As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. Self-acknowledgement and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.
—John F. Kennedy
In earlier lessons, I wrote about how I would’ve liked to have received this message of self-directed learning as an adolescent. I would’ve made better decisions, choosing friends and role models that would have inspired me to make better decisions. I would’ve made decisions that led to success rather than decades in prison.
I offer that personal insight because I am determined to be authentic. I will never ask anyone to do or say anything I did not do or say while serving my sentence. To move from struggling to better times, we must live authentically.
I would not be authentic if I didn’t disclose my many failures as an adolescent and student. Ironically, I didn’t develop the mindset of success until a jury returned a guilty verdict and a federal judge sentenced me to serve a 45-year prison term.
As this course reveals, it’s never too early and never too late to develop a success mindset. If you’re living in challenging times, think contemplate steps you can take to be authentic. And think about how those steps reflect an appreciation for the blessings that have come your way.
Learn From Masterminds:
World leaders like Mahatma Gandhi inspired me, and I’m confident his message can encourage anyone. Regardless of where we are, Gandhi tells us that we can create our happiness. To create happiness, we must keep our thoughts, words, and actions in harmony. As I learned from Gandhi, we should make decisions showing that we’re the change we want to see in the world.
I strive to be the change I want to see in the world. To earn trust, I live authentically. That isn’t to imply that I don’t make bad decisions. I am a human being, conditioned by having served 26 years in prison. I’ve made good decisions, and I’ve made bad decisions. Those decisions have led to great experiences and challenging experiences.
In 2018, for example, I made an investment that led me into a civil lawsuit. Settling that suit wiped out $3 million in equity I had built since getting out of prison. Rather than being angry at what I perceived as a great injustice, sangfroid helped me accept that I must live in the world as it exists and not as I want it to be. With a commitment to transparency, I published records from that lawsuit on my personal website, at MichaelSantos.com.
We will always face more challenges and we must always be ready to overcome those challenges. I felt grateful to have the confidence to rebuild. Lessons from masterminds helped me to develop that self-assurance.
Lessons in this course will help participants develop self-actualization. We self-actualize when we know that we’re making progress. Our success becomes self-evident, as everyone knows we’ve conquered a challenge. When we’re successful, we show appreciation for the lessons we learned. We share those lessons with others so they can become successful, too.
Why Pursue this Path?
I want people to avoid prison, and I want people in prison to leave that environment as success stories. A success story means someone isn’t running from the law or anyone else. A success story implies an individual can keep his head high with dignity intact.
Those who pursue success realize the influence of every decision, seeing the opportunities and threats, the strengths and weaknesses in every choice they make. Strategic thinking—or the mindset of success—may help a person from the time they enter jail. It may guide adjustment strategies as days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years, and years turn into decades. A person’s plan may lead to a more fulfilling outcome, regardless of where or when an individual begins.
Steve Jobs paraphrased the famous artist Picasso, who said:
- Good artists copy ideas. Great artists steal ideas.
To write the Straight-A Guide, I stole ideas from masterminds. Participants that want to develop the mindset of success may use the same strategies of stealing ideas from masterminds.
- Identify values.
- Set clear goals.
- Pursue success with the right attitude.
- Have aspirations for the success they want to become.
- Take action steps.
- Hold themselves accountable.
- Stay aware of options, and make others aware of their commitment to success.
- Live authentically, developing tools, tactics, and resources.
- Celebrate every achievement along the way.
- Show appreciation for the blessings that have come their way.
How would you describe the steps that led to your current predicament?
What differentiates your preparation for success from others?
In what ways does your adjustment strategy resemple the way of masterminds?