In the realm of motivational speakers and life coaches, few stories are as gripping and transformative as Damon West’s journey from incarceration to inspiration.
In a dimly lit room of a Texas county jail, where the air is thick with uncertainty and fear, a powerful conversation unfolds between two men. One, a seasoned inmate named Muhammad, and the other, a newcomer named Damon West. Little did Damon know, this conversation and the metaphorical lesson he was about to receive would become the catalyst for an extraordinary transformation.
Damon, a former star athlete with dreams of becoming a sports agent, found himself entangled in the grip of addiction that led him down a path of crime and ultimately to a 65-year prison sentence. Facing the daunting reality of life behind bars, Damon sought guidance from those who had walked this treacherous path before him, and embarked on a journey of self-discovery.
“It’s the power inside me. It’s not in the world around me. The guards, the criminal justice system, the inmates … You have have the power inside you to change the world around you.”
– Damon West
Brewing Transformation Behind Bars
Damon began by reflecting on his time in prison, emphasizing the pivotal shift in mindset that helped him navigate the challenges. “I had to figure out how to become a coffee bean,” he explained, referring to the conversation he’d shared with Muhammed. While most substances might be tainted when mixed with water, a coffee bean becomes a change agent, infusing the water to brew a pot of coffee. Instead of yielding to advice that urged him to join a gang and adhere to the prison’s hierarchical norms for survival, Damon embarked on a quest to embody the essence of the coffee bean.
The Daily Grind: Simple Rules for a Positive Life
Damon’s daily routine in prison centered around three fundamental areas: spiritual, mental, and physical. He stressed the importance of focusing on gratitude each morning, believing strongly in the power of a positive mindset and the impact of a simple smile on changing energy.
Unveiling the Secret to Life: Servant Leadership
Inside the confines of prison, Damon stumbled upon what he considers the secret to life – servant leadership. Despite being unable to take college classes, Damon found ways to contribute, teaching fellow inmates to read and write, preparing them for a better future.
Mastering the Art of Control
Life in prison taught Damon a crucial lesson about control. He outlined the four things individuals can control: thoughts, words, feelings, and actions. Stressing the importance of open communication about feelings, Damon advised against suffering in silence. “Your energy is going to attract other energy like yours,” he added.He also acknowledgesthe limitations of personal power and emphasizes the need to tap into spirituality. Surrendering to a higher power allowed him to undergo a significant spiritual awakening inside prison.
“There’s no such thing as an overnight success. The truth is, you’re going to have to put in this work over and over again … It took 5 years for the coffee bean message to really take hold but I stuck with it.”
– Damon West
The Power of Perspective: Recognizing Bad Days
Drawing on his own experiences, Damon spoke about the power of perspective, urging listeners to redefine what constitutes a bad day. “A bad day is when a job is lost, a marriage fails, a bankruptcy happens,” he shared. His perspective on life’s challenges resonated with the idea that most days are not inherently bad; it’s our mindset that shapes our experiences. In fact, Damon made a profound observation: more people are imprisoned by their thoughts and possessions than by physical bars.
Relentless Pursuit: Turning Rejection Into Opportunity
Damon’s post-prison journey involved persistent efforts to share his story with college football programs. Despite facing rejection from seven coaches in one night, Damon’s unwavering determination led him to approach Dabo Swinney, the head coach of Clemson University’s football team. Although not an immediate success, the conversation ultimately propelled him to collegiate-level speaking, beginning with Clemson University just several months after that initial meeting.
Epitome of Transformation: From Coffee Bean to College Campuses
Damon’s journey from prison to college campuses is a testament to the transformative power of perspective, resilience, and servant leadership. His story serves as an inspiration to individuals facing challenges, reminding them that true freedom often begins within the mind.
His narrative is not just about overcoming adversity; it’s about leveraging challenges to become a force for positive change. His story encourages us all to be coffee beans, breaking free from the confines of negativity and embracing the power we have to transform ourselves and, in turn, the world around us.