By Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

One thing I love doing in my spare time is volunteering with a prison ministry. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done!

My involvement started in 2009, my first visit to the Maximum Security prison at Lansing Correctional Facility. Gina Hanna, the Executive Director of Beauty for Ashes Reentry, invited me to attend.

I was a little intimidated at first, but the initial anxiety melted away quickly. The guys we met in this Christian-based program seemed to be ordinary guys and were actually pretty nice! The majority are putting forth the effort to learn and grow.

As I’ve come to know some of them, I’ve discovered they’re like a lot of us. Most of them have made some poor decisions, and unlike us (who may have done some crazy, illegal things in our younger years!!), they happened to get caught. These men have made enormous mistakes, but many have chosen to learn from them and are striving to better themselves.

They’ve learned that bad decisions don’t have to define their forever. They can turn away from the path of familiarity to make more positive choices.

Likewise, bad decisions we’ve made for our businesses are there for us to learn from.

Like the guys I’ve met in prison, we have a choice to change direction if things aren’t working, to take the path of doing things a better way.

So, here are some lessons learned on how to recover from mistakes we’ve made.

1. Be Persistent in Learning from Your Mistakes

“Johnny” was a hardcore, mean drug addict. But he made a huge turnaround while in prison, choosing to learn from his mistakes and to become a better person.

It’s not been an easy road for him since his release—he kept relapsing, making the same mistakes over and over again. But he’s continued to learn from them, remaining committed to becoming the man he wants to be.

Now he’s helping guide others who are like his former self, helping steer them away from making similar bad decisions.

Lessons learned: Don’t let multiple bad decisions deter you from achieving your goals. Persistently continue on your path towards success. This will also help inspire those around you.

2. Believe That Things Will Get Better

As a worship leader at my own church, one of my roles is to lead the inmate band whenever I go into the prison. It’s one of my favorite things to do!

“DeAndre” is an amazing drummer I’ve worked with over the years. When he landed in prison, he didn’t allow it to dampen his spirits. He’s always had the mindset that things will get better and he works to improve himself and the lives of those he interacts with on a daily basis.

Lessons learned: Have the mindset that things will get better. This positivity can be so powerful and even contagious — your colleagues and teams can benefit from it as well.

3. Make the Most of Your Situation

“Sam” was imprisoned long-term for an over-prosecuted minor offense. He had every reason to be angry, but he chose the high-road — improving himself through whatever means he could, which ultimately prepared him for his release.

Today, he is thriving since he left prison. He’s reunited with his family, serves as a volunteer in various capacities, and is working full-time at a great job.

Lessons learned: Always look for ways to improve your situation and put those insights into play. This can only help pay dividends in the future.