The Power of Perspective: Discovering the Hidden Gift in my Darkest Days

I wanted it to be done.

I don’t know what done actually meant, I just knew I wanted it, and I wanted it more than I wanted anything.

I’m referring to how I felt after I was arrested by the FBI.

I wanted the situation to be over, but I couldn’t see the other side; I had no idea what it looked like, so I just wished it was done. And I spent quite a bit of time in this limbo of purgatory.

Intellectually I knew my circumstance and sentence had an expiration date, but it felt emotionally infinite.

Sometimes I live in my intellect; most of the time, especially when it’s all-consuming, like the uncertainty of prison and life after prison, I live in the emotional.

I don’t know what shifted, but my mentality shifted ever so slightly, but enough to make a huge difference. I transformed from wanting to be done to wanting to make it through.

I still didn’t know what the other side looked like, but I desperately wanted to make it there. And this energy was enough to help me move forward, to slowly but surely put one foot in front of the other.

Carrying the wickedly heavy burden of shame, guilt, unworthiness, and inadequacy, a burden so heavy there were more times than I can count that I thought I’d collapse under its weight.

But sometimes all we have, and it’s all I could find, was a burning desire to just make it through.

I don’t know what the energy was that kept me going; maybe it was the desire to actually find out what was on the other side, but I experienced another shift, and this was the shift that changed everything.

It was the moment I understood that the burden I was carrying, the shame, guilt, unworthiness, and inadequacy, contained a gift.

I saw the diamond in the coal.

It was the story of how I carried that burden up to this point and how I’d carry it to the mysterious other side.

Understanding that I could alchemize my journey in a meaningful and vulnerable way that could help someone who’s two steps behind where I am now and desperately wants to be two steps ahead.

My pain could be of service; it had a purpose, and now so did I.

Something extraordinary happened at this moment: The burden that moments ago was almost crushing me grew lighter.

I took myself out of the equation; I don’t carry the burden for myself; I carry it for others.

And that’s the moment I made it to the other side.  

Craig Stanland is a Reinvention Architect & Mindset Coach, TEDx & Keynote Speaker, and the Best-Selling Author of “Blank Canvas, How I Reinvented My Life After Prison.” He specializes in working with high-achievers who’ve chased success, money, and status in their 1st half, only to find a success-sized hole in their lives. He helps them unleash their full potential, break free from autopilot, draft a new life blueprint, and connect with their Life’s Mission so they can live extraordinary lives with purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. Craig can be reached at