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Summer School – Authenticity 101

The calendar hasn’t even turned to July, and I’ve already been to three coaching conferences/clinics and two share sessions. I have spoken out and been spoken to. I’ve listened to podcasts from every “expert” in the Northern Hemisphere and I’ve read four, (and-a-half, but who’s counting), of my summer books. That’s what coaches do during the offseason, right? That’s how we grow, learn, and feel good about the 12-16 hour days we’re not working from March – August. I’ve experienced a lot of education in the midst of all those speakers, presenters, and words on pages, but my real “schooling” came from a 30-minute phone call with a young assistant coach named Jhasmine.

The phone call wasn’t even supposed to happen.

It was prompted by an errant text. Jhas sent me a positive and encouraging, “Win the Day,” message, and it made me smile. Naturally, I fired an equally positive response right back at her.

Then I cringed. Because I didn’t feel very positive on this day.

So I took a screenshot of my reply to Jhas and sent it, along with the following message, “I get at least one similarly-related text, DM, or tweet like this every day. And I’m not sure how I REALLY feel about it.” And I hit “send”and exhaled. I breathed out loud because I had finally opened up to someone whom I trust and love about my true feelings from the last six months. Of course they would respond with, “???”, and then I could finally share with someone the pressure I was feeling to be something to others I’m not sure I can always be. Then we would discuss it, and they would provide me with insight and perspective and hopefully tell me to shut down my Twitter or at least stop saying, “Win the Day” all the damn time, and then no one would expect anything of me and life would be great. So I hoped.

Except I never gave that person a chance. Because I accidentally sent the message back to the original sender. I replied to Jhasmine and basically told her, “Thanks for the great and inspiring text! I get these all the time. And they’re stressing me out!”

Once I realized what I had done, I immediately reached out to Jhasmine and experienced a moment of clarity. I decided to have that same transparent and vulnerable conversation I had intended, but instead of having it with someone I trust and truly knows my heart, I was going to have it with Jhasmine. Someone I’ve only known through handwritten notes, social media, and a remote mentor group. Someone I’ve never met, or at least never remembered meeting, and someone that could easily take everything I was going to confide in her and do with it what she chose. THAT, by every definition of the word, is vulnerability.

What came from the errant text was a beautiful and meaningful conversation, in which I shared with a young and rising star in our profession, my trepidation of using my platform to give others the freedom to use theirs. I talked about my struggles with expectations and my fear of disappointing. I expressed my frustration with judgment, and my daily fight to live an uncontrolled life in a profession that is naturally prone to controlling lives.

I am the “Win the Day Girl” to many of you but the reality is, I don’t win every day. And on those days I don’t win, who’s watching? Who’s judging? Who’s disappointed? Or...who even cares? All I’ve ever tried to do is be authentic and in some unexpected way, I’ve inspired others to be themselves. But what if I start doing things differently? With different intentions or motives. Solely for the reason I don’t want to let people down. And THAT scares me.

So I shared all this with Jhas and she listened. And she gave me her perspective along with her own story. And this is what I learned and how I grew that day...whatever you think of me on any given night, whether you think I’m an asshole or an angel – you’re right. The experience you have with me brings judgment and with judgment comes opinion. So whatever your opinion is of me, you’re entitled to it. If I’ve encouraged you in some way by writing you a note or sending you a random book – that is your experience with me. If I’ve offended you in some way by something I’ve written or tweeted or how I shake or don’t shake hands – that is your experience with me. And it’s all OK with me. ALL of it.

It has to be. Because that is how I’m TRYING to live my life – uncontrolled. By the thoughts, opinions, moods, words….etc. of others. It’s hard work. If it came easy than I wouldn’t have to constantly practice it. I also try very hard to control the controllables. That wasn’t a tagline for an interim season. That is Authentic Shimmy. Authentic Shimmy is also Imperfect Shimmy. And Funny Shimmy. And Contemplative Shimmy. And Gay Shimmy. And Fiery Shimmy. And Socially Conscious Shimmy. And Not-For- Everyone-Shimmy. And that’s OK. It has to be.

What Jhasmine implored is for me to continue being me. All of me. Because by being me, I’m allowing someone else to be them. I have a story, but here’s the greatest knowledge I learned, my story is not mine to hoard. The universe doesn’t want me to keep my story to myself. I own it, but I have an obligation to tell it. And so I tell my story by living my authentic life. I have no pressure to be anything other than who I am. And when I came to that realization, my world got lighter. As Marianne Williamson so famously wrote, and others have been so famously misquoted, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us……your playing small does not serve the world. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Winning every day is the equivalent of “playing small” and I’ve never been a fan of small ball. I believe our time on earth is limited and measured most by the impact you’ve made on others. I’m not here to “win every day”. I just want to win more than I lose and grow on those days I struggle. The days I struggle the most, are the days I am most alive.

For those of you who are part of the “Win the Day / Look Up” movement, keep the messages, tweets, posts, and texts coming. You inspire me as much as I hope I encourage you. And when you see me “not winning the day”, smile and take great comfort in knowing that I will be better tomorrow because of the “L” I’m taking today.

Peace.


*if you don’t know who Jhasmine Player is, go no further than this viral tweet. Just a snapshot of the wisdom, self awareness, and authenticity that is this rising star. Grateful for her and all the other woke young coaches in this profession that will carry the torch and leave this profession better than how they found it. https://mobile.twitter.com/theplayerway/status/999323193818189824?lang=en  
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