Phillip Jamison/ Class 5: Self Improvement Training

by Phillip Jamison

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

I have chosen to create accountability logs, such as a daily journal entree log, a thoughts and feelings log and an anger log.  The daily journal is a tool I use to document my progress through incarceration.  The thoughts and feelings log, along with the anger log are tools I use to challenge my irrational thoughts, feelings and anger.  As I constantly challenge my irrational thoughts, feelings and anger on paper.  The process of utilizing these tools will become a natural trait, therefore aiding me in making proper, rational choices that will help prevent a catastrophic outcome.  This will greatly benefit me as I journey through prison and will follow me out into the community.  A prisoner needs to look into creating tools and methods that will support him in getting through imprisonment safe and secure.  This can mean the difference between easy time and hard time.  And furthermore, this will support him in making a better change for himself, because if he’s changing nothing, than nothings changed.

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

My interpretation on my self-imposed value of free-time is structured around my success upon release.  In a nutshell, the methods on how I spend my free-time will have an impact on my prison term as well as a direct reflection on my success, back into the community.  If I choose to utilize my spare time by playing cards, watching television or sleeping all day.  Nothing positive, nor productive will be accomplished.  This will result in a poor and stressful transition back into society.  However, if I want my dreams of success to come true, I mustn’t oversleep.  So I’ll need to utilize my free-time wisely by reading books, exercising, completing educational coarse, seeking out future career opportunities, etc.  By doing this, I’ll be planting positive lifestyle seeds for my future.  With that being said, today’s mighty oak is just yesterdays nut that held it’s ground…

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

The relationships I have with my daily activities will have a positive impact on my future upon release.  One activity I continuously follow is daily exercising.  By maintaining a well structured workout regiment, I’ll gain back the years that I lost from the stress of pre-trial and than some.  Another activity would be my motivation and communications coarse.  This will benefit me on achieving my future employment goals.  As a prisoner, the activities I have chosen to integrate into my daily routine, has to be based around a self-rational thinking rule; “will this activity help me in achieving my short/long-term goals?  If the activity renders to be an unbeneficial ingredient to the vision of my future, I’ll need to leave it in the past.  By utilizing positive and productive activities.  This will build a solid foundational structure that will support my future visions.  For this reason, the vision of my future , must be built on the strength of my past.

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?

If I continue to replicate my daily activities throughout my entire term of imprisonment.  I will eliminate many of the possible obstacles that may impede my ability in having a successful transition back into society.  As a federal prisoner, if I remain actively consistent and persistent in following the principles of good behavior and create a solid self imposed foundation of activities, beneficial for my future.  My level of preparation to triumph over any obstacle, will reach stratospheric heights.  Furthermore, in order to accomplish this goal.  Moment by moment and cycle by cycle, I’ll need to replicate everyday productively and enthusiastically, for the one thing I can’t recycle is wasted time.

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

As I proceed forward in my prison sentencing, a day at a time.  There are many activities I can actively get involved with.  One I enjoy following is writing poetry, while using verses from the Bible.  This has helped me to get in touch with God and allows me to internalize the message that the Bible’s stating, a lot better.  In addition, in strengthens my understanding of the verse as well.  Now I understand that we don’t change the message, the message changes us…  Other activities I engage in are the reading and studying of stress management books, practicing “Extreme Calisthenics” (No leg push-ups, handstand push-ups and Superman Pull-ups) and Estanga Yoga.  These activities will strengthen my mind, body and flexibility and blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.

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

My view of prison activities that I would be categorize as a weakness would be anything that doesn’t allow me to achieve my short/long-term goals.  These particular activities are playing card games, watching television, any form of gambling and reading material that won’t benefit my educational needs.  We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

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

Anytime I have free-time to work towards my goals and achievements is an offering opportunity.  Working on my recovery towards a healthy lifestyle, here at the Residential Drug Abuse Program has been a great opportunity.  Inputting responses into my Straight-A-Guide has also been a great opportunity.  I am always seeking out new opportunities on how I can progress towards personal growth and achievement.

