( ENSPIRE Feature ) From Street Behavior To Encouraging Good Behavior Therone Shellman Uses His Experience To Help Others
As a young man, Therone Shellman served time in prison, as a result of being a so-called businessman on the streets. At the age of 17 years old he was sentenced to a term of 4 to 12 years to be served within the New York State Department of Corrections. Therone was convicted of two counts of robbery. He has been through a lot of what some of our youth are facing today. And now he has chosen to share his wisdom.
What were your consequences?
I winded up doing 4 1/2 years and was released on parole supervision in 1994. But, ultimately I would wind up giving New York State Corrections 7 1/2 years of my life due to parole violations. It wasn’t until the age of 29 (2001) that I was released from parole. One day in prison is equivalent to losing 2-3 days from society.
How did you grow from that?
While in prison I obtained a GED and made use of the time educating myself instead of playing cards, sports, etc. The time also enabled me the opportunity to get to know myself better. I spent a whole lot of time self-reflecting and reading books, which helped me to do just this. On the focus of self-development, I became a vegetarian, acknowledging that health is our foundation. I began reading books to help with self-identity because in school African history isn’t taught. What is learned in school is African American history, and the introduction of the Caucasian race into other societies. Meaning the history covers the time when people of European descent came into contact with other groups, other geographic locations, and the conquests of Europeans. So, I embarked on a journey to become more enlightened about my ancestry, and identity as a so-called Black man, African American, etc. I say so-called because these terms are modern and inventions of the Caucasian American mind to create the social structure they desired here in the Americas for Caucasian dominance. Before this time, there was no such thing as Black or White in regards to people. I would like to provide you with a list of books I’ve read, and the wide variety of genres. But the list would be too long, so I’m going to just give a brief glimpse. How to Eat to Live by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Natural Health Natural Medicine by Dr. Andrew Weil, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, books by Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich a Black Choice by Dennis Kembro & Napoleon Hill, Message to the Blackman by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Destruction of Black Civilization by Chancellor Williams, Black Man of the Nile and His Family (African Foundations of European Civilization & Thought) by Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Stolen Legacy by George G.M. James, and on top of reading books such as these I read a novel at least every two weeks.
From your experience what advice can you give the youth today to not fall into the same mistakes you did?
Today is a lot different than past years. The internet has opened up a wealth of knowledge and information that generations of the past were mostly blind to unless the people around them shared the knowledge with them. I grew up as a teen during the 1980’s cocaine/crack era within NY. There weren’t any so-called Black role models within urban neighborhoods where I grew up. Our role models were the cats we saw day today, and they were hustlers, and drug dealers for the most part. The world right now is a bit different. There are people sharing their experiences of overcoming adversity. There are also many who are out there in the spotlight to look up to, and not all of them are entertainers or athletes. The best advice I can give to the youth is to respect life, and to respect their life, most importantly. Also, understand that our lives are a product of choices. So every thought and action we take builds our life experiences. Think of the effect on your life, every time you decide to act. Another thing I would like to mention is to have a healthy respect for learning. The more of an interest one has in learning. The more options and choices they have which are beneficial to their lives. The third thing I would like to mention is that life is about evolving. Be mindful of the need to grow, and don’t be scared to move on from situations and environments. If a person, place or thing serves no purpose in your growth, then move on. The fourth things are that, it’s okay to make mistakes. We learn from mistakes on how to make things better. So take chances, be daring, and go for what you want in life. The fifth and last thing is to find a purpose in your life. Take time, a lot of time to figure out who you are, your likes dislikes. Work on yourself, and your vision of what you see for yourself. If you can be mindful of these things I mention, and work towards them. Then you will avoid many of the mistakes which are disastrous to people’s lives. I’ve just given you a cheat sheet on how to avoid, much of the unnecessary. Remember that no one is going to live your life for you. You have to put the work in for yourself.
How can they channel their street sense to business sense?
In the third book to my book series Third Eye Awakening, I dedicate the book to Skills and Finding Purpose through one’s skills. There are many things the streets taught me. In relation to business, the streets taught me that all skills are relatable and transferable. To be a good hustler, one has to be good at sales, customer service, communication, accounting, and negotiating. These are the same skills necessary to sell any product, speak to customers in any business environment, teach/train individuals, negotiate contracts/deals, also accounting and even the stock market, and other areas of investment services. Look broader at all the tasks you do daily, and understand that there’s a thin line between the streets and corporate America. Business is business, it may be conducted differently according to the environments. Yet, it all boils down to the same.