My guest, Rick Clemons, talks about the wild ride of coming out late in life after many years with a wife and two daughters. During his first two years of being out, he refers to himself as being an asshole and how his ego was so engaged that he had to take a pause and do some self-awareness and forgiveness work to get his head on straight. If you've ever felt out of control and going in many different directions all at once, this episode is for you.
Coach Maddox 0:03
Hello, Rick Clemons, and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast.
Rick Clemons 0:07
Hey, I'm so glad to be here, man.
Coach Maddox 0:10
Yeah, I'm glad to have you.
Rick Clemons 0:12
Yeah, it's, it's we did this once on mine. So now it's time to do it again with you. So I'm excited. Yeah, we've
Coach Maddox 0:18
got we've got it down already, don't we?
Rick Clemons 0:20
We do well, so
Coach Maddox 0:21
to tell the audience how we know each other, I think that I discovered your podcast, you are the host of 40 plus gay men gay talk podcast. Yep. And I found that somewhere on the internet or on Apple podcasts and reached out to you. And that's how we got acquainted. And you've, I've been a guest on your podcast. And now here you are on mine. And we're just creating all kinds of good stuff out in the world.
Rick Clemons 0:48
Exactly. Well, and that's what's what I love about, about the internet world, you never know, when you're going to run into somebody like, hey, this might be an interesting person to talk to, or somebody to get to know. And, and I love it that in the podcast world for sure that there's so many beautiful crossovers and people and I don't know, everybody's got a perspective that I think is where early? Well, we're sharing. So I'm really absolutely glad that you asked me to be here.
Coach Maddox 1:15
Oh, yeah. And I certainly enjoyed being a guest on yours as well, you know, I find the podcast community for the most part to be very warm and friendly and very open.
Rick Clemons 1:26
Yeah, it's not, yes, there's some egos in the room, so to speak. But I think for the most part, we're all just glad to be sharing content and bringing different perspectives into the world, whatever that might be, you know, on whatever subject matter. And because I'm a speaker, as well, as a podcaster, I speak on a lot of different subject matter. And then somebody will go, Oh, I didn't know you did podcasting. And then suddenly, that takes off, you know, or I'll be on somebody's podcast. And like, I don't know where it was a speaker, and then I'll go check that out. So but, you know, pretty much at this stage of my lovely little life, I stick to podcasting and coaching. That's, that's where I do I do get on stage every once a while, but um, I love it that this is the beauty of what we do in the personal development world, because everybody can bring their own unique spin on things to it. And you're right, I don't find podcasters being super like, okay, but this is my territory get out?
Coach Maddox 2:25
No, no, I haven't. Share. Yeah, yeah. And bring a different perspective to the table. And I think most of us are people that are really trying to contribute to the world at large. You know, we're putting content out there that we're, we're intending in some way to be either uplifting or inspiring, or transforming. And that's what I love about it. That's the thing that kind of draws me to meet other podcasters seems like we just have some, some values in common perhaps?
Rick Clemons 2:57
Well, I think that's it. And and, you know, I've been in this work now. Well, I really went back to when I first started even playing around in coaching, it would be clear back in 1996, but it wasn't till 2009, when I got certified as a coach. And as much as coaching is such a beautiful arena to work in. Again, sometimes people's egos get in the way. And they're like, Oh, I know, you do you do something similar to me, I'm like, I don't really care. Because I can't coach everybody in the world. That's ridiculous, you know. And there's so much beauty in being able to share the pie and share each person's perspective. And there are times that I'm like, I literally just did this once with a not long ago, like, couple of weeks ago, I was doing an initial conversation with a guy, that beautiful, amazing guy. And I just knew I was not the coach for him, I could feel and this is something that I wish more people would lean into in not just you know, as a coach, but in their own lives, because I know you do so much all around authenticity. And if it's not feeling right within yourself, listen to that voice. Voice, it's important.
Coach Maddox 4:12
You know, and you called out something about either, you know, there's no way I can take care of all the clients out there. You know, I was a 40 year veteran in the beauty industry. And for many years, I worked in a zip code that had over 200 salons and the one zip code times the number of employees in each salon. And, you know, you just realize that there's enough for everybody. You know, we don't have
Rick Clemons 4:40
any plans, right? And if you can't realize that I'm going to invite you to rethink step into that space and because that's our egos talking right there. And I'm not saying I'm perfect at this folks. And finally starts with imagination. There's times I'm like, Well, why didn't I get to do that? You You know, and one of the best lessons I ever learned in this journey was a few years. It's been a few years ago where I was like, but I want to be speaking on that stage, I want to be on a stage, I could be really good on that stage. My ego was so in the way around that particular event. And then I finally what I learned to do, I finally swallow my pride and go, Okay, well, it's just not meant for me to be right. And then three years ago, I was interviewing the event planner on my podcast, who ran that particular event. And we got done wrapped up. I was like, Hey, man, thanks again for being on the podcast, great guy loving it is his name. His name is Chris Guillebeau. And he used to run an event called World Domination Summit. And out of the blue is we're wrapping up he goes, have you ever been on the WDS stage speaking? And I kind of laughed, I'm like, you run the event, man, you should know who the people are. But he he's done it so long. And there's a lot of people, you know, a lot of moving pieces, right? I said, No, he does what I feel like maybe this year, it would be Yeah, let's let's get you on there. And it was such a beautiful experience Maddox, because that's one of the first times I really saw saw my ego, like just shut the fuck up. Like, okay, cool, I finally get to go do this, right. But what I have found for me, and this is part of when you really lean into your authentic, beautiful self, when you allow the ego to be still and do only what it's required to do. You have such a more beautiful life, because you're open to letting other things happen in letting other people have perspectives. And you don't have to be right all the time, even though that's something there. Yeah, there's times like being right is important. But how that's one of the biggest life lessons I learned through this whole journey.
