We all have moments of truth in our lives. For some, it’s a moment of self-discovery. A time to stay true to ourselves. For others, our moment of truth becomes a turning point, where we choose to transform ourselves into something more. For Will Little, the first moment of truth came when he was sentenced to prison for 3rd degree murder, at a time when his girlfriend was 2 weeks pregnant with his first child. The second came the day he left prison, where he had a choice between staying true to himself or slipping back into his old lifestyle. Here are the 3 things we learned from Will Little on personal transformation, the power of purpose, and how to handle your moment of truth.
“The streets lied to me.” – Will Little
You May Not Control Your Circumstances, But You Always Control Your Response
When Will was sentenced, he chose not to be a victim. “I wanted to become a man, even though I never had an example of a man in my life…My whole mission was to do positive things.” Instead of following the example of the inmates around him, Will determined that he would not be ruled by his environment. ”When I began to transform my life,” Will explained, “I started reading more in prison and educating myself, and I just started thinking differently.” As part of his self-education, Will completed his GED, read books and speeches, studied Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and even studied the dictionary to expand his vocabulary.
The Only Way To Know If You’ve Truly Changed is to be Tested
As Will transformed his character, he focused on controlling his anger in the moment. Will traces his anger issues back to the lack of mentors and role models in his childhood, “My anger came from living in the world and not knowing what to do. I was really alone the whole time during my childhood.” After one key incident in prison, in which he averted a violent altercation with a prison gang leader through a short conversation, Will resolved that he would stop and think more logically in heated moments. But Will points out that “You never really know you’ve changed until you’re tested.” Whether it’s someone cutting us off in traffic or trying to start a fight, it’s in those times that we truly learn about ourselves and our level of self-control.
Once You Have Transformed Yourself, You Can Choose to Never Go Back
Prison conditions have improved to the point where the threat of returning to prison isn’t much of a deterrent for many former inmates. On top of that, with Wall Street getting into the prison business, a whole cottage industry has sprung up in which everyone benefits from overflowing prisons except the inmates. So rather than focusing on rehabilitating inmates, the prison system keeps the gravy train running and inmates often end up right back in prison. Will refused to be a statistic again. “I knew the day I walked out of that prison, and took that last look at the prison walls and the mountains, that I was never coming back. And I would do anything in my means not to come back.”
We all have a purpose, and it’s our job to discover it, then go out and do it. When referring to his second chance at freedom, Will explains, “I had a purpose. Once I discovered that purpose, God knew I would do that…mainly to teach people how to live life, for those who didn’t know how to navigate our way.” Today Will Little is an inspiring example of determination, personal transformation and the power of purpose.
Will Little is a former gang member and convicted murderer turned youth mentor and public speaker. Transforming himself over the course of 10 years in prison, Will became a devout Muslim and a model prisoner. Based in Philadelphia, Will now speaks to businesses and nonprofits such as 1Life Fully Lived while mentoring at-risk youths around the city.