If there’s one thing entrepreneur Greg Lindberg is sure of, it’s that his incarceration at Federal Prison Camp (FPC) Montgomery in Alabama was part of the plan of infinite intelligence.
He takes a deep dive into the concept in the fourth chapter of his newly released prison autobiography and leadership guide, 633 Days Inside: Lessons on Life and Leadership.
As somebody who’s experienced the banal, frightening, and life-altering ordeal of prison time, Lindberg admits it can be challenging to find meaning and value in the more unpleasant and mundane moments in life behind bars. In his words, “I know this well.”
He shared a fascinating insight into his very first day being admitted into prison, writing, “A simple way to handle such jarring transitions in your life: Resolve to process the information and accept the information you learn as a necessary part of your life plan.”
Who Is Greg Lindberg?
Greg Lindberg was brought up in a working-class household where his parents taught him that discipline and hard work would pay off.
With $5,000, he started a business in 1991. As a college student, he created a newsletter to provide regulatory compliance information to the home care market.
Lindberg philosophizes that near-death experiences can sometimes make you stronger: His business almost died in 1998. Instead, his cash flow was rebuilt after diversifying his revenue streams.
In 2002, he completed his first major acquisition, for $8 million. In the industry in which he would eventually flourish, this was the Hail Mary that set him on the path to success.
Based on lessons learned from previous turnarounds, his company acquired a health care business, implemented new management, and instilled core values.
A dozen products were launched, and with the success of his businesses and products, Greg Lindberg eventually became a billionaire.
True Adversity — Greg Lindberg’s Very First Day of Incarceration
Greg Lindberg might have experienced adversity beforehand, but the charges against him and his subsequent incarceration were extreme. Lindberg was sentenced to federal prison for honest services wire fraud and bribery. He was later found to have been wrongfully convicted — but not before he spent almost two years in lockup.
Lindberg tells about how he entered the visitor center lounge at Maxwell Air Force Base and told the officer on duty that he was there to report to FPC Montgomery.
Upon taking custody of him, the visitor center officers contacted the camp. His pickup was handled by receiving and discharge.
He was patted down as soon as he was placed in the van. He was asked to sign paperwork stating he would report on the date. Upon returning to the camp, he was issued a mask.
The R&D department placed him in a waiting area. Following this, he was placed in a cell to await intake processing. A few hours passed before he was called out of the cell.
“When you surrender, you are not allowed to keep any clothing, unauthorized medications (even if over the counter), or personal items. You cannot bring in any books with the exception of a Bible,” he wrote in 633 Days Inside. “All unauthorized personal items — including the clothes in which you present — you are given the option to have mailed to your residence via the United States Postal Service at your own expense or simply thrown away in the trash.”
In addition to black boots, Greg was given a uniform of khaki pants and khaki shirts.
He said his feet started to ache in fewer than 10 steps because of the unwieldy footwear. After completing the intake process, he was taken back to the quarantine unit.
Greg then had his prison-issue clothing washed at the laundry department, where he received a bedroll, pillow, towels, and hygiene kit.
He received his admission and orientation handbook and before he was admitted to the general population, he had to go through a two-week incubation period, leaving him plenty of time to sit, think — and be terrified for his life.
The Importance of Adversity
“In very simple terms: challenge yourself, and your body will genetically alter itself to adapt to your new environmental conditions by accessing non-local information,” Lindberg wrote.
He believes his genes expressed themselves completely differently during his 633 days in prison. Instead, their behavior was driven by the hormetic influence of the prison environment.
Ultimately, Greg feels he was better off for fasting, freezing cold showers, and the aggressive physical and mental challenges he endured.
According to Lindberg, as noted in Chapter 4, “All these changes were advantageous adaptations that helped me become stronger — and turn the adversity of prison into an even greater advantage. Quite simply, by failing to challenge yourself with hormetic perturbations (i.e., pain), the weaker you become and the closer to entropy and death you are. Life is syntropy; death is entropy.”
Lindberg expressed the importance of adversity and suffering as a way of ultimately strengthening and not weakening the human condition. And as someone who has experienced (and harnessed) the type of adversity that most don’t, he certainly knows what he’s talking about.
“If the universe is primarily made up of information, then that information is ordered and has a plan,” Lindberg wrote in Chapter 4 of 633 Days Inside: Lessons on Life and Leadership. “That is what information is by definition: an orderly syntropy-bringing force. And that syntropy-creating force is required for our DNA to replicate and thus is creating who we are every femtosecond.”