After leaving the SEAL teams behind in 2006, I worked briefly as an OGA contractor, and then started a business with some partners. That business failed miserably; I lost my entire net worth and savings, along with friends and family money. It was terrible, and humbling. On top of it all, I found myself losing my wife a short time later. I went from coaching little league to living in an empty house, alone, with no kids, and having to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations with neighbors.

Many of us face low points in life, however, if you look at them as an opportunity to grow, you’ll be better off.

I’m also tired of the fear based narratives in America media that focuses on getting the mob torches lighted; instead we should be focusing on addressing our problems with viable solutions. America is still great.

It took over a year to dust myself off and stand back up on solid ground, but I did just that. I took a nine-to-five job as an executive, saved up some money, and sold a book concept to St. Martin’s Press after getting turned down a bunch of times (this was before the fascination with Navy SEALs hit the media). Then I started blogging, liked it, and left my job to start a small website with Jack Murphy that turned into a big one (SOFREP.com). Then we started some others, and bought a few more sites, adding them to our network—Force12 Media.

I also rebuilt a strong relationship with my children’s amazing mother. She’s since remarried an incredible guy, they now have the most beautiful little girl together, and my daughter finally has a sister to help compete with her brothers. Our kids are doing incredibly well because their mom and I get along and are aligned in a common goal to produce healthy, happy kids who will pay their own rent when they leave home.

I just finished an amazing time with my kids, skiing in Tahoe this Christmas. I’m so proud of them and the amazing people they are becoming.

Yesterday, I went flying in my plane (don’t laugh, it’s paid for) over one of the greatest cities in America—Manhattan, New York (And Sorry Cruz, you don’t get New York or New Yorkers!). As I stared down at Ellis Island from 1,200 feet piloting my experimental plane, I reflected on what a wonderful country America is, and how “we the people” still means something if you let it.

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Follow your dreams and do great things regardless of the naysayers; don’t listen to them or their negativity. Most negative people are in a bad place personally, and should be compassionately ignored. Whatever you do, if you stumble briefly and fall, don’t forget to stand up, dust yourself off, and drive on with your mission. It’s in all of us to succeed, and America is still great because this country gives us the opportunity.