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

Since I’ve been a prisoner here at LPC.  I have seen many men come and go, due to participating in poor and irrational activities.  The prison environment can drive an weak willed individual to the break of insanity through boredom and temptation.  Some individual minds are easily penetrated and give in to the temptation.  In prison, a good opportunity may only knock once, but temptation bangs on the door forever.  Although this may be true, some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.  So, the activities I’ve perceived to be a threat to my future success would be the smuggling of illegal contraband.  This includes alcohol, drugs, cell-phones, food and muscle enhancement supplements.  In addition,  activities such as gambling, fighting, hazing and stealing are all forms of illegal activities and will result in disciplinary action.  A prisoner can earn a shot (earned points that subtract good-time) or time within the Special Housing Unit (S.H.U.).  The consequences stem out to even greater issues, such as getting transferred to a different and higher level institution, across country, away from loved ones.  An issue as minuet as gambling can cause a negative rippling effect that can heavily impact the prisoner, his family and his chances on having a successful transition back into the community.

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

The activities I pursue in prison, all contribute to my success upon release.  All of my activities must be beneficial to my recovery and uprising as a law-abiding citizen.  My activities are my form of planning ahead, for the future.  Planning ahead is always a wise and brilliant decision.  Plan ahead… it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.

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

Steps I have taken to minimize my exposure to weakness is through solid physical fitness training.  This consists of weight training, calisthenics, yoga and symmetric.  In addition, a lot of my abdominal strength and core exercises have been recognized as unorthodox and highly effective amongst the prisoners.  This has helped me to gain a sense of respect amongst them.  Some have humbly asked me for personal training assistance and advice.  Through these actions, I’ve earned the nickname “Ab King.”  Although respect is a gift well earned, prison still has a number of threatening area’s throughout the prison environment.  Area’s I avoid are places where gambling or any form of illegal activities take place.  If a prisoner is unaware of his surroundings and happens to walk into the vicinity where money hungry, irrational men are gambling away their prison funding.  The prisoner could be perceived as a potential threat and may be forced to face conflict.  Another threat is the affiliation with correction officer staff members, for other prisoners may perceive the interaction with a C.O. to be an opportunity to tell (snitch) on a another prisoner.  In addition to that, some staff members may feel the need to make an example of a prisoner by issuing him an incident report, a shot or ever S.H.U. time, just to make a point.  I’ve witnessed some of the biggest, toughest men here get sent to the S.H.U. for simply making eye contact with a C.O.  Even the Grizzly Bear must humble himself in the house of the Raven.

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

As a military service member, I had everything I ever needed to live a life of fulfillment and totality.  The opportunities were endless…  I made rank, I had my own team I lead through countless weapons operations and my salary was great.  I also, I possessed talents and the strength to guide me to successful heights beyond my imagination.  In addition, I had the support from my Leading Chief Petty Officer and Commanding Officer.  All of my investment decisions revolved around the person I wanted to become…  Although I possessed many qualities to become a man of greater success, I also possessed weaknesses…  In my mind, I felt that it wasn’t enough and I wanted more.  My distorted belief system became my threats, which later became consequences, resulting in a federal sentencing, creating a ripple effect that impacted my family, my 12 year military career and my life.  Needless to state, the pain of discipline was far less greater then the pain of regret.  From the Bible it states: Timothy 2:4 “No man serving as a soldier should ever get involved in civilian affairs; he want’s to please his commanding officer…

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

The S.W.O.T. Assessment Technique has guided me in the direction of making rational choices that will benefit my chances of having a more successful transition back into the community.  Using this method of thinking has helped me remain aware of my surroundings, recognizing possible treats with in the prison environment, which can oppose to be a danger to my life or my future.  It supports me in challenging my weaknesses as well as making conscience decisions that will minimize my exposure to weakness.  In addition, it has lead me to devote my time in exploiting the values of responsibility, objectivity, humility and open-mindedness as a means of minimizing my exposure to weakness.  As a federal prisoner, I continuously strive on pinpointing area’s within the prison and within myself that will strengthen my chances on having a more successful transition.  By following the S.W.O.T Assessment Technique, I have learned that by understanding my surroundings, I’m able to display a greater simplicity of my character.  Furthermore, I have made the self-discovery that  I’ve always’s possessed the inner quality of humility, for, it is said that a man uncovers his true disposition of humility when he’s forced to face adversity.

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

Activities that topple into a low risk category would be completing educational courses, reading, writing, physical fitness enhancement, and planning for the future beyond imprisonment.  These activities minimize exposure to potential threats with in the prison system.  In addition, it offers personal growth, good health and knowledge.  Moreover, it offers results that are highly rewarding short/long-term.


