Welcome to Troy’s free monthly electronic newsletter, developed for people interested in overcoming adversity, adapting to change and pushing oneself to realize their full potential.
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IN THIS ISSUE
- Feature Article…Never Easy
- Read a letter from a recent client
- My Partnership with DrugTALK…. Finally, an answer to Drug Abuse for our Young People!
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- Download the Pref^ce Chapter of my Book!
- See Troy Speak for FREE!
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“It is not important How we come to the events in our lives, but how we Deal with those events”- Troy
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For the subscribers of Troy’s Times you know that my son had helped me take my first step and I had found new courage to face my fears and begin building momentum, but then something happened that almost stopped me dead in my tracks, literally.
Since I happened to be arrested in Denver, Colorado, I was put on trial 90 miles from the brand new Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colorado. The same complex that at one time held Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Because this new facility was opening up and because they needed bodies, this is where I was sent. And, because I was sent to FCI Florence, I was lucky enough to be situated thirty miles away from home – Colorado Springs. I was just thirty miles from my family, thirty miles from my friends, and thirty miles from the most important people in my life.
Despite all of my problems, my parents had always been supportive of me in the ways that they could. They had intervened and paid for rehabilitation stays several times, forgiven me for stealing from them on countless occasions, and continued to love me even as I wore away at any faith they could have that I would ever do right. But, most importantly, they made the thirty-mile drive and continued to support me while I was going through the roughest years of my life in prison.
This close proximity allowed me frequent visits, almost every weekend. This wasn’t the norm. Ninety percent of the inmates that I was incarcerated with were from different parts of the country – California, New York, Chicago, Texas, spread throughout the United States. My family’s proximity was a blessing to me, but it almost turned into a curse.
Within the Federal prison system, gangs run the institutions. As the gangs go, so goes the prison. The Aryan Brotherhood, the Mexican Mafia, the Bloods, the Crips – they dictate what happens behind the walls of many Federal prisons. When some of these gang members discovered the frequency of my visits I was approached by three of them and was told that I was going to smuggle drugs into the institution, through the visiting room, using my family and my friends as mules or they were going to kill me.
Each was carrying a shank which is basically a weapon made out of everyday objects found in a prison or, as I like to refer to them, the best and brightest products of prison ingenuity. The first guy is carrying a toothbrush. Yes indeed, I said a toothbrush. The difference between this toothbrush and the everyday toothbrush we all use each morning is that this toothbrush has one end filed to a very sharp point and the other wrapped in duct tape to resemble a handle. The second one is carrying a pork chop bone. Once again, yes you read correctly, a pork chop bone. They take the long end of the bone and again they grind it down on the concrete to a very fine point and use the large portion of the bone as a handle that fits nicely in the palm of the hand. This tool is most effective from behind when stuck in the artery of the neck. The third guy is carrying a 16- penny nail driven through a six-inch piece of a broom handle. These are the tools by which they take each other’s lives in prison. They were serious. They didn’t care that this could mean more time for me, or incarceration for my family and/or friends if we were caught. I was given a choice…if you could call it that.
As they enter my cell and make their demands, I’m terrified. My first reaction is that I will do anything they say, I want to live. I started to go over my family members in my head to estimate if I had any collateral left with any of them anymore. But as they gave me their ultimatum and I began picturing the faces of my loved ones something much stronger than fear came over me. I saw the love that was always hidden in my parents’ eyes no matter how much I had wronged them. I saw my sister’s face, always ready to stand by her big brother’s side. I saw the face of my son and remembered how he was committed to me regardless of where I was. I thought about the commitment I made to them to turn my life around, and how it had always been my family that was sacrificed in the past. I thought about how I wanted to be that person that my son saw me to be and that my family was hoping I’d be. And, I remembered something that my dad always used to say. A saying which I lost track of during my teens and early 20’s, but came back to me in that moment. What my dad used to say was this, “Anything in this life which is really worthwhile, which is REALLY worthwhile, is never easy.”
Then it struck me. I had been willing to forfeit my life on countless occasions in order to do nothing more than maintain a high. Every time I walked into a bank, went to buy drugs, partied to the point where I literally blacked out entire days of my life. That was the easy path. After all, my life had no meaning or worth to me then. Whether it ended by drugs or a bullet didn’t matter. If I had been willing to die all of those times for nothing, wasn’t it time that I put my life on the line when it actually meant EVERYTHING? Truth be told, was there ever going to be a more appropriate time to make a stand – to save my family, to save my future, to save myself?
All my life I had always taken the easy road. The easy road is the road of drug use. The easy road is a road of lying, cheating and stealing. Anybody can do these things, it takes no type of special person to do them; anyone can take this easy road. The more difficult road is a road of self-respect, a road of believing in you. It’s a road of often standing to one side and feeling alone when it seems that everyone else is heading in a different direction or passing you by, but knowing in your head and in your heart that what you are doing is the right thing.
Peer pressure was the number one driving force in my becoming involved with drugs and in heading down the wrong path as a teenager. Everyone wants to be liked, everyone wants to be accepted. It was easier to go along with the pressure rather than stand alone against it. In prison that pressure is magnified one hundred fold. In prison, not fitting in could cost you your life.