Coach Maddox 6:54
I agree with you completely, I think most of us get in our way, much more than we realize. Just just simply get in our own way with that, that ego when you let go of it, here it came back at you, which just effortlessly showed up and the opportunity presented itself. That's beautiful. But it's
Rick Clemons 7:15
also something I've found interesting that, and I think most people would agree with this, it comes down to how we've been socialized and engaged as kids and on earth through our own family systems. And if you have a parent, and I'm not blaming mom and dad, but I'm going to put some, like, here's where some of this comes from folks who never learned how to manage their ego, you're going to struggle to because that's that's the imprint we have. But I'm not gonna say you have to struggle forever, and you can't fix this. And it's interesting to watch yourself. And I beat myself up and gone through stuff. And I do so even today. When you allow yourself to go ask the one question, where did this start? Where did I learn this? Not again, putting in blank. It's like, it's more the observer. I think that's what I love is when we get into ours observer minds, especially as gay man. It's like, why do you feel me to do this? Do this? I'm like, because guess what is gay man. We've been told this is how you have to be and all this sort
Coach Maddox 8:23
of stuff. Yeah, it's up to us to break the cycle, isn't
Rick Clemons 8:27
it? Yeah. You know, and make or
Coach Maddox 8:31
break the cycle? Yeah, that could that we were raised with. So I would like to know, how you define or what it means to you to be an authentic gay man.
Rick Clemons 8:46
It's such a beautiful, big question. Years ago, I would answer it differently than what I'm going to say now.
I came out of the closet at 19. And then I went back in the closet. And then I finally after 13 years of being married to a woman and becoming a parent, which I love. I love that I have two children. I finally said, this is I got to do this. This is me. And in that moment, if you'd asked me that question authentically being me is I have to just do this because I'm more important, but not in a bad way. I realized my mental health was being taxed by this right. So authentically, being a gay man at that point was really me saying, If I don't do this, and be who I'm meant to be. I'm nothing. And so at that point, being an authentic gay man meant I had to give myself something besides nothing. I had to be more than nothing. I'm glad I had those thoughts back then Maddox only because I realized that was the The beginning for me to realize I'm so much more than nothing. And I had to work through and break that habit and that pattern, right? Like I owe a gay man there nothing in it. Right? Today, being authentic gay man is being able to observe myself and see myself exactly where I am. And continue to ask the question. But where would you like to keep going? Because every time I ask where I want to keep going, I can see bits and pieces of myself that may be hiding, or may not be coming to the forefront or bits and pieces of myself that's doing really good. And I don't want to lose that. And so for me, authentic authenticity is really seeing your blind spots, and not being afraid to go jump into the arena with them. But also seeing what's really going good and going. Let's keep doing this. Because sometimes we get we can get in a pattern of things are good things are good things are good, things are good, things are good. And suddenly life becomes very numb. And I just think it's a really beautiful place to be authentic with yourself and go are you becoming numb to the repeating patterns? And are you looking for the blind spots on a regular basis?
Coach Maddox 11:22
I love that. And somewhere in there right? Without you using these words, I kind of got that you were talking about owning owning the things that maybe even owning your your genius that you have been reluctant to step into?
Rick Clemons 11:42
Well, there's a lot of people who tell you who will her ready to show up in your world and tell you why do you think you're such a genius. And that's where the ego is gonna rare up. Honestly, that's where the your ego is gonna go. Wait a minute, you're attacking me. And that's been a hard one too. And I even to this day, when I feel attacked, it's really a hard thing for me to navigate around. I've learned to after like, allow that feeling to show up. Number one, I want it. I think owning I'm glad you brought the owning it because there's a lot of things I talk about and and work with my own clients and with my own self. Like, why aren't you owning that? Why aren't you owning that? What does it mean? In fact, years ago, when I first started coaching, one of my best friends in the coaching arena, we worked together with our coaching company for a couple of years doing some training and stuff and being you know, mentor coaches. And we are one of the big weekend events where there was probably 300 coaches in the room. And so we're helping facilitate and all this sort of stuff. And then her and I were sitting in the back of the room being like the bad kids at the back of the bus seat like like talking quietly about our businesses and everything. And she said, How's your business going? So that's it. It's okay. Yeah, she goes, Why only okay, you're an amazing coach. And well, thank you and she goes, You're not owning it. Oh, it pissed me off Maddox. I was like, you know, screw you. She was highly successful. I mean, she catapulted really fastly I mean she's probably got a two to $3 million coaching practice at this point she's got people coaches working with her I have whatever well then a year later same sort of thing we're working on same event different coaches all sorts of stuff. She asked me the same question how's your business goes? Okay, pretty good. Well, I just pretty good. I gave her a couple and she goes Ricky not only you are the coming out coach that's what I started as I still do I do do a lot of coming out work that time I didn't get pissed off and annoyed I asked the question So explain to me how you don't think I'm only that which was so you notice the difference the response and everything's completely different? And it was such a beautiful conversation because what happened in that moment? Was all the ego that said you're not supposed to be this and that suppose and a lot of people in my past are like, Who do you think you are? Why do you think you're that? You know, parents and family included in that one? I walked away from that event I said yeah, I need to own I'm not the coming out coach but I am the coming out coach I'm not the only coming out coach in the frickin world. But if I'm gonna own the URL, the coming out code start freaking act and like it Rick. And it wasn't coming from an ego space. It's like seeing yourself and taking that on and now that I coach speakers, I have these conversations all the time and I use that story and say the same thing to them. You're not owning it. You're not owning. If you say you're a speaker, you're not just a speaker, you are a professional speaker, and you need to own that you are a professional speakers because guess what professional speakers do? They get paid to speak. You know? So there's there's interesting differences that I think in our lovely little minds when We start owning things.
