Blog Article 

 Will Smith and Mitigation 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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We can learn about mitigation from Will Smith, a man who must now work to recalibrate his reputation after a decision he regrets.

Will Smith walking across the stage appeared nonchalant at first, but then came the slap. It became clear that his violent reaction would change the course of the night and potentially his life. How he moved forwards, however, provides us with valuable insight on how to efficiently remedy bad actions of the past to actuate a better future.

Even though Chris Rock did not make the joke about Jada Smith’s alopecia in good taste, Will Smith’s response took the focus away from Chris’s errors and put the attention all on Will. If you react poorly, even if your motives were well-intended, such as acting in the defense of your spouse, you will face consequences and must find a way to move onwards.

What makes Will Smith’s actions so applicable to anyone in the carceral system is that he let emotions precede reason. A lot of the time, one mistake can result in decades behind bars. These mistakes are made because strong emotions such as anger put you in the present moment, disregarding the future. Once anger takes hold of you, reason slips out of your grasp. Reason is your connection to the future— a use of logic to determine what is best for you and how you should react to achieve a future goal. Therefore, to fight for a better future, you must make logical decisions on how to best handle emotional and turbulent scenarios. 

If you do make a mistake, as no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, you cannot move towards an ideal future without accepting responsibility for your past. Will Smith, in my opinion, responded very appropriately and with maturity.  He admitted that he betrayed the trust of the Academy and relinquished his role in the organization. Furthermore, he apologized to the people he harmed. His harm extended beyond the physical pain he caused Chris Brown and to the winners of AcademyAwards who did not get to enjoy their accomplishments because of his shocking reaction. Will Smith did not seem to lament the past but looked for ways to ameliorate the damage he caused so that he could best restore his role as an inspirational leader. The negative consequences of his actions would have been prolonged had he not taken a stand to put actions behind his apologies. He reminded us all that it is crucial to try to fix any damage you cause after harming those around you.

Only after you acknowledge the role you have played in shaping your history can you begin to understand the role you can play in shaping your future. Of course, it is not only your desire to be free that will allow you to leave prisons, but since those in power try to drain you of all hope behind bars, your will is the only thing that could lead you down a path besides self-destruction. 

Michael Santos’s willpower motivated him to get an education, married, and moved to minimum security prison. He accomplished these goals while facing punishment from those in power who didn’t like to see him grow while in prison. Michael held himself accountable for his past, and from that, he regained a sense of control over his life. Michael’s path mirrors Will Smith’s, as he handled his violent outburst with an authentic plan forward, minimizing the amount of time he will suffer any consequences.

Prison Professors provide a curriculum to take control of your life called the Straight-A Guide to Success. It lists 10 steps to achieve success, steps that many CEOs have used as well as those behind bars— everyone trying to achieve the best possible outcome in their given situation. I’m going to be focusing on just one aspect: making goals. You have to start committed. Once you hone in on your commitment, you will be more prepared for the long road ahead and the fact that many of your steps will have to be small incremental steps. The only person that can hold you accountable is yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make others aware of your commitment. Express gratitude that you completed your past goals while simultaneously planning your next move. 

There is more information listed here on the Prison Professors’ website. 

If we think back to Will Smith, he knew right after slapping Chris Rock that he had messed up and wanted to return to normalcy. However, normalcy was not going to be achieved right away and ignoring the problem wouldn’t make it disappear. Through incremental steps, such as resigning from the Academy Awards and making public apologies, he is working towards this larger goal. 

Of course, your journey is different than Will Smith’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t borrow some of the tools he is using, tools that Michael has spent decades developing to help people in prison. So don’t lose hope. Anything good takes time and persistence, which is why it could help to have someone advocating for you and ensuring you stay accountable. Prison Professors offers a variety of services that will help you achieve your goals. Always remember that we believe in you, so you should believe in yourself.

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