For fourteen years I had taken the easy road. This was my time to make a stand. I would choose my family over myself. I would choose my integrity before asking my family to bail me out again. I would choose to be true to the goal of becoming the person I wanted to be. I would choose death before I would ever utter that request.
What happened next? I was saved. The jingle of keys came to us from down the corridor; a guard was on the way. When the gang members heard that jingle, that sweet, wonderful jingle, they took their shanks and tossed them under my mattress. You’re only allowed to have two inmates in a cell at any one time so the guard sticks his head in and says, “Evans, what are these guys doing in your cell?” I tell the guard, “They’re not doing anything, we’re just kickin’ it, they’re not doing anything at all.”
He ordered them out of the cell, and five minutes later I gathered up their shanks and one at a time took them back to their owners, explaining that they had forgotten something. They never bothered me again. Whether it was because I didn’t tell the guard what they were doing in my cell that afternoon, or whether it was the fact that they could see in my eyes that I was no longer going to take that easy road and they were going to have to do the job they set out to do, they never bothered me again.
I felt like I was rewarded for that decision. I felt as though it was the decision itself that had saved me. I had proven to myself that I was finally ready to put others ahead of myself. But above that, I had chosen myself, as I wanted to be, over the self that I had been. That was no longer good enough for me. Up to this point, I had talked the talk, and now, in one giant stride, a leap of epic proportions when you considered my past, I had taken my first step in walking the walk. I was ready to claim my integrity, cease making excuses, and quit taking advantage of my family’s love for the sake of my own survival.
The decision that I made that day in the cell was a momentous victory, but it was a private victory. It was not something that I could share with my family. For one thing, I would not want to scare them by recounting it, but more importantly, to tell them that I had made such a significant change in my paradigm would have been lost in the static of a million promises made throughout the years. During my drug use, I had promised my family and myself time and again that I was going to clean up my act. I told them that I had seen the error of my ways, would never hurt them again and that things would be different. Then of course, I broke those promises just as soon as I could get my first fix. If there was one thing I knew, I would never win back their faith through words. My words no longer meant a thing to them. I would have to build up a pile of actions that was twice as high as the mountain of heartbreak that I had delivered before so that they would be able to draw their own conclusions.
So that’s what I did. I never settled for less than absolute integrity from that moment on. I set only the highest goals for myself and accepted nothing less. I etched my word in stone and vowed never to take it lightly again. I was a new Troy and this one was worth dying for.
My conversion to my new self took on a whole new momentum. I promised to be the model prisoner and make my time spent useful. I vowed to be the one prisoner that went an entire year without being written up even once – not for failing to make my bed, not for being late for work. There wasn’t a single part of my life, or a decision made that wasn’t held to absolute scrutiny. At first, it took a conscious effort, but after a while, it was more me than my former self. Better yet, every time I chose the harder path, but the right path, the path of integrity, I was rewarded for it. The other prisoners left me alone, the guards gave me a bit more slack and, in the long run, I became the first, and as far as I know only, prisoner to make it seven and a half years without ever being written up for a single infraction.
I had ventured into the unknown, denounced the easy path for good, and I was rewarded for it.
The decision between taking the easy road and staying true to myself was a choice that I had to make daily. I suspect that this is the case in many of our lives. The choice is not always as drastic as life and death, but is as simple as choosing an excuse over what you know is right for you. Everyday events can be interwoven with conscious or unconscious decisions and actions that lead us down the easier path. Many people suffer from addictions, abusive relationships, overeating, lack of exercise, overworking. The list goes on and on. These “prisons within ourselves” are just as confining as the steel bars and razor wire that kept me locked up.
Is that the life you want to live?
When I was addicted to drugs, I was willing to exchange my life in a single moment for the prospect of the easy release of a high. While that may seem extreme, every day, many of us forfeit a small part of who we are because we are unwilling to look ourselves in the face with the clarity that we deserve. We can imagine the life that we would like to have and make endless promises to try to pursue it, but in the end, we chose to trudge through yet another day without moving toward our goals, choosing the sweet relief of our excuses, rather than the more difficult road of action. We hang on to the lies that we tell ourselves and others with a ferocious grip because the alternative means doing something that is new, hard, unknown. If that sounds familiar, you are locked within your own prison, serving dead time just as surely as I was. My sentence was seven and a half years. How long has yours been? How much longer are you willing to settle for it?
In past articles, I talked about finding your pivotal moment. But the truth is, your pivotal moments can come and go in a flash if you do not take action. I have also talked about embracing change, but the reality is that this is much more than just a decision. It is not enough to wake up one morning and say that you are going to change your life forever because the next morning, you may have lost some of your enthusiasm and your old easy ways will beckon. Changing who you are is not a promise that you make to yourself one day. It is a series of actions that you will choose every day for the rest of your life. Some days it will be easy and some days it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. In the end, it is your actions that determine how valid your word is and what it means to you.
How many promises have you broken to yourself and others over the years? I am asking you right now to assess what level of integrity you live your every day life with.
