Who Were You Before Someone Else’s Story Defined You?

Craig Stanland
2 min readJul 20, 2022

My father expected perfection.

As I get older (I’m 49 in a few weeks), memories from childhood come screaming into my head with crystal clear clarity at the most random times.

Things I haven’t thought of since perhaps they occurred.

A significant theme in these flashbacks is perfection:

The expectation of, and my striving for.

A 97 out of 100 wasn’t good enough.

I fell short of my full potential.

More. More. More.

My life was a sprint to perfection, and I was too young to see that I was destroying my inherent wholeness with every footfall toward the elusive perfection.

I thought I was doing what needed to be done to be good enough for my father.

A war I still fight to this day, but as of late, I’m winning more and more battles.

I think about this Charles Bukowski quote,

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

Who were you before someone told you:

“You’re a disappointment.”

“You’re not good enough.”

“You need to be perfect.”

“You’re not creative.”

“You’ll never be…”

The truth is this:

You’re not here to chase the expectations of others or fulfill their unfulfilled dreams for them.

You’re here to be yourself.


I’m a Reinvention Architect & Mindset Coach and I work 1:1 with my clients to help them re-architect the life of their dreams.

My book, “Blank Canvas, How I Reinvented My Life After Prison” is available on Amazon.

In the same vein as The Alchemist, Blank Canvas is a guidebook for living an extraordinary life disguised as a beautiful story.

Only in this case, the story is true.

James Altucher, best-selling author of Skip the Line, Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself had this to say about “Blank Canvas.”

“Craig has lived a story NOBODY would ever want to live. I was riveted to each page because I kept asking myself, “How would I handle this?” and I didn’t know the answers. Craig takes us into hell, and then we ride with him on the journey back. Great story, great writing, great human being.”

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.