Perseverance Over Weaknesses Can Be Achieved

By Jay Goodman

As I’ve sat here in prison the last 15 years, I have taken a long look at myself, both the good and the bad. I thought a lot about what I was going to do both in here and when I left prison. At first my mind ran wild with many different ideas, some ideas would have brought me fright back to prison...But I knew that was not what I wanted, I also realized that I was a lot better than that. Sometimes change is difficult especially if you have allowed yourselves to believe that you want to live one certain type of lifestyle, a lifestyle of a criminal, or the word everyone loves to use the in the Texas prisons, “gangsters”.

The majority of people have no clue who they really are, because if they did you, would quickly realize you are not anything close to being a “gangster”. Of course, in your minds you have lived in a fantasy world of who you’ve seen on T.V. or read about in books. I hear everyone tell their stories about how they were selling big dope or you were robbing this or whatever you had going on. But as I have looked around me, almost every single person in here would not have a bar of soap or a cup of coffee if your Mom or Dad’s weren’t putting money on your accounts. For most Texas prisoners you need to open your eyes to the reality of who you are and realize what you’re not. Don’t let music, T.V., or books plant seeds in your minds of something you’re not. Let go of that think a moment and focus on who you truly are, not the person you’ve created in your minds that you dreamed of becoming, but on who you are right now. Give yourselves an opportunity to discover you, the real you. Don’t just take a minute or two, but give yourselves some serious time to contemplate who you are. If you do this, I’m sure it will be the first time a lot of you have taken a serious look at yourselves.

What’s amazed me through the years is a lot of people don’t know who they truly are inside these Texas prisons. Most prisoners just aimlessly go through each day playing games or watching T.V. And as the weeks, months, and years roll by you just walk through each day oblivious to what’s most important in your lives. Also, when you start to focus on who you are, don’t focus on what’s happened in your past. The past is dead and gone, so there’s no reason to beat yourselves up over something you can’t change. Remember when I say, take a look at who you truly are, I mean right now. in the present. During your reflections take, notes of your strengths and weaknesses remember to take an honest assessment. I also have seen many people don’t like or don’t want to look at their flaws and I really have never understood this, because if we don’t acknowledge our weaknesses, how can we rid ourselves of them? Weaknesses are something every single person has, believe me when I say everyone that’s accomplished great things in life had to face their weaknesses and overcome them. Do not belittle yourselves or think less of yourselves because of your weaknesses, instead learn to conquer the things in your lives that hold you back from becoming the best versions of yourselves. Take a serious look at what’s holding you back, for some maybe there’s only a few things that held you back, and for others maybe it’s a long list. But one thing is for sure, if you are not willing to do this there’s no way to overcome them. Instead of facing these weaknesses you will allow them to hold you back and you’ll never move forward in your lives.

Many people forget that only by facing your weaknesses can you grow like the MBA basketball player Michael Jorden, was able to transform his weaknesses into strengths, in fact he wrote about it at the end of his career. He said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost more than 300 games, and 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. Throughout my life and career I’ve failed, and failed, and failed again. And, that’s why I succeed.” Michael Jorden understood his weaknesses. He faced them over and over, but because he was willing to face them he went on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time, an NBA legend.

Also, if there was a tale of American leadership and perseverance, it is that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was born into poverty in 1809. Throughout his life he Continually faced set-backs and defeats He twice failed in business, lost eight elections, and suffered a nervous breakdown. Defeat and failure were often beckoning him, inviting him to quit, but he refused that invitation and his story is one of extraordinary perseverance. Allow me to give you a sketch of what I know.

In 1816 Lincoln’s family was forced out of their home and he had to go to work to support them. In 1818 his Mother died. In 1831 he failed in business. In 1832 he ran for state legislature and lost. In 1832 he lost his job. That same year he decided he wanted to go to law school, but his application was rejected. In 1833 Lincoln borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business, but by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years paying off that debt. In 1834 he ran for state legislature again and lost. In 1835 he was engaged to be married, but his fiancé died. In 1836 Lincoln suffered a total nervous breakdown and was confined to his bed for six months. In 1838 he sought to become speaker of the state legislature and was defeated. In 1840 he sought to become Elector and defeated. In 1843 he ran for congress and lost. In 1846 he ran for congress again, this time he finally won and made his way to Washington. In 1848 Lincoln ran for re-election to congress and lost. In 1849 he sought the job of Land Officer, but was rejected. In,1854 he ran for senate of the United States and lost. In 1856 he sought the Vice-presidential nomination and got less than one hundred votes. Then, in 1860, Lincoln decided to run for President. I mean, based on what? His track record? He WON! And went on to become one of the greatest Presidents in the history of the United States. In his speech Lincoln said, “The path was worn and slippery, my foot slipped from under me knocking the other foot out of the way - but I recovered, and said to myself - it’s a slip, not a fall.”

As I read Lincoln’s story, I could not help but think of what Michael Jorden said, “in my career and my life, I’ve failed, and failed, and failed again. And that’s why I succeed.” Really think about this story of Abraham Lincoln. I wrote everything that happened to him, because I wanted to show everyone no matter how bad things may seem, it’s always possible to turn your situation around. When you read about all the failures Lincoln had and set-backs one, would assume this man could do nothing right. Plus, one would also think he would have given up long before he ever became President. I’m willing to bet a lot of the people in Washington probably laughed when Lincoln ran for President, but Lincoln had a goal, and he let nothing deter him. Lincoln was able to look past everything that happened to him and still see what he hoped to achieve.

 If Lincoln never had the courage to face his many set-backs and flaws, history might have turned out much differently. It’s only when we are willing to face our weaknesses and have the courage and determination to conquer them can we move our lives in another direction. For the prisoners reading this I want you to ask yourselves this question. Have you really taken the opportunity to look at who you really are? If not? It’s time to do so. After you discover the real you, start using this time to conquer the things that have held you back from becoming the best version of yourselves. Because if you don’t do this now, all you can look forward too is a lifetime with the Puppetmasters. Don’t get caught up in prison life.

From my view point so many people in these Texas prisons let this place become who they are. Yes, the reality is, “we are in a Texas prison.” But, don’t allow this prison system to become a part of your very being. I know somewhere deep within you is a desire to live some type of dream other than spending your whole life inside this trash Texas prison system. But if you don’t face the reality of who you truly are I assure you, you will never do anything worthwhile in life. After figuring out who you are, start deciding what you want to do in life. Perhaps you already feel that desire stirring in you? Foster that desire, nurture that desire, make sure to adopt the habit of rekindling that desire. Otherwise, your life is in danger of becoming an utter waste. If you keep living as most prisoners do you will never reach the full potential of your lives. Yes, you will achieve things, and you will have things, but you will be restless and anxious. Many years from now, in the dim light of your distant memory you will remember the dreams you ignored an abandoned. You will feel pain that cannot be eased or consoled. Believe me, regret over things done can be eased over time. Regret over things left unsaid and undone is inconsolable. If you do not know what you want from life, everything will appear either, as an obstacle or as a burden. But history has taught us, the whole world gets out of the way for people who know what they want, and where they are going. Be assured, if you don’t know where you are going, you are lost. Also, never say, “it’s too late.

Titian painted a masterpiece at ninety-eight. Verdi was seventy- four when he wrote his great opera, “Othello”, and eight when he wrote “Falstaff”. Whether you are eighteen or eighty, the rest of your life is ahead of you. You cannot change one moment of your past, but you can change your whole future.

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