Coach Maddox 15:01
I agree completely. And she gave you a really big gift by nailing you with that.
Rick Clemons 15:07
Mm hmm. And I, no pun intended. I love when somebody nails me, because I can do this stuff a lot. And actually, I had a friend a couple of weeks ago, call me out on something. And typical, older Rick kind of flared up in that moment, it was a day that I was extremely tired. I had literally just finished doing like, seven coaching sessions that day plus recorded a podcast and like, I'm just done. And it was interesting when this friend of mine called and she was talking to me and nailed me on something and I'm like, I'm done. I'm so done. I don't need another person. And then I'm like, but what's the gift? What's the gift and what she just said? And it was so amazing to feel that. Even though I still I'll be honest, I was still annoyed when I got done with it. Like, okay, fine. Somebody just called me out on something. But it's hard at times, because we do we all bring our baggage forward. You know, we do
Coach Maddox 16:11
you remind me of a friend that, you know, I'll point something out to him. And he'll tell me. I hate it when you're right, you know, and then he says, but I love that you care enough about me to say this shit to me?
Rick Clemons 16:24
Well, you know, what's interesting Matic. So you just said something that's really important. This is something like, I have a father who is very much a narcissist. And it's his way or no way. And as much as I've thought that every so often that wears up in my own world. But what you just said is something really beautiful that your friend said to you, that he loves it when you you show him. And what I've learned to say is when I'm working with people, or suddenly something happens, I asked the question, Can I can I share something with you that I just observed? Or can I share something with you that I feel like we'll change up your, your perspective or help you see something that I don't? I don't know that you're seeing? I don't like I mean, you're not saying this to do? I find when we ask the question. It's so beautiful, because what do most of us want? We want to be better? Yes,
Coach Maddox 17:25
I agree with you. Yeah, as I do a lot of that asking permission. I mean, oftentimes I'll say, permission to speak freely. Or I'll say open to a different perspective. Or may I, may I give you some, we may share my perspective with you or your right to asking permission, because once they have agreed to hear what you have to say, then there's no real place for him to get too bent out of shape when you tell him. But
Rick Clemons 17:55
you need to tell him, right? Well, I was on a coaching call Brian earlier this morning. And it was a group coaching call with another one of my coaches. And he was leading it I was there more in observation mode, just to kind of see, you know, in these group settings, what he's doing not because he read, and He indirectly kind of reports to me, but it's a specialty program that we run. And I watched him with a student say. So I'd really like to ask permission to provide you feedback. And to be brutally honest about things that will actually hopefully make you much more successful. I love the way he counts that like he's the he says I'm going to I want permission to say things that are probably going to feel brutally honest, but that are actually going to take you somewhere completely different versus Okay. Well, let me tell you what's wrong. I mean,
Coach Maddox 18:47
there's no set expectations, and that's brilliant.
Rick Clemons 18:51
Yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of times, we don't do that really well, especially as people in general, but when we delve into our world of gay men, and I have these conversations with guys all the time, and then on my podcast, I talked about this a lot too. Like, if you set the boundaries and the right expectations, doesn't mean everybody's gonna like jump in line, right. But at least you've taken it one step further to potentially have a beautiful conversation. Versus we're at each other's throats. Yeah, and especially when you get into relationships and stuff, it's it's amazing.
Coach Maddox 19:31
You know, there's a fine line between criticizing and giving honest feedback. And, you know, nobody is better at bitchy Queen than you know. We gay guys, we can go bitchy queen and you know, a heartbeat.
Rick Clemons 19:50
Coach Maddox 19:53
I love I love your conversation and I love your your, the way you describe the way you would have We talked about authenticity. And now the way you're talking about it, and you brought some beautiful points, you know, every person I've asked that has had a completely different answer, and yet they've all been fabulous. Fabulous. So let's, let's move forward to our big question of, of the episode, which is, what? What is it? What is the most challenging thing you've gone through in this lifetime that you are either through or you are still going through?
