me.

If it was not a funeral setting, I would have felt like I had walked into a den of hungry wolves.

Subsequently, I met Michael again over dinner.

It was very clear to me that he was suffering from depression.

You could almost see a dark cloud hanging above his head and the cloud would continue to hover over him for a long time.

For some reasons, I had taken a strong liking to Michael and treated him even better than my brother.

He was like a son that I never had in my life.

Little did I know he was just a hustler who had taken a temporary beating in life.

As I have always said, there are two kinds of hustlers: those who know that they are hustlers and those who don’t know that they are hustlers.

The latter is the worst kind and Michael is one of them.

I was to find out much later that Michael’s life was all about Michael.

He put his own interest way above others.

And he would not hesitate to stab a knife in someone’s back, even those who had supported him for his personal gain.

However, he was able to camouflage himself well or probably, the dark side of his life would only emerge at the opportune moment.

Michael had once run a business and failed miserably. It was so bad that in the process of trying to turn the business around, he committed and was eventually, convicted of a criminal offense.

I knew about the conviction but I kept it as a secret for a long time until it became an open secret.

After his business failure, he had worked for some companies but his bosses had little good words to say about his work ethos and conduct.

Over time, many of his colleagues and associates found out about his integrity or a lack thereof.

They realized after a while that he had a gift of over-promising but under-delivering.

Michael once said that he would defend me with his life.

He might even take a bullet for me but words meant nothing to him.

If he treated a person well, it was for a motive in which he would expect to be repaid eventually.

In my case, I paid a high price for it.

Long story short, I foolishly believed in him, placed my trust in him, and took him into my business as one of my key managers.

For a while, Michael could not perform normally because of the emotional baggage that he was carrying, having blamed himself for the death of a loved one.

Still, I “carried” him and paid him handsomely, hoping that he would turn around.

I had even offered him a contract with shares to be given to him pro bono.

My only request was that he would never compete unfairly with my company because of the privileged information and resources are given to him.

From the beginning to the end of his career with my company, Michael had never signed and returned the contract.

Subconsciously, he was always exploring how he could get the most for himself from our business.

Eventually, he schemed against the company for his personal gain.

In one of our residential training where we mainly covered personal development issues, Michael had a cathartic moment.

In that splitting moment, I saw him broke out of his emotional imprisonment.

I could see the dark cloud disappearing from above his head.

After that breakthrough and with my behind-the-back’s encouragement, Michael’s confidence gradually returned to him.

Unfortunately, his ego had also puffed up.

I even encouraged him to marry the girl whom he has been dating for quite a while.

I counseled him out of his many unnecessary worries and concerns.

I warned him about getting involved in an illegal gambling business even though he believed he has done no wrong.

I was thankful that he finally got out of it.

I spent time motivating, inspiring and guiding Michael, much more than I’ve ever done for most people in my life.

I’ve loved him and wanted so much for him to learn, improve, and do well in life.

At one stage, Michael was more willing to take on business challenges.

Unfortunately for most of the assignments he took up, he either lost interest or got distracted after a short while.

He was a good sprinter but business life is a marathon.

He ran out of steam and gave up after a short distance and therefore, he did not produce any major or sustainable results.

Once, Michael wanted to help the company penetrate the market in China and he spent a substantial amount of our company’s money on his latest “toy” project.

He traveled to China on many trips but in the end, he did not find a single customer or earn a single cent for us.

Meanwhile, Michael had built up his knowledge of and connections in the Chinese market.

On another occasion, Michael primed a major renovation project for the company as he had some experiences in this area.

Later, I discovered that the contractor, who was doing our project, had also renovated one of his houses at a very low price.

Michael did not inform us because he has no concept of professional decency.

He could not understand the ethical obligation to be transparent and accountable about the conflict of interest until way after the project is over.

I discovered many other similar incidents (albeit too late) of Michael trading off the company’s best interests so that he could benefit from them financially or otherwise.

Michael had betrayed my trust in him again and again but the biggest blow was to come – at one of the pivotal moments in my life.

While I was busily planning to list my company, Michael lost a huge sum of money that caused the company’s market capitalization to be lowered by millions of dollars.

At around the same time, he plotted to leave the company which caused huge losses and damages to us.

I found out much later that he had even approached one of our key competitors to “sell” our people to them.

He eventually started his own company to compete unfairly with us, and we suffered many harms and problems thereafter.

