Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ninety-One Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp

As I was running the track at Taft Camp this morning, I thought about the real value I derived from these past ten months I’ve served. I never would have thought that my time as a prisoner would evolve into something I would value. Surprisingly, that is the frame of mind I’m in now, as I advance into my final three-month stretch.

Truthfully, living amidst so many men from such diverse backgrounds has brought me invaluable experiences. I’ve learned a lot about the dynamics of human relationships; I’ve learned about tolerance; I’ve learned about balance; and perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of leading a values-based life.

I never thought about such concepts while I was living at the frenetic pace of my life prior to confinement. My focus had been on the short-term, monetary rewards that my career could bring. Whether I was managing money at Bear Stearns or UBS, or putting Southern California real estate deals together, I was primarily motivated by closing the deal as quickly as possible. I wanted to reach my financial quotas in time to maximize the hours I could devote to golf.

While serving time in prison, I was introduced to people who lived with real challenges. They did not have the opportunities I took for granted, yet some lived with a sense of fulfillment that I had never known. I was around people who had decades of imprisonment behind them, some who had many years of confinement ahead of them. Despite such obstacles, the self-imposed discipline by which some lived enabled those men to build a solid core. Because of their discipline and sense of purpose, they led lives in prison that seemed richer and freer than many people I had known in the broader society.

The ten months I’ve served thus far in prison introduced me to concepts of self-mastery. It was a never-ending pursuit to live as the best person I could become, making the most of the circumstances around me. The interactions I had with other prisoners, together with the lessons I learned from the nonfiction books I read, convinced me that fulfillment could come through the pursuit of incremental goals that related directly to an overall purpose in life. I have been striving to live that adjustment of the past several months, and I’ve come to a point where I feel as if I soon will be able to share more of what I’ve learned with others.

The longer I ran around the track, the more I realized that I could empower myself by feeling gratitude for the gifts I had. Too many people in prison, and in the broader society, anchored themselves with debilitating thoughts about all that was missing from their lives. Those who thrived lived with a fundamentally different outlook. Outside forces did not govern their actions or their perceptions. In prison, I learned more about the value that came from making maximum use of resources.

The most valuable resources, I came to appreciate, were not of a materialist nature. Rather, they included such concepts as time, personal relationships, and contemplations about how the choices we make relate to the purpose we define for our lives.

It is never too late to start preparing…Download Lessons From Prison Now to discover what is truly possible in federal prison.

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