…today’s secret…What Adam Solomon taught me.

It was 1969.

Adam Solomon was an inmate in the Ohio State Reformatory doing 10 to 25 for armed robbery. Been there a few years and knew how to get things done in a state prison.

I was just hired as the new high school history teacher inside the OSR walls. I was 22 and a rookie behind bars. Little did I know that this reformatory prison would eventually become the high-profile Shawshank movie prison. Go figure.

I was on fire to teach inmates the ABCs of history. Knew all the history dates, key historical figures, and what events came in what order.

Adam was a student in my first class.

“Yo Davis,” he said. He always started our talk with “Yo Davis.”

“Yo Davis, you suck.”

He continued. “Yo Davis, do you think anybody here gives a rat’s ass about any date other than their parole board date? Do you think anybody here cares what your crap really means?”

And, because of Adam Solomon, I changed my whole approach to teaching history.

Mankind’s existence has always been an imperfect story of imperfect people trying to do better in their imperfect life.

I began telling them imperfect history stories. No dates. No chronological order. Stories about Indians. Slavery. Explorers. Founding Fathers. Civil War battles. Stuff like that.

The secret behind telling imperfect history stories is to sprinkle in some grass root stories where people rise above their imperfection and make a difference.

Adam liked my stories. So did the others.

What Adam Solomon taught me over time was that the Adam Solomons of the world feel they are on the lowest rung of humanity’s ladder. They do not think well of themselves.

The truth is they are imperfect individuals as worthy as any imperfect individual who ever lived, is living, or will live.

Your role in helping your Adam Solomons is to help them embrace their imperfection and begin discovering their true worth. And, while you’re at it, teach them not be afraid.

Okay, I know. Not easy.

And no, I don’t know what happened to Adam Solomon.