Shawn Piper/ Class 4: Life Management Skills

by Shawn-Piper

105. How would you define your life management skills?

Good. I set times aside for exercise, studies, personal times, making sure to do what I say and saying what I’m going to do. Those around me can vouch that I’m a man of my word. I’ve always been that way, even before my incarceration.

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

I like to think about the decisions and actions along with the outcomes or consequences. Process the pros and cons and then run with the decision I have made with a good concept of what the outcome should be. In doing this I ask my G-d for courage, strength and direction.

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

It strengthens and helps dramatically – as soon as the doors open at 5:45am I’m on my way out with a group of guys that are mostly in the ministry and are spiritual active as well as positive individuals. Then some mornings I may have T.O.A.D. or some other class that will take me to lunch time. If not I go to the barber or study. After lunch I go and train someone, taking them through the same exercise routine we did that morning. I then try and study again for at least an hour, then take a power nap for 30 minutes, before the 4:00pm count. After dinner, more study or class, and then my dishwashing hassle before calling it a night.

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

You have to surround yourself with positive people to obtain positive results. Don’t be tempted by some of the negative people you may associate with or encounter. Like I said, networking is a plus in the position I’m in.

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

By feeling the people out that are around you to see if you’re on the same page, association brings about assimilation. Birds of a feather, flock together. If you hang out at the barber shop long enough, you’ll eventually get a hair cut. Seek those that have the same aspirations, morals, and ethics to be one that doesn’t return to the abyss of prison life.

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?

He set out to do things that will help him upon his return to society. He set goals for himself and made sure nothing would get in his way. Taking full advantage of opportunities that came his way, while also creating opportunities for himself.

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

I knew I wanted to help others in need of counseling or consulting’s and now I am in Chaplain’s college of Ministry, working on getting an AA in sociology, staying physically fit five days a week and training others, I’ve learned a vast amount of financial knowledge – and still learning. I’ll be taking over as co-facilitator of the substance abuse programs they have here. I plan on making this not a time of servitude, but of conquest.

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

One had his family in the outside world on his mind and wanted to change for the better to be a productive member of society. Whereas there was one that conformed to prison life and didn’t try to see the bigger picture of the realness of his situation. As he got institutionalized, and didn’t prepare for the real world, and see what he can offer to society, living a law abiding life. He went back to hanging at the same barber shop where he got his last jacked-up haircut.

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

I’m disciplining myself more, especially due to my schooling and early morning workout time. I just need to be prepared for when opportunities come my way. I know failure is not an option upon my release and I will flocking with the same birds that I used to or going to the old barber shop that gave me my last jacked up haircut.

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?

I once owned a small business that I was building into something bigger. I seek financial advice of those that are very knowledgeable in that area. I continue to want the knowledge that the men have around me, whether it be business, finance, health, spiritual, and many other qualities. I have visions, it’s just hard to do the research with limited resources and finances. I know I will succeed, just like I set the goal to be enrolled in college: I enrolled in two colleges. So all is possible through G-d.

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?

Staying on the course that I’m on. Working towards my AA in psychological, getting my AA in theology by the end of 2012, due to hardwork, discipline and dedication. Making myself available for good things to happen for me. Learning all I can in the four major areas of life (mental, physical, spiritual and financial), applying those principals to my own life, so that when I offer my services to others, I can show them how and what I have to offer has worked for me despite my time of imprisonment.

116. In what ways are your interactions with others in prison and beyond purposeful?117. How do your interactions with others relate to the individual you aspire to become?

Interactions in here are what motivates and shows me what not to be like. I have a couple of people who I share all my goals and progress with so that I can be held accountable. I interact with my sister who has held it down for me and I am so indebted to her. She has been my primary means of financial support, other than her, my inlaws do whatever they can,when they can. I speak with my son, who is doing his best despite community college taking away his grant this semester. He is forced to work two jobs now and is reapplying for a grant to return to college. There’s not a Sunday I don’t speak with my grandmother. We keep each other strong during this time. I used to speak with my dad on Saturdays, but he recently passed away after being in a VA hospital for 7 months.

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

I am back to being a people perso nonec again. I’m more trusting due tot he fact that I have G-d . My work out crew are all moving in the same directions me. There are people here that watch you all the time. Your actions will determine the type of people that you attract. I need to have communicaon with those on the outside so that I can be kept abreast of certain changes, so that I may better prepare myself for release.

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

Exercise, spirituality, business in general, A.A., all types of financial avenues, from credit to trusts to will, of which I have a little knowledge in all areas – some more than others. Then the most important of all is my wife and family.

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

All the relationships I made are all helpful because I stay away from the negatives and BS while gravitating to like-minded people that have the same or similar or goals and are able to boost me up because they know my story and watch my mannerisms. Your character says a whole lot about you.

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

Not staying focused and being grateful that he was being given an opportunity that most ex-cons are given. He went back to hanging with old associates and doing things from the past. He let peer pressure get to him. He might have forgotten what the inside was like or he missed someone telling him when and what to eat, standing to be counted, smelling someone else’s crap, or he just didn’t want to be able to spend time with a significant other and family. He didn’t appreciate the freedom that he was given, nor learn his lesson.

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

Say what he means and mean what he says. His actions should show that he wants better for him and his family. Show that he’s not one that wants to be back in prison. By getting a support group that can hold you accountable for things that you want to do. Be an asset, and not a liability, or a hindrance to whomever employs you. Let your actions reflect your usefulness and productivity.

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

The way you act and speak is being examined by those that may want to help you upon your release. So if your vocabulary and demeanor is that of someone who is unprofessional in here, then there’s no way anyone would want to create an opportunity for you in the freeworld. It’s all about character – being that you have a lot of big businessmen that may want to assist you, but your actions give them an uneasy vibe about you so that you get overlooked.

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

Like I said, if you present yourself in a positive and professional manner, you’re viewed as a person that can be an asset to any company. Someone that takes pride in their appearance will also take pride in other areas that matter.

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

Knowing what you want and not letting anything stand in the way. To make sure to give your all, and then some, to reach your goals. To make a decision, have dedication and discipline, while paying attention to the details that you have set your foundation and plans for.

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

I’m not going to say all of them, but the majority of the people I associate myself with have similar goals and/or aspirations. A lot of them are Straight-A guide members, members of the chaplain’s college, members of ministry school, congregation members, and there there’s the younger people that I try to have a positive influence on. That I may be able to impact their lives to make a change for the better. I’m not saying that they are completely lost, but there is always room for improvement. Just as there’s room for improvement in me. The last group of acquaintances are the businessmen that I strive to attain knowledge from, while giving them a chance to feel me out, and get to know the type of business sense I have, as well as to get to know the head on my shoulders. Being that I am a black man in prison for drugs, I don’t want to be labeled as the non-motivated, one-minded, uneducated, hood mentality type of person. I want to be seen as one who once owned a small striving business, someone who is doing all that they can to better themselves, and at the same time is willing to give and assist others along the way in anyway possible. Being that is part of my mission statement for my life upon my release, I have started putting those principles to use now.

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