Severin Stone/ Class 5: Self-Improvement Training

by Severin Stone

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

The opportunities for self-improvement are endless but, it is up to you to find them. The greatest opportunity in being in prison is that you have twenty four hours a day to do whatever you want. For some this can be a huge stumbling block and therefore it is so important to use your time wisely.

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

Critical, self-imposed structure of time is all you have no one will tell you what to do or when to do it. The institution will tell you what they want you to do and that usually will not produce the results that emerge successful from prison.

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

Everything, your daily activities must be married to the vision you have for your life upon release. The way you invest your time is crucial to the results that you will receive.

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?

I live everyday with my values in hand, meaning that I do not regret any day of my life. I live every day with my future in mind building upon relationships, strengthening my walk with God, and encouraging all around me.

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

Some of the activities within the prison environment are religious services and classes designed at knowing God, college courses, and personal time that can be used for project building or enhancing skills.

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

The activities that I would categorize as weakness are hanging out, playing endless games, or any unproductive down time.

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

Activities that I perceive as offering opportunities are college courses, work out equipment, and opportunity for personal reflection.

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

The main threats to success upon release I perceive are institutional politics, institutional retraction of programs, and staffs inability to provide the tolls that we need to rise.

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

The activities that I pursue inside prison contribute to my strengths by taking college courses, attending and facilitating Christian services, and building relationships with those around me to strengthen them. As far as weaknesses I play chess and sometimes that can consume a few hours of my day.

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

I do not spend a lot of time in the TV rooms or on the rec yard where you tend to see the majority of problems arise from. I try to stay focused on my target goal and use my time wisely.

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

Prior to imprisonment I was very self-centered and greedy where I had lost myself and had no relationship with God. As crazy as it sounds, this was very necessary for me to go through to humble me as a person and help me develop a relationship with God.

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

The SWOT-assesment technique can give you guidance through how you asses what activities are important to focus on and what to stay away from. The more you fill your day with strength building activities the better prepared you are for success upon release.

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

Education and Religion fall into a low risk/high reward category because the investment, mostly of time, will pay off with opportunity for personal growth.

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

The types of activities that fall into high reward/ high risk would be running some type of a business from inside prison. Though the opportunity for reward is high there is also high risk of getting in trouble and losing good time.

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

The low risk/ low reward quadrant would be “programing” taking the institution classes offered. These types of classes are not a large investment of time and only really yield reward of favor with staff.

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

The high risk/ low reward quadrant would be gambling, stealing, or envolving yourself with high risk individuals. Anything that puts your release at risk I would put into this category.

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

I consider the risk-reward of every activity and have never been to the SHU or had disciplinary action because of the choices that I have made.

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

Self-improvement programs that deal with internal reflection and hands-on skills. I think the number one thing that most inmates fail at is creating new patterns of habit to focus themselves to come out a new man. Hands-on skills for construction type jobs would be number two on the list, giving individuals the skills to walk into a job with.

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

I have some ideas of the type of employment that I would like to pursue upon release but, have no clear direction as of yet. I have always done well at sales and am a good speaker so probably something along those lines to start would be good.

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

The qualifications necessary would be to not be afraid of rejection, have a positive attitude, and be a people-person. I would love to do some form of public speaking that is my passion, encouraging others.

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

Self-improvement programs help prepare you for the the of job you pursue by evaluating the activities that you participate in and how you spend your time. These are very valuable especially in a prison environment where everyone is so focused on going home they forget that they are alive and have a valuable opportunity to better themselves for ourselves to reenter society with skills.

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

I believe that the Straight-A Guide can be and is one of the best self-improvement programs because it really makes me think about how I am applying myself everyday toward my success.

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

Academic credentials influence an individual’s candidacy for employment because it is tangible proof that you completed a task that you set out on and have a desire to be better educated. This shows initiative that many employers are interested in and when you are incarcerated many will want to see what did you do with that time.

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

Prospective employers gauge the value of academic credentials highly because that is an indicator to many employers that separates someone who has the desire to learn and excel in the long-run. Many employers will pay more and give the opportunity for advancement to those that have a higher level of education over those that do not.

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

That is hard to tell. I think that someone that is fully transparent and prepared for success can trump someone without academic credentials but, for many employers that is a prerequisite that is difficult to get around.

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