The below lesson is an excerpt from my upcoming book, When Not If: A CEO's Guide to Overcoming Adversity, Forbes Book, January 2024.
As I decided to make a 1% improvement daily in my physical strength and intellectual abilities in prison, I, also, figured out I could never survive this 14-year journey without incredible emotional and spiritual growth.
I decided I needed to find my true North Star. I needed a purpose bigger than myself, and I needed to believe there was a grand design to this sometimes extremely painful life we lead on this planet. Without this religion, I knew I would never have the resilience or perseverance to survive long enough to possibly see restoration and resurrection. One major reason people give up is that they don’t believe there might be a life movie review when passing on to their next adventure, or they don’t believe there has to be some reason for our suffering or that we had even possibly chosen that suffering to make us a better being.
I remembered how survival books always stated the great percentage of lost hikers gave up hope and perished within one mile of rescue. Certai
nly through providence, my inmate compatriot, Ray, an Army lieutenant colonel who reenlisted to go to Iraq after 9-11, invited me to join him for a new Siddha Yoga Meditation program a New Jersey benefactor was offering in the prison chapel. Following my initial, poor attempts at meditation, the organization would send me two substantial introspective reading lessons each month. These essays on the universe, life, meaning, and love calmed the rage that bubbled daily just below my Adam’s apple and allowed me to function positively for one more day.
On my classics reading list, I couldn’t stop reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, an 1846 novel about a man falsely imprisoned. The last sentence of this 1,200-page epic fascinated me. “Until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words: ‘Wait and hope.’” Ashleigh, my future miracle bride-to-be, in an act of solidarity would get a small tattoo on the inside of her right wrist with hope written in my handwriting.
LESSON: When massive adversity occurs, such as the government knocks on our office door, or an unexpected event uproots and attempts to destroy our successful lives, we must commit to something greater than ourselves. That’s the essence of religion, whatever that may be for each of us. That something greater exists gives us hope that there can be a better life than what we have right now. Short fights, sprints, are possible through sheer will, but wars, marathons, require a belief in something deep, deep down in our souls.
Have a great week!