Blog Article 

 6—Develop Tools 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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To build anything meaningful, we need tools. Sometimes those tools exist already; sometimes, we need to create new tools. Pursuing a self-directed path to success requires us to think creatively about how to develop tools. Those tools should make us more efficient and lead us closer to success, as we’ve defined success.

What would people expect from a person serving a 45-year term?

In thinking about that question—and how to respond to the question—I anticipated that people would immediately form an opinion about anyone serving a lengthy term. The sentence a judge imposed would influence perceptions other people had about me. 

To transcend those perceptions, I needed to develop tools. We all must develop tools to become more efficient, especially when striving to triumph over problems.

A book report became one of the first tools I developed. 

Some people may not consider a book report as a “tool.” If we were to ask ten different people to name tools, I suspect few people would mention a book report. Instead, they’d cite examples like a hammer, a drill, or a wrench. Those tools would help a person become more efficient with a specific task.

A book report could be equally as effective. Book reports could become valuable tools and persuade others that you merit special consideration.

Anticipating that I would read hundreds of books during the time that I served, I wanted to be systematic about recording what I learned. Accordingly, I created a template that would memorialize the reading experience. 

At the start of each year, I set a goal to define how many books I would read. Hypothetically, I might strive to read 50 books during the year as a goal. After reading each book, I would complete the template as follows:

  • On (insert date) I finished reading (insert title of the book)
  • (Insert title of the book) was the (#) book I read of the year, and I have (#) more books to read to complete my goal.
  • (Insert author’s name) wrote (Insert title of the book)
    • I chose to read (insert title of the book) for the following reason:
      • (Write as much as necessary)
    • (Insert title of the book) made an impression on me for the following reasons:
      • (Write as much as necessary)
    • Reading (insert title of the book) will contribute to my success upon release for the following reasons:
      • (Write as much as necessary)

As the months passed, those book reports became a tool for me. I could use them to show people how I used time in prison in ways to grow and become productive. Those book reports would become an invaluable resource.

  • What tools have you developed to get a better outcome at any time in your life?
  • What tools are you working to create now?
  • What tools do you anticipate creating in the next year?
  • In what ways will the tools you’re creating contribute to your success?
  • What tactics have you designed to help you overcome your challenges?
  • What influence does language have on your ability to open opportunities?

Word of the day: transcend / Define transcend:

Use transcend in a sentence:

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