In mid-2014, I was asked to be a part of a reality TV show called It takes a Church.
I was hesitant at first. I’m not a model and have no interest in acting. Especially this brand of entertainment. Reality TV! Not exactly on my wish list of opportunities.
But! I didn’t have much going on at the time. A less harsh way of admitting I was sleeping in a spare bedroom at a buddy’s place valeting cars, selling women’s shoes and coaching CrossFit.
My motivational speaking business was at a standstill, and earlier that year I lost my father to suicide. I was calibrating several areas of my life and uncertain what my next move was.
One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to end up on national TV looking like a fool. Thoughts of Real World came to mind, and no one wants to be haunted by something like that. (If you are too young to know what Real World is, you shouldn’t be using the interweb).
After some thought and a few conversations with the producers of the show. I decided to go ahead and do it (more on this in a minute.)
When I arrived at The Rock Worship Center (Shoutout to Pastor Frank Jacobs), we were escorted upstairs to an empty office space. I took a seat in front of a camcorder and was asked, “Tell us something most people would never guess about you.”
Have you ever been at a place in your life where you lost sight of the value you bring to the table? Like the time you were entering a new job and were unsure you could cut it? Worried people would figure out that you don’t have it all figured out? Or you can’t handle the pressure of mounting expectations at home? Or the time you decided to wear those long, tight running pants to the gym without shorts and quickly wondered if everyone was staring (you know what I’m talking about)?
Can you relate to any of that? The feeling sucks, and we’ve all been there. For most, this is a season of life often walked alone. Most become a recluse from the rest of the world and have few people to confide in.
Not me, I decided to go to a casting call for a reality TV show. What in the hell was I thinking?
Let me tie this all together for you.
When I was contemplating the opportunity, I reached out to a mentor for advice. I shared with him my reservations about doing the show and did a little pros vs. cons.
“Well, on the one hand, it might hurt my speaking brand.”
To which he said, “What speaking brand?”
“Okay, you’re right. What do I have to lose?!”
His parting words were, “As long as you keep it real, you have nothing to lose.”
Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for Authenticity — Coco Chanel
As I sat there in front of that camcorder, I felt naked. Life had humbled me, and I was clawing my way upward. Shit, sideways! Left or Right. I just wanted to make moves.
Staying complacent and in the same place has never been an option. I’ve always had a hunger for growth. But in many ways I was stuck. My business was struggling, I was unsure of my professional path.
During that time, as crazy as it might sound, I was happier than ever. I was experiencing tremendous spiritual growth fueled by my desire to have a fantastic relationship. Three years earlier, I made a commitment to remain celibate until marriage. A decision made, in part, following the frustration of a (another) failed relationship. Like most of us, I had an unhealthy understanding of real intimacy, and as I became aware of it, I felt compelled to try something different.
Celibacy was, well, entirely different.
Back to the story!
It turns out the all-time best answer to the question “What is something most people would never guess about you” is in fact…
“I’ve been celibate for over two years.”
The casting agent was shocked.
I learned a straightforward and profound lesson that day. The one thing you cannot fake is who you are. In dating, at work, at home, or in the gym. You must commit to embracing who you are. That is the starting line we all toe. The race we all run. From there, you have the opportunity to grow. I’m talking about the type of growth that can only come when you strip away the nonessentials and focus on what’s going on.
The opportunity I took that day in front of the camera is one we all face in our lives on a daily basis. A chance to be authentic. Sometimes the hardest thing is to be honest about the station where you find yourself, more so, when you appear to have your act together.
I think they looked at me and were shocked. I was pretty well put together, in great shape, single, and confident. The casting directors had no idea I was broke and had to hustle out of there to get to my shift parking cars at Capital Grille! Ha!
For those of you who have seen the show, you might recall my introduction as a motivational speaker (which as you are finding out is not entirely accurate.) I was wearing many hats at the time.
Not to be overlooked. In fact, this is likely the point many of you are stuck on when it comes to authenticity. Authenticity isn’t your free pass to divulge all of your baggage on people who are not ready (or willing) to handle that type of transparency. Authenticity should not come with an either/or expectation.
How you ask, young grasshopper?
The only real valuable thing is Intuition — Albert Einstein
Herein lies the secret sauce!
Three days after the casting call, I received news I was selected to be on the show, and a few months later we got together to film. Walking up to the Church on the first day, I was excited. The competitive fire stoked. I wanted to win.
The show? A reality dating show! Five bachelors competing for dates and one-on-one time with the bachelorette to be aired on the Gameshow Network. Before filming, we learned our show would be the pilot for the concept and would air on the leading networks like ESPN, ABC, NBC, and some other big name networks.
Over the course of the next three days, I had “live” interviews with the host and pastor. The topic always found it’s way to celibacy At first, I was annoyed by it, but as it turns out, it kept me from making a fool of myself on national television.
The powerful thing about being questioned on topics you have personal experience with is you don’t have to fake the funk. It’s easy to keep it real when you put out who you are and speak from a place of experience. It allows you to tell the truth and people know it.
Gut check! We have all been guilty of talking about or subscribing to things we have no real knowledge about. Yes, me too! The trouble with that is it’s a surefire way to make an ass of yourself. I don’t want that for you.
Check it out; you innately have a desire to be right. You would rather defend a wrong answer or misguided belief than say, I don’t know!
The good news is, intuition is a powerful gift we all have. Use it! In your relationships, to commit to the right person. Or submitting an application to a job for all the right reasons. Or deciding when, or when not, to wear those running pants I referenced earlier. In so doing, you unleash your authenticity. Interrupting the natural tendency to BS your way through life.
Over the course of three days of filming (long days), I made my way through cut after cut and found myself in the finals and eventually I won the competition.
After the show, the young lady and I had a chance to talk off camera. She had just “chosen” me in front of the world (yes, world! You can now stream the show on Netflix) and she asked me if I thought we would date. A tough question considering our collective conversations totaled about 11.5 minutes and the show thought it was a good idea to invite her mom and grandmother to the final scene of the show.
You might not be able to relate to being put on the spot by the bachelorette like I was on that day, but you can certainly relate to the forces telling you to say what’s easy and not what’s right. What’s in your heart.
If you can just choose to listen to your gut, you’ll be in good shape. Now, “gut” is my word of choice because your “gut” needs work. Like me, you need someone you trust to help you hear your intuition (make sure it isn’t just gas from last night’s Thai Food.) Someone to hold you accountable to being who you are capable of becoming. You can’t do it alone, so stop trying. There are people out there who want to help. Mentors, coaches, counselors, pastors, or real friends. Show them who you are and invite them to hold you accountable to a higher standard.
As it turns out, authenticity and intuition not only helped me win the show it helped me quickly end the “relationship” and move on with my life. Love was not in store for her, and I but a collection of experiences like this has led me to where I am today, happily engaged to the love of my life.
If you will just commit to being authentically you and to saying NO to the things that do not serve your big vision you will make room for yourself. The world will make room for you. You deserve that.
Photo credit: Getty Images