3 Inmates

Today, I woke up at 6AM and knew I needed to go for a run to clear my head.  Monday's are the days Angel Auto Insurance in Hobart opens at 10:00AM.  It's also the day many, many, many people call us because they couldn't get in contact with us the day before (Sunday).  I also had some bills to pay, I had to do payroll, and home-school my kid in the middle of the day.  

In the midst of the chaos, I was feeling the heat because today was to be the first day I would be meeting with several inmates in Porter County Jail.  You see, I spent the last 10 years reading books about motivation and going to conventions.  I have shelves of books at home with some of the best books on the market about changing your life.  I have filled many journals with what I've learned so you can imagine that I thought I was going to be helping them.

This year, I set a goal.  That goal was to STOP talking about what I was going to do and actually do more than I said.  I made a promise that this year, I am going to give back.  I'm going to give more value than I get from other people.  So, here I am leaving my very busy life in my office to go to the county jail to meet my friend Ben and give these guys an insane boost of motivation. 

Here's what actually happened.  As I stood and talked with the guard who was waving a wand past my arms and legs he asked what I was there for.  I looked to Ben and he said we're here to see the inmates in cell block __.  We got some fancy-shmancy badges and headed down to see them.  On the way I asked Ben (who's been doing this for years) what he'd like me to share with them.

Ben looked at me and laughed, then said "Did you expect to give a big speech today?".  I smiled and said "Well, not exactly, but I had prepared some things before I came." He smiled back and said "We're here for them and they are going to tell you some things that you've likely never heard before.  They are probably not what you'd expect."  

We head in the block.  Already I'm surprised, because if you can believe it, it's not like the movies make it seem.  These guys were sitting there at a table together reading and writing.  Almost all of them had a bible in front of them.  Ben casually starts up a conversation with someone he knew and I shook a few hands then we sat down to have a conversation. 

The first man we talked to, had struggled with many things.  He told me about his life and what he was expecting once he got out.  I asked what he would like to learn from me and he named off a few things that he thought could help anyone in his position.  He told me he'd like to know more about how to find a job when he gets released.  He read us this beautiful poem he wrote and it was full of a lot of self-reflecting things he was learning on his journey of incarceration. 

The second man, told me about his lifestyle.  He told me where he grew up, what he got in to, what his wife means to him and how he'll keep busy when he gets out.  I asked what he'd like to learn from me and he said how to have a structured life because the downtime is when people who use slip up.  I was really impressed by now, here are these two guys, who were really putting in a lot of effort to improve and they were asking me for help. 

The third man, I was really impressed with.  He told me about his father.  His dad was a closet crack addict and he discovered that fact when he was still in high-school at 16.  I asked what he'd want to learn and he told me that he wanted to learn to set goals, because at age 31 he still had never had a bed or a car.  I asked a little more about his life and what got him to this point he told me that when he found out about his dad it caused him to lose all respect for him.  This caused his own life to spiral out of control.  He was drinking and doing drugs with his friends from school.  He went to prison while in high-school for being at an underage drinking party and has been in and out ever since.

Here's the take away from all this.  All of these three guys had real-life problems.  My worries about bills, time and taxes melted to the floor.  

Have I ever had to wonder if I'd get out of prison?

Have I ever had to worry about whether my wife was using or not?

Have I ever had to wish I had my own bed?

In the end, when I walked out of there, I realized one thing over all else.  I learned more from them than they would ever learn from me and I will never be the same.  When I got back to the office I was bombarded with a million things to do and here I am writing a blog to you all at 10:00PM at night at my desk wondering why I never did this sooner.  

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