Rick Clemons 20:33
Honestly, and it hinges on so many things that dominoed after it. He was coming out late in life, it was really super challenging because I had been who I mean, I knew who I was at 19. I obviously said it, I knew before then I who I was, but the layering and the expectations and the living by other people's standards, and everything just kept holding me in. And I was I was afraid, you know, and this was in the early 80s, right as the AIDS epidemic was exploding. And I actually feel very blessed that I didn't actually continue the path, quote, continue the pathway out at that time, because I was very naive and stupid. And I hadn't really had any sexual experiences at all with men or women. And I honestly don't think you and I would be having this conversation today. If I had come out at 19, I think I probably would have gone and done some crazy stupid stuff and where we were in our history with AIDS and HIV. And having a close family member who did pass right after that, from that. I don't think I could be having this conversation. So then catapult forward to age 36, married to children. Never having been faithful. Because this thing was within me like, this isn't who I'm supposed to be. But let's brush off and go do this. And nobody knows. That was almost death of itself. I did not think I would ever thrive through that. And as each day went by Maddox, I got more and more uptight, unhappy. I never smiled. This was one of the things when people tell you you're not smiling, like fuck you. I have worked really hard to learn to smile. So you know, give me at least a day, once a day, once a year that I don't actually smile. Because if you'd met me back then I didn't smile. Because I was carrying this huge weight not only huge weight, emotionally, mentally. But I was a big guy. I mean, I'm a big guy right now. I'm like, right at 290. But I'm six, four. And big boned. Everybody thinks I played football. Like I don't even know what a football is. I'm kidding. I know what a football is. I love playing football when I was younger. But um, but if you'd seen me then I would have been the epitome of like miserable asshole in the dictionary. But I could turn it on to be happy, happy to make it work. And that was probably the biggest challenge because when I finally stepped forward and said, This is what's happening, I became an asshole. I literally became an asshole for the first few months after coming out to the point where I would have deserved losing my kids, not because I did anything to them. But I was shitty father of the year. And now that I can sit back and look at that. And it didn't take me long to like Wake the fuck up and go stop. This is not who you are at your core, this is not how you want to go through this experience. I'm very grateful to the powers that be have given me the foresight to see through that. Because if I hadn't, I would be probably a very miserable man now. And I came close to losing my kids for other reasons down the road. And not by my doing. And I grew through that so much to try to like stop pause. And this was before before coaching and everything like stop, pause, think through this stop, pause, think through this. And now that I get to look at it from the other side. And this the domino effect was that actually is what led me into this work. I didn't see a common man, I didn't see it coming at all because right after I came out, I lost my high paying job, which was fine. I got a nice little golden parachute and more than a little golden parachute, took a year off didn't do really anything other than look for work a little bit. Then I started in the next job and then that one got me a layoff. And so this whole domino which then led me to coming out of the closet to be an entrepreneur, a podcaster a speaker all these things were on the horizon but if somebody had told me that At night, and I, when I came out of the closet, this is where I go, I would have said, You're fucking crazy. That is not what's gonna happen. I just got to survive. So
Coach Maddox 25:09
that's Yeah, I think it's interesting how life can be so different than what we may have. Thought it would be. I'd like to ask a couple of questions, if I may. When you came out that second time, you said right after I came out, I just, you know, turned into a complete asshole. What do you think was going on inside of you? Because oftentimes, you know, when we come out, it's kind of like this. Exhale, thing. We've held so much inside of us. What was going on after you came out that drove all that energy that you're referring to as asshole
Rick Clemons 25:51
it was some influenced by the guy that I the reason that I came out of the closet. So feeling very much like it's my time to get to live now. And it wasn't easy with my ex wife, obviously. I mean, that's like an obvious thing. People are like, Oh, my God, that must have been hard for her. Well, yes, it was hard for because this guy that you thought you married and all that sort of stuff. The other piece of it was the experience from my own family. Because I was suddenly like, the worst guy in the world, and you're gonna ruin your kids. And so there was all this again. The missing piece, I was yes, free myself to be myself. But from my new boyfriend, which happened way too quickly, it's like, suddenly, like we meet in London. And then suddenly, we're like, trying to make this whole thing happen. And I mean, this is, this is the perfect time of year the out of this conversation because we met. I don't, it's weird Maddox. Because I don't remember the exact date. And I've tried to go back through my like, brain files and other files, like literal physical files, like, what when did we actually meet I do know, it was in October. I know that, because it wasn't long after that, that Thanksgiving was coming up. And my ex wife and I and the kids were supposed to be going to my parents. And this is where I still even just gonna tell this story. It's gonna make me feel like the biggest asshole in the world. I remember going to the airport with my ex wife and kids. And I had already told her I'm not going to see my parents this is I'm going to see my boyfriend and my parents lived in the Napa Valley in California, boyfriend lived in San Francisco. And I remember walking my ex and the kids to the gate, and walking away and turning around and seeing my little my oldest daughter crying. And I just kept walking. It was too early to have done that. But I was head over heels in love with this guy that just and I was not by any stretch of the imagination ready to quote, be in a relationship. And that's where the asshole came through. Right after that. I started feeling it. Because we went immediately into like, Okay, I was living in the house for a bit and then I finally moved out. But by Christmas time, I was already living in my own space. And my parents came down and it was ice. I mean takut Southern California and for it to be icy That house was icy because I was trying to hold it together. My ex wife was trying to hold it together all this sort of stuff. And even then there were times I was just being a complete jerk because I was trying to please boyfriend trying to please, wife trying to please, parents. And right after New Year's, New Year's Eve, He broke up. He's like, you're not ready for this. And I was devastated. Man. I'm like, Oh my God. I sat there on New Year's Day thinking what's got to change? And it was me. Because what was happening as I was trying to continue to please everybody else instead of saying, Okay, what's the best way through for me to take care of other people? The best way I can, but still take care of me. And that was when things started to change. I still had a good year of screwing up with guys and everything. But I realized at that moment, it's like, what's most important to me are two things. My two girls and when I said I'm taking care of me so I can take care of them. Everything started to open up. Yes, I was you know taking care of my ex wife and family. I was kind of like you know what, we've been through this already mom and dad so 19 I told you this was who I was at now. 36 This is who I am period in have statements so to speak. But even in that Maddox, I had to start really reining in in like, you can't force him into accepting rookie can't force him. And if they're not, which there's times that they still don't. And I navigate through that and love myself through it. Well, it sounds
Coach Maddox 30:19
to me like you pulled it together pretty quickly.
Rick Clemons 30:24
Took a couple of years. But yes, each step of the way things you know, and I learned, and this is one of the things I think for most of us, I think, in Ito, on your podcast, talking a lot about authenticity and stuff, here's the thing, the more authentic you are, the more people who are going to challenge you, when you're trying to be authentically who you are. Just be ready for it. Because every time we show up truly as who we are, in front of somebody who's like, you can't be that it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them. They're observing something in you, that is triggering and challenging them that they wish they could be. So you become the Nemesis.
