Life has not always been so easygoing for me. I have my fair share of ups, downs, and challenges. In this excerpt from my book, The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen, let me share with you the challenges that changed my family’s life. This is the beginning of the making of a Navy SEAL.

The Change

Then, about the time I turned six, our lives changed.

My father had always been into sailing. My parents had a dream of sailing around the world, and business was now doing so well they decided it was time to take a few years off and hit the water, just the four of us, to make that dream into a reality. We owned a beautiful 60-foot Sparkman & Stephens ketch, which he kept moored on the California coast; why not let that become our new home as we circled the globe?

Just as we were getting ready to leave, my dad decided to do one more big project. My mother objected, but my dad prevailed: One last gig, he said, and that would really set us up. A group of investors was going to put up the money, so he took out a large construction loan and built the place. Then the recession of 1980 hit—and the project collapsed. My dad was left with the bill and no investors. He tried negotiating with the bank and kept trying for two years. They came and took our house. My dad declared bankruptcy, and we lost everything.
Being so young at the time, I didn’t quite grasp what was happening, and nobody ever sat me down and said, “Brandon, we’re ruined, wiped out.” Even so, there was an ominous undercurrent that I couldn’t have missed.

I remember going into the bank one day with my dad to close our accounts—the same bank he’d been wrestling with for the past year—because we were about to move away from Kimberley. One of these was a savings account he had opened for me some two years earlier.
This had been quite a big deal for both of us when we opened it. “Look, Brandon,” I remember him telling me, “this is your first savings account. We’re opening it in
your name—this is going to be your money.” He showed me the passbook and the first line, where he had entered the initial deposit. “Now you get to watch it grow.” I was so excited about it, and I could tell he was, too.

Now, when we asked where it stood, my dad was informed it had a zero balance.

“What?!” he practically shouted at the teller. He was livid. “How is that possible?!”

I don’t remember how much he had put in there in the first place, but it wasn’t much, and whatever it was had been wiped out by monthly fees without my dad realizing it. He had wanted to teach me a life lesson about how you can invest and save—but the only lesson I learned that day was about how you can get wiped out without even realizing it.