I have the distinct perspective of knowing exactly what it feels like to have had no integrity. I know what it means to go through life without a single person, not even my own parents, believing a single word that came out of my mouth. They were absolutely right not to. The advantage I have as I live my life today, is in knowing exactly how precious my “word” is as well as the actions that back it up. Not just my word to others, but also my word to myself.
Have you ever met one of those people who is never on time? Maybe it’s a close friend. (If it’s you, pay attention.) They’re the person that everyone lies to about what time events will start because that is the only way that you can get them there on time at least part of the time. They probably think it is a great joke, or maybe they play the constant victim saying, “I just can’t help it.” Do you believe them when they say they will be somewhere on time? Do you feel like you can count on that person at all when it is truly important?
Many of us go through life breaking our word in little ways through our actions never really assessing the damage that we are doing to ourselves and those around us. We play fast and loose with responsibility and integrity and never really see the ramifications. In fact, you may be saying to yourself that you have the highest integrity and you can always be counted on. But, I’ll ask you this question. Can you count on yourself?
How many times have you said that you wanted to change something about your life, made a resolution to do so and then abandoned it within weeks, days, or even hours because it got hard? If you’re like many of us, it has happened more than you care to admit. The problem is that each time we do that, it supports a belief system in our own heads that no matter how strong the promise we make to ourselves, 1) we’re not going to keep it anyway; and 2) it’s just not that important (or at least that’s how we make it ok with the excuses). Soon enough, promises just become random sentences that fall from our lips.
The fact of the matter is, when you don’t back your words and promises up with actions and steel them with absolute determination, they mean nothing. It’s not the word, but the action that is the key ingredient to becoming the person that you want to be. You have to go beyond talking the talk and start walking the walk, putting one foot in front of the other no matter how hard the path gets along the way. It’s like my Dad said, “Anything in this life which is really worthwhile, which is REALLY worthwhile, is never easy.”
Find your hope, embrace change, but know that you will have to follow it up with determination and action. Determination to be true to yourself as you want to be. Determination to hold that value of yourself high enough to make any price worth it. If you can find that determination, you will win by having just made the decision. You’ll gain the pride that makes the first pound you lose sweeter than the cookies you gave up for it; the self worth that makes the first day you spend without fear of being beaten feel safer than having the possessions you left behind; the integrity that makes the first day of sobriety with your family more intoxicating than an evening of drinking alone. Your actions will help you overcome years of broken promises to yourself and you will find that you have a new relationship with your word and that you can truly accomplish anything that you put your mind to. You will have given yourself the key to your prison and you will no longer be afraid of taking the more difficult road, that road of self-respect, the road to a brighter future, the road to the life you want to live.
Read a letter from a recent client – Click hear to read!
I am approached hundreds of times a year either immediately following one of my keynote speeches or through my website by p^rents, aunts, uncles, brother and sisters who are concerned about a young person in their lives who is either using drugs or is about to enter that age where drugs will become accessible.
I often had a hopeless feeling knowing that all I could offer were words of encouragement and support and the sharing of my own downfall….that was until I became partners with a company called DrugTALK.
DrugTALK is a v1rtual life coach dedicated to helping families, parents and young people overcome the threat and dangers of drugs through the privacy of their home. They do this by delivering the insight, tools and activities needed for parents to protect their children by putting vital protection principles into practice, often without parents even realizing it.
Their programs and tools are based on decades of research and supported by a dynamic team of communication experts, family intervention specialists, treatment professionals, narcotics intelligence officers, life coaches, parents and—most importantly—teens who have faced the world of drugs first-hand.
The CEO of DrugTALK happened to attend one of my speaking engagements and after talking I skeptically took one of his Drug Reference Guides and a DVD. Having lived through the hell of drug abuse I had my whole adult life been conv1nced that nothing short of expensive in-patient treatment centers could break the hold that drugs have on our young people. After thoroughly studying what DrugTalk has to offer I was blown away- I can honestly say that h^d these tools been available to me during my teenage years that I most likely would have avoided the hell I put myself and family through.
I have agreed to partner with DrugTalk and encourage anyone who knows of an individual that is either us1ng drugs or is reaching that critical age where drugs c^n be a lure to visit their site at www.drugtalk.orgPlease also pass this on to anyone who may benefit from this unique program.
One of the stipulations I made in agreeing to partner with DrugTALK was that they needed to make what they offer afford^ble to anyone- drug use does not discriminate by class and it is important to me that these tools are available to anyone… therefore if you enter the promotional code TEG123 when ordering you will receive a 10% discount. This d1scount is only offered to those who I refer to DrugTALK.
Thanks as always for your time and let us as a community and nation finally make a dent in this plague that effects us all.
” From Desper^tion to Dedication: Lessons You Can Bank On”…Click here to order
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- An article in which I am fe^tured this past month-Click Here!
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About the Author- Troy Evans is a professional speaker and author who resides in Phoenix, AZ with his wife Pam and his dog Archibald. Troy travels the country delivering keynote presentations, and since his release from prison has taken the corporate and association pl^tforms by storm. Overcoming adversity, adapting to change and pushing yourself to realize your full potential- other speaker’s talk about these issues, Troy has walked them.
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