- Date I read the book:
- Why did I choose to read this book?
- What did I learn from reading this book?
- How will this book contribute to my prospects for success upon release?
By adhering to that strategy, I read with a deliberate purpose. Every decision had a direct connection to the success that I was determined to become. There were opportunity costs and risks associated with every decision. Since I knew that many people placed a high value on where they positioned their seat in the movie room, or whether they had the authority to change a channel, I avoided television rooms. In fact, every decision I made in prison began with a question.
- If I choose to watch television, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release?
- If I play organized sports, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release?
- If I play table games, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release?
- If I associate with one person or another, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release?
- If I participate in this program, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release?
- If I express my opinion in a given group, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release?
Each question had a purpose. Rather than making decisions that would ease my journey through prison, enhance my reputation in prison, or advance my standing with others in prison, I considered the avatars. I didn’t know the avatars, but each of those avatars existed in my mind and they were real. I considered the people with whom I wanted to associate in the future. Then I contemplated whether a decision would make their support more likely or less likely. As long as my decisions followed that “principled” pathway, I felt as if I were empowering myself. When I empowered myself, I didn’t feel like I was serving multiple decades in prison. Instead, I felt as if each decision advanced my prospects for success, as if each decision represented a new investment that would bring success.
I wasn’t perfect, of course. I made some bad decisions along the way. Yet this strategy I describe above always helped me get back on track.
Can you see how the strategy can help you?
During my final years of imprisonment, I knew that I wanted to build a career around my journey. I needed to build products that would communicate a message. Specifically, I wanted to document the journey so that others could see how to sustain energy and discipline over a long period of time and how they could focus in the short term. I wanted to create my own tools to teach others.
Some readers may be familiar with self-help literature. From my perspective, self-help literature reveals a similar recipe. People who succeed follow a pattern.
- Stories of Socrates began revealing that pattern more than 2,500 years ago.
- The Bible told those same stories more than 2,000 years ago.
- Ever since the printed word began conveying ideas, we’ve read those patterns.
We’ve seen over time that the journey of life is a struggle. It doesn’t matter whether someone is in prison or someone struggles through life in society. The one constant is struggle, always struggle. And there is always a pathway through struggle. Authors have written about that pathway in self-help literature since the beginning of the printed word.
We read that message through the work of many masterminds. They include Mahatma Gandhi, Viktor Frankl, Nelson Mandela, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. We see the same message in people who haven’t personally struggled, but they’ve studied struggle and figured out ways to overcome. Work that makes this truism self evident includes the writing of Stephen Covey, Joel Olsteen, and Anthony Robbins. We see the same message in the work of Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. What is that message?
- Leaders begin by clearly defining success.
- They contemplate the pain or challenge they’re experiencing at a given time.
- hey contemplate steps they can take to build a better outcome.
- hey create a plan that will lead them to success.
- hen they execute the plan.