Joe Darko

Leadership: The secret of every successful leader


One Thursday evening in Raleigh (N.C), while on a business trip and grabbing dinner with some amazing technical community influencers, one of these astute men asked, “who in the technical industry would you consider a great leader? By the way, before coming here to meet with you, I did a little research on you and stumbled on your blog post and I like what I see with regards to leadership – so what are your thoughts on the question?” I licked my chops and attempted to answer the question to the best of my knowledge and ability – “after all, I had just completed my Master’s of Science degree in Management and Leadership so I should definitely have an idea or two on this”, I said to myself.

I quickly named a couple of leaders in the tech industry, quickly dissected their leadership styles based on my knowledge about them and I chose Satya Nadella. Was it out is bias? I don’t know. Wast it out of common exposure because I work at Microsoft? I don’t know. But from what I know, he possesses what is ingrained in every successful leader: servant attitude & will. He is what I will call a servant leader with a weird combination of Servant Leadership & Level 5 leadership as his leadership philosophies. Is Servant leadership similar to Level 5 Leadership? I say yes. Let me explain.

You’re probably familiar with Jim Collins’ work Good to Great. Just before he released this book, Collins wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review that focused on one of the book’s key concepts: Level 5 leadership. The article reads, “Level 5 leaders blend the paradoxical combination of deep personal humility with intense professional will.” It goes on to ask, “How do Level 5 leaders manifest humility? They routinely credit others, external factors, and good luck for their companies’ success. But when results are poor, they blame themselves. They also act quietly, calmly, and determinedly—relying on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate. Inspired standards demonstrate Level 5 leaders’ unwavering will. Utterly intolerant of mediocrity, they are stoic in their resolve to do whatever it takes to produce great results—terminating everything else. And they select superb successors, wanting their companies to become even more successful in the future.”

What does this look like in simplest terms: 

Humility + Will = Level 5
Servant + Leadership = Servant Leadership

To me, these are on very similar wave lengths because it takes Humility to be a true Servant and it takes the strong Will of a Leader to lead and serve for the general good. We all have a calling, and leaders who operate in one of these philosophies usually feel called beyond themselves. They are not greater than the call, but the call is greater than them and in the process of answering the call, they are made great.

So what is the secret of every successful leader in my books? The humility to serve coupled with the will to selflessly lead. Let’s put this definition to a test: close your eyes for 30 seconds and think of any great leaders you know in any capacity (dead or alive). What names “popped” out? I’m certain that all the people you mentioned fit this mold of leadership. I always think of Nelson Mandela and other great leaders who have impacted our world in various facets. As Program Manager Evangelist for Microsoft, I consciously do my best to serve and lead to ensure continous growth and success.

To be a great leader, you should be willing to serve above your interests, understand that the calling is bigger than yourself and understand the pain of the people you are leading. With this mindset, you will be able to lead any group, any organization and any business  to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.

Joe Darko

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Why so serious? Live a little

Why so serious? Live a little

Why so serious? Live a little

Last night, as a weekly routine of  mine, I called one of my college mates to check up on him. We briefed each other on what was going on in our lives with regards to career and family. After the “serious” conversation on family and career, we talked about our time at Penn State University. The discussion brought laughter – we laughed a lot on the phone. We laughed about our interesting experiences in college. The memories.

Yes, we were all about academics. We were focused on school and wanted to graduate within 4 years or less. In the process of our academic pursuits, we lived; and through the course of living we made some mistakes: did some stupid and crazy things. We cherished every moment and lived in the present. Just like the norm, we were “broke” college students but life seemed so good. Money makes life easier without a doubt, but the joys of life comes in so many ways money can’t buy. We shared what we had with our circle of friends and enjoyed every moment life presented to us.

After the call, I tried figuring out what had changed. Yes, we have responsibilities now: Careers we both enjoy with very reputable companies, customers or clients we are obsessed about, family, bills and loans and etc. Believe me, we are still focused and our priorities are aligned appropriately – but in all fairness, we have become a little boring. Things might not the same, but they are similar: In college we had a job – go to class, go to the library, do homework, be part of an organization and etc. Currently, we go to work, learn more about our customers when we come home, join a cause and make a difference. But it seems as though life outside college has made us boring. We love our respective companies just as much as we love our alma mater. We love our jobs just as much as we loved our course of study. Family is still a priority and there is still 24 hours in a day, but we have found a way to become boring. We have found a way to conform instead of feeling alive. I mean, none of us is married (and marriage and kids shouldn’t change anything) but at least we have a little disposable income (more than what we had in college) to take trips, and enjoy all that life has to offer. Whenever we get married, we should be able to live life with our spouses and children. Life doesn’t stop after marriage or child birth – it begins. It broadens the horizon of what two or more people connected at a deeper level can do together.

One thing we all can’t escape is old age and death; and every day that we refuse to live a little, laugh a little, travel a little, love a little, forgive a little, sleep a little, check up on someone a little, we end up dying a whole lot more. You will make mistakes whether you play it extra safe or not, but your mistakes will be worthwhile if you enjoy every bit of it. Your memories will be worth sharing and many more opportunities will be presented to you to do and achieve more. Yes, you should save for your retirement, pay down your debt, support your family, join a good cause, but don’t forget to live. Stop taking yourself and everything in life seriously because life is bigger than you and I.

Joe Darko

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An Open Letter To RG3: Why You Are Struggling & What You Need To Do Now!

RG3 After A Touchdown Pass

RG3 After A Touchdown Pass

I have been a fan of the game for a while and I’ve a been a die hard Redskins fan – which will not change. For the past 13 years or so, it has been one heart break season after another. But in 20012, RG3 brought us hope. Yes, Robert, you gave us hope but that hope seems to be diminishing but I’ll continue to be a Redskins fan and continue to be a fan of yours! I liked you when you were in college and fell in love with you when you joined my team as a Redskin. To be honest, I don’t care about what the world says, I still like you as a person – but with regards to football and playing QB there is a lot you have to do or else, your days are numbered at the Quarterback position in the NFL and as much as I love you, if we do not see any improvements this season, just know that out of love, I will be glad for you to be benched – no hard feelings.

This letter is going to address 3 major points:

  • Why you were so good in 2012
  • Why you are currently struggling
  • What you need to do NOW

Why You Were So Good In 2012

Like I stated earlier, I’ve been a Redskins fan for years and I try to watch each and every single game every single Sunday. In 2012, you broke into the scene and dominated. You dominated for many reasons, but if I were to dissect the game as an analyst, you dominated because of the offense you played under the Shanahans. The read option really helped you a lot. In the read option, when executed properly, for a quick second, the defense will remain still – this gives an advantage to the offense as a whole. In the read option, you need quick receivers who can quickly get open, you need a running back who can run the ball well and also sell the fake and you need your QB to do one thing, read the defensive end, give to the ball to the running back or take off. On passing plays off of the read option, the process is similar, most of the time, the running back and QB sell the run fake and the quarterback quickly releases the ball as the linebackers try to get back in coverage. In 2012, you excelled because you to make only one or two reads.

After watching the first 4 games in 2012, I was able to call majority of the plays you would run a QB. It was that predictable but hard to stop because it suits your strengths: one read or quick read passer. You had a receiver in Pierre Garcon who could easily and quickly get open and you had a running back who was able to sell the fake and run uphill. Defenses were frustrated, because they could tell the play was coming but they could not stop it all because they had to hold each and every player accountable in that offense. Whenever a play broke down, you were quick enough to run to the edge and gain a few yards. Defense had to account for you, the running back and receivers and to be honest, in 2012, defenses were not ready. As usual, defenses eventually adjusted and get better and they did and slowed you down a bit with the read option plays.

Why You Are Currently Struggling

You are struggling for a variety of reasons:

  • You are not going through your reads – With the read option, you didn’t have to go through the progression, but now that the read option is not a threat, you have to drop back, go through your reads and make a decision – this is something you are struggling with. As a fourth year QB, it is a major problem because defenses are not afraid to stare you down and they are not afraid to leave the 2nd or 3rd option open – chances are, you will not get to them. This preseason so far, there has been 16 passes, 12 of which you did not take your eyes off your number read. As much as I love you, if a QB cannot drop back and go through his progressions, then he is not fit to be starting in the NFL. You go through one read and  when it’s not open, your basic instincts is to take off and run – you know why you are getting hurt often, because defenses have figured you out; they know you don’t go through your progression, so after the first read, they seal any running lanes for you and they try to take you out like they would a running back. This brings me to my next point.
  • You want to live and die by your athleticism at the QB position – The most successful quarterbacks just do their job and use their God given gifts as supplements. When your first option is not open, instead of doing your job and going through the second and third options, you do the running back’s job and decide to take off and run with the ball. You continue to do the running back’s job by trying to gain extra yards when you don’t need to. Your job is to control the pocket, go through the reads, throw to the open receiver and hand off the ball to the running back. You have lost focus as to what you are supposed to do and sometimes it’s sad to watch. As a QB, if you do your job and no one is open, you can simply throw the ball away. You have never thrown the ball away, but try to make something happen when you don’t need to. Sometimes it’s okay to lose the little battles in an attempt to win the war. The whole football game is a war and every play is a battle; and as the general at QB, you need to be wise to know when to throw the ball away – live to fight another day and when you start doing this, it will make you a more dangerous quarterback like Russel Wilson. The reason why Wilson is better is not because he has a better line – no, but rather because he plays the game like a true quarterback. He goes through his progressions, when no one is open, he looks for an open lane to buy time while he looks to pass, when it’s not there, he either takes off when he sees an open field or he simply throws the ball away. Also, I have barely seen Wilson trying to truck linebackers – but I have seen him slide and run out of bounds. We  know you are a track star, we know you have that ability, but at the QB position, you don’t need to be athletic but need to be wise – look at Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, etc. They are not athletic, but they do their job at the Quarterback position and it translates to results. Other quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Russel Wilson and Aaron Rogers who are semi athletic only use their athleticism when there is an opportunity to do so. Do Your Job RG3. There are a couple of things you need to be doing now as well.
  • What You Need To Do Now – The Redskins picking up your 5th option was all political. Listen, they want you to succeed, but they wouldn’t mind you failing. If the Redskins had let you go, the organization and the fan base would have been divided. Some of the fans including myself still love you. The Owner loves you and some of the coaches love you. But some believe you are not the right player at the quarterback position, so letting you go would have meant that they had given up on you, so they are only keeping you here for one more year and allowing you to play – if you fail, they will have a case that you are obviously not the right Quarterback for the job and this time, they will get the support of all of the fan base, including the owner and they will let you go or sit on the bench. It is a break or make it year for you – your failure might mean the end of a starting gig for you in the NFL. RG3, I believe in you and I believe in your abilities. I will forever be a fan of yours, because there is something about you and that thing is greatness. You are meant to be great and yes, the past few years have been tough, but “no pressure, no diamonds”. You are meant to steer this ship around. First of all, ignore the media, they are only setting you up to come up with stories to get clicks for advertisements for their platforms, so stop giving them something to say. You are not the best quarterback in the league. The title “Best quarterback in the league” is given to people who produce not people who have confidence. To be honest, you are just mediocre based on your performance for the past three years, but you have the ability to be great as you showed us in 2012. Let your confidence translate into points, that is how you will gain respect. Also, as a leader, learn to take the blame. Stop blaming the O-line and receivers for everything. Blame yourself at times – take the high road. The team played well with Colt McCoy at QB a couple of games last season. The online protected him decently, but when you came back, it all went back downhill. Take the blame when things go wrong and be a leader. Stop shifting blame. If you want to yell at your linemen like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, you need their respect and at this moment, your linemen don’t respect you. You earn respect by being a winning leader! You can’t be a loser and command some respect. You blame everyone but yourself. Even when you do not go through your reads, take off and get hit, you shake your head blaming receivers for not getting open and blaming the line men. They did nothing. Stay in the pocket, command the pocket and do your job. When they see you doing your job, then you can tell them to do theirs. Focus on the fundamentals of the game – you are a QB first and foremost, so lead as such. Do your job only and encourage the rest to do theirs. Go through your progressions – if you do not get the chance to go through your progression, we will all blame the o-line, but if you continue to take off when you do not need to, the o-line can’t protect you.Your last play during the preseason game against the Lions, you did what I have mentioned above – there were open receivers in front of you, but you just took off to show your athleticism and that led to a fumble and a concussion. Do your job and I’m sure the O line coach will do whatever they can to keep their job. Go through your reads and when you get the running lane, run towards out of bounds or slide. You mean so much to your fans but more importantly, you mean so much to your wife, your family and future kids – you can’t afford to take unnecessary hits and you can’t afford to continue to get hurt.

You are blessed with many gifts only a few have. You are smart, wise and athletic – use it, but prioritize. At the QB position, be wise and smart. I believe in you wholly and I believe you can prove the doubters wrong. You have something I see in you and I don’t care if the rest of the world does not see it. You have something special and you are meant to go beyond the stars of the NFL. Robert Griffin III you are an amazing human being and there is nothing you can’t do. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength – don’t rely on yours, but rely on His and do what you are supposed to do – once again, do your job and the sky is your limit. I will continue to support you and be here for you.

Yours’ Truly,

Joe Darko

A True Fan of Yours & The Redskins Organization

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10 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Floyd Mayweather’s Boxing Career For Your Own Success

FloydIn life, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve myself; I read books, seek advice and guidance, and also pay attention to the success and failures of others. To be honest, I don’t bother myself with the source of wisdom, knowledge and insight but rather, analyze everything and learn from everything.

In the world of boxing, Floyd Mayweather is not everyone’s favorite cup of tea. In fact, about 68% of people wanted him to lose his fight against Pacquiao. People are tired of him and they want nothing more than his downfall. This is understandable because Mayweather has made costly mistakes, has often at times comes across as arrogant and self centered and recently, he caught the media’s attention for domestic violence. Maybe he is putting on a front because of the career he is in, but nonetheless, he is probably the most hated athlete at the moment.

I certainly do not like certain things about him (excessive arrogance and case of domestic violence) but I sure think he is a master in the ring of boxing. I respect his skills, smarts, and wisdom of the sport. I respect his record and respect the fact that he is definitely one of the greatest fighters to step foot in the ring. Besides all of the negativity surrounding Mayweather, there is a lot you can learn from his career as a boxer. There are a lot of life lessons which might benefit you and I if we take heed to them. Ignore the dirt and dust surrounding him and you might find gold. Below are the 10 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Mayweather’s Boxing Career.

1. Your Failures Should Ignite Your Passion

In Atlanta 1996, during the semi-finals of the Olympic games, Mayweather lost a boxing bout to Serafim Todorov of Bulgaria. He lost by a controversial decision, similar to the Roy Jones Jr. defeat in the 1988 Seoul Olympic light-middleweight finals. This did not decide Mayweather’s fate – in fact, it is believed that the controversial loss fueled him to dominate the boxing ring; it would be his last loss. How many of us have allowed past failures to repeat themselves? Often at times, we get haunted by the same failures instead of allowing them to guide and help us succeed.

2. Work Harder Than Your Opponent

How many of us can actually say that they put in the necessary effort into their passion? How many of us actually work harder than our competitors or our opponents? In the Business world, companies fight for consumer sponsorship and support, and it’s evident that the companies who go the extra mile, put in the extra hours and effort succeed. You’re in constant competition for the best grade, the next job, etc. Figure out your opponent, enjoy the competition in fairness and work hard. As a leader I respect once said “don’t make it to the top leaving dead bodies behind”. Hard works breaks no bone. Sacrifice the time and resources and it will eventually pay off. One person close to Mayweather mentioned that, what we see in the ring is only a glimpse of what Floyd does at camp. He is believed to be the hardest working athlete. It obviously pays off.

3. Be Committed To Your Craft/Talent

We’re all gifted with many talents but the most successful ones among us did not only discover their talents, but stayed committed and worked on them. Figure out what makes you tick. Figure out what you do best and work at it. Commitment leads to success. Martin Luther King once said something along the lines of “if a man is a sweeper, and he always sweeps the streets with dedication, passion and commitment, the world will travel and pay to watch the man sweep”. Floyd is the kind of person people pay to watch. He is committed to his craft as a boxer and he has found a way to win with points while suffering minimal damage. His commitment is evident. If you hate him, you might pay to even watch him lose.

4. Once In A While, Reward Yourself For Your Victories

I’m actually guilty with this point but I’m learning to find ways to reward myself for my accomplishments.

I don’t believe in overspending or spending unnecessarily, but one thing I have come to learn is  how to celebrate my quick short victories by rewarding myself. Some people hate Mayweather’s buying habits – rightfully so, but when I pay attention to his behaviors, psychologically, he is rewarding himself. He believes that he has worked hard and should enjoy the fruit of his labor. How many of us take the time to go on a vacation and get some rest? How many of us take the time to enjoy what we have actually worked for? What is the point of working so hard if we are not going to enjoy the fruits of our labor? Rewarding yourself will refresh your mind, body and soul while serving as a motivation to do more and achieve more.

5. Spend A Lot Of Time Developing A Strategy

What we sometimes don’t understand about successful people is how strategic they are. They are usually calculated and purposeful leaving a little room for luck. Yes, luck can play a role in success, but when luck meets preparation, the rest can be history. Mayweather always develops a game plan for every fight. Recently, for his fight against Pacquiao, Mayweather did extensive research on PacMan. He actually convinced one of Pac’s trainers to join his camp only to learn from his opponent. After he studies his opponents, he develops a game plan and sticks to it. He then forces his opponents to disregard their game plan in the ring. He will tweak his game plan as needed, but for the majority of the time, he does not allow his homework to go to waste. He is strategic.

Strategic kings always won the war. Strategic generals won key battles. Strategic coaches won the big games. Strategic companies win over clients. Once a strategy is in place for success, all your actions will follow.

6. Be Comfortable Making Adjustments But Do Not Forget The Goal

Life will surely throw you curve balls and your success will be determined by how you respond and how you adjust. Most boxers who have fought Mayweather will tell you that he makes adjustments when necessary. Against Mosley, he almost got knocked out and Mosley thought he was going to win the fight; to his surprise, Mayweather adjusted and the results was a Mayweather Victory.

Life will knock you down no matter how many hours you spend preparing (but still prepare) – we prepare for the “knowns” and adjust to the unknowns. Mayweather does not completely abolish his strategy or goal, but tweaks his behavior to better align himself to the new threat or challenge. In life, we should be able to do the same if we want to be successful. We should not allow a minor hiccups to knock us out. In the Business world, we will face many hiccups, but the best companies will always adjust to meet their goals. Be comfortable adjusting and you will uncomfortable succeed.

7. Understand The Basics & Master Them

Back to the basics. The basics is everything. You can’t achieve greatness by ignoring the basics of all you do. If you are a people manager, you don’t only focus on the numbers, but your people because your people are the ones who actually work to help meet the business goals and score card metrics. Before you can do complicated math problems, you need to first understand simple arithmetic.

Most Championship teams in sports are known for doing something extremely well: the basics. The basics are like the foundation to a building. Without a strong foundation, the building is subject to be destroyed in tough times but a building a with a great foundation will stand the test of time.

In times of trouble and adversity in life, the basics are what will sustain you. Whatever you want to do in life, understand the basics and success will be your portion.

8. Be Patient

I can be impatient. What I want, I want now. This is a bad trait because patience leads to long term success and it is a weakness of mine I’m aware of and work on consistently – and it is paying dividends.

Mayweather is very patient in the ring. He takes his time from the beginning of camp and it shows in the ring. He is patient to understand his opponents. He is patient in setting his opponents up in the ring. He waits, jabs, waits.. more jabs, waits and then BOOM – he attacks. He waits for his opponents make a mistake and then capitalize’s on their mistakes.

In life, whenever you want something so bad, be patient enough to get it at the right time.  Trust the process and the patient with it. Slow and steady wins the race.

9. Focus On Your Strengths – Do What You Do Best

Mayweather is known for one thing: Defense. He is not known for knockouts, so he does not go pressuring for it. If Mayweather tries to knock someone out, he will leave himself open and possibly get himself knocked out in the process. He focuses on his strengths and fights his fight.

We tend abandon what we do best when the going gets tough and we tend to ignore our strengths. In life, we are all blessed with different strengths and capabilities. Learn to focus on them and use them to your advantage. Don’t fight your opponents fight, but fight yours.

10. Be Prepared To Be In For The Long Haul

Mayweather does not practice for a knockout. He does not practice for 12 rounds. In reality, he practices beyond 15 rounds. He wants a knockout without a doubt, but he practices as if he is not going to get one. He prepares his mind and body for a long and gruesome fight – so whenever a fight gets to the 7th or 8th round, when his opponent is tired, his conditioned body and mind is just waking up to do damage.

We often at times look for quick success or shortcuts but in reality the quicker you achieve something, the quicker you are prone to losing it. Anything worth awhile takes time.

BONUS: Ignore The Crowd

The crowd (naysayers, “haters”, critics, pundits, etc.) will only be a factor if you allow them. Against Pacquiao, the crowd got involved anytime Pacquiao threw hay makers. The crowd got excited even when PacMan was not connecting on his punches. This could have forced Mayweather to fight Pacquiao’s attacking style of fighting while making himself vulnerable, but he did not buy into it. He kept defending and countering. He stuck by what he knew best and what he was good at. He was not fighting the crowd or his critics, but Pacquiao.

When we fall into the trap of fighting the rest of the world, we ignore what is really important. His focus on his enemy is what led him to victory.

Just like me, you probably don’t like certain things about Mayweather even though he is only human. But to stay on unbeaten for 20 years is something we can all respect and learn from.

Joe Darko.

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Christians, If Jesus were Here Today, We Would Have Crucified Him

Crucifixtion Of Jesus

Crucifixtion Of Jesus

Think about it, as Christians, our lives were changed the moment we opened ourselves up to the radical love, teachings and story of Jesus. In the days of Jesus, He was seen as a radical. His teaching were out of this world. His ideas sounded crazy and His methods were strange. He constantly went against the grain, challenged the status quo, provided “weird” answers and asked thought provoking questions – through all of this, He revolutionized the world in the process and no where in the History of mankind has a Man been this influential and powerful.

Christians, let’s be honest: If Jesus were to be here with us today, we would have probably crucified Him. We are no different than the Pharisees of His time. The Pharisees were not evil, they simply did not understand how big God was. They did not understand His love and His compassion. They went by the books and anytime their ideas, thoughts and way of life were challenged, they flipped and certainly not happy. Often at times, Jesus would ask them thought provoking questions and they would be quick to stone him – eventually, they got what they wanted by helping help crucify Him. Ask yourselves this question: As Christians, how many people have challenged our thought process with their doubts, questions or suggestions and what is our response to their inquiries? Often at times, it is not well received and I will be honest, sometimes, we would love to give them a slap.

Jesus told them to love their enemies just as much as He admonishes us to love ours today. He told them to help the poor and needy just as much as he tells us to do the same. He continues to challenge us to live fully for God and not be bound by legalism. We were set free for a reason, but we continue to bind ourselves for no apparent reason. If Jesus were not radical in words and in deeds, He wouldn’t have impacted the world the way He did.

Just as much as Jesus was going against the grain, we are challenged to do the same in today’s society. Think about it, the Pharisees and the people of His time were told to retaliate – “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”; but what did Jesus say in Matthew 5:38-39, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” With everything in context and perspective, let’s not forget how crazy this might have sounded. This was extremely radical! It was insane at that time to hear something like this; no wonder they wanted to crucify Him. For years, they were stoning to death people who will indulge themselves in sexually immorality, especially women – but Jesus once again disarmed them when they were ready to stone the woman. We often read this chapter and think of the Pharisees as hateful people, but they were only a product of their culture. They were doing what they knew and what they had been exposed to. So the teachings of Jesus were foreign to them. As Christians, culturally, we have also been exposed to certain things and a way of life. But we forget that Christ continues to change us through the Holy Spirit. Christ continues to work in us and through us. In Romans 12:2, we are told to renew our minds and not be conformed to things of this world: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will We forget that culture can be deemed as “things of this world” and the passage above clearly states that we should not be conformed to things of the world. Culture is needed and it is a beautiful thing and we are all part of different cultures, but when it comes to your personal culture affecting the Christ Culture, we often conform tot he latter. We refuse to love unconditionally, we refuse to forgive, we refuse to support, we refuse to accept and we refuse to help, we refuse to be questioned and refuse to be challenged, etc. Christ Culture calls us into a whole new family with different beautiful people from different ethnic backgrounds, different thoughts, different mindsets, different suggestions and different lifestyles. Christ Culture pushes us out of our comfort zone and propels us to exhibit the traits of Christ in and outside the circle of the Church and Christ culture should definitely supersede our culture. We are being moved away from our comfort zone to be make an impact.

As a Pastor friend of mine (John Pavlovitz) said: “I always hold on to the bigness of God; that He is not threatened by questions, or doubts, or the examination of everything, our history, tradition, doctrines, creeds. He is not afraid of them, and what is true, will always hold up under scrutiny.” When we are challenged and questioned, we often get angry. When suggestions are made, which may go against the grain, we begin to feel insecure, we push back and the opportunity to have a great and open dialogue about Jesus turns into a war. We are admonished to study and show ourselves approved but do we actually do so? I’m not asking for us to argue, but we refuse to dialogue with those who might differ from us. We shun those who don’t believe in exactly what we believe in. When our actions are questioned by believers and non-believers alike, instead of using this as an opportunity to educate, we fire back angrily and sometimes respond in hate and fear. With myself included, sometimes we feel as though we are better than those who have not yet “seen the light”, so we automatically void of nullify their suggestions or questions and call them “faithless”. We hate those who speak up boldly forgetting that they also have the same passion and desire for the Church just as much as we do. Just because they do not do things the way we have been conformed to do them, we disregard them and push them to the side.

With all that mentioned above, I am not saying we should all run around the world just accepting any and everything – but through the love of Christ, we should allow the questions, the doubts, the suggestions and even the denial. We should in all things, allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to bring about the salvation that is needed. We should allow our thoughts to be challenged, we should allow people to question us, because the God who hung on the cross 2,000 years ago is bigger than any question or push back. A the end of the day, He is the truth and He alone will stand firm amidst the doubt and scrutiny.

For a spiritual revolution to take place in our world today, we need to renew our minds, be open and led by the Spirit, be receptive to spiritual change and thoughts and be willing to sacrifice our pride and ego to better the Kingdom and Work of God.

As Christians today, I am convinced that if Jesus were here today, we would have crucified Him because his ideas, suggestions, thoughts would have also been radical as they were 2,000 year ago. Jesus revolutionized the world through radical teachings of love. He did not conform but went against the grain and that is what saved you and I. My question is, are we going to continue the Good Work He started with us or we are going to cling to legalism and conformation just like the Pharisees?

Share this and Share your thoughts!

Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

‘Christianity’ Can Make You Lazy

"Christianity" Can Make You Lazy

“Christianity” Can Make You Lazy

Where do I start with such a thought provoking title?

Christianity, for the most part, is deemed as “a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior.” Christianity starts with an individual first believing and accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal savior – believing in His core teachings of love.

This is where things start to get a little tricky – Christians are usually encouraged to fellowship with other individuals to share the experiences of life through Christ. During the fellowship process, Christians first find a “home church” to fellowship with. Based on the vision and strategy of the leaders, the Church serves different purposes for its members. For the most part, Christians are usually in Church on Sundays. A regular Sunday service comprises of Praises, Worship and the Word or Teaching/Preaching. The teachings also differ based on the denomination and core values of the Church and it is critical to the growth of the Church. Christianity as a whole should promote hand work, diligence, perseverance and love. But different facets of the diluted truth masked in “Christianity” can cause many problems including laziness.

“Say It, Claim It and Receive It” teachings as well as the “Prosperity Gospel” can reek havoc if not taught properly along with the whole truth of Christ. I strongly believe that the tongue is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans – the Bible clearly supports this fact by stating that “Life and Death lies on the tongue”. We use our tongue to praise, give compliments, encourage and uplift people – with the same token, we use our tongue to condemn, rebuke and sometime destroy others. In the Biblical and spiritual concept, I believe in speaking good things into your life and the lives of others but most importantly, I believe in working towards whatever you say in your life with prayer, faith, but more importantly, hard work and perseverance. The “Say it, claim it and receive it” gospel with no regards to the whole truth of the Gospel can make an individual believe that all they have to do is say something and magically, whatever they say will manifest in their lives. An individual trying to lose 20 pounds for health reasons can’t sit in the Church and say “I claim it.. I receive losing weight” and expect to lose weight without adhering to some form of exercise consistently. Jesus is not in the miracle business for your comfort – but for the kingdom.

The Prosperity Gospel follows the same trend. Listen, I strongly believe that God can prosper and give you riches in abundance; but Prosperity Gospel alone without the sound principles of the whole truth of the Gospel in Christ can leave people disappointed in the Church, in God and in themselves. We can’t choose to damage the same people we are meant to help. Christ is enough. The Gospel based on Christ and love is what turns the heart of men and women. The Prosperity Gospel allows us to focus on ourselves alone instead on God and our neighbors – in my next post (Selfless Faith), I will expand on how we have become a selfish generation of Christians and how we can become selfless just like the Man we follow.

If you pay close attention to the teachings of Jesus Christ, you will realize that Jesus was all about love and faith. He was about moving in faith through the vehicle of love. He did not only teach loving our neighbors, but extended it to loving our enemies. He extended our responsibilities as believers to a whole different level and He commissioned us to follow Him in faith. Faith requires hard work and requires a level of diligence and perseverance. It does not solely rely on “Say It, Claim It and Receive It” Gospel nor the Prosperity Gospel; but calls for “working out our faith with fear and trembling”. You might be motivated and encouraged by a Prosperity Message, you might say all the good things about yourself, claim all the great things wrapped in a particular message, but to be honest, without working out your faith in Christ, you might not receive whatever you are looking for.

In the Bible, According to the beginning portion of Acts chapter 3, a lame man walked. The story goes as follows:

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

Yes, Peter had no money but gave a word under the authority of Christ, but look at the bolded portion of the message: the man acted on faith.. He did not just sit and mope. He did not just sit to beg for more. He did not just sit to be lazy, but he acted on his faith. With faith, he got a helping hand from Peter and INSTANTLY, his feet and ankles became strong and he jumped and began to walk. Some of us are like the lame man. 2,000 years ago, we were helped to be on our feet by the man who died a horrible death on the cross of Calvary but we are still SAYING that we are crippled only to RECEIVE the coins and change from the lofty words of PROSPERITY messages. All you and I have to do is get up and jump and run in faith in Christ Jesus.

Christianity is not meant to make you lazy but rather, full of life for Christ in faith through love. Christ is indeed the Cornerstone. He is not enough, but rather, more than enough.

Share this and Share your thoughts!

Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

If I Have Gay Children, I Will Love & Pray For Them – A Response



This piece is in response to Pastor John’s piece “If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent” – This is one of the best posts I have read in a while and I agree with John on so many levels but I differ with him on a couple of thoughts he shared as well.

I personally know John. Ironically, in the past, I have gone to John for advice concerning marriage. John is one of the most humble people you will ever meet. He is full of life and full of love. I started working with a youth group, which John used to Pastor and I’m yet to hear anything bad or evil about him. For those of you wondering whether he is legit Pastor or not, be rest assured that he is one. I’m not writing this post to totally debunk what he wrote, but I am only shedding light on where we slightly differ from a Biblical Perspective on this topic.

I’m also a Christian and a Youth Leader but not a Pastor – at least not yet. I grew up in a Christian home and because of that, I’ve grown a little bit accustomed to the religious practices of the Christian Church, but I have not always agreed to certain practices of the Church. I have always been an advocate for the “Christ Culture” in the Church which embodies Grace, Mercy and Unconditional Love. About a year ago, I made a video on YoutTube talking about how Christians are supposed to love everyone including our brothers and sisters in the gay community. To be honest, I faced a great backlash from a lot of Christians for my stance but just like my faith, I was not moved. I will never be moved and I’ll continue to share the Biblical truths on such topics for generations to come.

As a Christian, there are certain truths I hold dear to my heart and couple of these truths are as follows:

1. I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Personal Savior and I believe that He is not only the son of God, but God Himself. I also believe that I am under Christ’s Authority and not of my own
2. I believe in the Bible as being the Authoritative Word of God which continues to stand true to the test of time
3. Finally, I believe in love

With that being said, my stance on this issue is that we are supposed to LOVE ALL through Christ. We are supposed to love the fornicator, we are supposed to love the drunk, we supposed to love the murderer, we are supposed to love the thief, we are supposed to love the racist, we are supposed to love the gay, we are supposed to love robber and if I have gay children, I will equally love them unconditionally. As a matter of fact, we are supposed to love ourselves because we are certainly not perfect in anyway, shape or form.

I agree with John on so many levels concerning loving his kids if he is to have gay children. With the same token, if I ever have gay children, I will unconditionally love them and always think the world of them. I will not reject them. I will consider them as my prize possessions. I will not hide their sexuality, but protect them from the harsh world. I will be proud of them, not because they are gay but because they are my kids. I will listen to them, read to them, play with them and continue to support them in everything they will ever choose to do. I will encourage them and as a family, play video games together and also pray together. Most importantly, when I go to my room to pray for the rest of my family, my friends, and the rest of the world, I will also pray for them.

I’ll pray for them the same way I’ll pray for the couple going through a divorce. I’ll pray for them the same way I’ll pray for my fornicating son or daughter. I’ll pray that God will give the couple (going through a divorce) the strength to get through the difficult times of their marriage without a divorce and I’ll pray for my fornicating son or daughter that God will give them the strength to help them get over the temptations of fornicating. Finally, I’ll pray for myself. I’ll pray that God would purge me of all unrighteousness and continue to work in me through Christ.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting my gay son/daughter to not act on their disposition of being gay. My want for them not to act on such dispositions certainly does not mean that I love them less. Jesus loved us more than anyone could ever love us, but he certainly does not agree with our sins. On a couple of occasions, Jesus told specific people in the Bible after healing them or protecting them to “Go and Sin no more”. “In saying, “Go and sin no more,” Jesus was not speaking of sinless perfection. He was warning against a return to sinful lifestyle choices. His words both extended mercy and demanded holiness”. The same way Jesus loved these people, that is the same way we should love. At the end of the day, we are CHRISTians and not JOEsians or PAULtians. Our identity and authority is in Christ and not in our President, Boss or Pastors – so we should strive to love as Christ; did but at the same time, we should spend time in prayer. If the people we are praying for go back and sin, we should not reject them but continue to love them and pray that the power and spirit of God will give them the strength to overcome any and every temptation. We should not pray for them as if they were abnormal but we should pray for them just like we would pray for ourselves: for God’s strength to allow us to overcome the temptations of the flesh.

If I were a parent with children having the dispositions of being gay, I’ill certainly go on my knees and pray that the spirit of God does not allow them to act on such dispositions. A disposition does not necessarily justify the expression of that particular disposition – and this is for all sexuality including fornication and infidelity. Married men have the disposition to cheat on their wives but this does not mean that they should cheat on their wives. Young men and women also have the disposition to fornicate, but the disposition does not justify their actions. A young and hungry boy on the street has the disposition to steal but his actions will be reprimanded by the law.

As Christians, we’re all called to love. We’re called to show the love of Christ. Love accepts & understands, but does not always agree. Just because someone does not agree with an issue does not mean there is no capacity to love. I don’t agree with the robber who robbed the bank, but through love, I will accept him as an individual who fell into the temptation of sin. At the same time, as Christians, we are called to be bold. We should boldly accept people who are rejected. We should boldly stand for the weak. We should boldly be willing to lend a helping hand but most importantly, on the issues of Sexuality (which is a sacred one), we should boldly accept and understand the struggles and difficulties of others but we should boldly take the stance that God’s plan was for a man to marry a woman and his plan was also for a man to be faithful to his wife. Just because a Christian takes a stance under the authority of Christ in support of marriage between a man and a woman does not mean the Christian is not filled with love.

If I have gay children, I’ll accept them, understand them, love them – and while I disagree with the idea of their sexuality, I will use one of the most powerful weapons we have as Christians: Prayer. BUT I will never stop loving them at all cost – whether they act on the dispositions of their sexuality or not. I will always love them.

Joe Darko
Twitter/Instagram: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

REPLY: A Letter To Ghanaians In The Diaspora. Not A Rant, Just A Response

REPLY: A Letter To Ghanaians In The Diaspora. Not A Rant, Just A Reply To A Letter

REPLY: A Letter To Ghanaians In The Diaspora. Not A Rant, Just A Reply To A Letter

I just read an interesting article titled “A Letter To Ghanaians In The Diaspora: A Rant” by Nanama Boatemaa Acheampong. It is an interesting post and it has some truths to it. Nanaama clearly stated it was a rant, so my expectations were set before I read it. I was not surprised by her rants, because it seems to be the general consensus of most Ghanaians against Ghanaians in the Diaspora. Before you read my response below, I suggest you click on her link and read her post. You will like it because there is some truths to it.

My Reply:

Dear Nanaama, first of all, I want to thank you for your rant. It places things in perspective – but I suggest you do the due diligence to understand things from a greater point of view before you rant. Yes, I am a Ghanaian in the diaspora and for the past 12 months, I have been to Ghana twice. I am the kind of guy who likes to dress comfortably over the summer here in the states – with my T-Shirt, shorts and slippers (or sometimes my loafers or sperry’s) coupled with my wrist beads and African necklace and whenever I am in Ghana, I wear similar outfits. I have had Ghanaians in Ghana say “Oh, isn’t he from the U.S? Why is he dressed so normal like this? My answer is simple: I do what is comfortable for me and I do not try to impress anyone in Ghana or in the States. Believe me or not, there are a lot of Ghanaians in the diaspora who have this mindset of not trying to impress anyone. Not every Ghanaian in the diaspora is a “show boy or show girl” when they come to Ghana. Not every Ghanaian in the diaspora is looking to impress anyone in Ghana. I am just a simply young Ghanaian man, who just graduated from Penn State 3 years ago and working now. My life is simple: I have my little car and my little apartment with some of my toys like the XboxOne and other stuff and I’ll never flaunt to any Ghanaian as if I live with Obama in the White House. I cut my coat according to my size and with time, I will get to where I need to or want to be – and yes a lot of Ghanaians in the diaspora are also living like this.

I’m sorry to hear that you lived in a “match box” when you visited your auntie. Well, that’s what they had. Maybe instead of you ridiculing it, you should appreciate it. They actually gave you a place to lay your head. In your letter, they obviously did their best to set your expectations during your ride to their place from the airport. They did that possibly because they knew you were living large in Ghana and didn’t want you to be disappointed. But you were still disappointed like a brat and instead of appreciating it, you proudly wrote about it and rudely exposed their humble lifestyle – I bet you they didn’t ask you to preach to the world about their tiny home. If you care to know, historically, houses have always been small in the UK. The rich or poor live in small houses and even compared to the States, their food portions are also small. Sometimes it is cultural and sometimes it is simply the economic situation of the people you will be living with. If you don’t want to live at a small place in London on your next vacation, I suggest you carry your mansion the next time you visit or better yet, stay in Ghana and enjoy your vacation.

You are saying Ghanaians in the diaspora complain about the weather when they visit Ghana, well shoot! It is hot. We complain here when we get extreme temperatures over the summer and the winter. We are humans and humans complain. We do not complain in Ghana to get your attention or to beg for your sympathy – we simply complain just the same way you do. Yes, it is expected that Ghana will be hot, but in life, you do not always get what you expect. Whenever I get ready to visit Ghana, it is always in my subconscious that it will be hot, but I still sweat like a dog when I get there. My expectations do not change the temperature from hot to cold. Yesterday was the first day of Fall here in the States and I expected it to be cold but it was freezing. When I started to freeze, I called up one of my friends to complain – this is life. Ghanaians living in the diaspora do not complain to get anyone’s attention when they come to Ghana. We complain simply because we are stating facts – sometimes we are simply exaggerating and being a little dramatic. Oh and by the way, before you point your finger at others just look at your own life: you are the same person who complained about the weather in UK during your visit in your post. So it is okay for you to complain when you visit, but it is never okay for us to do the same? Perfect. I get it.

Concerning politics, we are not saying Ghanaians are too blind to see their problems, but let’s call a spade for what it is and for once let’s accept the truth: we (Ghanaians) do not hold our government accountable. You are right, we should come down and help if we are going to give our two cents, but you have forgotten that some Ghanaians also have families here as well and will not just get up to fight the incompetence of Ghanaian leadership. Unless you have a fat bank account (and I’m talking about millions of dollars), you won’t risk it. Also, we all know that Ghanaians will not just sit and watch a Ghanaian in the diaspora come and make positive changes simply because “he did not live in Ghana”. You are the same people who ignore the help of others try to come back home to help – we hear you say, “what is he doing here? he thinks he knows better than us? he did not live here but wants to come here and make a change?”. You are the same people who push people away when they are trying to help. You forget to understand that for any positive change to be administered or be effective, it starts with a grass root – so when we give our two cents, it is ONLY our two cents. You can simply take it or leave it. A corrupt society does not benefit anyone but people with buying power; and for the people overseas, so long as they are working hard and have more buying power than a majority of Ghanaians, then a corrupt Ghana will benefit them and not necessarily some of the people in Ghana who are working only to make ends meet – so if someone in the diaspora is just giving their two cents, then it should tell you that they simply care. Do not overlook this as arrogance. An arrogant person will not care and continue to live their life.

Whenever I’m in Ghana, I speak twi. Yes, my family members make fun of my Twi, but I see no difference in what I am speaking and what they are speaking. I speak it because it is my language whether it is good or not. I do not try to “brofolize” anything to impress anyone. Do you realize that the Dadabee’s like you are the ones who are always trying to speak English to us when we are in Ghana? In your own country, you avoid speaking your own dialect – then we become the criminals for responding to you in English with an accent we have developed overseas. Have you realized that YOU are the same people who try to talk with a British Accent and American Accent? You actually try to force it. Have you realized that YOU are the same people who are so pressed to pick up on American or British lingos? But then you turn the tables and blame us when we connect with you on that level and communicate with you. I per-se do not need to speak English to prove to you that I have an American accent. It is a language and nothing more.

Yes, your post may contain some valid points, but you sound like the “angry little sister” with all this rant because NOT ALL GHANAIANS IN THE DIASPORA ARE EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE MENTIONED. People are different. Some might fit the bill, but not all – so do not write a letter to ALL of us when you want to address the select few of people you know. You have a problem with them, tell them to their face when they come to Ghana. Laughing behind their back and talking behind their back won’t alleviate the problem. When people travel they pick up different traits, different cultures and different habits, so do not be naive to quickly point out the prick in the eye of your beloved Ghanaians in the diaspora while you have a huge log in yours.

SOME Ghanaians in the diaspora match exactly what you have described in your post, but please do not place ALL of us in your “auntie’s matchbox” – like you said, it is too small for us all to fit.

Yours’ Faithfully,
Ghanaians In The Diaspora!

Courtesy of Joe Darko
Twitter/Instagram: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Ghanaian Players “Crying” Over Money? Not Really! Hear The Truth!


During the wake of Ghana being knocked out of the tournament, lots of posts emerged on various social media platforms claiming that the Ghanaian soccer players were unpatriotic for wanting to get paid. These players have toiled, worked hard and believe it or not, are more dedicated to the team and the country than $100,000 ($3 million total) going to their already deep filled pockets. It is not about the money, but the principle. Let’s dig deep to understand what really happened.

Yes, most of these players make more than $100,000 so why the big fuss? Trust or lack of it. The players do not trust the Ghana Football Association. On multiple occasions, the incompetent association has lied to the the players representing the country. The same reason why the FIFA organization is corrupt is the same reason why the GFA is corrupt: Money. There is money in futbol globally and big people are always trying to capitalize through their corrupt means. The GFA is no different from FIFA with regards to corruption, but FIFA is at least a competent organization – this is by no means in support of their corrupt behavior.

The 3 million dollars ($100,000 for each player) is money owed and promised to the players as a bonus for qualifying to the World Cup from the GFA. With respect to principles, the players did work hard to qualify for the World Cup and should have had this money before the start of the World Cup competitions, but once again, the GFA tried to pull a fast one, just like they’ve been doing for many years. Most of the players don’t really need the money, but standing on the ground of principles, they were willing to put a stop to the corrupt nature of the GFA.

The $100,000 bonus promised to the players is different from the World Cup Prize Money. World Cup prize money — which ranges in Brazil from $8 million for being knocked out in the group stage to $35 million for winning the title — is normally paid after the tournament. According to ABC “Ghana’s cash-strapped football association has asked for an advance on the $8 million prize money it is guaranteed from the World Cup to pay outstanding debts to players ($3 million  they owe the Black Stars). FIFA said Wednesday that Ghana’s request was ‘under evaluation.'” It is not rocket science to understand that the GFA did not want to pay the players the money they have earned but wanted FIFA to pay them money they have not earned. They were trying to borrow $3 million from the already guaranteed $8 million the players were going to earn – this is certainly not fair and definitely cutting into the shares of players. The players were upset because they have already experienced this in a different fashion before (4 and 8 years ago) and were not willing to go through it again. They were willing to put a stop to this cycle once and for all.

The players were not being greedy but were not going to be duped again. They were ready to put up a fight against the corrupt nature of the Ghana Football Association. They have worked hard, earned their spot at the World Cup and deserve the bonus they were promised. They are professional athletes and not charity athletes. To them, this is a career and their wages should not be toyed with. Unfortunately for Ghanaian supporters World Wide, this incident placed Ghana on the map in a very negative light and caused some disagreements at the Black Stars camp in Brazil. Sulley Muntari who is a very vocal leader lost his cool and overreacted and this led to his suspension. Kevin Prince Boateng on the other hand was simply not getting along with the coach and was also suspended – all of this destroyed the morale of the Ghanaian Black Stars who for the past week and a half, have been playing great futbol at the World Cup, but against Portugal, they looked drained, tired and could not concentrate. It’s no surprise that both goals from Portugal came directly from errors by the Ghanaians. They simply could not focus.

This is what happens when you have an incompetent association full of corrupt officials who constantly interfere with the work of young professionals. Say what you want about Akwasi Appiah (The Ghanaian Coach) and his tactics, but in my humble opinion, he is a competent coach who was sabotaged by an extremely greedy and corrupt association in the name of the Ghana National Football Association. They created an environment where the players were not able to focus which led to their failure. The environment was simply not conducive for success. Your environment is critical to your success just as your will and drive is.

In case you did not know, no African team has won the World Cup – yet alone make it to the semi finals. Do not be surprised, because if you can’t manage your affairs in life, you will simply not win in life. Our leaders are too incompetent to manage effectively or successfully.

Let’s not put the blame on the players. They fought a good fight. They gave their all, but they needed major help from our leaders.

Even though I am based here in the United States, I will forever be a proud Ghanaian and will forever support my team, but there has to be some major changes concerning leadership. Africa can do better, but we the people have to stand up, step up and speak against the injustice of our leaders or else the cycle of failure due to poor management will never end.


Joe Darko

101 Rules For My Mentees


 Wheeeew! The graduation season is almost over! To be honest, I love and hate the graduation season. I love it because I get to see my mentees walk across the stage with pride and a sense of accomplishment – I am always humbled by this moment. On the other end of the spectrum, I hate it. I hate it because they are about to set foot into this cruel ad sometime, unforgiving world. I fear for them. I fear that they might forget all of my advice. I fear that they will make wrong decisions. I fear that they will stumble and fall. I fear that they will fail.

Even though my fear places things in perspective, I can’t let my fear overshadow my faith. Yes, they will make mistakes. They will make wrong decisions. They might forget my advice. They will stumble and fall and they will fail at certain things in life but it should not hinder their growth and development. As a matter of fact, their shortcomings will help shape and nurture them. I had my fair share of failures. I did forget some key advice. I made wrong decisions and made costly mistakes, but through grace, I turned out “alright”. I have faith and believe that my mentees will go through their own journey, but when it is all said and done, they will turn out just fine.

Besides the one-day summer camp which will they be attending with me to get them mentally prepared for college, I wanted to casually share some “rules” with them. So after Church yesterday, I sat down and started to think about things I would like for them to know, do and don’t do – these are things I learned during my four years at the Pennsylvania State University. I did not intend to write down 101 rules, but the list kept growing. From 5 to 25, then 50, then 70 and, finally, 101!

These “rules” are guidelines – they are not “if you do not follow these you will fail and die” rules. They are only to help guide their decisions, build character and positively help shape them into men of substance and value. I hope you enjoy these. Feel free to comment. 🙂

101 Rules For My Mentees

1. Don’t choose “walking” as a major. You don’t require any special skills to be the best walker or a walking specialist. My point is, choose something which will add value to yourself and your future.

2. You don’t have to go out every weekend, you know that right?

3. Make new friends but continue to invest old friendships.

4. Take risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

5. Break some rules, but don’t be foolish because some rules will cost you for life

6. Really sick? See the doctor and stay in bed. You won’t learn anything especially if you are not in the right state of mind. Oh, you won’t get a perfect attendance award.

7. Do not be pressed over any girl.

8. Don’t get “married” your first semester in college.

9. Do not form bad habits

10. Treat girls with respect

11. Do not forget your parents – because no matter how they try, they won’t forget you

12. Fear God

13. Find a Church

14. Do not get crazy drunk – legally/illegally. You will regret it the next morning, plus it’s not fun anyways – overrated.

15. Want to have a baby? Get a puppy. Oh, by the way, getting a puppy will attract more females 😉

16. STUDY! STUDY! STUDY! This is the main reason why you are going to school.

17. Get to know more females. They are interesting and they will teach you a lot. Some will definitely annoy you and others will end up hating you – such is life.

18. Say no to drugs. Period.

19. If you are supposed to complete a degree in 4 years, it simply means you should whatever it takes to finish it within four years at all cost. No days off.

20. Priorities, priorities, priorities…. and more priorities. If you do not prioritize, you will simply fail.

21. Be honest with your parents, your professors, your friends, but most importantly, be honest with yourself.

22. Don’t plan to cram. Planning to cram is planning to fail and only a fool plans to fail.

23. Every homework, assignment, or quiz should be your final.

24. “These girls ain’t loyal”

25. Just kidding, some are…Some. Choose wisely.

26. Don’t be pressured to be in a relationship. It is expensive in college plus you will be broke anyways

27. Travel, go on trips

28. Be spontaneous

29. Give. Be a blessing to someone

30. Exercise

31. Volunteer because you want, not because you have to

32. During breaks, be excited to come to see your parents and totally serve them while you are home. They will definitely be surprised and respect you as a young adult

33. Call your mentor at least once a month. Yes, call me.

34. I don’t expect you to be perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be perfect. When you fall, rise.

35. When you make mistakes, learn.

36. But do not fail a class. You can pass any class if you put in the time.

37. Don’t be afraid to make enemies. But love your enemies.

38. Go on dates! Lots of them! Yes, girls still love them

39. You see a cute girl you are interested in, talk to her. Get to know her. You might not see her again

40. If you give her your number and she doesn’t reach out, reach out to her (if you have her number)

41. If she doesn’t respond, she is simply not interested. Don’t stalk her – its classless

42. Read. Not only for class

43. Remember God. Don’t throw away your faith.

44. Make room for your boys and spend time with them even if you have a girlfriend, because you will need them when things go sour with your lady.

45. No girl completes you

46. Stay away from girls who start drama or always in drama – not worth it

47. Invite your boys from other schools to campus events and create moments

48. Be a great host

49. Use your professors as references or point of contacts

50. If you are really into a girl, then avoid the friend zone at all cost

51. Join a club and build your network – make sure it is diverse not just on race, but ideas and personalities. Get involved with campus activities

52. Thinking about joining a frat. Well, weigh the pros and cons and make sure it will give you something no organization/anyone else can give you. Do your research. I did and I did not join one. But that’s me.

53. Hold onto your morals and value

54. Throw a party at least once in your college career – even if it is just a get together

55. Invite your friends to just come hang the day after the party. You will need them to help clean

56. Don’t feel like going to a party? Simply do not go

57. Don’t feel like going to class? Go. Bad habits are usually formed by unstable emotions. Trust me, you will most of the time not feel like going to class

58. Freshman 15 is real. Yes, for the guys too. Internship and work over the summer is a must. Don’t compromise

59. You don’t understand something, question it

60. Question your professors too. After all, they are not ‘all knowing’

61. Do not judge. You don’t know what others are going through

62. Fight for what is just and right

63. People do not have to like you, but they must respect you. Know when, where and how to put your foot down

64. Don’t give up on your dreams, they are always going to be valid until you are dead

65. Don’t want a pregnancy scare, don’t have sex

66. When you ask a girl out on a date, you have to pay for her. The quicker you learn this, the better

67. McDonalds is not a great place for a date either

68. Accept people for who they are but most importantly, for who they are NOT

69. Help other, but remember you are not superman and you simply can’t save the world. Someone has already done that. Lead them to that person

70. Be different, stand out and embrace your uniqueness

71. Practice good hygiene

72. Challenge the status quo, but respect authority

73. Boys talk should remain just that…. Boys Talk!

74. Your girlfriend is just a girlfriend. Not your wife, mother or sister

75. Some people are irreplaceable – mother, father, sisters or brothers. Remember them

76. Build your brand with confidence from Day One!

77. Attend every career/networking event at your school

78. Don’t play with the emotions of females. You might have a daughter some day.

79. Avoid 8 am’s. Just avoid them. You will be half asleep anyways.

80. Syllabus week is NOT “party week”. Look over the syllabus and get a head start with your readings. Whatever you do not understand, ask the professor in class. He/she will like that you take his/her class seriously. It is not “sucking up”, you are only doing what you are supposed to do and you are beating the system.

81. It’s not middle or high school, so your professor is not there to teach you – his job is to guide you. You teach yourself and you learn on your own.

82. Don’t hesitate to schedule office hours with your professors. They actually appreciate them.

83. Pick a fun elective. Something odd and different. You will learn something interesting and valuable

84. Learning is the application of knowledge. You are not learning if you are not applying. Simple.

85. I’m not saying all your friends will be snakes, but be wise. Not all of them will have your best interest at heart

86. Pick a random night, make sure you don’t have class the next day, play video games with the boys and just talk

87. Sleep is medicine. Remember that

88. Build your network

89.” If you do not know what to do, do Business because it underpins everything” – from my co-worker Chris.

90. Arrive early to class, sit in one the first three rows, ask questions, take notes and you will never fail

91. Don’t sit with your friends in class. You won’t learn a thing

92. Don’t throw away your culture

93. Don’t lose yourself while trying to find yourself

94. Set goals, but make sure they are Measurable and Attainable. Hold yourself accountable

95. Don’t squander your refund check. Be wise with it. It is not free money.

96. Have a clean room and ensure that it smells good at all times

97. Invest in a nice pair of dress shoes, a dress shirt, pants, a tie and a watch. It’s a gentleman’s thing

98. Your default response under any sort of pressure should be a NO.

99. Try new things

100. Avoid these four group people: Gossips, Moochers, Drama and Negative people – they will never help you

101. Live a FULL LIFE

Let me honest here. You won’t always get it right and you are never going to be perfect. College is just another journey which will challenge you and build you up. Never stop learning and you will never stop growing.

Bonus and Final Rule: If life gives you lemons and you don’t like lemonade, just know that you really do not have to make lemonade. You have so many options with these lemons. Take your time, be patient and find ways and means they make good use of these lemons.