Inspiration Tuesday: How Former Convict Jeff Henderson Transformed His Life…And How You Can Too

What Former Convict Jeff Henderson Teaches Us About TransformationWhat if you were a millionaire by the time you were 19? Sounds great, right?

Sure, but what if you became a millionaire illegally? And because of that, were sentenced to prison for 19 years?

Doesn’t sound so great anymore, right?

Well, that’s the beginning of the story for this month’s Inspiration Tuesday, Jeff Henderson.

But it’s not the end. And that’s why I’m super excited to feature Jeff this month.

Because his story reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (from Drew Barrymoore)…

I’ve always loved butterflies, because they remind us that it’s never too late to transform ourselves.

Jeff may not be a butterfly, but he reminds us of this same thing…that, no matter the age or the odds, we can change ourselves and our lives for the better.

What starts as a broken foundation often ends with bad choices…

Travel back with me about 35 years to South Central Los Angeles, where Jeff Henderson grew up in a poor, single-parent home…

Where he would go to the refrigerator time and time again only to find little there…

Where education and dreams were not emphasized nor even mentioned…

And where the temptation to turn to selling drugs was omnipresent and all-powerful.

Arrested for theft at 15 years old, Jeff went on to sell marijuana and then crack cocaine – making up to $35,000 a week and becoming, by age 21, one of the biggest drug dealers in town.

Until 1988, when he was convicted and sentenced, at 23, to 19 years in prison for drug trafficking and conspiracy.

Sometimes prison can save a life, and it did for Jeff Henderson…

For Jeff, prison was a major wake-up call that, according to him, saved his life.

It’s where he reflected on and took responsibility for the choices he had made. It’s where he discovered education and gained his GED. Where he realized he could be more than a drug dealer.

And, where, perhaps most importantly, he discovered his passion for cooking, after being put on the “pot and pan” detail, and What Former Convict Jeff Henderson Teaches Us About Transformationdecided he wanted to be a chef when he got out of prison − which he did after 10 years.

Working hard to overcome the stigma he faced from being in prison, Jeff landed a dishwasher position. And then a mentor took a chance on him and, four years after leaving prison, Jeff became an executive chef at Ceaser’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Think that’s impressive?

Well, Jeff also went on to become an executive chef at Café Bellagio and several other top restaurants. And he’s hosted two popular shows on The Food Network, authored two books, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show (jealous! :)), Good Morning America and many others. And he’s launched a catering company.

Need to transform your life? Try this…

Are you in a place of transition, whether it’s in one area of your life or all of it? Try this…

:: | Master your mindset.

So many of us walk around not necessarily imprisoned by bars or cells, but by our minds. This is locked-up potential. In prison, Jeff read The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many other papers daily – opening his mind and expanding his beliefs of what he could be. Taking the blinders off, as Jeff says. Using the tools that work for you, master your mindset. Think good thoughts, remind yourself of everything you can and have the potential to be, and make a choice, like Jeff did, to change.

Tweet this –> Master your mindset and you’ll maximize your potential.

What Former Convict Jeff Henderson Teaches Us About Transformation:: | Always have hope.

I think hope is one of the most important things in life – better than sliced bread! Without hope, without the belief that things can get better, that things can change, they won’t…because you won’t even feel like you want to try. Why bother, if you have no hope, right? So, do whatever you have to do to develop and hold out hope. Don’t know what to do? Refresh your memory by re-reading my earlier post on how to find hope when you feel hopeless.

:: | Do the next right thing.

Transformation can feel overwhelming – which is why I heart baby steps. They count! I love what Glennon Doyle Martin said to herself when she was at rock bottom and needed to change her life – “Just do the next right thing in front of me”. That’s all. The next right thing. Just one baby step. And then another. And then another. You may not be at rock bottom, but you can apply this “baby step” formula to any area of your life where you feel change is needed.

Let’s chat! What tips do you have on how to transform one’s life? Share your tips in the comments below, and let’s help make transformation and change less overwhelming and more doable!

To butterflies and transformation,



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