Archive for June 13th, 2014


starting over

derek king 1

A Report on the First Month of a New Life

by Derek King

I moved from Florida a month ago. I decided to take all that I have been learning in the past 5 years and to apply it to a new geographic area and to establish myself in a new state with new opportunities. Everyone has been very persistent about me leaving Florida, especially after Alex was incarcerated for the second time. Everyone told me how bad Florida is to felons.

After following Dan’s blog and from hearing the status updates from him over the phone I realized a new way that I can help the Redemption Project grow. I can start from nothing and document my growth from the ground up. So with all of my possessions reduced to only enough that could fit in my car with me, I set off on a road trip north to start a new life.

After a few days to recuperate from the long drive, I began getting acquainted with the area by walking around and studying the people going about their daily lives in the community. After the initial orientation, I was ready to look for employment. Fortunately I have the advantage of several solid years of work history this time, so I knew how to present myself to make a powerful first impression to my potential employers. Having worked in a shopping plaza for almost 3 years already I knew that the best thing to do was to find a plaza and focus on building quality relationships with the people working there, rather than putting applications into every possible store around town. First find out who is hiring, then fill out and return the applications as soon as possible.

I found that the focus should not be on trying to get a job. The focus should be on first, letting the employers know that you care about them and respect them. If they know you care about them, then your heart will be there with them. They will know you understand that their successes will be yours, and their struggles will motivate you to pour yourself and your heart into the work you do. If an employer knows you respect them, they can trust you and know you will listen to them. You will follow orders and obey them.  They need people who will do that because they don’t have to be worried or stressed about what you could be doing or have to waste time checking on you or your work. Not only obedience out of duty, but out of loyalty. I am always loyal to those who take a chance and give me the opportunity to show them my potential to do great things the more I can take on my shoulders is less they have to carry and the quicker they can continue to grow. The more they grow the more we all can collectively succeed.

The thing I learned when I was assistant manager at my job in Florida is that the biggest factor with your potential associates at work is that you must be able to fit in and to get alone with them. They would rather have a person who isn’t as qualified for the position but has a great personality rather than one who has the qualifications. In order to make these connections it requires coming in regularly and having conversations with them. My strategy paid off because I had my interview 10 days after I arrived and I worked my first shift a week after that.

My time in prison taught me the power of creating family bonds with the people I work with. We all spend so much time together and if we become a surrogate family to each other then the love and loyalty will be a powerful key to making the business a success. In any situation like that either everyone will be negative and selfish or we can all take care of each other, encourage each other and build each other up. Each one of the people I work with (and every single person ever to have been born) is a unique individual with a unique life. They all have an incredible amount of knowledge, talents, skills, and experiences. Everyone has so much to offer and it is all a matter of how to tap into that potential. By this point I have noticed that a lot of people do not even know the potential they even possess.

Due to some personal issues with the friends I originally was staying with when I first moved to town I had to leave several weeks sooner than I was planning to and I slept in my car in the parking lot where I worked for a few nights. The whole living situation has been a struggle for me due to fear of judgment and lack of knowledge or guidance in how to find a place of my own to live. After work one evening I was hanging out with one of the guys I was working with and I opened up to him about my situation and asked him how he started out living here because he came from another country and started out by himself away form his family and friends. He told me he would ask around and see if any of his friends had an extra room. He also asked me if it was ok with me if he asked some of the people we worked with as well. I told him that would be good; not telling them would be hurting myself because no one will know I am looking for a place if no one tells them.

So once the word got out that I had been sleeping in my car one of my associates at work told me it was ok with her and her boyfriend if I stayed with them. The problem though is that he works at home and they have a little one-bedroom basement apartment. So also another one of my friends from work has allowed me to stay at his place a few nights as well so that my other coworker could still have some privacy with her boyfriend.

It has been such an amazing adventure so far and I have only been here a month. My friends have been helping me navigate on Craigslist to find places close to work for me to live. I’m hoping to be moved in to my new place by the first. Finances are tight right now because they want a deposit by the beginning of next week. Dan has taught me the benefits of a modest personal life, taking only what is necessary for basic survival, and in my case, using the rest to build a better future. As I described it to a friend recently, the money you get from a job is like hot wax. It is formless and malleable. It takes creativity and ingenuity to create a work of art with it. You have to have a clear picture in your mind of what you want to create and it takes the skill of a great artist to take that formless matter and shape it as it cools. So after a month of being here I am a very happy man because I am not defined by my present situation or my past mistakes. I am a unique, original man on the path to his destiny. I feel like I am one of the most blessed people on this earth because no matter what, I keep moving forward and up.

I spent some months out in west Texas with Dan where I climbed quite a few mountains. I began to understand the process and the deeper meaning to the popular metaphors relating to this process. I learned that it takes two major things in order to achieve success. The first thing is an adventurous mentality. I love nature and I love studying everything along the way up to the top. People think that climbing mountains takes training and special equipment, when in reality you walk up most of them like walking up a steady hill. No need for clips, safety harnesses, or any special gear. All you need is a good pair of shoes and plenty of water. The funniest thing to me about climbing a mountain is reaching the top. Ninety-nine percent of mountain climbing is the journey. All you get from reaching the top is a good view and personal sense of accomplishment. And that is the second thing: Once you are at the top it is only a personal experience. No words can adequately describe reaching the top of a mountain, and telling someone about the top takes a matter of 1-2 minutes. The peak isn’t a good story, but the journey is where the greatest adventures and most of the excitement happens.

One of my favorite books is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit is a great example of this. It is not a story about what is it like at the top of the mountain. It is all about a life threatening, adventure filled journey though the land of Middle-Earth to get to the mountain top. And once they achieved this goal, the story had only just begun. I do not know what the future will hold for me but I am welcoming it with open arms and I will continue sharing it with all of you as my future continues to unfold.


Groove of the Day

Listen to John Lennon performing “(Just Like) Starting Over”