Journal Entry 

 The Unyielding Power of Preparation 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

The Unyielding Power of Preparation: Building Hope

While I served my term in federal prison, some people would say every day felt like a year and every year felt like it passed in a day. We can feel more productive if we make plans, if we prioritize our activities, and if we work toward daily progress–as we teach in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison.

Without a plan, we can easily lose sight of the world outside. Without a plan, confinement can stifle hope, suffocating the spirit and aspirations that we need. If we plan well, on the other hand, we can build resilience, hope, and transformation that defy the odds.

Participants in our course can find many examples of people who emerged successfully after serving time in prison. Take the case of Weldon Long. He served three separate prison terms before he learned how to start sowing seeds for success. Finally, during his third journey through prison, he spent time at FCI Englewood and FCI Florence. While in those institutions, he found opportunities by participating in educational programs. By the time he concluded his ten-year sentence, he had a GED, an Associate’s Degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree.

Despite those credentials, he said that it took him six months before an employment opportunity opened for him.

The lessons he learned about being self-directed and disciplined brought him strength. He learned the importance of making plans, and holding himself accountable. He has been free for longer than a decade, and Weldon told me that he still lives by the same principles we teach in our course:

Define success. 

Regardless of what goes on inside prison walls, we can always focus on the success we want to become.

Set clear goals

If a person knows how to define success, the person should set smart goals that align with success.


Success starts with attitude, and in our course, we define the right attitude as a 100 percent commitment to success, as defined by the values and goals.


A person had to aspire more than the current crisis. 


A person has to take action steps, like studying learning from leaders. 


We can create accountability metrics to measure success and progress, with incremental steps. Even though the journey is long, as Nelson Mandela wrote. We must continue to strive. 


We have to stay aware of opportunities around us. And we must use our awareness to create opportunities out of nothing. Through our commitment, others will become more aware of commitment and they will have a vested interest in helping us.


We have to be real and authentic, developing the CEO mindset. We must identify success, create a plan, set priorities, develop our tools, tactics, and resources, and execute our plan, making adjustments as necessary. In this way, people see us as being authentic. They see us as being resilient.


We must celebrate every achievement, no matter how small. We know that the small achievements put us on the path to new opportunities. 


We must live in gratitude, appreciative of the many blessings that have come our way. As in the Biblical Parable of the Talents, we know that God opens opportunities for those who work and those who live in gratitude.

Our course emphasizes the importance of envisioning a future, setting clear goals, and taking actionable steps towards them every single day. 

Your Challenge:

Reflect on your aspirations and the obstacles in your path. Write down your vision for the future, detailing the steps you’ll take to achieve it. This exercise isn’t just about planning; it’s about cultivating a mindset of preparation and proactive thinking.

You may consider building a personal profile on Prison Professors Talent. Share your vision, your challenges, and your progress. Build a community that believes in the power of preparation and the potential within each individual. To participate, send an email to [email protected].

With discipline, anyone can turn confinement into a crucible of growth and transformation.

As the course “Preparing for Success after Prison” teaches us, it’s never too early, nor too late, to start preparing for a brighter future. Every step you take today will pave the way for the successes of tomorrow.

Michael Santos,

founder of Prison Professors Talent

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