I took a short break from my 5-city speaking tour to visit Alcatraz Island, the famous prison in San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz closed in 1963, but I was able to interview one of the last surviving inmates of the prison, who just happened to be there promoting his book. No kidding. Talk about about a tough guy! He was at least 80 years old, but still spoke like a gangster in an Al Capone movie. He talked about how the inmates would look out from the prison across bay and see the bright lights and big city of San Francisco. They could even hear the parties held at the local yacht club. They were trapped in the most secure prison in the world, yet only a mile and a half away was everything they wanted. He said it was psychological torture. It made me think about the thousands of emails I’ve received over the years from people saying the same thing. They knew their dream life was so close they could touch it, but a barrier of some kind kept them from it. The difference is most people don’t know what’s holding them back. It took me several years to identify my barrier, but when I did it changed my life. Do you know yours?  Watch this short video and see what you think. I’ll look forward to your comments.  Steve Siebold  ( 3:31 )

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Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

6 thoughts on “Mental Toughness on Alcatraz”

  1. Dictators, gangsters, hard core anti social individuals may be emotionally and psychologically damaged and immature but they are some of the most mentally touch people in the world.

    One might argue these people are really insecure and hide behind shields but they are mentally tough. People who die for a cause can also be mentally tough. Mentally tough comes in all kinds of guises.

    So are you in the prison or out of the prison? How does the prison define you? How you define or create the prison defines you?

    Being ruthless and cold blooded regardless of how mentally tough is also a limiting and imprisoned condition.

    Knowing what you want is a start toward breaking what’s holding you back. Knowing why you want what you want is another move in the right direction. But looking at the possibility that what you say you want and what you really want may uncover the most important block.

    But even when you think you’ve gotten to the core of understanding does that mean you’ll know what to do next to move forward? And if you do know what to do next will you do it?

    Would it matter if it took you another 20 years to achieve the success you want? If it would then what can you do to speed up the process? Put in more time.

    Spend every waking moment regardless of circumstance in reflection or response to these questions worked into the fabric of your life and answers will come because answers will become your way of life.

    That discipline or artistry is important.

    A simple exercise to do once a day: I am A ambitions. I am B bold. I am C a confident communicator. And so on.

    Repeat out loud A through Z attributes you want to become as if you are already posessed of them – do it every day and also substitute your name for “I am.” Change the words to other positive affirmations.

    If you do that for 30 days your life will begin to change. After 90 days significant changes will occur. A year later you’ll be a new person.


  2. Excellent metaphor Steve! You have given me a new and different way to think about my Alcatraz today. Thank you 🙂

  3. Hi Steve,

    Great blog and so much quality information. A lot of people get blocked in and paralysed by the way they think what is possible, and I was no exception. Once I freed my mind from that prison cell, I started to produce results.


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