Sam Acho: #AthleteAnd Author
Sam Acho thought he had finally captured his dreams.
Along with being a devoted husband, doting father and dedicated humanitarian, after seven years of hard work on the football field, Acho received the biggest payday of his NFL career in 2018 when he signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with the Chicago Bears.
Yet just days before that 2018 season began, Acho found himself drowning in emotional pain and tears, unable to explain why his inner feelings didn’t match his outward success.
As I’m crying and saying, ‘What is going on?’ in my tears, a friend of mine looks at me and says, ‘Sam, it’s nice to see you. It’s nice to see you.’”
“That hit me because, whether you’re a pro athlete or no matter what you do, you're worth getting to know the real you. Not the mask that we wear and not the things we do to pretend. The real us; we are worth getting to know.”
That moment launched a journey that recently produced Acho’s first book, “Let The World See You: How To Be Real In A World Full Of Fakes.” In it, the nine-year NFL veteran and NFLPA Executive Committee member uses his own evolution -- from the tough-guy football persona to tapping into his genuine self -- as encouragement for others to identify the nature of their fears, remove the masks we all hide behind to some extent, and discover the freedom of living as the real you that God created.
What inspired you to write this book?
“I lost a friend recently and we're having a conversation and one of the last things he told me was, ‘Sam, the last thing I want you to know is that you are worth getting to know. Never forget that you are worth getting to know.’ So, being seen is one thing and then the second step is being known.
It’s like wow, you actually know me. You know the things that tick me off; you know the things that bring me joy; you know the things that I can't stand; and you know me, good or bad. And the last step, the last phase is actually being loved for that. Some people, they see you and they shun you. But imagine the power that happens when you are seen, then you are known, and then you are loved with an unconditional love that I equate to the way God loves us. That's what this book is all about.”
What’s your journey been like in discovering the real you?
“As an NFL linebacker, in an industry where it's all about performance and all about putting your best foot forward and you are what you put on tape, it helped shape me in a lot of ways, both good and bad. It helped me become great and give everything I have. But also, it gave me this false reality that if I play well, then I'll be enough. If I get this number of sacks or get this contract or play this many years, then I'll be enough. When in all reality, I was already enough from birth, before I did or achieved anything.
“So, whether people like the me they see or not, I am enough, and I don't have to live for their approval. And that's not just in football; that's in anything. Whether you're a bartender, a video producer, a lawyer, it's not about what you do. It's more about who you are.”
What message do you hope people take from your book?
“Anybody who reads this book, I think you'll realize a couple of things. If you’ve ever dealt with shame, guilt, anger, doubt, depression, anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness -- if you've ever dealt with any of these emotions or felt like you weren’t worth getting to know, then this book is for you in discovering the freedom that comes from being the real you and understanding that you are enough.
“It’s not a football book or a pro athlete book. It's a book for any human being who wants to understand what's it like to be seen and the freedom that comes from that; to be known and the joy that comes from that; and to be loved and the peace that comes from that.”