Principled Steps 

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Sequence 52

41-Principled Steps

It’s never too early—and never too late—to start preparing for success. The earlier we prepare, the more we can accelerate prospects for success, as we define success.

Leaders know how decisions matter. They understand how actions matter. They are aware of how their choices, their decisions, and their efforts will influence others. Make choices today to prepare for a better life tomorrow. Every decision can affect success.

  • If problems erupt from table games, be aware. Avoid table games. Read instead of playing games.
  • If sports teams lead to tempers flaring, be aware. Avoid playing on sports teams. Exercise alone or with people who share the mindset of success.
  • If people value seating rules in common areas, be aware. Avoid common areas. Spend time introspecting, thinking about the future you will build.

If you follow principled steps, you will become aware of opportunities. Because of your awareness, you can seize those opportunities to achieve increasingly higher performance levels. Simultaneously, others will become aware of your commitment. They, too, will want to invest in your success. They will help you, assist you, and encourage you. 

That principled strategy works everywhere. It works in prison and beyond. It worked for all the leaders who inspired me and kept me climbing toward the goals I wanted to achieve through the 9,500 days I lived as a prisoner. The strategy allowed me to return to society successfully. Because I followed the patterns of successful people, income opportunities opened. For example, before I finished serving my time, San Francisco State University hired me to teach as a professor. 

People provided me with resources to begin investing in real estate when I was still in a halfway house. By being resourceful while I served my sentence, I influenced the value they perceived in me. The strategy that guided my decisions through prison opened opportunities to build my career upon release.

Remember my pledge to all participants of this course: I never ask anyone to follow any strategy I am not using. The Straight-A Guide strategy powered me through prison. It enhances prospects for me to succeed in society, as evidenced by the fact that you can access this course. Imagine the courage it takes for prison administrators to contract with me—a man that served 26 years in prison.

By living this guide’s values-based, goal-oriented strategy, I open business relationships and income opportunities. I can open deals that few would think are possible for someone with my background. I’ve received purchase orders from federal judges, probation officers, US attorneys, and leaders of prison systems. Business leaders purchase products or services from companies I build. By keeping myself aware, I always keep my head in the game. And others are aware of the efforts I’m making to succeed. They invest alongside me, allowing me to create new opportunities. 

The assets I accumulated continue to grow. Yet despite the business opportunities around me, I continue to invest time and energy to share these lessons with people in jail and prison. I hope others will use these lessons to transform their lives. No one should work harder than you on your preparations for success—but all people need to stay aware and keep their heads in the game.

I finished serving my sentence in August of 2013. But I continue living by the same principles that powered me through confinement. I feel a duty to teach the strategies I learned from leaders and masterminds to people in prison. 

At the beginning of this lesson on awareness, I wrote how I used this strategy to deal with probation. Remember, I began preparing for probation at the start of my prison term. I lived a values-based, goal-oriented life through all the years I served. My avatars influenced me to focus on education, contributing to society, and building a support network. 

At the end of my sentence, I could show that I made a 100 percent commitment to preparing for success. I avoided problems in prison. I rejected advice from people that told me to forget about the world outside. Instead, I prepared for my return to society.

When I came to the end of my term, I could report my progress to the US Probation Department. By writing the monthly letters from prison, my probation officer became aware of my commitment to succeed. She authorized me to build the career I wanted. She allowed me to travel. I kept her in the loop with all my efforts.

After one year, my probation officer joined a US Attorney in submitting a motion to a federal judge. They asked the judge to terminate my seven-year term of Supervised Release. The judge granted the order, allowing me to begin serving my 19-year term on Parole. After one year, my probation officer urged the US Parole Commission to terminate the remainder of my parole. I then began serving my three-year term on Special Parole. After another year, I received notice that the US Parole Commission had set me free—as I’ll reveal more about in the next module.

This strategy of adhering to the Straight-A Guide has helped other justice-impacted people we feature on our podcasts and webinars. I am convinced that it can help anyone in prison.

Be aware of opportunities. Understand and accept that the decisions you make in prison directly influence your prospects for success. 

Keep your head in the game of success—through prison and beyond!


  • In what ways do the friends and associations you’re making influence your prospects for success?

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