Anthony Graves demonstrates the value of setting an impossible goal
“I realized that I had to create a thick skin because the whole world has convicted me, sentenced me to death, and called me a murderer, for something that I never even would have dreamed of [doing]. I can’t even begin to explain to you how it lit a fire in me to make me want to prove that you got it wrong about me. I’m going to take all the negative and use it as fuel to prove you wrong because I’m innocent.” — Anthony Graves
We like to think we have some control over our lives.
Life has a way of showing us that we don’t.
It is true, however, that we have always have choices.
But we don’t control life. This became apparent to Anthony Graves when he was arrested on August 22, 1992 for the murder of 45-year-old Bobbie Davis, her 16-year-old daughter, and her 4 grandchildren, ages 4–9.
An innocent man,
with friends who could provide an alibi for his location during the time the murder was committed,
Graves was sure this misunderstanding would be cleared up
and soon he would be released.
Instead, he spent 18 years imprisoned on death row,
and was informed twice that his execution date
had been set by the State of Texas.
After he achieved his impossible goal of total exoneration,
Mr. Graves received $1,457,000 from the State of Texas
as compensation for spending 18 years in prison
for a crime he had nothing to do with.
He used this money to set up the Anthony Graves Foundation to support the Humane Investigation Project (HIP).
HIP investigates inmate claims of innocence.
He uses his resources to make impossible goals happen for other innocent people.
What an inspiration!
When these claims can be substantiated, HIP connects inmates with attorneys who are willing to work for them to obtain justice.
Anthony Graves was committed to obtaining justice for himself, but when he was sentenced to death row his freedom seemed to be an impossible goal.
He was falsely accused.
His alibi was wrongfully suppressed.
Witnesses on his behalf were either ignored or discredited.
His most crucial alibi witness was threatened by prosecutors that if she testified on his behalf she would be indicted on murder charges as well.
There was no money to mount his own investigation.
Where did this man find the strength and the courage to set this impossible goal?
Instead of allowing these horrendous and unthinkable circumstances to weaken him,
he used them to “light a fire” inside himself to prove his innocence.
The willingness to choose an impossible goal comes from the passions that burn deeply within.
It is this passion which allows you
to access the motivation to break through barriers
which arise as you pursue your impossible goal.
Challenges and obstacles, while perhaps temporarily daunting,
are used as gateways into new opportunities for growth.
“By going inside myself, I escaped the smell, the awful toneless grays encircling me, the chill of the steel, the lack of humanity. I learned to be a community of one.” — Anthony Graves
This learning to be a “community of one”
may have saved Mr. Graves’ life
on a level beyond all the efforts that took place
in the external world
which eventually led to his exoneration.
He began writing letters as a way of communicating with the world.
And he chose to read.
At the end of his book Infinite Hope, Mr. Graves provides a list of books which inspired him during his ordeal.
He allowed his thoughts about himself,
and other people
to be transformed through books by Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, all the books of Paulo Coelho, Malcolm X, Harriet Jacobs, Carter G. Woodson, Sidney Poitier, Eldridge Cleaver, Barrack Obama, Richard Wright, and many more.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for any death row inmate
is the isolation of living in solitary confinement.
There is little more confronting
than being forced to attend to one’s own thoughts.
To understand our power to choose our thoughts is perhaps the greatest empowerment available to a human being.
Conversely, there is nothing more disempowering
than to be subject to the awareness of one’s own thoughts
without the awareness
that we can choose
what meaning to make about our circumstances.
“I needed help and to feel the power of being connected to something larger than myself. That was the danger I had sensed from the beginning. Not the physical kind; this was mental. I was balanced on the razor’s edge and it would not take much to push me into not caring about myself anymore. I knew that if that happened I would simply be killed by the state, my life eliminated before I had the chance to grow into a person with something to contribute to the world. I hadn’t had the chance to discover that self yet. I didn’t want to die before I had that chance.” — Anthony Graves
As you embark on the courageous journey toward your impossible goal you too will encounter obstacles.
Are you up for an adventure?
Few of us are forced to take on the kind of obstacles an innocent death row inmate faces . . .
but if you embark on an impossible goal,
at times YOU may feel YOUR obstacles are just insurmountable.
The question is will you commit to finding your way over, around, under or through these barriers?
Or will you let the external world tell you who you are,
and what you can accomplish with your life?
Are you willing to become unstoppable?
Those who accomplish their impossible goal know for sure
that they have become unstoppable because no matter what happens
Ready to Upgrade?
Let your life become the miracle it was always intended to be
by setting an Impossible Goal. How?