Section 7: Action


Those who embrace principles of The Straight-A Guide understand the value in looking ahead. An entry-level job gets our foot in the door, but it’s only one step in an endless path of incremental action steps that lead to success.

We say “endless” path because success is more of a mindset than a destination. We never really arrive at success. Instead, we reach higher levels of fulfillment in different areas of our life, always recognizing that fulfillment requires that we set our sights on new goals. To the extent that we embrace this philosophy of self-empowerment, we continuously strive for excellence, striving to advance from current circumstances to increasingly higher levels of fulfillment.

Those who choose to read through the literature that accompanies this course can learn from the strategies that guided Michael Santos through 26 years of incarceration. His writings describe the importance of taking incremental action steps. Each step would lead him from where he was at a given point in time to the man that he wanted to become decades later.

At the start of Michael’s journey, he defined success as returning to society as a law-abiding citizen. He wrote that he wanted to return home unscathed by the prison system. Measuring success in that regard would mean he would be able to walk into any room and engage in any conversation without anyone knowing that he served a day in prison. To achieve such an outcome, Michael wrote that he had to take incremental action steps. He defined those steps as follows:

He read continuously to educate himself on various subjects.

He wrote about the subjects that he learned in order to master his ability to discuss those subjects.

He worked to master subjects in different disciplines in order to add value to more people.

The more Michael learned, the more he developed a knowledge base.

The higher his level of knowledge, the more opportunities he could seize.

The more opportunities he could seize, the more fulfillment he could live.

The more fulfillment he experienced, the more self confidence he developed.

The more self confidence he developed, the better he could serve others.

The more he could serve others, the more opportunities he could open.

More opportunities led to an even greater sense of self-empowerment.

Basically, Michael wrote about a pattern. He took incremental action steps to realize increasingly higher levels of fulfillment. In the beginning, he focused on introspection, or coming to terms with the influences that led to his being locked inside of a jail cell facing a life sentence. Through introspection, Michael learned to identify the value categories that would define his life. In his case, he identified a commitment to education, to contribution, and to proving worthy of a support network that would become his community. By educating himself, he created more opportunities to contribute. The more he contributed, the more effective Michael became at building a support network. The larger his support network became, the more opportunities opened.

If he had not taken the incremental action steps to educate himself, Michael would not have achieved as much as he did during the 26 years of his imprisonment. He certainly would not have had the income opportunities that eased his life upon release. One step led to another. Each of those steps led to his achieving higher levels of fulfillment. He wrote about taking that incremental action-step approach in various areas of his life, including fitness, career, marriage, finance, community, and in any other area that defined him.

Perhaps you can advance your prospects for success by following the same Straight-A Guide strategy of deliberate living. Spend time to articulate the action steps you’re willing to take today to grow into the individual you want to become tomorrow.

Define the incremental action steps you are taking today that will lead you into the individual you aspire to become in years ahead?