- Stay Busy
- Just Say No
- Know What You Are
- Build Networks
- Create Good Luck
- Have Grit
- Make Awesome Mistakes
- Find Mentors
I appreciate Seth sending the article to me. He knows about success, as Seth is the CEO of Advanced Building Solutions, an extraordinarily successful real estate development company from Northern California. His article challenged me to work harder and to assess merits of the path I’ve charted for my first five years of liberty. In the following paragraphs, I narrate how I’m emulating the eight traits of Seth and other successful people.
I begin working each morning by 4:00 am, and I’m frequently still at my desk at 8:00 pm, seven days each week. Fortunately, I work from home most days each week, so I don’t waste time on a commute. Instead, I walk down the hall from my bedroom to the office and I begin working on my 27-inch iMac computer. If I’m not at home writing articles for my website, corresponding, or prospecting for business, I’m on the road at a sales call, making a presentation somewhere, completing work related to my lecturing position at San Francisco State University, or I’m running. I used to run seven days each week, but my busy work schedule now limits me to running about five days each week. Fortunately, I’m still averaging more than 60-miles of distance during the week.
Just Say No
I completed 26 years as a federal prisoner on August 12, 2013. Despite being home for longer than four months, I’ve yet to take a vacation. I work seven days each week and I refuse to have a television set in my home. I focus on building the business that will sustain Carole and me, which means that I cannot afford to allow distractions into my life. Instead, I must take incremental steps to achieve the level of success I have in mind and to prove worthy of all those who believe in me.
Know What You Are
I am a man who served 26 years in federal prison because I made bad decisions as a young man. Fine. I can own that I made bad decisions. That doesn’t daunt me in the least. But having a criminal record requires that I must accept the fact that others will judge me for the bad decisions I made. Those facts will complicate my ability to build a career, unless I pivot to create strength from my background. For this reason, I’ve launched MGS Group, a business that sells products and services based upon all I learned while conquering more than a quarter century in adversity. The Straight-A Guide Life Skills Program is my first product, but I have many more ideas that will allow me to create strength out of what others would misconstrue as weakness.
Early in my prison journey I set a three-pronged path to conquer the time ahead. I understood that days would turn into weeks, weeks would turn into months, months would turn into years, and years would turn into decades. Preparing to succeed meant that I would need to reach beyond prison boundaries. That strategy would allow me to create a support network of people who would have a vested interest in my success upon release. I continue working every day to prove worthy of the people who believe in me, including Seth Nobmann.
Create Good Luck
Some people have said that I’m lucky to have so many opportunities for a man who returned to society after longer than a quarter century in prison. That luck stems from a lesson I learned decades ago. The harder I work, the luckier I become. While in prison I seized every opportunity that came my way. Such a strategy enabled me to achieve clear goals while others served time. I earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and I publish books while confined. I earned financial resources, developed skills, and married the love of my life while others whined and complained about the injustices of their sentences. Opportunities I seized were available to every prisoner who served time alongside me. Rather than recognizing that I worked hard to create luck, they said I was lucky. People still say I’m lucky. And I agree, I am lucky, but I’ll always work hard to create more luck.
Serving longer than a quarter century in prison brought many advantages. In my case, I valued lessons that came through struggle. I needed to focus on the life I would live upon release rather than on the absence of life all around me. By accepting that others in my environment expected continuing cycles of failure, I also learned that I could succeed in spite of external forces. Such an atmosphere taught me to focus on the future. It taught me to improve my own circumstances, all the while knowing that years would pass before the investments I made in personal growth would have any influence on my life. Those lessons in perseverance stay with me now.
Make Awesome Mistakes
Without a doubt I made awesome mistakes, more awesome than most, as evidenced by the 26 years I lived as a federal prisoner. But those bad decisions I made did not derail me. I learned from the bad decisions of my youth and I use those lessons to improve, to help others in my community.
I’m very fortunate to have had many mentors. I learn from them, I draw lessons from them, and I seek guidance from them. They inspire me to work hard, to prove worthy of the support they’ve given. I’ll continue.