Journal Entry 

 Boilerplate Strategies 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Every person has a backstory. When we work through a crisis, we’ve got to keep that backstory in mind. We should all think about roles. Consider our role, and consider the role of others.

When building a case against a person, prosecutors focus on the crime. They work with investigators and strive to build a case that will lead to a conviction. Their job is justice. If they believe a person committed a crime, they want to convict. Prosecutors will pursue their job with relentless focus.

The prosecutor may ignore facts about a person’s background that portray him favorably. Instead, the prosecutor will focus on the goal of a conviction.

It’s up to the individual to craft a mitigation strategy. That strategy should rely on the backstory and the release plan. Each person should create a plan that will lead to success upon release. That plan must consider the backstory and the future a person wants to build.

Earlier today, I spoke with my partner, Justin. A federal judge sentenced Justin to serve an 18-month sentence for violating securities laws. As he approached his surrender, Justin’s anxiety level rose. His friends told him he’d get through the term and he would come back home after he finished the sentence and have a great life.

Later, he learned that if he didn’t prepare, he wouldn’t be as ready to succeed. He wrote about his experience in his bio on our page.

When I asked Justin some questions on an interview this morning, he said he grew stronger once he began developing a plan. The plan would guide his future. He needed to accept responsibility and lay out the future. As I listened, I understood him to say that every person should accept the reality and become public about it.

We disagreed on that topic. 

Every person has a backstory and a future. When a person faces a crisis, however, a boilerplate strategy may not work. Each person should use a systematic process to work through crisis. What works for one person may not be the same for the next person. Since every person is unique, every release person should be unique. 

To create a good release plan, we recommend that a person  use the steps we teach in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison:

  • Step 1: Define success.
  • Step 2: Set goals that align with how a person defines success.
  • Step 3: Aspire to a higher level of performance.
  • Step 4: Move forward with a 100% commitment.
  • Step 5: Act in ways that harmonize with success.
  • Step 6: Create an accountability metric to measure progress.
  • Step 7: Stay aware of every opportunity, and make others aware of your commitment to success.
  • Step 8: Be authentic, keeping everything you think, say, and do in harmony.
  • Step 9: Celebrate every small achievement, knowing it will lead to higher success.
  • Step 10: Live in gratitude, appreciative of every blessing in your life.

Anyone going through a crisis would be wise to use this strategy. It helped Justin build a life of meaning, relevance, and dignity after release. the strategy can help others, too.

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