Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In my previous blog I wrote about the importance of the Straight-A Guide and how proud I am to have a role in contributing to the lives of other prisoners. What I am finding, however, is that the Straight-A Guide doesn’t only help prisoners, it also helps prisoners maintain closer, more intimate and meaningful relationships with their wives and children. Thomas Ross, for example, wrote me about how he uses the Straight-A Guide to grow closer with his wife Angela, and his children.

While the guide begins with the attribute of “attitude,” it’s also important to follow up that attitude with a clear depiction of a man’s “aspiration,” the second attribute of the Straight-A Guide.

Thomas Ross has been incarcerated for 12 years. Despite his separation from family, he aspires to live as a great role model for his children and to live as the best husband that he can be. That may strike some outside of prison as an absurd aspiration. But Thomas shows that despite his being a long-term prisoner, he can follow the principles of the Straight-A Guide to live as a strong father figure and a leader of his family. A recent example of his son, Trevaughn, makes this clear.

Thomas’s son is only 12 years old. Thomas has been in prison for the child’s entire life. Yet with his aspiration of being a great father and husband, Thomas works with Angela through regular visits, telephone calls, and letters home to exemplify leadership. He uses the website to profile the disciplined and deliberate manner in which he faces struggle. Then, during the time that Thomas spends with his family, he advises them on how to use the same principles to reach their highest potential. Trevaughn is proud of his father’s accomplishments. He shares them with his teacher and relies upon his father’s web profile to boast about his father. Most importantly to Thomas and Angela, Trevaughn is using the same Straight-A Guide principles to mature into an outstanding student athlete. Clearly, he has the potential for greatness.

Trevaughn has athletic gifts. More important than that, he relies upon his attitude and his aspiration to enhance those abilities. During this basketball season, He is playing all-star travel basketball. He leads the team in scoring, rebounds, and assists. He is also a star football player, playing receiver in the Lompoc Pop Warner Football league. Trevaughn is an outstanding young man, and Thomas Ross takes pride in living as a role model for him. He shows his son how to apply the same principles by which he is living to mature into a dignified young man with potential to reach his highest aspirations.

Thomas and Angela are immensely proud of their prison family. It is disgraceful that the prison system blocks them from spending more time together, from talking on the phone together, and from growing together. But Thomas uses the principles of the Straight-A Guide to lead his family. That is his aspiration. His attitude reflects his 100 percent commitment to that aspiration. And now, Thomas and Angela are passing along that principled path to success to their son. In so doing, they triumph over the indignities and dehumanization that comes with confinement.

I’m very proud of the Ross family. They embody the Straight-A Guide, using it as a tool to grow closer together. For those who want to see what I mean, I urge that they visit Thomas’ Ross’s profile page at

That’s what I mean by Aspiration. In my next blog, I’ll write about Action, which is the third attribute of the Straight-A Guide.

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