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Michael Santos

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Wayne Dyer, an American author, and psychologist, wrote about the power of intention. His quote: “The power of intention is the power to manifest, to create, to live a life of unlimited abundance, and to attract into your life the right people at the right moments.”

We may be living in challenging times, but that doesn’t stop us from working toward something better. To work toward something better, we’ve got to take the necessary steps. 

To illustrate the importance of timing, I like paraphrasing an analogy I heard a speaker use to convey an idea. He spoke about planting an oak tree.

The speaker asked his audience about the best time to plant an oak tree. 

In responding to the question, people guessed. Some said morning, and some said night. Some said winter and some said fall. The author had a different idea in mind. 

“The best time to plant an oak tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”

We all can look back to 20 years ago. Had we been more intentional with the seeds we planted 20 years ago, we likely would have had different outcomes. 

I got that message very early on in my journey. When I began reading philosophy, I could introspect more effectively. I started to question how the friends I chose, the attention I paid to leaders, and my choices influenced my life. Those thoughts led me to start thinking differently, more intentionally.

To continue with the oak tree analogy, we can think about other steps we must accomplish when planting seeds. 

When we plant a seed, we can take further action. We can nurture the seed by tilling the soil or feeding the ground with nutrients that will facilitate the growth of the seed into a sprout and the sprout into a strong tree. 

Experts sometimes tell us that fertilizer provides the best type of nutrient. One source of fertilizer comes from livestock manure. 

In other words, before the seed grows through the ground and becomes a tree, it has to grow through a lot of manure. 

That same concept of “growing through manure” applies to us. If we want to rise from the challenges we’re currently experiencing, we must prepare to grow through a lot of manure.

It all comes down to how badly we want to succeed. If we dislike our current situation, we’ve got to pursue a change intentionally, understanding how to connect the dots with incremental changes. 

My obligation to the Bureau of Prisons began on August 11, 1987, and concluded on August 12, 2013. Once I understood the importance of being intentional about my decisions, I could always weigh the opportunity costs of my choices. I would ask how one decision could lead to a new opportunity. If the opportunity advanced my prospects for success, as I defined success, I would pursue the opportunity. If an activity could threaten my progress, I could choose a different path.

By making intentional decisions, we all can move closer to the pathway of success. Sometimes that pathway can require decades. Yet every decision along the way opens opportunities or presents threats. 

Choose wisely. 

I encourage participants to grow through manure in a personal pursuit of excellence. We all must work toward many little wins to get the big wins.

  • What decisions did you make as a child that led to where you are today?
  • What decisions did you make during your school years that led to where you are today?
  • What decisions did you make in your career that led to where you are today?
  • What decisions did you make last year that influenced your life today?
  • In what ways will the decisions you made last week influence your success upon release?

Word of the day: introspect / Define introspect:

Use introspect in a sentence:

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