Phillip Jamison/ Class 4: Life Management Skills

by Phillip Jamison

105. How would you define your life management skills?

I define life management skills as an individual managing to progress adequately towards positive change and self improvement, especially under difficult circumstances.  Only I have the authoritative control and ability over myself to accelerate my life management skills.  Life management skills, goals and values together make the perfect team and should always work together as one.  As I continuously progress to follow positive values as well as actively progressing towards achieving my goals throughout my coarse of imprisonment.  Then continue to seek out new ways on advancing my personal growth and behavior.  This will result in strengthening the integrity of my life management skills.

106. What types of decisions influence how you will emerge from prison?

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass on by; it’s about learning how to go out and dance in the rain.” –Vivian Greene

From the moment I step into prison, up until the moment I leave the gates.  The choices that I make will have a direct reflection upon my future after release.  I should always veer more towards the positive over the negative.  Some men make the decision to finding ways on killing a little time by playing cards, gambling their prison funds away or doing absolutely nothing valuable with their time.  And than some choose to affiliate with gang activity and try to control the lives of other men.  Although this may be true, he who controls other may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.  If your only goal is to simply kill a little time, you may be murdering opportunity.  Making the right decisions such as seeking out and discovering new ways on how to better myself as a person and as a modeled citizen is a wiser means of how I could spend my time.  If my dreams and goals are to return back to the community a stronger and more valued individual.  I’ll have to become what I want to see.  In addition, as I progress further through incarceration.  I need to always address every issue and situation with a clear and open mind.  The clarity of my decisions need to be addressed on how it will effect me short-term and long-term.  Like Isaac Newton’s Law of Motion “for every action, there’s an equal or opposite reaction.

“The secret of many a mans success in the world resides in his insight into the moods of men and his tact in dealing with them.” — J.G. Holland 1819-1881

In prison, the probability of conflicts occurring are extremely high.  First and for most, never put yourself into a situation where you maybe be venerable for an attack.  In addition, don’t seek to be the one who stands out and shines over everyone else.  In prison, people love throwing rocks at things that shine…  If you can sense the possibility that a conflict may occur, leave the general area.  However, if you find yourself with in the mist of a conflict with a fellow prisoner, first try to make your peace through words or simply walk away… But don’t expose your back.  Even in prison, this tactic works…

107. In what ways does your daily schedule determine your potential for success upon release?

Having a well structured daily schedule will play a potential role in my success upon release.  By continuously demonstrating the quality and characteristics of self-discipline by waking up at a respectful time and meeting all of the demands and requirements of my job.  In addition to following the guidelines of the prison system.  This type of positive behavior comes a habit.  This will eventually become part of my character.  Upon my release, my actions will follow me back into the community.  Therefore, this benefits me in having a more successful transition back into the community.

108. How do personal relationships influence our prospects for success?

Having personal relationships with others can play a potential role in my success.  While people on the outside show their compassion in supporting me through incarceration.  And continually show caring and willingness to aid me in my needs through the harshest moments of my life.  It will always benefit me more in gaining success.  Although I am fortunate to have such powerful relationships with people on the outside.  I need to make it a point in not fully relying on them for all of my needs, especially as I transition back into the public.  In any given situation, the regulations of probation could change.  I may no longer be allowed to gain employment with a family member or friend who owns a business, nor be granted permission to reside with family members or friends.  So I need to create a firm plan of action on my own.  I need to be fully capable of pulling myself through my own sentencing and emerge from imprisonment on my own.  I need to gain my own employment as well as my own stability.  My only journey is the journey within myself…

109. How can we cultivate and nurture personal relationships that may prove helpful through our prison journey and beyond?

As I progress through incarceration one week at a time.  I have always made it a point and a goal to show gratitude to the individuals who have stuck with me and supported me throughout my days of adversity.  I believe, by showing gratitude and appreciation, it will always promote a relationship and allow it to grow fonder.  I would demonstrate my appreciation whether I’m on the telephone, sending an email or writing a letter.  It almost sounds to simple to feel important, but one word… gratitude can change ones attitude, thus, their life, forever.  Another way I cultivate and nurture my relationships is by staying connected with them.  By staying connected, not only does it increase my moral, but it gives them peace of mind, knowing that I’m safe.  At the same token, it keeps my heart and mind at ease as well.  In life, helping someone up, won’t ever pull you down and the people who have stuck with me throughout my days of adversity have strongly demonstrated this meaning.  In addition, having strong relationships throughout my days of imprisonment has given me something positive to do when I’m writing a letter to them, drawing them a portrait or simply just thinking about them and also gives me hope.  It is said, that there are three grand essentials to happiness in life and they are something to do, someone or something to love and something to hope for…

110. In what ways did Michael’s decisions at the beginning of his term lead to the opportunities that opened for him through the decades he served?

