John Broman/ Class 5: Self-Improvement Training

by John Broman

126. When you assess your environment, what opportunities for self-improvement can you create or seize?

All my opportunities come out of my own creation. And even that is tried to be taken down by either staff or other inmates who want to know why you’re doing what your doing. And they interrupt you WHEN your doing it.

127. What is your interpretation on the value of self-imposed structure of free time?

I think if you don’t have structure on how you spend your time in here, then this time will break you. I make sure that my day is ALWAYS busy and I don’t have any down time to “come back to prison.” When I’m busy, I’m not in prison.

128. What relationship do your daily activities have to the vision you have for your life upon release?

The activities that I do during the day is what I plan on doing when I get released. Which is teaching yoga and music.

129. Imagine that you were to replicate your activities or use of time yesterday every day or your sentence. If you did, what level of preparation would have to triumph over the obstacles that await you upon your return to society?

Well what i did yesterday was wake up at 6:30 Am and meditated and practiced yoga until 9. Then i went out and ran 5 miles in 33 min. and 20 seconds.(I only have about an hour outside in the morning) Then I came inside and meditated again for another 45 minutes. After that I wrote for a little bit. Then i went down to the band room to practice with my band for a couple hours. I read during count time about Lakota traditions in the sweat lodge. After count I typed on the computer for a story that I’m collaborating on with my friend Seth for his next book. At night a did my job of sweeping up. Then went in the cell and did a little night relaxation yoga session. Then off to sleep. So…did i spend my time good? I’d say I spent it exactly as i needed to spend it to make myself a better person in here and for after I get out.

130. What activities within the prison environment can you pursue that will enhance your strengths?

The activities that will enhance you are more of your own creation. The penitentiary doesn’t offer to much to better yourself. So you have to make your own way to become a better person.

131. What activities within the prison environment would you categorize as a weakness?

Sitting around watching TV, playing cards, using drugs and drinking, gambling. there really are A LOT of ways to lose  your time in here. That’s really how the system is set up.

132. What activities within the prison environment would you perceive as offering opportunities?

The opportunity for you to have the time to make the most of yourself. that and the opportunity to really show yourself what your made of.

133. What activities within the prison environment do you perceive as threatening your prospects for success upon release?

There’s ALWAYS a threat towards your successful release. Gangs, racial tensions, someone having a bad day. The pen is really a place that you need to be aware at all times of what is going on.

134. To what extent do the activities you pursue inside the prison environment contribute to your strengths and opportunities?

The things you pursue in here, good or bad, will follow you throughout your life (prison and outside) You can build bonds or burn bridges. Make the most of y our time or waste your day away. It’s up to you.

135. What steps do you deliberately take to minimize your exposure to weaknesses and threats?

I stay away form as many people as I can. Working out by myself. Staying as far back from “the mix” as I can. Something I’ve learned is it’s ALWAYS your “friends” that get you!

136. Using the SWOT-assessment technique, how would you assess your decision-making process prior to imprisonment?

It was terrible. All I cared about was using and selling drugs. Nothing mattered to me except being able to sell enough to not get dope sick for that day.

137. In what ways can the SWAT-assessment technique guide your decisions as you prepare for success upon release?

It can put into perspective what you need to work on and what to avoid so that you DO make it out the best person you can be that will have a chance to be successful.

138. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant one: low-risk/high-reward?

The type that keep you away from having to interact with other inmates and staff. Working out on you own. Staying away from all the “hustles”. Doing your own thing that keeps you out of the mix.

139. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant two: high-reward/high-risk?

The type that involve work from the outside. Like writing for magazines. Playing with stocks, helping to in some way generate a LEGAL income while still incarcerated.

140. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant three: low-risk/low-reward?

Sitting around watching TV. Playing cards, sleeping all day. Things that won’t get you into trouble, but also won’t get you anywhere towards advancing yourself.

141. What types of activities in prison fall into quadrant four: high-risk/low-reward?

The kind that lead to more time in prison.via a new case or loss of good time. Selling drugs, gambling, stealing. All things that will make you time LONGER and harder.

142. To what extent do your consider risk-reward analysis when assessing activities, interactions, or time allocation in prison?

I’ve been doing (or at least trying) to do my time in quadrant one for years now. Staying to myself as much as possible and doing my own thing. I do have my lapses here and there though that affect me mentally more than anything.

143 What type of self-improvement programs would enhance an individual’s prospects for success upon release?

Anything that will turn you into a better human being! Education classes, exercising, studying different cultures and religions., Learning a new language. Everything is open to you, YOU just have to find it.

144. What thoughts have you given to the type of employment you want to pursue upon release?

I already know that I want to teach yoga and music when I’m out. It’s something I already do in here. (for 5.25 a month) and it’s something I gain a lot of satisfaction from.

145. Define the qualifications necessary for the type of job you want to pursue?

For yoga it’s to become certified (which my sister is going to finance for me when I’m out) For music, just really  to be able to play, teach, and have knowledge.

146. How do your self-improvement programs prepare you for the type of job you want to pursue?

Everyday I practice the things that I’m going to do on the street.

147. What types of self-improvement programs can you pursue independently that will enhance your prospects as a candidate for employment upon release?

All the improvement programs I do ARE independent. If I relied on the BOP, I’d be no where towards where I want to be.

148. In what ways do academic credentials influence an individual’s candidacy for employment?

They will put you on equal footing with others trying to get the job. Although a huge strike is against us because of the criminal record we have.

149. How do prospective employers gauge the value of academic credentials?

Those with academic credentials will more than likely receive employment that pays a higher wage than someone without. Therefore the higher your credentials, the better the job.

150. What types of self-improvement steps trump academic credentials?

A man that is of a higher moral fiber. Someone who can express himself clearly, and be alt to SHOW to others that he has the track record of being successful.

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