That’s the title of a recent book authored by Larry Lawton, a notorious jewel thief who spent 11 years in prison but was recently sworn in as an honorary police officer. That’s a first in America.
Since gaining his freedom, Lawton has worked with kids and his Reality Check Program has a 90% success rate for keeping kids out of jail. He’s been featured on a variety of TV shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and details of his work can be found on his website: http://www.lawton911.com/information/about-lawrence-lawton/
This inspiring tale is not a new one. How often those who end up contributing the most have gone through the most. For instance, a reformed drinker is more convincing to struggling alcoholics that a lecturing teetotaler. Lawton tells kids what jail is really like, very different than how it’s portrayed in films, and that’s another common feature in such stories: someone whose been there knows the reality and can expose the illusion.
This underlines how important it is that we pick our role models based on how they have lived their lives, not just on what they say. Experts (based on big talk) are a dime a dozen; they proliferate in every field and often simply aren’t walking their talk. There are relationship experts struggling through their fourth divorce, financial experts going bankrupt, CEO’s whose companies tank, star athletes cheating with steroids, etc.
Lawton has taken the worst part of his life and turned it into a blessing for many. Perhaps he can inspire us to examine our own lives, identify some of the greatest challenges we have successfully overcome, and consider how we might translate that real life experience into guidance for others.