139)  High risk activities with in the prison environment can be highly rewarding, however, they can also oppose as potential threats to a prisoners short/long-term goals, hindering his ability to achieve success required for release.  Activities such as gaining income prior to release (example: publishing books about prison life and how to conquer it or utilizing outside sources to create blogs, forums or websites about gaining personal achievement.)  The cause and effect of these potential activities are “highly rewarding” if strategically accomplished.  However, there are some prison officials that may take notice of this action who are in complete disagreement, later taking action on the prisoner by relocating him to the Special Housing Unit (SHU).  This creates a lot of red-tape for the prisoner and will compromise his ability to continue furthering his success prior to release.  But, to conquer without risk, is to triumph without glory.

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

High risk activities with in the prison environment can be highly rewarding, however, they can also oppose as potential threats to a prisoners short/long-term goals, hindering his ability to achieve success required for release.  Activities such as gaining income prior to release (example: publishing books about prison life and how to conquer it or utilizing outside sources to create blogs, forums or websites about gaining personal achievement.)  The cause and effect of these potential activities are “highly rewarding” if strategically accomplished.  However, there are some prison officials that may take notice of this action who are in complete disagreement, later taking action on the prisoner by relocating him to the Special Housing Unit (SHU).  This creates a lot of red-tape for the prisoner and will compromise his ability to continue furthering his success prior to release.  But, to conquer without risk, is to triumph without glory.

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

In prison, hours can seem like days and days can seem like weeks…  Time stands still…  So some prisoners look into activities that will help their time move along alot quicker.  So, they’ll look into activities such as watching television, playing poker, sports activities and simply reading non-educational magazines.  Although these low risk activities are fun and kill a little time, they are murdering opportunity.  These activities hold no potential value or purpose to a rewarding future.  They don’t pay off on effort, nor do they result in pay off.

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

There are some prisoners that display equanimity with the necessities provided by the F.B.O.P. required for daily living, comfortably move along with their prison term.  However, some prisoners are despondent for earning their incarceration and are desperate to have more goods.  So they’ll break the prison rules and regulations to gain these goods, highly risking their future through theft crimes, smuggling illegal contraband and illegal drug use.  For some prisoners, this may seem rewarding.  But the ending results are devastating when they earn (SHU) time, with a loss of good-time, or even charged with a new crime.

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

I consider myself to be a hyper vigilant individual who consistently is aware of my surroundings.  It has helped me to utilize the SWOT assessment technique as well as the risk award analysis to measure the value of a commodity frequently throughout my day.  In addition to my daily assessing, I utilize a system that works cognate with SWOT/RRA.  It is known as the 5 rules of rational thinking (5RRT).  Prior to making any decisions on prisoner interaction or incorporating an activity into my daily schedule.  I first base my thoughts around the 5RRT.  If the interaction with the prisoner or activity can meet 3 of the 5 rules.  I will set aside an allotted time to integrate it into my daily schedule, for it is rational.


These rules are: “Are my thoughts”

-Based on objective reality/fact?

-Helping me to protect me life and health?

-Helping my meet my short/long-term goals?

-Helping my avoid conflict with others?

-Helping me feel the way I want to feel without the use of alcohol or drugs?

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

Although this may sound like an absolute.  A prisoner should “always” look into seeking out self-improvement programs to increase his prospects for a successful transition.  So education courses, communication enhancement and health/wellness are all positive essential skills that will increase his success.  However, all of this will be meaningless if he hasn’t learned how to rectify the irrationality of his past criminal thinking that lead to the undesirable consequences of earning an incarceration.  So it would be of great value if he looked into a program that will help modify his behavior and help him to think more rational.  Psychological programs such as learning how to cage his rage through anger/stress management classes as well as identifying common thinking errors that pop-up in his daily self-talk (such as: I can’t, have to, need to, musts, statements of facts etc.)  In addition, he can look into learning and understanding criminal thinking errors that support a criminal lifestyle (such as: power orientation, entitlement, mollification, sentimentality, cognitive indolence, etc.)  By looking into these thinking errors, he can then examine his history of social rule breaking and learn how to rectify his behavior through re-education.  This will help him to live a more balanced, pro-social lifestyle.

