Worse Things Happen at Sea

Six months ago we signed a contract to buy our dream villa in Bali. An absolutely magical property in a beautiful part of the world – here’s what it looks like.

We started designing our life around it. I scheduled a Million Dollar Expert program to run a week after settlement and we spend a month in Jogjakarta (in Java, Indonesia) learning Indonesian so we could speak to the staff and manage things.

Then ten days before settlement I met the previous owner to tie up the last of the paper work and talk about the logistics of the handover. The first words he said to me were “I have some grave news, the sale is off”. As I said, ten days before settlement. We had already paid him 75% of the purchase price … several hundred thousand dollars had changed hands.

His wife had changed her mind. She couldn’t let it go. And they were pulling the pin. And given we were in Indonesia, there was really nothing we could do. The idea of going to an Indonesian court to try and enforce a contract between some Australians and Americans wasn’t that appealing.

It was pretty disappointing to say the least, but as Mike says in The Young Ones, worse things happen at sea. And in the scheme of things, if my biggest problem in life is a property deal on a luxury villa on a tropical island falling through, things are pretty good. Most people on the planet would be happy to trade their problems for that.

Here are some of my lessons I took away from the experience:

  1. Practice non-attachment. The upset came from being attached to the way things should be. As soon as I was able to let go of that attachment things started to feel better and new possibilities started to open up.
  2. It’s not done ‘till it’s done. It’s the same when selling, its not actually a sale until the money is in the bank. And this wasn’t over the line until the transfer of ownership actually happened.
  3. Fail 50% … everywhere. In my practice and business I aim to fail 50% of my projects and big goals, and I teach people the same strategy. When I applied that principle to the rest of my life, I felt better. This was an ambitious, exciting, risky project … and it failed. Cool, that was one of the 50% that was meant to fail.
  4. Platitudes don’t help. I realise that it was said with the best of intentions, but “when one door closes another door opens” doesn’t really help. I need to come to that realisation myself. So my lesson is when someone has bad news, just to hear them, not to try and help them see the silver lining before they are ready to.
  5. Manage exposure. Failing 50% requires managing your exposure, and making your failures as quick and as cheap as possible. Transferring the money early made sense, we knew and trusted the vendor, it spread the currency fluctuation risk etc … but left us pretty exposed when the deal fell through. We got the money back, so all good, but I’ll be a little more careful on that front next time.

Love to hear your thoughts and experiences – you can leave your comments below.