Here’s One Reason Why I’m Grateful I Went to Federal Prison

Craig Stanland
3 min readJan 12, 2023

“Do you wish you were never were arrested by the FBI and that you never went to prison?”

Inevitably this question comes up, whether it be at speaking gigs or podcast interviews.

It’s a valid question and one that, for years, I struggled with.

I wished for a long time that none of it ever happened. I wished I had made different choices; I wished I had listened to my heart when it told me not to commit the fraud.

I wished for a lot of things.

It’s through that wishing that I suffered.

The past can’t be anything other than it is, and wishing it was, no matter how hard I tried, wasn’t going to change it.

Practicing acceptance was the first step in rebuilding and reinventing my life. Every single thing I wished was different was an opportunity to practice acceptance.

Acceptance ended the suffering and opened the door for me to share my story — all with the hope and dream to help one person.

But in the past two years, the answer to that question has evolved.

It’s traveled beyond acceptance, and it’s traveled further than I could have ever imagined.

I receive emails and DMs from strangers that are so deep, so raw, so visceral I experience them like a virtual punch to my gut.

Our shared suffering stares me in the face, and I have no choice but to stare back.

Because I bared my soul, others bare theirs,

“I was planning how I would kill myself until I found your blog post.”

“Your book saved my life.”

“Your TEDx saved my life.”


How does one reconcile that? First, with a tremendous amount of humility.

Second, with an enormous amount of gratitude.

If I wished I had never been arrested and gone to prison, what does it mean for these people? For their families?

What would the ripple effect be?

I don’t believe it’s cliché to say everything happens for a reason; I also believe that reason isn’t handed to…



Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.