Coach Maddox 31:09
Well, or they're seeing something in you that they know is in them that really scares
Rick Clemons 31:14
them. Exactly. I mean, think about how much being able to sit on a podcast like this and for me to, and I'm not putting myself up on a pedestal, but I use this as the thing. I don't share that I was a big cheater, to like, Oh, look at me and look at what I recovered from, I share that to say, this is the pain I went through. And I had to navigate through that I have to own that I have to see that in myself, so that I could move beyond that. And that's what makes me feel so good that I can walk through that. But that's not the only thing I walked through. And it's not the only thing you can walk through or anybody listening. It's like, I share those things. Like if somebody can walk through that sort of stuff. Look what you can do, but not to put Rick up on a pedestal.
Coach Maddox 32:04
And at the course at the core of that there's got to be some self forgiveness. Because we've all made mistakes, we've all done things that we aren't proud of. We're human beings.
Rick Clemons 32:20
And forgiveness is one of the hardest things. I mean, I'm currently in a situation with my parents where it's right. I'm having a hard time with that right now. And there's an interesting twist when all these things happen because they can do forgiveness. One of the things that I've I've learned, I keep going back and listen to something that Oprah has said over and over and over again. And I keep getting I'm working through this one because this one is a toughy. But forgiveness is realizing it happened. It happened. And when you realize whatever happened happened, didn't move forward. And I've always I've always hung on to that because even as I said it, I feel a little more openness in my heart about this particular situation. But also without it. That anger is going to eat you the fuck alive. Yes, it will.
Coach Maddox 33:19
It absolutely will. You know, I think that we lose sight sometimes that it's I think it's a common belief that somehow when we forgive somebody, we're making what they did, okay? Or we're giving them a way out or we're we're letting them off of the hook. I think forgiveness is very, very misunderstood. I you know, I've come to believe that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with me. Forgiveness is a gift I give myself when I forgive another human being. I don't have to tell them I forgive them. I don't have to show them I forgive them. Right it's something I'm doing in my heart that sets me free. And it didn't No way condones or makes okay what their actions were.
Rick Clemons 34:16
But it's also interesting when you're in those situations, it's for most of us how Okay, I will I can do this I can release them from it. I don't condone them from it. And the more you work with that kind of energy the more something else is going to show up that you get to go work with to okay well but but if I do this then they're going to have one well there goes ego right there. Okay, I forgive them. I release him from I don't condone it. Well, yeah, but okay, but then they win. It's not about winning or losing. I know I'm just speaking from my truth right now Maddox because this has been going on and I'm like, come on, Rick. You know how to do this. You know how to walk through this. You know how to let it go. And then the more Are your work on that, the easier it becomes. And one of the things that I've done in this particular situation, I'm like, I just need to take a break right now, I need to take a break from being in communication because I can't from my end. And it's interesting when you draw those boundaries, right? Because they don't know what to do with that I need to not communicate right now for the time being, and I need to not be in your world. As soon as you put a boundary up, other people don't know how to deal with that. But this is where, you know, putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. If I can't breathe right now, through this, I can't get to a place where I can get to forgiveness. Well, I'm here to respond
Coach Maddox 35:40
to your boundary is not your responsibility. No, no, it isn't. If they don't know what to do with that, that's just on them.
Rick Clemons 35:47
Right? And, and sometimes it's hard for us to embrace this stuff, because it gets done to us too. It's like, well, you know, this is the boundary, this is the boundary. What's beautiful is when I mean, for me, I think one of the most beautiful things is, is when you see somebody that you really love and care about, like my kids start to exercise, that sort of stuff. I had a most beautiful conversation with one of my oldest daughter. And the last couple of months. Listen to her explain. And one of the most powerful things she says, Well, I've learned one, one of the things I've learned from your dad is how I can be in relationship with someone who is really difficult to be in relationship, and it has no bearing on other people who can't seem to do that with them. I was just blown away. I'm like, wow. And I didn't take that as like, Oh, look at me, Dad did a really good job. It was beautiful to observe that because we haven't had a car. I mean, we talk all the time, but I hadn't had a deep conversation like that with my daughter in a while. And what a beautiful gift you give yourself when you do that. And I don't think sometimes we slow down enough to do that. And let things kind of be
Coach Maddox 37:06
I think you're right, I don't think we do slow down enough. And to me, that's part of where the authenticity steps in. You know, authenticity is, is being present, being present for myself being present for those that I am that I care about around me. Yep. And we don't live in a world that supports that. You know, our technology doesn't support presence. We're, we're being distracted and pulled in a million different directions. Yep. So tell tell me a little more of your your journey after coming out. You've kind of touched on that first year to where you said you you know, you were an asshole that you had to work through what was the next stage
Rick Clemons 37:58
