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When Matthew McConaughey Taught Me the Importance of Showing Up

There are few things more important than being on the top of your game and showing up when that “big” moment is upon us: The wedding of a close friend or relative, the launch of your company, or perhaps your child or partner’s birthday. But, how often are we so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we fail to show up? 

I was recently having lunch with my friend, entrepreneur Steve Allen. As we looked around the restaurant, over 70% of the people at the tables were on their mobile devices. They were completely taken up with what may appear to be urgent (at that moment) instead of what is important that is staring back at them on the other side of the table.

And, of course, we see this play out all the time. For example, attending a live seminar where we are tuned out in the back of the room texting or on a Zoom call where we are “multitasking” instead of participating. We miss the opportunity to interact with a shark in the audience who could help take the business to the next level. Or, we are too busy with thoughts in our heads when we get home from work that we fail to give our partner, kids, roommate, or friend our full attention. 

* My quotes and story are based on a podcast I released on February 26, 2021.

An Important Lesson About Showing Up

I remember the 2007 NCAA football season opener for the University of Michigan like it was yesterday. Having been a lifetime Wolverines fan, I remember the excitement of expecting to revel in triumph against my friends as my team destroyed Appalachian State, a small North Carolina sub-division team where they had graduated from years prior. 

Much to everyone’s surprise, the small team, the underdogs, beat the Michigan Wolverines, who were ranked in the top 5 nationally for that season on their home field.

Why does this matter? It matters because the Michigan team failed to show up for themselves and for their team that day. “What happened is, I think Michigan started looking ahead on their schedule, to who they had to face weeks ahead (Oregon and Notre Dame). They didn’t take this game with the respect they needed to…and what ended up happening is they didn’t show up on that field.” 

This interesting concept of not being prepared and not showing up with the mindset of winning that day is parallel to how people fail to show up in their own lives, whether it be in our relationships, jobs, friends, or with our kids.

The Impact of the Riverbend Church

Several years ago, my family had undergone a tough transition from our home outside Charlotte, NC, to Austin, TX. The move was especially difficult for my 12-year-old son. He had to shift his group of friends and enter a much larger and more academically advanced middle school than the one he left. On top of that, I feel middle school today is very difficult for kids. It is now the home of peer pressure, social media bullying, and the clicks we used to see in high school. All of these combined were taking their toll on him, and he was becoming more and more withdrawn.

We thought that introducing him to a new church environment might help him discover new friends and influences. After attending several churches, we discovered Riverbend Church. Our goal was to provide a balanced life for our son so we would go to church every Sunday, and we felt very spiritually connected to the pastor, Dave Haney, and his inspirational sermons and the church’s amazing music. 

However, over time, I remember my son “was definitely losing interest. And I could tell you when I was in seventh and eighth grade, the last thing I wanted to do was go to church myself…I know he dreaded it.”

However, this mindset began to shift with an unlikely guest that would soon change my son’s willingness to participate.

“A gentleman started to attend church with his wife and two young kids. He would participate, and afterward, he would take his kids with a huge smile on his. He would put those kids on his shoulders and walk out there and participate with the rest of the congregation.”

And much to my surprise, I was staring at this man, thinking to myself how familiar he looks; that gentleman happened to be actor Matthew McConaughey.

An Altering Shift in Life Brought on by Matthew McConaughey

From that moment on, my son’s willingness to participate in church completely shifted. Matthew McConaughey influenced his outlook of going to church as a whole: my son began showing up. And the reason that he showed up was because of the way Matthew McConaughey showed up and the example he provided.

Matthew McConaughey Showing Up for His Academy Award

How many times do we see a famous athlete, politician, actor, or influencer attend an event, only to do the Irish goodbye? But, Mathew was completely different. Not only did he participate every week in the service, but he also brought friends and family to join him. After the service, he didn’t just walk out. He participated and interacted with the congregation. 

I remember seeing him running around chasing his kids through the indoor children’s learning center and playground (that he anonymously funded). He would shoot basketball with the kids, including my son. Most importantly, he demonstrated his true authentic self and willingness to not only be there but to show up for everyone around him. 

By seeing Matthew’s example, my son began to see the church as cool. Not only did he start wanting to go, but he was also the first one out the door. And, that simple act of showing up to the church and interacting with new friends (and, of course, Matthew McConaughey) changed his attitude about school, friends, music, and other elements of his life. 

Accountability & Self-Audit for Showing Up

Do you find yourself failing to show up for yourself and others? When we fail to show up for ourselves, we fail to realize that we are self-sabotaging our own passion journey.

“As we are trying to build this passion-struck journey, it is so important that we show up and that we show up every single day. Because by showing up, we’re taking action. And by taking action, we are moving closer to achieving our goals, our dreams, our aspirations of living a life that we want.”

Sadly, we are paying attention to what appears urgent instead of what is important in our lives!

Therefore, we must keep ourselves accountable for our own actions when it comes to our everyday life. I would encourage you to sit down with yourself and write out where you want to be in the future — both near-term and long term. Then, make a contract with yourself and place it in an area of your home where you can see it every day.

Altering your life to achieve your goals begins with keeping yourself accountable for your actions every single day. It would help if you also audited your beliefs that shift your mindset into being stagnant instead of altering it to achieve your dreams.

“You need to conduct an audit of those beliefs, those influences, those people, those activities that are holding you back from being the person you can be.”

In Conclusion 

I am eternally grateful to Matthew McConaughey’s influence on my son at that pivotal point in his life. I hope someday this article or podcast finds its way to Matthew. And if it does, I would want him to know my sincere thanks for him showing up. 

To listen to my entire story, subscribe to the Passion Struck Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Or, you can tune into my YouTube channel

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