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 4—Create Resources 

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Michael Santos

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Leaders teach us that we can empower ourselves by being self-directed. Rather than waiting for others to solve our problems, we can create resources to leverage growth opportunities. At a basic level, we can work to develop our communication skills. We can strengthen our critical thinking skills. We can engineer a trajectory to succeed by learning to communicate better and think creatively.

With shackles locked around my ankles, I struggled to walk through the bus’s narrow aisle. The officer called my name, and I responded with my registration number. He asked a few more identifying questions. After I answered correctly, I hobbled off the bus and started climbing the stairs leading to the prison. 

Once all the other people walked inside, the gates locked behind us. The staff members fingerprinted us, took our mug shots, and processed us inside. 

With a 45-year prison term to serve, I had to grow stronger. I looked around the crowded holding cell, assessing the other prisoners. They looked older, harder. Every choice I made would influence how I matured and what opportunities would open. 

After being released from the holding cell and settling into my housing unit, I walked to the library. I hoped to find resources I could use to begin climbing my way out. If I didn’t get into trouble, I could earn up to 19 years in good-time credits. That meant I could walk out in 26 years when I would be 49 years old. 

As I walked into the library, I wondered what steps I could take to influence the life I would lead then. I tried to visualize the future. If I didn’t create opportunities, I would not have any clothes when I got out. I would not have any work experience when I got out. I would not have any credit when I got out. I would not have any money when I got out. 

  • How can I start working today to prepare for the challenges ahead?

Those kinds of questions helped me think differently. There wasn’t anything I could do about the crimes I started to commit when I was 20. Likewise, I couldn’t do anything about the 45-year sentence I served. But I could do something about the choices I made each day. I could choose to complain about unfairness or injustice. Or I could begin working to grow stronger. 

Knowing the importance of mental health, I looked through the library’s shelves. If I spent too much time perseverating on the sentence, I could lose myself with thoughts of what I lost. Conversely, I could build hope if I read biographies or profiles of other people that triumphed over struggle. 

I could learn. 

Reading stories about others who overcame challenges led me to believe I could do the same. I would never meet those people, but they became my teachers. From them, I learned that I had the power to develop as a human being. And if I could grow as a human being, I could create meaning and relevance in my life.

By learning to think differently, I could become resourceful.

  • What does it mean to be resourceful? 
  • What resources can you create? 
  • In what ways can the way you think influence opportunities to grow?
  • In what ways can the way you think threaten your progress?
  • How can you start to create more meaning in your life right now?

Word of the day: perseverate / Define perseverate:

Use perseverate in a sentence:

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