This inspiring blog was written by author, Darrell Barnes who spent six years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. After asking God “Why?” instead of losing hope, he set out on a journey of self discovery. This led to Pit to Palace, the Seven Proven Principles of Ultimate Success.

One of the most difficult things for us to do is move away from what is familiar. It is encoded in our DNA for us to stick to “known” territory—family, friends, and even the way we handle finances. But if you are serious about a successful future, whatever your situation, whatever your need, you must stop and make a conscious decision if you desire to change your circumstances. First, you must have such a strong hunger to be released from your pit—whatever it may be—that you will do virtually anything to make change happen. I am a product of the Hip Hop generation and I am proud of this and make no apologies for it. While some have taken it to extremes, Hip Hop is pure. Rap music is a raw, uncut reflection of how young people use spoken words to express themselves. Because of Hip Hop’s authenticity, fakes, imposters, and infiltrators are easily identified.  And once you are labeled as not being real, your credibility is gone. So when speaking to young people, we must be obviously transparent with them or risk being tuned out. The phrase “real talk” means truth. Truth is truth—even when it hurts.


Whatever circumstance you find yourself in that calls for you to break free, you must first take immediate action to remove yourself from the situation. Do not wait until you muster the strength to “get yourself together.” Let’s face it: if you could pull yourself together you would have already done so! Your “pit” is bigger than you are. No person has ever been down deep in a pit and had the ability to see out of it or climb out of it all by themselves. If he had then it was not a pit. At one time or another, we all need help. No successful person reached their place of prominence alone: not Donald Trump, or Bishop T.D. Jakes, not even Oprah. No man is an island. If you want to birth a business or live a life free of drugs, you have to envision yourself in a new situation. You have to move— mentally, physically, and spiritually. Stop hanging out with the old crowd. Enter into a circle of people who live clean, ethical lives and know where they are headed. For example, if you plan to launch an enterprise, spend every possible moment with men or women who own a business, or who are at least like yourself, looking to go into business.

Regardless of where you are in life, if you change your vocabulary you will eventually hear the words your are saying. I speak positive affirmations, or what I now call “faith confessions” to myself:

• “I am a winner, not a looser.”

• “Failure is not an option.”

•”I am successful at whatever I do.”

•”I am a positive influence to those around me.”

•”Everything is getting better every day.”

Even more, quote passages from scripture that declare who I am as a child of God:

• “I am the head and not the tail…above and not beneath” (Deuteronomy 28:13).

• “Greater is He that is in me that he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

• “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

• “My God shall supply all my need according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19).

• “I walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

• “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I ask or think, according to the power that works in me” (Ephesians 3:20).

• “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).

•”The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Slowly, and over time, people will start to act based on what you say, not solely on the words that you speak, but because you are becoming who you say you are —and what God declared you to be. Your attitude will do complete turnaround, and therefore your disposition will be transformed. Regardless of where you are in life, if you change your vocabulary you will eventually hear the words you are saying—and become those words, for good or bad.


There is no way I can know what you are struggling through at this very moment, but I can tell you with assurance that you have the power to change course and to speak things into your life. It’s sad to think that so few are aware that they possess the ability to re-route the course of their journey—not just a little, but drastically. I’ve heard so many men and women complain, “I can’t do that because my momma was a drug addict,” or because, “My daddy ran off and left me.” Believe me when I say it’s time to stop making excuses as to why you cannot be successful.

No matter what stop sign you are stalled at in life, there is always room for redirection or advancement. Most important is to know that you will never arrive at your desired destination until you first decide “there” is where you want to be. At whatever cost—friends, family, or discomfort— there is always a price to pay to get out of your pit. Yes, you will get a little dirt on your hands climbing out, and you will strain your muscles to reach daylight. You may even get your clothes ripped or torn. I can tell you from personal experience the escape will be uncomfortable. If not, you are not moving, growing, or developing. Rarely will you reach your purposed place through ease or comfort.

I leave you with the profound words of a man I admire greatly:

What it takes to be Number 1

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my lifetime and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.

“Every time a football player goes to play his trade he’s got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s O.K. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.

“Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win — to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.

“It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there — to compete, to know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — but to win.

“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.

“I don’t say these things because I believe in the “brute” nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.”

– Vince. Lombardi

Darrell Barnes                                      Millionaire Minded Barnes

“Pit to Palace, 7 Proven Principles for Ultimate Success” is now available on or anywhere fine books are sold.

Also Available on Kindle from Amazon this summer.

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