Success and Values 

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Sequence 23

12-Success and Values

  • Your beliefs become your thoughts,
  • Your thoughts become your words,
  • Your words become your actions,
  • Your actions become your habits,
  • Your habits become your values,
  • Your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Gandhi

If you would like to influence how other people perceive you, this lesson on values will help. Participants will learn the value of questions. By asking good questions, we can start laying the groundwork that will take us from where we are to where we want to go. 

The children’s book Alice in Wonderland dispensed this wisdom from a character known as the Cheshire Cat. The Cheshire Cat said: 

  • “If we don’t know where we’re going, any road will take us there.”

Sadly, many begin a prison term without considering how earlier decisions influenced current struggles. Similarly, they don’t connect how today’s decisions will influence their future. If we want a better future, we’ve got to ask better questions. We should think about the implications of how we answer those questions.

Any of us can choose to learn how to build a stronger mindset. While incarcerated, I learned two tactics from masterminds that would influence my prospects for success while in prison and beyond.

  • Developing strong critical-thinking skills, and
  • Developing more potent communication skills.

As we advance, I’ll reveal more about tactics and strategies. For example, notice the words and phrases in bold italics—such as tactics and strategies. 

Some participants may have more advanced vocabularies than I had when I entered the prison system. I didn’t know how to define either of those words when I started. From a mastermind, I learned that we could empower ourselves if we built more robust vocabularies. 

Regardless of what level of restrictions a prison imposes, anyone can work toward building a more robust vocabulary and more vital critical-thinking skills. 

Before entering the prison system, I would not have taken the time to learn new words or develop critical-thinking skills. I was lazy. If I read words I didn’t understand, I would simply skip over the words and move on. Later, I’ll reveal more about a mastermind that helped me to appreciate the power that comes from developing more extensive communication skills and better critical-thinking skills.

Each participant in this course may want to grow stronger and more capable of success upon release. 

Building a vocabulary represents one self-directed tactic that any person could pursue. To help, I use bold and italics to highlight each word that would have been new to me at the start of my sentence. If a participant doesn’t know how to define the bold and italicized words or doesn’t understand the phrase, then a good personal-development tactic toward the strategy of self-improvement would be to:

  • Write down the word,
  • Look up the word,
  • Write the definition of the word,
  • Learn how the word is categorized—a verb, a noun, or adjective,
  • And use the word in a sentence.


How would this exercise of vocabulary building and personal development influence a person’s prospects for future success?

How do officials define you? 

How do you define yourself?

Reflecting on open-ended questions helped me immensely. By asking good questions, we develop our critical-thinking skills. Notice that there are no “wrong” or “right” answers to the open-ended questions. We can’t answer “yes” or “no.” We must think. The more time we spend contemplating challenging questions, the more skills we develop.

We succeed by training our minds on how to think differently. We can choose to develop better critical-thinking skills. When we make such a choice, we learn how to think in ways that improve the outcomes of our lives. 

Questions help us define our values or what we consider central to who we are as individuals. When we identify values, we can begin to make more deliberate choices that lead to success—as we define success.

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