Michael’s earliest decisions through incarceration had a very positive impact on his future.  As he made the decision and goal to avoid all of the unnecessary behavior that’s come with the prison lifestyle as well as putting himself in venerable situations where he may be forced to defend himself.  He has avoided the exposure to all of the negative set backs that may have had a damaging impact on his future in prison as well as beyond his imprisonment.  Than by creating values that have helped him safely and successfully navigate his way through prison.  This later resulted in new opportunities arising for him.  Whether Michael was given such a lengthy sentencing.  He knew that he he had to make a change with in himself and would not allow the reality of imprisonment to consume his spirit.  Through his own initiative and committed discipline.  He continued to seek out and discover new ways on achieving personal growth.  In addition, he’s dedicated his time in becoming more educated.  Not only on how the prisons internal and administrative system operates, but academically as well.  Although Michael has had to face the adversity of his past actions, which resulted in a double digit sentencing.  It’s not the adversity, but how he has reacted to it that determined the outcome of his life.  During his toughest times, instead of feeling sorry for himself, he went out and discovered how he could triumph over imprisonment and prepare his life for release.

111. In what ways have the decisions you made from the day of your arrest influenced your life today?

Since the day of my arrest.  I made the decision that I needed to make changes with my life, for I have greatly compromised my future, and destroyed my military career.  In addition, I’ve abandoned my family by carrying out with my criminal acts, which later resulted in a federal prison sentencing.  I’ve decided that while I’m a federal prisoner, I will not allow myself to affiliate with any negative peers, nor will I demonstrate poor behavior or bad habit’s other prisoners here follow.  I’ve also made it a goal to avoid the area’s where these behaviors occur.  By putting myself amongst the Mako sharks, I will make myself venerable to a bit.  However, by avoiding them and only follow my goals and values.  This will allow me to have a safer and more successful journey through imprisonment.  Now today, as I’m inputting my responses.  I can honesty state that I’m am proud to have made those choices.  By following my values and continue to remain aware of my actions and surroundings.  Other prisoners have perceived me to be a peaceful and respectful individual.  Therefore, I receive the same respect in return.  Since I’ve been a prisoner, I have made it a goal to follow the five steps in the acquisition of wisdom.  The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the forth practice, the fifth teaching others…

112. How would you compare and contrast the initial adjustment decisions of two prisoners who offered their profiles?

I consider my self to be a very analytical person, for I’ve always been one to watch and observe the actions and behavior of other people.  Especially in stressful situations.  This particular trait came about and grew with in my military career and has followed me since then.  So I’ll be comparing my initial prison adjustment to two individuals who checked into prison around the same time frame as I did.  The first one is a 41 year old man named Johnny Y.  Mr. Y’s currently serving a second prison term for the illegal cultivation of marijuana.  He was given a 24 month sentence.  We both checked into Lompoc Prison on the exact same day and agreed that we would look out for one another.  In addition, we both shared the same beliefs on how we were going to tackle imprisonment.  We agreed that we would find or create ways on killing time, whether it was playing Checkers, playing Pinochle or simply watching TV all day.  We didn’t care about anything else, except for getting through our sentencing without any issues.  Till this very day, Mr. Y is still continuing to follow the same beliefs and methods on getting through incarceration.  However, I’ve noticed a major change of his overall behavior.  He now holds a negative outlook towards life and blames everyone for the poor decisions he’s made throughout his life.  He is very disgruntled and hasn’t set any goals for himself.


Another gentleman I’ve observed is a man who checked in a month after I did, whose exactly the same age and is serving the same amount of time I am.  His name is Mike V. aka Toka (Toe-Kah).  I gave him the name Toka from the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because the mans 5’10, 210 lbs. has a huge neck and bench presses 400 lbs.  Toka is currently serving his first prison sentencing for the trafficking of Marijuana.  I first met him on the running track where I took notice of him standing alone, absorbing the sunrays.  I felt the need to get to know him, for he was the new guy and nobody cared.  We later became exercise partners, however, we both had to go our separate ways due to my transitioning to the North camp for the Residential Drug Addiction Program.  Over the coarse of our incarceration, I would occasionally run into Toka at the other camp on my Commissary dates and noticed a change with in his attitude and physical appearance.  He’s become extremely disgruntled and has gain a large amount of weight and is now obese.  He portrays the personality and behavior of a young, naive teenage boy and doesn’t follow any goals, or values.

