Journal Entry 

 Book to Help You Keep Building Value 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

New terminology–TL;DR

In “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” Marshall Goldsmith explores how successful behaviors can become obstacles to future achievements. The book identifies 20 habits that hinder progress, such as the need to win too much and adding too much value. Goldsmith emphasizes the importance of evolving one’s behavior, focusing on future improvements through “feedforward,” and expressing gratitude. I share how reading this book during my prison term inspired my to continually adapt and improve, despite the challenging environment, highlighting its practical advice for personal and professional growth. 

My name is Michael Santos, and I want to thank each of you for being a part of our community at Prison Professors. I offer these news letters with a couple of promises: 1) I’ll never ask you for anything; 2) I’ll never suggest that you do anything that I didn’t do while I was climbing through a 45-year prison term. 

I learned that the decisions a person makes inside have a significant influence on that person gets out.

I will continue working hard to advocate for people to get out. But I need each person in prison to learn how to help himself. To communicate that message, I’d like to share some powerful lessons I learned from reading “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. 

This book found its way into my hands during my seventh year of a lengthy prison sentence. It became a source of inspiration, helping me realize that the accomplishments I had achieved so far were just the beginning. To reach the next level, I needed to adopt new skills and strategies.

In the book, Goldsmith discusses the concept of the “success delusion,” which resonated deeply with me. It’s easy to believe that our past successes guarantee future achievements. But that’s not true. 

Goldsmith emphasizes that the very behaviors that brought us success can hinder us as we strive for new goals. This insight was a game-changer for me. It made me understand that I had to continually evolve and adapt, no matter how well I was doing.

And while living in a prison setting, we’ve got to work extra hard. Because the prison system doesn’t always provide us with the tools and resources to prepare for success.

Goldsmith identifies twenty habits that can impede further success, such as the need to always win, adding too much value, and making destructive comments. These habits might seem trivial, but they can significantly impact our growth. Recognizing and addressing these behaviors allowed me to develop better relationships and become more effective while I served the final 20 years of my sentence. I finished my term with the Bureau of Prisons in 2013. Since then, I’ve been working to help others emerge successfully, with their dignity intact. 

One of the most valuable lessons from the book is the concept of “feedforward.” Instead of focusing on past mistakes, Goldsmith advocates for seeking feedback on future improvements. This proactive approach helped me stay motivated and focused on growth. It reminded me that I didn’t need to wait for the prison system to change my life; I had the power to transform myself through continuous learning and improvement.

Another crucial lesson was the importance of apologizing and expressing gratitude. By acknowledging mistakes and showing appreciation, I built trust and strengthened my relationships. Listening more and speaking less became a practice that enriched my interactions and made me a better leader.

Following up on goals and demonstrating consistent behavior changes were essential steps in altering perceptions. I learned that real change is not just about personal transformation but also about convincing others of that change through consistent actions over time.

Reading “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” kept me motivated to continue learning and growing. It showed me that anyone, regardless of their circumstances, can achieve personal and professional growth by adopting new behaviors and mindsets. I didn’t wait for external changes; I took charge of my journey. And so can you.

This book can be a powerful tool for anyone looking to improve their life, especially those in prison. It offers practical advice and insights that can help you feel productive and motivated, empowering you to take control of your future. Remember, the journey to success is ongoing, and continuous improvement is the key to reaching new heights.

Today’s Question:

  • In what ways are the skills that you’re developing now going to influence your future?

Steps to Build Your Profile:

1. Send an invite to [email protected]

2. Once accepted, send an email to the interns with the following information:

   – Your name

   – Your number

   – Your location

   – Your sentence length

3. Respond to any questions presented in the newsletter by sending your answers to the email above.

By taking these steps, you can start memorializing your journey and demonstrating your commitment to a better future.

Keep striving for greatness. Your efforts today will pave the way for your success tomorrow.

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