by Cyrus Webb
When one talks about change, alot of times they are addressing what we see. For Chicago native Jason Sole change came in the form of everything that he is from the inside out. He is an individual that many had written off or doubted would ever become anything. Because of his faith and hard work, however, he has not only been able to prove them wrong but empower others who might have been in a similar situation or headed down the wrong path.
Our conversation is one that stresses the power that comes from being the change you want to see in the world. Jason Sole is truly an example of change you can believe in, and through his story he hopes hope to individuals who may not realize that their greatest days can still be in front of them.
Thank you, Jason, for taking out the time to share your story with us. I think the first thing I want to share with our readers is the response to your journey. What has surprised you the most about the way people have related to you and your experiences?
I usually receive constructive and destructive criticism. On one hand, people are happy that I have overcome obstacles to become a catalyst for prisoner reentry and gang denunciation but on the other hand, people feel that I should have never received a second chance. I understand that I have made some terrible mistakes but I feel that I can help others learn from my trials and tribulations. At this point in my career, I accept the good and the bad; therefore, nothing really surprises me anymore.
When you look at your life experiences, what would you say has kept you inspired through the tough times?
Inspiration comes in many forms and I believe that my ability to find inspiration through testimonies of others, God, family, and even those who wanted me to fail, has served me well in quest for redemption. I tend to look at the struggles of people before me and remind myself that if they could endure their struggles, I must find the resilience to succeed in the face of adversity as well!
Can you tell us what role your family had in helping you as you confronted different challenges?
My family has always been there for me but they really could not help me confront the different challenges because many of them hadn't encountered them. For instance, after being shot, they didn't understand why I would throw myself back in the trenches to continue to fight. This was inconceivable to them but they expressed their love and care, which I always was able to come back to when the smoke cleared. I love my family dearly but they didn't understand the oppression that comes with being a three-time felon or doing significant amounts of time incarcerated in numerous facilities or what it is like to be deprived housing and employment because of prior mistakes. I have always been able to ask my family for aid and assistance when faced with obstacles.
Jason, there are some people who don't believe that change is possible. What would you say to those who believe where you are from and what you have done defines who you are?
If people do not believe that change is possible, they really have not looked at history. Change is possible even when it is met with resistance. When preparation and opportunity meet, success is the result. I continue to work on my personal and professional development; therefore, when opportunities come, I am always ready to step in and deliver. I am not proud of my past but I have accepted it. My mishaps explain particular periods of my life but the way I was able to go from being looked at as a gangster, prisoner, three-time felon, and outcast to being a great father, husband, national trainer, consultant, PhD Candidate, and instructor at universities does define me.
Not only have you made changes in your own life but you are helping others along the way. Why has this been something that is important to you?
It would be easy to revel in the fact that I have changed but that would be extremely shallow. I am proud of the man that I have grown to be but if I can't help others overcome and make their dreams come to fruition, it would be for nothing. I believe that our life mission is to serve others by making their lives better. Oftentimes, people do not know what they are capable of accomplishing until they see someone else do it. For instance, there are all sorts of myths that claim that people can't leave the gang world without being killed. While this is true in some cases, it is not the norm. By visiting juvenile correctional facilities, schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions, they can ask the tough questions and I can help them navigate through the life's ills.
Our theme for 2011 is a year of new beginnings. What would you say to those reading this that are looking to make changes in their own lives?
I would recommend that they work on nourishing their mind, body, and soul. It is also imperative that we change the people around us that prevent us from reaching our full potential. We have to create circles of people that support us and hold us accountable, even when it feels uncomfortable. Change is always an option if we do the work on a daily basis to make it a reality. It ultimately depends on how bad you want it!
Congratulations again on all that you have accomplished, Jason. How can our readers find out more information about you and the work you do?
The easiest way to find out more information about my work and me is to visit my website (www.jasonsole.com). Thanks for providing the platform for me to help others.