really was accepting myself as who I was, and realizing how much I still had to grow as a person. Everything from releasing patterns of the year my you know, in relationship with your my guy. And working through jealousy and, and fear of losing and all that sort of stuff. And then trying to juggle parenting and realizing you just got to make room, but make room without sacrificing your own self. And the more I started paying more attention to like taking care of me in a healthy way. I realized how much better I was able to take care of others in a very loving healthy way. But also, that's when I learned to draw boundaries in a very good way rather than this is the way it is this is what the fuck you do. And that took some work. I mean, when I finally when I got laid off from my last job, because I'm a bad hire, obviously laid off twice in six years. I'm gonna know that we had two companies that it's interesting both company Well, the first layoff was right in the middle of my coming out. I knew what was happening. I was part of the equation of that happening. I was walking away with the parachute. I knew I was part of the integration and making writing myself out of the equation. The second time I didn't see it coming. But even in that the beauty of owning what I wanted to be came clear. I had been wanting to do my own thing for so long. And so here's where the parallel started to happen. I remember getting home literally we came home we had just gone on vacation to province town, then a beautiful week on Cape Cod in in one of the gayest places on the planet love Provincetown and walked in on a Monday morning, freshly back and they're like, hey man, talk to you Okay, cool. I thought we were talking about a big project, which I knew we were going to start on as soon as I got back. And, hey, we got to make some cuts. And out of all the people on the team, you are one of the guys we know that will just completely bounce back. And I was pissed because I was the third team and I was the third person higher besides CEO, Vice President, I was number three. I was like, I can't believe this is happening. But as I sat in that car, I said to myself, so now what are you going to do? And I said, this is time for me to quit making other people money and go do my own thing. And I've been saying I was gonna do this for years and years and years Maddox. Without that, I didn't know what I would have done. Because it gave me the open doorway to what I talked about on stages now come out of the closet to be an entrepreneur, because the coming out process to be an entrepreneur is very similar to coming out of the closet to say you're gay, or bi or any of that stuff. There's so much confusion and you gotta get curious and courage and commit to it and have the confidence and consistently say, you're gonna be an entrepreneur, you're gonna run your own business. But if somebody had told me that was what was going to happen in that moment, because I just started doing contract work. I was a marketing branding guy technology. Hospitality. I mean, I did, okay, I like immediately, like, within a week, I already had like two clients, like, hey, and it was a perfect time to do it, because a lot of the hotel, hospitality industry was like quaking, and they just needed temporary people, not full time, people. But as I started to build that, I realized how much of my coming out journey was being replayed out in building a business. And all the rushing towards like the store, I told about the speaker, the guy who asked me if I'd ever been on the stage, I tried so hard to be present in people's lives, where it wasn't time for me to be present, my ego will started playing up again. And it was probably about a year and a half into it when my business was actually sucky. As soon as I started my coaching practice, I was like, Cool, I'm going to help guys in midlife come out of the closet, and all this sort of stuff. I couldn't make money, I could not make money because I wasn't talking about it in the right way. Number one, number two, I was actually going after the same exact kind of client as who I had been. My ego was so a player through all of this. I'm like, I gotta be doing this. And then a podcast came along, and then speaking, started showing up. And I was going to be on big speaking stages that were so well above my quote, paygrade. And getting really frustrated. Why? Because my ego was once again at play, and I was trying to do everything to please those people. And then it all changed when I just said, Fine, just just do Deuce Do you, Rick, and quit trying to be the mold. And it was amazing Maddox. Because as soon as I let that step out of the way, things started happening. As soon as I started talking, even in my website, copied everything to people who would visit about, you know, you're a guy that's got everything to lose, you're sitting in a corner office, you got three houses, you got this, and everything's gonna go away. And even to the guys who didn't have that, or, you know, the other part of the story was, it's you and you alone that carries your entire family. And you're like, what, I'm going to lose there. I mean, so it was so interesting, like, start coming from the heart, like, let's dig in here to like what people really want to feel. And it made me humble. It took me to my knees again. And I've learned the power of being taken to your knees. I mean, I had a stroke a few years ago that took me to my knees. And you know, it wasn't a bad one. I was very lucky. But it helped me realize the value of when God and the universe hand you a moment to be taken to your knees. Relish that for everything it's got. And every time I get taken to my knees, I open up another doorway into who do I really want to be? How do I really want to show up in the world? That's beautiful. It's hard to it's beautiful, but it's hard.
Coach Maddox 44:40
It is hard. I mean, I think our journey you know, there is a reason they call it the hero's journey or dark night of the soul is the other way. I've heard it described. You know, you talked about being laid off twice. Yep. Have you ever heard the story of the flood and the preacher and the boat coming by At the church, you've heard that story No. Well, there's this there's this big flood you know, and the water is coming up to the steps of the church and the preacher standing up on the porch of the church and and a boat comes by and preacher preacher getting in the boat getting the boat known and no preacher says, I believe in God battle take care of me and the boat goes on and the water rises, it continues to rain and the water rises. And the next thing you know, the preachers up on the roof, and the in the boat comes by again, preacher, preacher, let us carry you to safety. No, no, God will take care of me. I've had faith and trust in God will take care of me. And the vote goes on. Water continues to rise. And now the preacher is holding on to the very top of the staple of the church. The boat comes by preacher, preacher get into the boat Let us save you preacher says no, no, I believe in the power of God, you'll save me I'll take care of me. boat goes on and water rises and the preacher drowns. And the preacher gets to heaven. And he wants to know, you know, he asked God, why did you? Why did you let me drown when I had so much faith and I believed in your ability to take care of me so much. And God said, Well, I sent the boat by three times. I love that story. But to me, what made me think of that was you got laid off twice. And that your ego took a hit each time that happened. And that was the boat coming by to get you on on to the the entrepreneur deal.
