Make Good Choices 

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Sequence 43

32-Make Good Choices

Make Good Choices:

Suppose we don’t take action toward the goals we set. In that case, we risk deluding ourselves. Anyone can talk about what he wants to achieve. Those who genuinely aspire to build a life of meaning, relevance, and fulfillment after prison take daily action steps, regardless of what external influences may complicate their lives.

While in prison, I interacted with many people that waited for calendar pages to turn, saying they would make changes once they got out. They didn’t act. They didn’t pursue the small, necessary steps to succeed. They could have been:

  • advancing their reading skills, 
  • developing their vocabulary, and 
  • improving their ability to comprehend mathematical equations. 

Every day, we should act in ways that align with our values and goals; those actions should advance our prospects for success.

  • Describe the effort you put into personal development.
  • How could reading books in the prison’s library influence your prospects for success?
  • What steps could you take to master arithmetic?
  • In what ways would learning algebra, geometry, and calculus open opportunities for you to earn an income upon release?
  • How would your income capacity change if you habitually write at least 1,000 words every day?

Incremental Action Steps

From Marshall Goldsmith, a mastermind teacher, I learned a great deal. He distinguished himself as one of the top business coaches in America. I read his influential business book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Besides writing books and articles for business, Dr. Goldsmith built a second career as a coach. People on the path to becoming CEOs hire him to learn the best action steps they can take to reach their potential. 

People who had already achieved a high level of success hired Dr. Goldsmith to learn action steps. In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, I considered how I could take those same action steps while serving my sentence. He didn’t write the book for people in prison, but the message certainly applied to anyone that wanted to change.

If you want to influence people who can hire you, start acting today. If you contemplate what people might expect from you, take action with purpose. That process led me to think about avatars. 

Who were my avatars? 

They were people who could help me build a life after 26 years in prison. My avatars included:

  • My unit team and staff members in prison that could influence my future,
  • My future probation officer,
  • My prospective employer or business partners
  • My future creditors who could provide the resources I would need to start a new life.

Who can serve as your “avatars?” 

Take action to prove worthy of their trust. That strategy worked well for me. If you take action, you will develop the strength to persevere through tough times and position yourself for success.

The action steps will change as time passes. First, you master a lesson at one level. Then you can advance to the next level. Growth comes from taking small steps. If you don’t act today, you miss an opportunity to take a new action step tomorrow.

What action step can you take today? 

  • Can you read? 
  • Can you learn? 
  • Can you write? 
  • Can you do pushups? 
  • Can you do leg lifts? 
  • Can you do crunches? 
  • Can you pray? 
  • Can you ask for help?
  • Can you help others?

Align actions with values and goals. 


  • Who are the people you want to impress in a positive way? 
  • Who should believe in you?
  • What steps will lead you through prison? 

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