Over the past year, I met and became friends with five convicted felons. It's easy to write someone off because of their past. It's not as easy to listen, understand and learn. It's not easy to let down your guard, put aside your ego and be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. But you can learn a lot.
These five convicted felons served their time and are not now out of prison. After being released, they ended up in very different life situations, ranging from very bright to very bleak.
Regardless of your situation, these five lessons can make the difference between a very promising or a very bleak future.
1. Your situation doesn't dictate the future
Even with a criminal record, probation or whatever your background might be, your future depends on the actions you take today, not the actions you took yesterday. Whether you are broke, stuck, trapped or no matter how bas your situation seems, what matters is what you do today. What you do right now will either move you forward or keep you where you are.
2. Responsibility matters -- a lot
The difference between success and mediocrity is your ability to take 100 percent responsibility for getting the results you want. You have to be completely devoted to making it happen. When the normal way isn't working, or when there are obstacles on the obvious path, you have to find another way.
3. Blame is poison
If you want guarantees in life, here's one: you're going to get screwed. If you let what other people do to you affect your ability to succeed, you are done. Accept that other people are going to do things to you that are mean, bad, or unfair. Then move on. Figure out how you are going to succeed in spite of those people.
4. You can do way more than you think
You can do so much more than you ever thought possible. When you refuse to believe the limitations of what's on the surface, entire new possibilities emerge. When you realize that you are able to take responsibility for your future, regardless of how badly you have been screwed, you are unstoppable.
5. Be creative
When you think you can't do something because of some limitation of the past, it might simply mean you can't do it the obvious way. Decide what you really want and forget about the normal way of accomplishing that thing. Find new, interesting and innovative means to that same end.
It doesn't matter if you have a criminal record or not, your future is in your hands. Instead of dwelling on the past, spend that time making the future what you want it to be.