You have a choice how to spend every day: You can do “Good Time” or you can do “Bad Time.”
This weekend in California I had the opportunity to check two boxes on my bucket list. First, after many trips to the San Francisco bay area, I finally took a boat to Alcatraz Island to visit the legendary prison. The next day I got the opportunity to tour the Napa Valley wine region and learn about wine at a prestigious winery called Pride. Each experience was worth the trip, but I came away with more than some photos and a couple bottles of wine. I received a lesson that is already helping me to better appreciate every situation.
The boat ride over to Alcatraz was stunning. The panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges and mountain peaks were breathtaking. The cold fog and wind rolling over the choppy bay was equally as ominous. We docked at “The Rock” and started a historical tour of the island. As a self-proclaimed “serious student” I enjoyed hearing about the long history of the island before and after it was shortly a prison (only for 29 years).
The tour ended at the entry to the prison and we ventured inside. Right where the actual prisoners were checked in for the first time, we were given an audio tour device and left on our own to explore. This was both an eerie and exhilarating experience. I learned about prison life and got to imagine what it would have been like to try to survive there for years under some of the toughest circumstances imaginable. The audio tour was narrated by former prison guards and inmates and at one point during the recording, one of the inmates mentioned he and every other prisoner had a choice every day: He could do “good time” or he could do “bad time.” This statement, which most people probably missed while learning about the “Battle of Alcatraz” and escape attempts froze me in my tracks. I realized this wasn’t just a philosophy to survive a long sentence, but also a mindset to more successfully go through life.
The next day, I got up early and was given the opportunity to tour the world famous Napa Valley. Before the trip, I thought Napa was just a small town on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. After driving for over an hour and a half past winery after winery, I realized the Napa Valley wasn’t called a “region” for nothing. Just like on Alcatraz, the panoramic views were amazing and we again made a tough trip; this time up a mountain filled of asphalt switchbacks to the Pride Winery. This winery bordered on Napa and Sonoma and again like the day before, we got a tour and learned the history of the place. This time, however, instead of touring dank, triple layered cell blocks, I got to tour dank caves triple layered with expensive barrels of wine. Again the tour was educational (I liked learning about the grapes, soil and wine making), but as we were looking out amongst the breathtaking landscape, I was again faced with the concept of good or bad time.
At the winery, which is essentially a lavish experience of both sights and tastes, there were other visitors that seemed to be having a lousy time. They were complaining about the wine, seemed unfazed by the amazing view and essentially allowed themselves to be miserable in a beautiful place. That contrasted with the prison the day before was powerful. While I was on the tour there, I found myself surrounded by visitors that were curious about the experience, inspired by the amazing view and essentially allowed themselves to see beauty in a miserable place! These two experiences led me to my important discovery: No matter where you are, you choose your attitude.
No matter where you are or where you find yourself, your ability to choose to do good or bad time is your greatest strength. Actually this is what separates you from any other species on the planet! Once you understand that, you should realize even a wonderful place can be a “prison” or vice versa and the choice is all up to you. Only you control your attitude and no one can take that ability from you.
Just like the prisoners at Alcatraz and the visitors of the winery, you will have to learn the rules in order to be better skilled at doing good or bad time. Unsure which type pf time you are doing? Examine the two lists below and ask yourself which phrases you say to yourself or others more often:
How To Create “Good Time”
“Today is going to be a great day.”
“This is a great time to be alive.”
“I have all I need to succeed.”
“I will really learn something from this.”
“I can do it!”
How To Create “Bad Time”
“Life seems out to get me.”
“Things never work out for me.”
“I don’t have what it takes.”
“I have bad luck.”
“This won’t work out.”
Want to escape a negative environment? Use the first list of “keys” above and start repeating them to yourself when you wake up or the next time you have a challenge.
Want to be released from your own personal Alcatraz? It is as simple as choosing to enjoy your circumstances, look at the “bright side” and make the best of things.
Want to imprison yourself wherever you go? Take a negative view of your situation, expect the worst-case-scenario and complain to everyone you know about it.
Want to spend a day where you are sure to do some good time? Get out of being “solitary” and join other great people at my Coaching Greatness full-day mentorship. This day is guaranteed to make you a better version of yourself.
• Saturday, March 25, 2017 – Orange County, California
• Saturday, May 6, 2017 – Providence, Rhode Island
• Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Goodyear, Arizona
Alcatraz and the Pride winery were powerful reminders of two important truths: You only have one life and during that life you have the choice to do either good or bad time. The time you decide to serve in life will determine exactly what you get.