Rick Clemons 46:44
And when I made the decision to go back to work for a company a few years ago, a couple years ago, my ego thought that every step of the way. Oh, you can't do this, you said you were never going to do this. And it was so interesting to watch myself go through that Maddox because I'm like, but I love doing what I'm doing for this particular company. Why wouldn't I do that? You know, hopefully you're making good money you're gonna lose. And it's powerful when you have these internal dialogues. Because each of those versions of the conversation, were authentically who I was. But when I stepped aside, so to speak, and said, Okay, so if I don't do this, how does that serve me in my life? If I do do it, how can that serve me in my life? But I could have never had those conversations 20 some odd years ago, because my head was you do this, this is what you do. You do this once. And because I've allowed myself to go, be scared and numb. To be almost $200,000 in debt at one point in time. And the girl, I can thrive. But the only way I can thrive is I got to keep coming back to Senator like but Rick and my brand is all about no fears. No excuses, no apologies. How can I thrive, unapologetically and be who I am. And sometimes it's really hard to get to that point when you the worst stuff is going down and go okay, but how can I unapologetically be myself in this moment, without being and I will the one thing I go back to is without being an asshole, looking over your shoulder and looking at your oldest daughter's tears coming down her face because Daddy wasn't going to Thanksgiving. These are those moments I tap back into. Because when I can go there, and I remember the not long after being out for a year and a half or so. And like I should have just stayed in the closet. I can't meet a man bla bla bla. And I woke up pretty sure I'd been I'd had something slipped into a drink at a club. And I woke up the next morning and there was this guy in my bedroom. And I'm like, I don't know who the hell you are. I have no idea who you are. And I thought, This isn't this can't be who I am. Because I literally had to like go pick my kids up. It was my day to you know, pick up the kids for the week. I'm like, I can't be a father and be this. i This is not who I never was who I thought I wanted to be. And in those moments when you have those reality checks, you can either thrive or you can die, so to speak. And I've learned in those moments that that thriving comes from me stepping back in deep to who is Rick authentically at his core every time and it's hard. It's not easy in my mind to ever say it's easy to do this stuff. But sometimes where the pain is where you really really learn about yourself the most.
Coach Maddox 49:56
Well, I agree it's not easy, but It's easier than the alternative. You know, I think that we can refuse to listen to what messages that we get. I think that we can refuse to become more self aware. You know, we have a pretty large chunk of our population that, you know, lives in a vacuum lives in a bubble. There's no, there's no personal growth, there's no self awareness, there's no, no journey. They're just surviving. And, to me, that's way more painful than the pain of doing my work. Yes, doing the work is hard. Yep. But if you're doing the work, there's always this really strong person about this strong possibility that things will get better. And if you're not doing your work, the likelihood of things getting better are slim to none. You're talking about just an existence, and I never wanted to just exist.
Rick Clemons 51:09
And existence isn't living. I hate to say it existing is not living. And I know that sounds really trite. That sounds very Kochi woowoo. But it's like no, if you just exist. Yeah, then what's the point?
Coach Maddox 51:27
If that would have never worked for me? I mean, throughout my life, people have said, Why do you work so hard? Why do you end up talking about my job? They're talking about my personal growth? Why do you why do you work so hard? And I just said, because I don't, I don't like the alternative. I've been there. I don't like the way life was before I started to take responsibility for my life. And, you know, it has gotten infinitely better.
Rick Clemons 51:57
Well, and that's But you just said something really important. There Mattox take responsibility.
Coach Maddox 52:03
Yeah, that's, that's not a big thing anymore. That's that's, that's not a big thing. And it needs
Rick Clemons 52:13
to do is look at our look at our crazy stuff in our political landscape. And there's no responsibility for anything you say anymore. Anything can be said, and you just keep going. And unfortunately, this is something that, you know, I, I work really hard on I mean, it's difficult at times to go through this. But to watch your words, to me is the talent. And to think before you, you strike. And I'm glad I learned all those lessons and continue to learn but really learned a lot of those lessons in the first couple of years after I did come out of the closet. Because what I started to realize is, our voice is one of the most beautiful things we have. And how we use that voice determines whether we are loved whether we're successful if we're hated whether we're an asshole as I was. But once you master your voice, you can master anything.
Coach Maddox 53:26
Well, and I think that a big chunk of authenticity is one's ability to speak your truth.
Rick Clemons 53:36
Well, that's why I use in my brand like the unapologetic mindset. Because what to me my definition of being unapologetic is I speak my truth without fear, is my truth without any excuse around why I stand in the place that I stand.
Coach Maddox 53:53
I heard somebody one time say I would rather beg for forgiveness than beg for permission.
Rick Clemons 54:02
And I love that.
Coach Maddox 54:03
You know, I? I love that. Yes. If you are out there boldly living, are you going to make some messes? Are you going to have to ask for forgiveness occasionally? Yes, you are. But it's a lot better than waiting for somebody to give you permission to do what you need or want to do or know what you're meant to do.
Rick Clemons 54:32
Well, I think I think asking for forgiveness sometimes says I took the risk. Exactly the chance. Exactly. And sometimes it's not really that you're even asking for forgiveness because what you may be asking for forgiveness from was well, somebody else told you you couldn't do this. Well, okay. Then maybe you need to start reevaluating where you bucket things I don't ever, I shouldn't say ever but I rarely I don't give a shit that somebody gets offended on a podcast I'm on where I drop an F bomb or say something like I just said, I won't get offended because guess what, then we're not a match. You listening to me is not a match. There's going to be people who may listen to this today and go, I don't like that guy. That's okay. I know I don't I don't deemed need to be liked by everybody. That was a big thing too, is my ego always like, You got to be accepted, you got to be accepted, you got to be accepted. Now I realize acceptance isn't on me. It's on somebody else. And even if they don't accept me, that's actually a gift. Because then that means I don't have that person in my life. For a reason.
Coach Maddox 55:47
Well, and and if there's anything I've learned is when I gave myself my own acceptance, everybody else's acceptance didn't mean so much anymore.