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

Prior to earning my incarceration and at the beginning of my prison term.  I aspired to be one of several things.  A professional mixed martial artist, a pro-body builder, a body guard or an actor.  However, all of these aspirations stemmed from a lack of humility and self-worth.  I only wanted it for personal pride and recognition, for I wasn’t being right sized and I was a man of grandiosity.  Now however, I would gratefully like to pursue a career where I can give back to the community.  I’m inspired to be a drug treatment specialist.  Through punctuality, practice and commitment, I can pursue this goal.

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

The type of qualifications required to fulfill this line of employment would be a background education in psychology.  In addition, having a firm understanding of the criminal offender mentality will be of great benefit when examining the cognitions behind their substance abuse.  My objective will be to support an individual in overcoming their addition to substance abuse and live a drug free lifestyle.  Not only will I focus my expertise on individuals in society who’ve dealt with substance abuse for a large fraction of their lives.  I’d like to reach out to America’s military veterans who have made the irrational choice to turn to substance abuse in order to smother their struggle with the trauma of war and adaptation to the civilian lifestyle.  This is where a prior military background will play a strong factor in this line of work.

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

I myself am currently a member within a behavior modification program where I’m gaining the tools and learning essential skills on how to live a more balanced, pro-social life without the use of drugs or alcohol.  This program is allowing me to recognize my own self-defeating thoughts and beliefs that lead me to use my drugs of choice that created undesirable consequences for my life.  In addition, it has taught me positive attitudes to follow that will additionally help me through incarceration, this program and life.  It is teaching me how to be a more rational thinker as well as how to overcome my old habits through a re-educational 5 step process.  I’m still progressing through this program one day at a time and committing myself to my recovery 24/7.  Although my past addiction had a devastating impact on my life.  It will later turn out to be a positive thing as I reach out to other members in society to help them overcome their addiction to substance abuse.  This self-improving program will strongly support me pursue my employment goal.  “What I live I learn, what I learn I practice, what I practice I become and what I become has consequences.”

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

There are many self-improvement programs with in the F.B.O.P. that can independently be pursued.  Whether an individual wishes to earn a G.E.D. or a college education.  This can be accomplished through distance learning classes.  They can also take small business classes, welding workshops, communication enhancement courses, or even personal training courses.  One class I’m currently attending is “Toastmasters.” This class has helped me to improve my communications skills as well as speaking in front of large crowds.  In addition, it has helped me to enhance my leadership skills and develop stronger presentational delivery skills.  All of these programs can enhance an individuals prospects for gaining employment beyond release.

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

Academic credentials can heavily influence an individuals candidacy for employment.  You may have heard the saying “Justification for the higher education.”  What this means is if someone considers to broaden their mind and educate themselves through schooling, self-improvement, etc. More doors will open and more employment opportunity will arise.  The job market is one of the most competitive places on the planet.  So it would highly benefit an individual to receive the proper education required to face and overcome the tug of war.

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

Many jobs throughout the United States of America require some form of education.  This can vary from reading and comprehension skills, up to college credentials, clearances or licenses.  Through recent news reports and Economists Magazines.  Employers gauge their perspective on the level of education an individual has places a high value upon academic credentials.

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

The type of self-improvement steps an individual can take to trump academic credentials are the strengthening of their qualities that determine merit, desirability, usefulness and importance.  In addition, he must follow core attitudes such as humility, objectivity, caring, willingness, open-mindedness, gratitude, responsibility and honesty.  Although he’s obtained a solid foundation of education credentials.  None of this will benefit him if he doesn’t live a life in accordance to positive core values and beliefs.  Albert Einstein once said “Try not to be a man of success, but a man of value.”


Phillip Jamison/ Class 6: Communication Skills

One Response to “Phillip Jamison/ Class 5: Self Improvement Training”

  1. CZA says:

    Phil: I love reading your blogs as they are so helpful to myself as I read your writings and about your daily disciplines. As we all process I believe that the humility that we learn does not come from the mind but the compassionate heart. And first we must give our self this so we can give it to others. That is why I love the infinity symbol as it shows the two sides but yet is one. Christ’s teaching of loving yourself and to love one another is another example of balance.
    To show respect for ones self and to show humility would be learning to balance the mind and the heart so we gain the WISDOM and Strength to be are authentic self.

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