Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Seven

By · Monday, February 9th, 2009

Prisoners Should Embrace Accountability

Highly successful prisoners see themselves as a part of the broader community. Prison boundaries may separate them from daily interactions, but their sense of connectivity never wavers. To the prisoner focused on emerging successfully, nurturing that connection drives his every action and thought. An essential component of that plan requires that he hold himself accountable.

In writing out both the values and goals that govern his life, the successful prisoner can clearly define success. He structures his day to avoid meandering through in a haphazard manner. Every hour is counted, and at the end of each day, week, month, and year, he can evaluate whether he is making progress or if his course needs adjusting.

The successful prisoner understands that achievement does not come by accident. By announcing his goals to others, he invites the world to hold him accountable. This strategy helps him define the level of personal commitment invested in both the goals and values he identifies as being crucial to his success.

Accountability is the essential component that distinguishes a successful prisoner from the one who surrenders control of his life to outside forces. Rather than making excuses or listing all the reasons he cannot succeed, the successful prisoner understands that his goals serve as a guide, and when circumstances dictate an adjustment, he adjusts. The focus is to ensure that he makes the best use of all his resources, all of the time. By reviewing his accountability records and logs, the successful prisoner can see that his success today is a direct result of the choices he made yesterday.

The successful prisoner understands the importance of keeping his word. If he says he will do something, he does it. Rather than living as a victim of the prison experience, he advances forward, holding himself accountable to the goals and plans to which he committed. Accountability drives the successful prisoner to evaluate his progress consistently.

Effective prison reforms that include mechanisms through which individual prisoners can earn graduated levels of freedom would encourage more prisoners to embrace accountability. In my article Master Discipline, Expect Nothing, I describe the strategies that have guided me through my first 21 years in prison.

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One Response to “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Prisoners–Article Seven”

  1. Lauren Winter says:

    I am from Professor Torres Criminal Justice Class and I have recently read your article on the seven habits of a highly successful prisoner and I just wanted to ask you a few questions. I wanted to know which of the seven habits you have deemed to be the most and least important in an offender’s pursuit to adjust to the prison atmosphere? Also what impact have these habits had on your experiences in prison? And if this is not too personal, what were the goals that you set for yourself when you were first incarcerated? Thank you for taking the time to read my questions and answer them. I appreciate it!
    -Lauren Winter