With in my first month of incarceration, I encountered an individual who introduced me to the Straight-A-Guide.  This than became a personal goal of mine to progress forward in learning from the SAG as well as the completion of it.  It now guides me through my imprisonment and supports me in making the proper investment decisions for myself.  My attitude and beliefs had gone off in two separate directions from Mr. Y and Toka.  I’ve continued to maintain a positive and optimistic attitude.  In addition, I’ve demonstrated great behavior, even though I’m having to face adversity head on.  Furthermore, I’ve let go of the attitude and behavior of simply just finding ways to kill a little time, for it won’t do me any good and it would be unwise to follow… and no man was ever wise by chance.

113. In what ways does your prison adjustment compare or contrast with the individuals profiled?

Since the beginning of my imprisonment, I’ve committed myself to positive change.  Unlike Mr. Johnny Y. I wasn’t going to sit and wait for the storm of imprisonment to pass on by.  I wanted to go out and learn how to dance in the rain.  Although Toka was a great fitness partner.  My adjustment to prison has been more successful, for I follow proper nutrition and a well discipline exercise curriculum.  Most of all, I have dedicated my time in preparing for a successful release.  The quality of a persons life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence.

114. In what ways does your prison adjustment compare or contrast with the type of career trajectory That Greg Reyes or some of the other successful businessmen described?

Mr. Greg Reyes and I, both hold separate career goals.  However, our beliefs in how we’ve chosen to face adversity, rather than ignore it are very much the same.  Our empowering attitude has led to deliberate decisions in accordance with our principled plans of our future.  In addition, we’ve both made the deliberate choices, to face our struggles with courage, pulling our strength from with in to forge a passionate result in the end.  Just like Mr. Reyes, I myself made the strategic decision to serve time in incarceration rather than remaining free on bond, awaiting the possibilities for a greater outcome of my case to arise.  The wait alone separated me from my family and the cost of court and attorney fees nearly bankrupted me.  There’s no man out there who wants to serve a prison sentencing, however, the ones who conquer over imprisonment do so, for it strengthens and cultivates their inner spirit.  Furthermore, not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

115. What steps can you take in the time that spans between now and your release date to prepare for a law-abiding, fulfilling life?

One large step I’ve taken since I’ve been a prisoner here at Lompoc was gaining approval to participate in the Residential Drug Addiction Program (R.D.A.P.).  Since I’ve been a member of R.D.A.P.  I’ve been able to address my issues from the past and release my inner flaws and failures to my fellow group members and Drug Treatment Specialist.  By the surrendering of my pride and letting go of my past failures and unaccomplished goals.  I’ve discovered a broad variety of blind spots I have with in my character and behavior that led me to make the irrational decisions, which led me to imprisonment.  I’ve also made the discovery of many surprises and serendipity with in myself pertaining to my talents and character as I’ve progressed further in my recovery.  One of the special talents are my methods of verbal communication and wording.  This has helped in giving other members in my group the proper constructive feedback needed to progress forward in living drug free lives.  I’ve always aim to present meaningful feedback with strong clarity and greater understanding.  As we progress forward in learning more about our inner struggles and blind spots.  We can now focus on exercising our abilities to eliminate our flaws and setting our sights on strengthening our inner selves.  This will help in guiding us to prepare for a law-abiding, fulfilling life.

I’ve also taken action on strengthening the discipline of my adjustment to prison as well as my physical fitness, and the nurturing of my family relationships.  Other steps I’ve taken are keeping a weekly track record of my performance through imprisonment.  This later becomes the evidence of my uprising through imprisonment that shows how I’ve chosen to spend my time through imprisonment.  It will also show others that when one makes a mistake, they shouldn’t look back on it long.  Take the reason of the thing into your mind, and than look forward.  Mistakes are lessons of wisdom.  The past cannot be changed and the future is yet in their power.

