by Dortell Williams
As I sat in my concrete cage, looking at the massive failure I’ve made of my life, I’ve wondered: “What is the secret to success?”
What does it take to be successful? Over time, I came to recognize that this is where history comes into play. I’m not talking about going back centuries, though you can if you want. But just recent history is good enough. For instance, to see how failure occurs, all I needed was to look at myself: Hanging with the wrong crowd, not listening to sound advice, being sel sh and greedy. All of that eventually leads to committing crimes, doing dirt. I was stealing cars, selling dope, breaking and entering, you name it.
When I started reading, that’s when it all started coming together. I started reading biographies and auto-biographies of successful people. That’s when I peeped certain patterns that all these different people were doing. The rst thing I noticed is that they weren’t looking for shortcuts in life, like I did. The quick money of selling drugs was a short cut; robbing and stealing are shortcuts. In the long run, I was just cheating myself. Now I am doing life in prison, and there is no shortcut to getting out.
These people I was reading about, these successful people, were educating themselves. Most successful people embrace other cultures, so they aren’t concerned with “sounding white”. Even Malcolm X or Danny Trejo didn’t have a problem with using proper language when appropriate.
When I was in Education at the beginning of my prison stint, I saw that a lot of the teachers weren’t really teaching us anything. But I noticed books were all over the place. So I just started reading, rst about successful people, then about everything else. The more I learned, the more I saw that I really didn’t know anything. I saw that natural wits can only get me so far. I needed to build on the ideas of others to excel. That’s what Microsoft founder, Bill Gates did. He built a software empire based on the needs of the computers at the time. If someone had never invented computers, he would have never invented software. When you think about it, rappers, inventors, teachers…you name it, none of these people are afraid to be or do something different. You gotta be you; you gotta do what you do, and have faith that your own ideas and vision will pay off.
Ever since I’ve opened my mind, I have had nothing but success, right from this cage. I’ve published books, earned academic degrees, recorded radio commentaries, run positive prison groups and started a limited liability company- again, from the guts of a cage.
If I can do it, you can, too. Open your mind to the impossible, and make the impossible, possible. Read books, educate yourself. Listen to people, but then read up on what they tell you. Shake them shortcuts and take the time to explore. There’s a whole wide world out there. Though I don’t know you, I believe in you. You wanna know why? Because I believe in human potential. Just like you’re unique in looks, you’re also unique inside, where all your treasures are at. Believe in yourself! If it’s positive, go for it!