In his new company, he continued wasting money to serve his selfish interests at the expense of his shareholders, employees, and associates.

He had no accumulated trading profits but he paid himself well while spending the hard earned money of his investors in an imprudent manner.

Michael hurt me deeply and it took me years to come to peace with his betrayal.

I had to put in a lot of effort and sacrifices to put the painful episode of Michael behind me.

Looking back, I could accept the fact that Michael had not earned his keep because of his shoddy work and pathetic results.

I could also accept that he had cost us millions of dollars – all because we had trusted him and allowed him free access to our intellectual and other resources.

What was heart-breaking to me was the fact that despite all my efforts to help him, he had stabbed me – consciously or unconsciously – on so many occasions.

His betrayal brought great pain and sorrow to me which I suffered for a long time.

At one point, I decided to forgive him.

I chose to bury the experience with him in the past.

I prayed that he would turn away from his deceitful ways and learn how to run his life and business in a proper way.

I also hope that he and his loved ones would do well and enjoy overall well-being.

I have to confess that putting the bad experience behind me was not easy.

It could not be done overnight or within a short period of time.

I had to forgive Michael again and again.

And every time, when his face appeared in my mind or when I was triggered to recall that sad phase of my life, I had to forgive him again.

I had to continue to do so until the bitterness and the poison of unforgiveness was totally drained from my being.

One day, the shackles of that bad experience fell.

I became free.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who had suffered such an experience.

I’m sure many people have gone through a similar and if not, a worse experience.

As I reflected on my, and other’s experiences, I realized tragically that even long after when the transgressors had left, many would still hold on to the resulting hurt and pain.

They relive these emotions again and again.

They are somewhat stuck in a time warp and they allow the emotional poison to drive them down the tunnel of self-destruction.

They hold on to the belief that nobody will fully understand and feel what they have gone through.

They justify their rights to be offended, to hate and be angry.

To them, it is normal for anybody to do what they did and are still doing, especially after he or she has gone through a similar experience.

Paradoxically, they carry the hurt and pain and hope that the transgressors will be penalized and be punished.

They beat themselves up and hope that the transgressors will suffer for it.

Over time, the poison of unforgiveness will spread to and affect other areas of their life, including their families, work, and relationships.

The drama of unforgiveness has been played out in many people’s lives.

Sadly, these victims were held back from living up to their full potentials and living a full life.

Truth be told, emotionally unstable people cannot find peace.

Wounded people cannot live meaningfully.

Broken hearts cannot fully love.

Hurting spirits cannot truly enjoy their lives.

The only solution to respond to transgressors – forgive them.

Forgive them from the heart and not just from the mind.

Forgive them from the depth of your being and not just as an intellectual exercise.

Forgive them again and again – and not just as a one-time experience – until the poison of un-forgiveness is cleared from your system.

Forgiveness is simple but not easy.

It’s simple because you have everything it takes to forgive anybody, but it’s not easy because it requires deep courage, commitment, and conscientiousness.

That’s why forgiveness is for the brave and not for the weak.

Forgiveness is a way of winners, not drifters.

The good news is that you don’t have to fight the battle alone.

There are people who are willing to help you and are available and accessible to you.

Don’t be like those who have withdrawn within themselves and avoided contacts with others.

They do not seek wise counsel and open themselves up to receive support from others.

Over time, they become more vulnerable to being controlled and hurt by a cascade of negative emotions.

When you seek help from competent parties, they can help you to have a better clarity of your issues.

They can help walk you through the healing process.

The healing process includes uncovering your weaknesses and other blind spots as well as protecting you from falling into the same trap. They can also help you recover and learn from a bad experience.

You’ll learn not to do what your transgressor has done to you.

You will treat people with more respect and compassion.

When you can turn a limiting experience into an empowering experience, you rise up from being a victim to become a victor.

Through forgiveness, many of your psychological and emotional issues can be resolved.

Peace can be returned to you.

Forgiveness ensures that you do not allow the transgressor to continue to hurt you.

Forgiveness frees up room in your heart and mind for love, for the best of life, and for personal fulfillment.

Forgiveness lifts you up to live at a higher plane of life.

Forgiveness ensures that you are not stuck in the past, a past that you want to leave behind.

Forgiveness empowers you to move on so that you can soar to a glorious future.

Will you forgive your transgressor again and again until you are completely healed?

Will you forgive your transgressor again and again until you can tap on your fullest potential to achieve success?


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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