116. In what ways are your interactions with others in prison and beyond purposeful?

The association with various types of peers may have a positive or negative impact on my future prior or beyond release.  By interacting with negative peers, while in prison.  This may result in following the same poor behavior and bad intentions as they do.  Negative peers often fail to follow values, nor hold a positive attitude towards stressful situations.  In addition, they lack resiliency and have limitations to their stress, easily breaking under pressure.  Once you’ve allowed yourself to associate with them.  They’ll often try to hold you, keeping you with in their grasp.  Like a barrel full of crabs, one crab try’s crawling out and the rest pull it back in.  Through time, the interaction with individuals of this poor nature may prevent me from making the correct choices in planning for a more successful release, later, resulting in a relapse beyond imprisonment.  Although this is a high possibility, if I make it a point not to accompany negative peers.  This type of misery won’t accompany, for misery loves company.  I’ve made it a goal to surround myself with positive peers and positive influence.  Peers who are educated, follow strong values and ethics, and are goal oriented.  Individuals of this caliber ideally find or create methods on pressing through adversity with the goal and mind set on conquering through it, to gain strength from it.  They also hold a strong and profound optimistic attitude towards heightened stressful situations and often show resiliency when these times arise resulting in becoming stronger, hardy individuals.  By keeping with in the presence of positive people and absorb their knowledge and positive energy.  This will later pave a positive road to my success in the future that has no limits.  Furthermore, on the road of life beyond prison, the only limits in my life are the ones I set for myself.

117. How do your interactions with others relate to the individual you aspire to become?

The individuals whom I’ve chosen to interact with were all once successful businessmen prior to their incarceration.  Although they’ve been forced to face the hard end of a federal sentencing.  They’ve consistently remain positive, well discipline individuals.  In addition, they create goals and challenges to fulfill throughout their course of imprisonment.  Like my bunkmate Mr. Randy Falkner, who has made it a goal to run 20+ miles every Friday.  Even though he is approaching the age of 60 years old, he always hits his goal.  Mr. Falkner is also an experienced writer and has published several books throughout his prison term.  Another unique goal he follows is the continuous completion of crossword puzzles.  These arithmetic, perplexed, periphrastic puzzles can sharpen an individuals thinking as well as strengthen their knowledge.  By interacting with a prisoner such as Mr. Falkner.  I’ll absorb his knowledge and brilliant idea’s, while learning new things as I progress forward in becoming the individual I aspire to be.  For this reason, the ability to convert ideas to things is the secret to outwards success.

118. What types of activities, interests, and discussions motivate or inspire your closest acquaintances?

My closest acquaintances are prisoners who are prior military service men or martial artists.  Regardless of the fact that we all made the poor irrational decision that led us to federal prison or even once faced toxic shame.  While in the mist of incarceration, we still follow self-discipline, integrity and courage over adversity.  We also share the same goals and have the mind set to leave prison to become successful and avoid all possibilities of a relapse.  Occasionally we’ll discuss our future plans and share our ideas on how we’re going to become the individuals we inspire to be.  Other then my inner prison acquaintances.  My greatest inspiration I inspire to be like is my father.  Whether my father has gone through adverse stages in his life, he always remains a positive and profoundly optimistic about the outcome.  He is also a highly successful businessman and worked to the peak of his accomplishments by following self-discipline, perseverance and commitment.  My father has always been true to his family and true to his friends…  and truth is a torch that can always shine through the fog without dispelling it.  He’s been true to his work, his word and his children.

119. In what ways will the relationships you cultivate help or hinder your aspirations?

Relationships I choose to cultivate are with individuals who share the same thoughts and beliefs as I.  Back in the community, I have close friend named Nathan Owen who I’ve trained with in martial arts for the past 2 decades.  Together we began discussing a plan on how we could open our own martial arts training center.  Since we’ve never owned a business of any sort.  We knew that we would have to start small.  So we acquired a private space at our local solitary gym in order to build our clientele.  By utilizing various marketing strategies, we gained 33 students with in a two month course.  Had I not cultivated a friendship with Mr. Owen.  I never would have been able to own and operate a martial arts training center on my own.  Other relation ships I cultivate will help in the growth of our business.

120. If Red had a stable job with opportunities for growth, what do you suppose would have tempted him to revert to crime?

In reference to the book “Triumph”, Red had solid work ethics.  He demonstrated alertness and was always prepared to work everyday.  He had the virtues that recommended him as a great future job candidate for employment with Mr. Lee (a very successful CEO of the Golden State Lumber who also served a 16 month federal sentencing.)  In addition, according to a Mr. Nobman, Red perceived to be a highly disciplined worker and was a man who could advance as far as ambition would carry him.  However, as Red was released from serving a double digit sentencing.  The power of influence, from the affiliation with negative peers led Red to make poor irrational decisions while on release, leading him to an arrest.  This action could have been prevented if Red created a solid structure and foundation of values throughout his prison term.  This would have resulted in Red challenging his irrational thoughts and beliefs, resulting in making greater investment decisions, while avoiding a relapse in criminal behavior.  “A man has to become what he want’s to see.”

121. In what ways could a prisoner manage his life to persuade prospective employers that he lives by different values from men like Red?

This first begins with an individual taking responsibility and accountability for their actions.  This shows that a man holds regret for his past criminal behavior and wants to change.  He also needs to document his experience through imprisonment as a form of evidence on his daily progress.  He’ll need to continue navigating his way through prison by following the attitudes of open-mindedness, honesty, humility, objectivity and responsibility.  In addition, it be of great value to keep a daily “Thought Journal”.  This applies to various activating events that he encountered throughout imprisonment that triggered an emotional charge.  In the Though Journal, he can document how he challenged his feelings of anger or outrage that could have resulted in conflict.  By stopping and thinking about how he could be more assertive and less aggressive towards the situation at hand.  He can therefore create a more peaceful, hazard free outcome.  This will persuade prospective employers that he can be recognized as a person who doesn’t make poor irrational decisions like Red.

122. How does an individual’s diction influence perceptions?

Using the proper choice of words and the way in which their said can distinguish an individual from others who practice distorted vocabulary.  By using slang or loaded words, this could cause an individual to be judged as someone whose poorly educated and immature.  By applying the continuous use of proper grammar throughout daily living.  This can have a positive impact on a person’s ability to open prospective employment opportunities.  They’ll need to commit themselves to the proper practice of perfecting the quality of their communication skills.  For this reason, the quality of a persons behavior is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence.  So say no to “up dogs” and yes to good afternoon sir.

123. How does an individual’s personal grooming and presentation influence opportunities?

A well display of personal grooming, plus strong presentation skills, equals professionalism!  These are qualities looked for and continuously observed by employers.  Displaying proper grooming standards, such as wearing appropriate clothing, proper hair trimming, and correct body posture is the essence of professional appearance, while possessing exceptionally well presentational skills expresses virtue.  The delivery of a speech and saying the right words can engage the brain and bring idea’s to life.  If we can create an intellectual being with in ourselves internally and externally.  Other’s will take notice and this will influence opportunities to arise.  We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

124. With regard to the attitude attribute of the Straight-A Guide, what does it mean to make a 100 percent commitment?

To give 100 percent commitment means to continuously strive on achieving success, even in the face of adversity.  A man must always seek and discover new ways on how he can overcome the impossible and attain the unattainable with 100 of himself.  Giving 100 percent commitment, not only means to aim for success with all of his heart and soul.  In also, means to live by and follow the core values, through daily living, which were created and met along the way.  Regardless of how extreme the situation may seem, he must never accept defeat without giving himself the opportunity to commit in conquering through it.  He must give it his all, press forward and just do it.  He needs to learn how to master the ability to overcome the odds with 100 percent of his body and soul, for only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole body and soul can be a true master.  For this reason, mastery demands all of the person.

125. How would you assess your acquaintances with regard to the attitude attribute of the Straight-A Guide?

The way I assess my acquaintances are through their living habits and behavior.  Through self-talk, I’ll ask myself, will this person have a positive or negative impact on my future or is the person a positive or negative peer.  Depending on the habits, in which he follows as a fellow prisoner.  This will dictate the person he’ll be after his prison term.  So the affiliation with individuals of a poor nature may have a negative effect on my future inside of prison and out.  The S.A.G. has helped me to remain observant of who I associate with and has taught me how to enhance my situational awareness.  For this reason, I can assess my acquaintances with regards to what I’ve attained through the S.A.G.


Phillip Jamison/ Class 5: Self Improvement Training

One Response to “Phillip Jamison/ Class 4: Life Management Skills”

  1. Carol Z Angeli says:

    I enjoyed reading again Phil’s blog. Finding strength
    in your day to day living and using tools that take
    you through your day and most of all being present is a gift. All can have it and few will choose it.
    It is always rewarding to the soul to choose more and be more and Phil appears to uplift what he has in him and before him. I sent some snail mail today finally!


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