Becoming Successful is Based on Self Reflection

By Jay Goodman

I started writing the Puppetmasters, back in 2008, after three officers took me into a cell in isolation and put a noose around my neck, while I was handcuffed, because I would not stop writing Grievances about the abuses I witnessed on the elderly and the handicapped. I started at first because of anger, and because I wanted to expose them for everything they were doing. But the more I learned about the prison system as a whole, the more I wanted to write because of the drive I felt inside to change how things are. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience anger at times, but I quickly let it go and focus my attention on my dream of wanting to see the Texas prison system move into the 21st century.

My dream is to help my fellow brothers in white, I want to see the Texas prison system turn into a place of hope and rehabilitation. In different chapters I am sure that I have upset some prisoners, and guards as well that was never my intention. I am only wanting to open your eyes to the reality of our situation and give everyone an opportunity to hopefully see things differently. Most places whether it’s a small business or large corporation, want to be successful, I’m sure. I would also assume that most schools want to see their students leave and become successful people. As a parent I want to see my children succeed in life. As I sat in my cell thinking about this it got me wondering about what everyone in prison thinks success is? First, the Oxford Dictionary defines success as: the accomplishment of an aim; favorable outcome; or, the attainment of wealth, fame, or position. As I read this, I could not help but wonder if this is what all people think success is? So, I decided to do a little study of my own.

Over the last week I asked some of my fellow inmates, what they thought success was? Some guards also. Each person that I asked, I told them they did not have to answer me right then and there. But, every single one of them decided to give me their answer on the spot. And while none of them gave me a wrong answer, everyone gave me the Oxford Dictionary answer, all but one. Which saddened me, because please tell me there is more to success than attainment of wealth, fame, or position. While I’m sure everyone wants to have those three things in life, and I see nothing wrong with that.

Allow me to show everyone some other examples of success. Christopher Morley’s observation was, “There is only one success to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Mark Twain counseled, “The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success is perhaps the most famed, and one of my personal favorites. He wrote, to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier, because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. Ultimately, I suppose each of us must define success for him or herself. While I understand the drive for wealth, fame, and position, I hope the people reading this can see that those three things shouldn’t define you.

As a young child I was pushed hard by my Father and Grand Father. Both of them were successful in different ways...In so many way they both were way ahead of their time, and because of that as a child I discovered that the key to success in any field, is not a secret. There is no secret to success. Gimmicks and quick fixes do not lead a person to success. Nor do fast-talking empty philosophies. Success in any field- business, sports, politics, music, art, or spirituality, depends upon a deep and profound understanding of who you are, and what your needs, talents, and desires are. The key to success is in character. The foundation of character is self-discipline, the essence of character is personality. Your own unique personality holds the key to your success. I believe the greatest success is to be constantly growing, changing, developing, evolving into the better person I know I can be. In any activity that assists you in this, “becoming”, you will find success. Why? In the long run you won’t be successful at something you don’t enjoy doing. We are successful at things we enjoy, the endeavors we love, the labors we are excited and passionate about. It’s easy to be passionate about the things that challenge us to become the better person we know we can be.

I look around me inside these Texas prisons and there is talent everywhere, but most of the Texas prisoners for some reason will not tap into it and use this talent to grow and become the best they can be. Every person in here can succeed, it’s not even questionable, it is an absolute fact. Stop selling yourselves short, stop wasting your time on prison thinking. I have a friend who has come a long way in his quarter of a century behind bars, but he allows the thinking that lead him to prison and the same thinking that’s kept him in here to control his mind. I have named this type of thinking “Stinking Thinking”. But this man does have the ability to succeed, like many others do that are in here. But like my friend they find themselves held back from real success by this, stinking thinking.

We desire success, fulfillment, happiness and to become better people but, they torment themselves. They do this by failing to find the appropriate relationship between need, desire, and talent. Without thinking of these three things people have rushed off in pursuit of “success”-they make extraordinary amount of money, or raise to unimaginable levels of fame, but they do not find happiness or fulfillment in that success. Why not? These people don’t understand their needs, they have little understanding of their talents, nor do they seek out their truest, and deepest desires. The result is discord, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction. Success, is to become who you really are. We cannot be happy trying to be someone else, however good or great that person may be. True success lies in seeking to discover who you truly are individually and uniquely; finding your own special gift, talent, or ability; and developing that gift for the benefit of all. Such success enriches society. Success is not just an achievement; it is a contribution. The key to your health and happiness is in finding who you are, not who you think you are, but your true self. Shakespeare counseled, “To thine own self be true.” But in order to live Shakespeare’s principle, we must heed the advice of Socrates, “Know yourself.”

Lasting success, fulfillment, and happiness depend on self-knowledge of self. Remember my fellow prisoners to make a list of yourselves, study this carefully. This list is not to beat yourselves up but to use so you can learn and understand who you truly are. Then start asking yourselves these questions. What are my dreams? What are my desires? What are my talents? Who am I? Am I evolving into a better person each day? Always ask yourself questions, learn to control your thinking, focus your thoughts on positive things. From this knowledge of ourselves, we are able to create and maintain a lifestyle that intimately links our dreams, hopes, needs, desires, and talents together, while at the same time leading us to change, grow, develop, and become a better per son we know we can be. Wise people know themselves and live from that knowledge. If I know that to live healthy and happy, I need to eat right and exercise, but do not, I am a fool. I am worse than the ignorant person who cannot make the connection between his poor health and happiness. I possess the knowledge, but do not use it.

All of us in these Texas prisons have so much more inside of us than a lifetime of slaving for the Puppetmasters. Remember they don’t care if you ever change, in fact, they never want you to change. Why? Because as I’ve shown. over and over, the Texas prison system wants to keep all of these prisons full to capacity. Anyone who has just a small amount of sense can see that what I have written about is true. Their goal is to keep us coming back all of our lives. Fear holds a lot of people back. They refuse to look in the mirror, not always physically, but emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Many are scared of what they will find. So, they think and talk only of their good qualities and achievements, but in doing so they shun some of life’s most rewarding and fulfilling lessons. If only we would take a good look at each of the major areas of our being each day, we would discover our dreams, hopes, needs, desires, talents, and potential.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez