So how do you strengthen your determination muscle?
*Excerpt prepared for Dating 101 Panel at the Steve Harvey National Mentoring Camp in Dallas, Texas, June 13, 2013.
Here is my Truth. As a father, I'm terrified of doing the wrong
thing or making the wrong decision as it pertains to the lives of my
children. When they were young, I was very stern and
sometimes forceful in pointing them in a particular direction. As I and
they grew older, I began to understand that nothing I've tried to show
them would work or be tested unless I loosened the reigns of parental
authority and allowed them some freedom to exercise what they'd
learned and heard from me and their mother over the years. I began to
understand that instead of being a parental dictator, my children
needed me to become a more compassionate mentor. They respect
their mother and me so much because we laid a sturdy and
precise foundation. This foundation is the key to their future
and current success, as well as their personal growth! At this time I
wish to share, no better yet I desire to offer you and your family some
of the ideas I've shared with my two sons and daughter! I hope these
concepts although far from perfect can at least serve you and your
family as a loose template for creating your own sturdy foundation for
the accurate construction of your family’s desired future.
With love, respect, and in Divine Service,
been dubbed as
Deepak or The
Hip Hop Dr.
Phil. Zo is a
student of world
religions, he is a
passionate and opinionated dynamo who offers revolutionary thoughts
about the breakdown of social systems and institutions and how they
impact human relations within the urban/alternative community. Zo
lends a unique perspective to the relationship-coaching world.
He got his professional start as a music executive. Having worked
with a myriad of Hip Hop and Pop Music heavyweights at Loud and
Maverick Records over the years, Zo began noticing the thematic shift
in music content. Recognizing that this shift could be traced back to
some of the negative nuances in how his generation related to one
another and ultimately the world, he felt called to be of service. Zo set
out on a path that would pool his life experiences, literary skills, and
independent studies backgrounds together. As a result, he has emerged
as a highly sought after relationship coach and one of the premiere
authorities on relationships and the Hip Hop Community (Generation
X.) Currently, Zo can be found hosting his own show, The Zo What?
Morning Show on RMCOnAir.com. He is the former host of The
Voice of Reason and has also been featured on Speedy's Comedy
Corner. Zo has appeared on several television shows including,
Spitfire, a hip-hop roundtable show with rap legend Kool Mo Dee and
as a panelist on TV One’s, Black Men Revealed. Zo is completing his
second book, which the follow-up to his 2008 release, the Rebirth of
Every young man must learn to manage his emotions. How does
he manage his emotions? First, he must recognize his emotions outside
of his circumstances. In other words, sometimes we’re in a situation and
we just respond to the situation not understanding the environment and
all the other things leading up to us responding in a certain way. So he
has to learn how to see himself outside of his circumstances so he can
understand how he responds. This is how you begin to learn yourself and
“Hey, when I’m in an angry environment I
respond this way—either I go inside or I lash
out and I meet the level of whatever my
environment is offering. I meet it at its level.”
There are 168 hours within a week. A lot of time we have this
belief that we don’t have enough time. But the busiest people in the
world, on average, have about 25-35 hours a week left over after
breaking down all of the things that they do on a weekly basis and giving
it an hourly estimate. So with that said, there’s always time. You find
that the more organized your life is, the more time you have. It’s the
disorganization of life and the mismanagement of time that gives the
illusion that you don’t have enough.
When one gets into a relationship whether they’re a teenager or
whether they’re an adult, there’s a certain time allotted for that
relationship. So, boys, you have to learn how to become effective
managers of your time. The more structured or ordered your time is; the
more free time you have left over. If the go-getters of the world
have 25-35 hours of free time, the average person has about 55 hours
and that’s leftover of your 168-hour week. I would ask you to sit down
and map out all of the things you do all week long (i.e. How long are you
in practice?)—whether you’re playing football, basketball or whatever.
How long are you in practice (and give it a weekly amount)? If you
practice three times a week for two hours then you practice six hours a
week. I would encourage all of you boys to map out you time so you can
see how to get your priorities taken care of and then see how you can
prioritize your leisure time.
It is a proven fact that the best students are the best time
managers, are the best organizers. When those students understand that
“I have two hours to work on this”, they don’t let anything that isn’t a
part of that two-hour homework session to interfere or distract what
Whenever you can put all of your attention and focus on
something, you get it done in half the time.
Statistics show the actual time that it takes for us to complete a
particular task is stretched out because we keep starting and stopping.
Our focus is frayed.
You are living in a time and space that is referred to as your
formative years. As any architect knows, no building is worth its weight
unless it’s built on a strong foundation. These are your foundational
years. So what does that mean for you? That means: The quality of your
thoughts represent the foundation of your life. So, if the quality of your
thoughts is low, then that means the foundation that you’re building is
weak and by the time you come of age to make your own decisions, what
tends to happen is you find that you have a faulty foundation and
whatever you’ve tried to build can’t support anything.
As a young architect of your life, you are preparing your future
right now in the present. If you find yourself distracted, that’s natural.
It’s okay to be distracted but it requires discipline to get yourself back on
track and then once you get back on track, you can see a thing through. If
you do not learn how to discipline yourself, to remove all distraction, or
at least to learn how to be distracted for a moment and then recover from
that distraction and get back on task, you will find yourself floating. And
a lot of teenagers become young adults and they wake up and say, “What
happened to the last five years?”
One of the reasons why I say kids should see themselves as an
architect, as a builder of their life, is because what tends to happen is
when we get of age we find out that we now have to play catch up
because we wasted the formative years. Then we find out: You know, I
messed up here; now I’ve got to go back and redo this and redo that.
You are an architect and you should build the type of life you want but
the only way to do such a thing is delayed gratification. As teenagers,
sometimes we want what we want right now. And the most successful of
us understand that we have to delay gratification in order to actually get
what we want in the future.
In taking in all of the information about being an architect unto
oneself, the point is made here: Opportunity is always happening in and
around our lives. Sometimes we will see our friends getting opportunities
and we look at ourselves and say, “Why didn’t that opportunity happen
for me?” Well, if you built your future on a faulty foundation, you can
always go back and see this one point. A lot of times you hear people say
it and I’m going to say it to you:
Opportunity can only create success when one is
Opportunity is married to preparedness.
When opportunity and preparedness get together in relationship, they
produce the child of success.
Opportunity + Preparedness =
You must learn how to manage what content goes into your mind. There is a lot of stuff out there through the media that’s
ignorant, disrespectful towards women, that’s misogynistic [having or showing a hatred and distrust of women], that doesn’t teach
the true laws of manhood. There’s a lot of stuff out there that these children have the power, if they were directed in such a way, to
If you’re going to listen to Lil Wayne, you might also want to read something that’s totally different than what Lil Wayne
teaches so you can have parody, so you can have an understanding that Lil Wayne represents a particular vibration that isn’t of the
highest order; that isn’t necessarily for your highest good.
So manage the content that you take in.
If you manage your life effectively, you’ll see that your experiences will be greater than an unmanaged life.
So you’re managing your mind and the content that you put in your mind.
You’re managing your emotions and the external environment’s effect on your internal trigger and you’re
also managing your time.
We are managers—BORN managers.
As a young person, it would be beneficial for you to look at
personal relationship and intimate relationship as a classroom. We learn
from our relationships with our parents.
We learn from our relationships with our friends
and we tend to learn the most from our relationship with
intimate people we like—girlfriends, boyfriends—and in
this case definitely girlfriends, brothers.
I say this because all of the things that you didn’t pay attention to
about yourself as you are developing as a young person, tends to come
out in relationship. And if you’re not careful, whatever comes out you
may mistake as your partner’s fault or something they brought to the
table. Typically, what comes out is what you haven’t really discovered
about yourself. For instance, say you’re in a relationship with someone
that you find yourself arguing with all the time and then you say,
“They’re very argumentative.” But if you’re arguing with them are you
not what you’re claiming them to be? If you only focus on what they’re
doing and not what you’re doing, how can you learn what to correct
within yourself? If you’re always arguing with your partner, then how
can they be argumentative alone? You’re argumentative as well. If you
see always arguing as a problem in relationship but yet you want to live
within the double standard that you get to argue but they don’t, how can
you then stop attracting a person who’s argumentative?
It is your job to see yourself in relationship’s classroom. The
reflections that come back from other people I always say is your
personal curriculum. This is your textbook. The way they’re acting
bothers you because there’s something in you that you need to resolve—
that something that you need to deal with.
If you change your communication style…but wait before we get
there, do you know what your communication style is, young brother?
Well, if you’re unaware of it, your relationship will bring it to
Relationship being a classroom means everything that comes to
you in the form of conflict, in the form of disagreement, in the form of
upset are chances and opportunities for you to take ownership and
accountability and say, “These are things I need to work on.” I know this
might be somewhat of a heady concept but I believe if you’re always
looking to learn in your relationship, how then can it not be considered a
classroom? Remember this: Your partner is there for you in more ways
than one. It’s not just a place where you go and have fun, relationship is
really a place where you go and learn about yourself. Now with that said,
I always put it this way as well:
Relationship is a classroom that you can never
As long as you’re paying attention to the reflections that are
coming back, that means that you’re always learning; and if you’re
always learning about yourself, that means that you have an opportunity
to always get better. So this is a classroom that you can never graduate
I say that with a warning. This is also a class that you don’t want to enroll in too soon! If you get into this class real heavy and
real deep too soon, all that stuff I talked about being disciplined and being focused goes out of the way. Why?
Because your discipline, your focus, your determination—all of these things are like muscle and if you’re not strong enough, in
other words if your discipline muscle isn’t strong enough…if your determination muscle isn’t strong enough…if your focus muscle
isn’t strong enough—a real heavy relationship too soon will have you adrift in life...floating…trying to find someone to make you feel
a certain way…make you feel that you’ll be dependent and that’s not what you want.
So how do you strengthen your determination muscle?
How do you strengthen your focus muscle?
How do you strengthen your discipline muscle?
First, one must take inventory of one’s own internal weaknesses. Now, I’ve already told you that because relationship is a
classroom it will intensify and make clear your weaknesses.
Knowledge of self is how you strengthen your muscles—your focus muscle, your determination muscle,
your discipline muscle.
This is how you strengthen those muscles and this is what will make you a responsible participant in the University of You,
which I call relationship.
Relationship is a school.
The curriculum in this school is the reflection that comes back to you in the form of conflict, in the form of upset, in the form of
This is an opportunity for you to see who you really are.
Relationship gives you a diploma in self-knowledge.
Relationship is a school that young people don’t want to enroll in too soon because it is a school that you can never graduate
You can just move up to higher grades but there is no graduation from the School of
It is my opinion that no young person should start a serious relationship before the age of 19. The reason why I say
19 is because relationship is the one class or school you can never graduate from! Meaning it’s the school of you.
This is the one place—if you're paying attention—you will learn the most about yourself. Now what makes the
school of you a difficult one to move up in, is the lack of who you are internally before you enter into relationship.
Just look at it this way:
The classroom of relationship is filled with pop quizzes about yourself that if you're prepared for,
you should be able to pass with flying colors.
However, if you don't have somewhat of an understanding about yourself, can jump up and surprise you in the heat
of the moment. So take the necessary time to learn yourself and understand who you are before you are engaged in
a serious relationship with someone else.
If you're self-unaware, you might not like the reflections you get back from the relationship.
I don't think starting a serious relationship is necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a major distraction in your final
year of school. It is important in your senior year that all grades, assignments and plans or preparation for
matriculating to college are in place. Sometimes people forget that relationships, like most important things in our
life, require our focus and attention! If that attention is splintered over various projects and relationships, the
chances of those varied projects being done correctly or completed at all drops drastically! Remember, in order
for serious relationships to be fulfilling the two people must be serous watchers of their own internal workings.
They must keep track of and have a detailed inventory of their own flaws and
strengths at all times; otherwise, these unconscious flaws can wreak havoc on a
happy love life.
Simply know you can only control what you can control; and in most cases:
The thing you have the most control over is yourself!
I think to be in relationship with someone who doesn't feel the way you do would be pretty unfulfilling, in my
Don't try and force a situation that should be allowed to express itself naturally! Simply fall back and accept
that you and the person are in two different spaces right now and there's nothing you can do but move on.
Fun, fun, fun and that could mean camaraderie, companionship, and honest open communication with friends!
These will be the building blocks of a great friendship! A relationship that is built on friendship tends to produce a
truly joyful and meaningful experience.
As with any relationship, it's hard to predict if this kind of relationship will last forever but it's always good to
know that you have a true friend along this sometimes difficult journey. Relationships are usually about
teamwork and building something together. At this young age the only thing necessary is to build cooperation
It's time to end the relationship when there is violence and abuse, constant arguing, constant disagreement, and
Here's the tricky part.
At some level all of these things I mentioned before are part of a relationships success. Why do I say that? Because
there are no relationships that don't endure some form of all of the above! Good relationships are resilient and are
able to overcome these things. However, if there is no ebb flow in the good times and bad times (like personal
accountability and growth) or if they're just bad times for no reason, no purpose and for no understanding, then…
It is definitely time to break out and break up!
Of the simple answers is condoms used in conjunction with birth control pills, right? Wrong! The best birth
control is Mind/Thought control! Have you noticed that most people get done and do only what they're
interested in? The same concept applies to having irresponsible and unsafe sex! Most kids do it because they just like
the feeling, and want to do it! Imagine what you could accomplish in life if you delayed that need to do it. The
powerful tool of delayed gratification will help you keep things in perspective as you're building the kind of life you're
aspiring to live! As I've said in another portion of this book, you are your life's manager and it is you who must
manage your desires, thoughts and behaviors as well as what you say. If you fail to do so effectively, the
consequences could be dire! I know sometimes your mind could be like a wild mustang running rampant with
desires! It is at these moments that you are called to master your mind by grabbing and holding onto the reigns of
your purpose and reason so you can weather this mental storm. The quality and clarity of your thoughts
determine the quality of your life experiences. If you can learn to focus on your purpose when you are
challenged by desire, you'll be better off in the long run! The quality of your thoughts and your determination to see your purpose through, in my
opinion, is the best kind of birth control! Now I'm not saying don't use old reliable if you have to. I'm just saying what my Big Mama used to tell me,
“You wouldn't have been in an accident if you weren't there." Think on, young men!
Once digital information is sent over the Internet, it's there forever! It can even be retrieved from old discarded
cell phones that were believed to be completely wiped clean!
Yeah, I know it may fun, cool or exciting to receive a pic or video from some hot babe, but…
Think of the repercussions
What happens if you break up and she posts them on the net, Facebook or Twitter, Vine or Instagram? Needless
to say what happens between you and your lady should stay between you and her and not with the world as
Go get tested ASAP! Don't try and wait it away or ignore it; and lastly but most importantly, don't have sex again
with the same person or someone else! This is a serious matter!!
Go get tested so you can find out what's the deal! If you don't take this action,
you're a danger to yourself and everybody you come in contact with sexually!
Most sexually transmitted infections can be cured with a shot, so don't hesitate to go see what's going on inside
your body. One thing about manhood is that we're socialized to be responsible for our actions, the children we
sire, and the women we love! Think about it. If you're afraid to get yourself checked out, imagine the
damage you could inflict on those who will need you the most in the future.
…think about what you post
…use appropriate language and be courteous
…read between the lines
…create a safe screen name that doesn’t reveal any of your personal
…avoid in-person meetings
…be smart when using a cell phone
…use privacy settings that limit access to who can view your online profile
…recognize the difference between cute and creepy
10. … scrub your page of everything too personal, embarrassing, and illegal
…talk about sex with strangers
…let strangers review your friend list
…expose your telephone numbers, address and financial information
…feed the cyperbullies
...post pictures of you wearing next-to-nothing and making kissy faces or
flexing in the mirror
…accept just anybody as a friend
…use your full name
…share your password
…ignore controlling behavior from an ex
10. …join any offensive groups, pages or “Like” any stupid phrases
ZO WHAT? MORNING SHOW
TUESDAYS 11AM-1PM PST
Call-in number 323-965-1600
Contact Zo Williams
S. Riley, Thomas (SRT) & Associates
The show itself is a social experiment. Take “In Living
Color,” Bill Mahr’s Politically Incorrect,” throw in
Deepak Chopra and Oprah and there you have it –
the Zo What? Morning Show! The talk show that