How to Live Authentic Lives in 2021

Mr. Mullet

Do You Live with Authenticity?

Whether you are retiring or entering the real world, authenticity matters… by DiAnte Squire on Unsplash
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” — Brene Brown

“Do you like coaching?” Chey asks, her ethereal light blue eyes staring into mine. She just got off the plane from the United States a few hours ago and she is already peppering me with questions. *

“Like, what does your gut say?”

“Chey, c’mon,” I say. “I hate that damn question —.”

“So. Answer it. Don’t wuss out.”

“Fine — my gut says this is the most stressful job ever.”

“So,” she giggles, “You don’t really know if you like pro head coaching as much as you’d hoped?”

“Well, I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s a new job. I’m trying to give it some time. Work out the kinks. I’m figuring it out.”

“I see. Does it feel authentic?”

I lean back in my chair. That’s a good question. I hadn’t ever really stopped to consider it. That feeling. Does it feel authentic? What does authenticity even mean at this point in my life?

I’m 40. I’m back to Europe again. I’m new to this pro coaching job and it comes with a whole bunch of uncertainty, pressure, and stress. I put out fires every day. I scream. I get lost in my head. I doubt. I win. I lose. And, worst of all, I miss eating Reece’s Pieces back in America when I get too anxious to do anything else.

“Good question. I don’t know,” I say. “Hey, did you bring the Reece’s?”

“What? No — I forgot… you don’t know what?”

“I don’t know if this job feels authentic to me.”

“Why do you feel that way?”

“Are you psycho-analyzing me? Don’t you have jet lag yet?”

“Yes, isn’t that obvious?” Chey says, contorting her face.

I giggle — I love having her here. I love having best friends that ask me what the point of life is, what brings me happiness, or joy, or love, or purpose, and most of all, authenticity. To be real, I believe you have to live real, even if that means admitting uncertainty or loss or anxiety.

It's okay to not be okay.

“Chey,” I say, staring into the grey mortar between the bricks in my wall. “If you knew you were going to be dead in a year, what would you do with your life right now? Would you still teach to twenty-somethings? Would you still work in your field?” I ask, setting the thick glass of Havana Club Seven Year on the rocks down. Our night in Ghent, Belgium was already getting existential.

“Don’t change the topic. This is about you. Is coaching your lifestyle? Is this what you’d be doing if you only had a year to live?”

“Damnit, Chey. Listen, I don’t even like talking about this — leave me be woman!” by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

Chey laughs and brushes her wispy hair from the top of her forehead, her eyes still shining with mystery. She is authentic to the marrow of her bones. She is committed to serving others. She loves her job. Her career. Her path.

“Well… ?”

“Well, nothing,” I pause.

“Trev, what is the real reason you don’t want to think about it?”

“Well, coaching is just stressful. The pressure. The winning. The fans. The players. I played this sport for 20 years. I climbed that mountain and succeeded, and still, I wonder… do I only find joy in coaching when I win, or do I find joy in actually doing the work?”

“The chicken or egg?”

“The second mountain feels different. I knew who I was supposed to be as a kid. That's gone now. I don't know if I should be here, or there, or doing something else. Maybe I'm meant to just explore the world. Find new worlds and people and explore and be content with it...

“I question whether it’s my job to cope with stress and pressure better or to authentically enjoy the work?”

“I bet you know the answer...”

“Do I? Why am I here then?”

“Well let me ask you this: does your lifestyle match the life you wish to live?”

“Was that question for me?”

“No, that other Aristotle of a Belgian man sitting over there.”

I chuckle and cough and stare into the mortar in my wall again.

I don’t want to answer. My life has always been basketball. I did it. I did it well. I gave and I gave and I gave. But to be honest, I’m not sure about what things to give right now…

What is living in authenticity to me?

I think back about my life as a kid, the freedom of running with a ball in my hand. The wind whipping past my face. The exhilaration of swishing a game-winning shot. I trained for 20 years morning and night to become a pro basketball player.

Then I walked away…

It wasn’t until a pro-European club called me back that I had to face these authenticity questions.

And so, here I am. Diving in. Doing the work. Trying to let go and breathe. I truly enjoy the players. I understand them. Their concerns. Their worries. Their feelings. And sports offers me this unbelievable chance to deal with my own emotions and feelings, to recognize and cope with surreal amounts of pressure.

To me, this is the hard work — not because it’s actually all that hard, but because I attach a ton of meaning to winning like I used to as a player.

And to answer Chey’s question, is this pro coaching an authentic path for me?

Do I really want to go back into the high-performance world of winning and only getting results?

“The authenticity of the work scares me,” I say, matter-of-factly. “That’s my fear — that I’m logically trying to do this work from the outside in instead of authentically doing it from the inside out.”

“How will you know if that’s true?”

“I don’t. That’s why I came to Europe.”

“When do you feel good?”

“When I win or oddly when I can let go of my attachment to winning. When I help the players improve or grow in some capacity.”

“Hmmm,” Chey says. “Your attachment to winning may cause you stress. Anxiety. You may actually love the service of your work, but you’ll never know because you are so focused on the winning.”

“I’ll ask you one last question… what do you need to do to be aligned with your most authentic lifestyle, and vision of your highest self?”

I pause and think, and wait for the bricks on the wall to show me things I don’t yet see.

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Mr. Mullet tells us European how pro sports, love to life lessons, wild travel experiences, and awakening the dreams of those stuck in the American Matrix are connected. Most importantly, Mr. Mullet lives his life like a mullet.

Chicago, IL

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