8-Philosophy and Influences
We’re always making choices. Those choices are like sowing seeds. We can choose to sow seeds that produce gardens of abundance; we can also sow seeds that lead to thorns of misery. Regardless of where a person may be, I encourage people to think about the seeds they’re planting. The seeds we’re sowing today will undoubtedly influence the future we create going forward.
While incarcerated, I changed the way I think. Those changes put me on a different path from the one I followed during my reckless youth.
Since being released from prison, I feel obligated to pass along lessons that allowed me to be “the change that I want to see in the world,” as Mahatma Gandhi advised. I’ll share the strategies that empowered me through prison that I’ve continued using since I returned to society. In sharing these stories and lessons, I hope to teach and inspire others like leaders taught and inspired me.
Through this course, participants will see that I began working to prepare for success back in 1987—at the very start of my imprisonment. After a jury convicted me of every count in my indictment, I decided to change. I still remember the day that I started looking for lessons from leaders. I wanted to find people that could give me the strength to grow. I found those leaders in a philosophy book.
At that time, I didn’t even know how to spell philosophy. I didn’t know what the word meant. In flipping through the pages of a book I came across in the jail’s book cart, I found true masterminds. Reading their stories taught me lessons. Those lessons helped me adjust in high-security penitentiaries, medium, low, and minimum-security prisons. I finished 26 years with the Bureau of Prisons in August of 2013. The adjustment in prison opened opportunities to succeed upon release.
Lessons from leaders helped me to understand how and why I should use time effectively and deliberately. To grasp the influence of every decision, we need to connect the dots from struggle to success.
Let me provide a brief background.
If you’re holding this workbook in your hand, you have tangible proof that a person can build a life of meaning and relevance after release from prison. Administrators expose people inside to many courses and programs. But it takes a lot of courage for them to allow books and courses from an author who served decades inside.
I strive to earn their trust and the trust of participants who work through our self-directed courses.
Let me begin by sharing more details of the story that led me through prison and back to society. I’m not like another course creator that didn’t experience what participants are going through. I went through every stage of the journey, including:
- Initial arrest,
- Pretrial detention,
- Criminal trial and conviction by a jury,
- Presentence investigation,
- Designation to a high-security United States Penitentiary,
- Transition to a medium-security Federal Correctional Institution,
- Transition to a low-security Federal Correctional Institution,
- Transition to minimum-security camps,
- Transition to a halfway house and home confinement,
- Early termination of Supervised Release,
- Success after prison.
For these reasons, I’m more of a tour guide than a travel agent. I’ve gone through similar experiences, and I know the pain of confinement. I won’t be a travel agent who tells a person where to go or what to do.
Through these self-directed lessons, people will see how adjustment strategies transformed my life while serving decades inside.
- When you meet prospective advocates in the future, how will you describe the influences that made you a valuable member of society?