Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Five

By · Monday, February 9th, 2009

Prisoners Should Think Win-Win

Prisoners who succeed on a high level commit to adjustment patterns that bring victory to all parties. Success necessitates a focus on much more than the prisoner himself. Successful adjustments require the individual to enhance the lives of others, not just his own life.

Too many prisoners serve their sentences without concern for the broader implications of their imprisonment. By dwelling on the difficulties of confinement, they drown in self-pity. All prisoners miss their families and communities, and all prisoners have to cope with the deprivations that accompany confinement. The successful prisoner responds to adversity differently from others.

It is not enough to rely on exercise, recreation activities, and television to carry the successful prisoner through the months, years, or decades of confinement. A focus on the self can help a prisoner only so far. Those who limit themselves when coping with the world of confinement adjust in ways that help ease their stay through prison. Unfortunately, such adjustment patterns frequently condition these men for continuing cycles of failure upon release.

The successful prisoners I’ve met were self-directed, though they also kept perspective for their responsibilities to contribute and to interact with the broader community. They contemplated steps they could take to prepare for the challenges they would face upon release and pursued them. Just as they sought to understand the prison environment, successful prisoners also thought about the needs of their wives, their prospective future employers or business associates, their probation officers, prison administrators, their fellow prisoners, and everyone else connected to their community. Those successful prisoners pursued adjustment patterns that would ensure they contributed in positive ways to all.

A superficial glance at the prison environment would not be sufficient to identify all of the opportunities to enhance the richness of life. Successful prisoners, however, find meaning in all that they pursue. Their activities empower them because each activity contributes to a greater mosaic than the simple passing of time.

Successful prisoners who pursue win-win adjustment patterns never experience boredom. They manage to live alone and respond with strength to the loneliness that cripples others. Successful prisoners live without the crutch of psychological counseling or the narcotizing influences of medication. Where an individual serves his time is not as relevant as the attitude with which the individual serves his time. Whether he is locked in a SHU cell of a high-security penitentiary or walking freely within the confines of a minimum-security camp, the successful prisoner knows he can create meaning in his life by committing to win-win adjustment patterns.

To lower rates, we need prison reforms that would make prisoners who utilize such adjustment patterns more visible.

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