Rick Clemons 55:57
And the ones that we vied so hard for to get from acceptance from I do, I literally, like go back and look at this. Over my life, everybody that said, I really want them to like me, I really want to be part of that. I'm no worse for wear because they're not here. Now. Ironically, I spent some time early this morning while I was on that coaching call because I was more there to kind of monitoring stuff. And just listening to how, you know, he was doing teaching and stuff. And I'm like, Okay, I kind of multitask a little bit here. But I was going through kind of my online Rolodex and where I keep customers contacts everything and like I you know, I haven't cleaned this up in a while. And this is an easy way to listen and do something else. Oh my gosh, Maddox, all the names that were in there that I'm like, I don't know why I felt like it was so important for them to be part of my inner circle. Until I said, it was because of your ego Rick of this person is in my inner circle ever is gonna think I'm so cool, right? horrible way to be in life. Just be your own inner circle. And that doesn't mean push everybody else out. I'm just saying, like, know why you want somebody in your life. A friend of mine said to me a couple of weeks ago. The reason I enjoy you being in my world, is because I enjoy you being in my world. And it made my, my heart was like, Oh my gosh, I'm so full today. Of course, then my next friend said, You're such a jerk. Like, we can't go back to reality, you know, but he said that and laughingly but it's like, I needed to hear that he's like, Quit being such a jerk man, like, you know, Buck it up and do something else. But I think that's the that's also the beauty of when you step into really authentic spaces. You can start to discern on a much better level. Yes, yes.
Coach Maddox 57:53
I agree completely. Well, based on your coming out experience coming out later in life, and the way you navigated that all the lessons you learned what, what is the what is the number one piece of wisdom that you would like to leave the listeners with?
Rick Clemons 58:17
It takes more energy to please somebody else than the police yourself. Need to pilot by that on daily basis, I realize it and when I get when I'm in my deepest stuff. Maddix about Oh, I gotta take care of this person. I got to make them lighter. I started looking at how much energy is that SAP? And how much? Is that keeping me awake at night? It's not worth it.
Coach Maddox 58:41
Yeah, it comes with a pretty big cost, doesn't it? Yeah. Beautiful. I love that. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story, Rick.
Rick Clemons 58:54
Thanks for having me here,
Coach Maddox 58:54
man. It's interesting. And it's obvious that you have learned a lot and come a long way. And one of the things that I want to call out that I observed. And not everybody can do this. But you seem to have a pretty decent ability to do self coaching. And that's, that's a pretty, pretty powerful thing to be able to do. You know, I think that it also I know for me, and it seems like you're doing the same thing you you won't ask something of a client you're working with that you wouldn't ask of yourself. Like, like I've learned that if I'm not you know, I stopped sometimes when the proverbial shit hits the fan and I asked myself how would you coach a client through this right now? And whatever that is, that's what you got to do. Otherwise you become a fucking hypocrite. Yep. You know, and a hypocrite doesn't make an a very effective coach.
Rick Clemons 59:56
In fact, one of the things I say To all my clients is I will work every bit as hard as you do. But I won't work anymore. Because that's my way of protecting myself. I know when I'm in a bad coaching relationship, when I'm like, Oh my gosh, why are they doing this? I'm like, Rick, get your ego out of the frickin way. They're doing it just the way they want. And you're, you're giving them the, the time and the insights and the observations. But if I'm feel like I'm doing the work for them, that's not my job. My job is to help them see stuff that they may not be able to see. But then on the flip side, I do the same thing with myself. Yeah, like, Rick, you're working way too hard. Stop. If I'm not able to move myself through something like okay, why is this such a struggle? What is what is it you're working really hard to make happen instead of stop? Slow down, think through it. And every time I give myself that permission to do that, everything changes
Coach Maddox 1:00:59
sometimes we need to allow rather than force. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Beautiful. Thank you so much for that. So I got some rapid fire questions for you. You ready for some rapid fire questions? Yep. Okay, what is the one thing that you clearly need to take action on in efforts to be a more authentic gay man?
Rick Clemons 1:01:28
Ironically, still keep owning it. Keep on every day,
Coach Maddox 1:01:33
keep owning who you are. I love it. What are you most afraid of?
Honest honestly not walking my talk. Hmm. That speaks volumes.
Rick Clemons 1:02:01
Yeah, I don't I don't like the word hypocrite. So I work really hard on that.
Coach Maddox 1:02:09
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Nobody wants to be called a hypocrite. You know, I get it completely. Okay, of your life that you have lived so far. What are you most proud of?
Rick Clemons 1:02:25
Raising two amazing, open minded kick ass women. How old are they now? Rick? 27 and 23. Wow.
Coach Maddox 1:02:38
Congratulations. Yeah, your your energy as you say this, I get your glowing right now. Yeah, you know, I can see it. I can feel it. I cannot taste it. You're glowing right now. So that's a beautiful thing. Yeah.
Rick Clemons 1:02:52
Very, very happy to have had the parental experience. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 1:02:58
Well, it shows that your your heart is really in being a good dad. That's, you know, it's very, very obvious in your in your conversation. It's, it's been the high point of your life. Well, thank you so much for that. I want to leave you with one thing, Rick and that is in my eyes. You are you an authentic gay man.
Rick Clemons 1:03:21
Thank you, sir. Right back. atcha. Right back at you. Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Yeah. Thank you so much for the opportunity. You bet
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Coach / Author / Podcaster
Rick Clemons is a well-known culture disruptor (in a good way), closet buster (men’s coming out coach), and bold move strategist – inspiring gay men to live life with no excuses, no fears, no apologies. Tapping into his 25+ years’ experience in personal development, Rick leverages his status as a late bloomer - coming out of the closet at 36 and stepping into entrepreneurship at 43 - to lovingly kick other gay men in the ass to thrive in their own lives without apologies – professionally and personally.