Austin Harrington (PGA Professional)

Many kids grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues. Whether it’s baseball, basketball, or football, it’s easy to fantasize about playing the sport you love for a living.

Austin Harrington, a native of Minnetonka, a well-to-do suburb west of Minneapolis, envisioned that future for himself. Harrington, a multi-sport athlete who ultimately chased glory on football gridirons, foresaw a future running routes in some of the best stadiums the NFL had to offer.

By the time Harrington reached high school, it wasn’t a stretch to assume he could one day play football for money. listed him as high as #11 in their rankings for wide receivers in the state.

To further bolster his prospects, Harrington later enrolled at a prep school in Bridgton, Maine. He spent six months there, absorbing not only the stiffer competition on the football field, but also a world that wasn’t as insulated as the one he grew up in back home.

“I didn’t know a lot about the world,” he says of his experiences growing up. “My parents were amazing, gave me every opportunity in the world. They didn’t teach me all the lessons and techniques that I follow today, the stuff that made me successful. But it’s nothing against them. You just don’t know what you don’t know.”

He wasn’t alone in feeling this way.

I used to think the same way as Harrington, having thrust my parents into roles perhaps they were unable to accept. As a child, my parents always pushed me in the right direction, supporting me when appropriate, and condemning me when I failed science classes I had no interest in taking.

But that changed once I reached a certain age. My dad became less of a dictator and more of a mentor. Mom became less of a caregiver and more of a psychologist. This was predictable. Each of the relationships with my parents had to change, the realities of getting older becoming more inevitable.

Yet when turbulence began to invade my early twenties, I began using my parents as a crutch to deflect blame away from myself. I figured that since they didn’t warn me of what to expect, I was therefore not liable for the unfortunate things that came my way. Really, it was my privilege shadowing a youthful inability to admit I had some growing up to do.

You see, much akin to Harrington, I grew up in a box, shielded from the way the world worked by neighbors entering retirement and housewives gossiping over hearing sirens the other night at 3 A.M. My biggest hardships consisted of standing in outstretched lines at Chipotle and trying to find a girlfriend to pry me from the depths of virginity.

And the idea that the rest of the world didn’t share the same experiences as me never crossed my mind.

But then I went to college.


What does St. Cloud State mean to you?” I ask Harrington of our shared alma mater as we take a seat inside Starbucks.

“St. Cloud State means,” Harrington begins with a chuckle, the memories of his past suddenly funneling to his brain. “St. Cloud State means experience the world and grow. It was really where I had my eyes opened up to the world.”

Harrington found himself at St. Cloud State after declining numerous opportunities to play FCS football, mostly from interested schools on the east coast who were exposed to the speedy wideout’s talents while he was in prep school. St. Cloud State played at the Division II level, a step below the FCS, but Harrington was still determined to continue pursuing his dream of playing on Sundays.

This plan seemed to remain on track once he signed to play for the Huskies. “I came back to St. Cloud State, mainly because of my girlfriend,” he explains, beginning a journey that would ultimately transition his life away from football and NFL dreams, and expose him to different realities.

Right away at St. Cloud State, things began to change for Harrington. “I really got opened up to what college was, what the world was like. This was the beginning of starting to understand who I’m going to become. It was a shock and an experience.”

“Why was your experience so shocking?” I ask.

“It was tough, considering the bubble of Minnetonka, where everything is so nice, and the culture and the narrative is so controlled. You get to St. Cloud, and it’s so diverse, you learn from so many different styles. Everyone in Minnetonka basically had the same viewpoints as me, but now I’m learning there are a million different ways to decipher what’s right.”

It didn’t take long for Harrington to learn what wasn’t right.

“I had so many bad habits,” he says, “eating, drinking, I got into smoking a little bit. I didn’t have any good habits. My morning was usually sleep in until nine, maybe miss my first class, brush my teeth and go to the next one. And then I would be staying up late watching shows. I’d go out on weekends, be on technology too much. I wasn’t close to building the routines that would make me the person I want to be.”

Harrington continued these habits for a few years, until something had to change. Injuries marred an otherwise promising football career, and slowly Harrington began to realize he would need to expand his ambitions beyond just football.

With his life ever evolving, he embraced the challenge and moved away from St. Cloud State, ultimately landing at St. Thomas University in the Twin Cities.

“The two main reasons were the school culture and the business program. At that point I decided I was done pursuing football. I still wanted to be a good football player, but I wasn’t going to try to make it [the NFL] anymore,” Harrington says of the rationale for his decision.

“I wanted to go to St. Thomas, mainly to get into their business program. I was going to do entrepreneurship, and then between the culture and the community, St. Thomas appealed more to me.”

At St. Thomas, Harrington played out the string of his collegiate career, and along with his business acumen, began to refine his golf game, harkening back to a sport he causally played his entire life. This eventually forged a new outlook on life for him.

“The summer after my senior year of football, my buddy and I played golf all the time,” he says. “I fell in love with the game, and then just took a leap.”

At the time, Harrington and a friend were experimenting with running their own business, but Harrington soon realized that the venture was never going to be successful because he was missing a key ingredient: passion.

“I was passionate about starting my own business, but not the product [they were selling].” Harrington then took time to reflect on what exactly he did enjoy. “I always wanted to own my own golf facility,” he mentions.

That spring he joined the PGA program and began searching for golf courses he could immerse himself in and learn from. “I emailed 50 golf courses,” he says, detailing the arduous process of trying to ingratiate himself with a club owner. “Three people responded. One of them was this guy up in Albertville, near Riverwood.”

At the interview, Harrington and the club owner instantly clicked, brought together by shared experiences that was enough to land Harrington a position as his top assistant. As Harrington says, “the rest is history.”

Now, Harrington hopes to use this opportunity to streamline his career as a PGA professional, the goal being to one day have his own course, as well as an adjoining fitness center. “I want to have a Life Time Fitness and a country club together,” he says.

In between working tirelessly to achieve his dream, Harrington spends his days waking up early to exercise and prepare for another day at the golf course. He also has created a blog that focuses on dieting, specifically fasting.

For anyone who has considered depriving themselves in the spirit of fulfillment, Harrington’s blog is a must-read. He provides both scientific research and personal experiences to make the process of fasting appear feasible.

And to supplement the blog, Harrington hosts guests on his podcast, with the goal of uniting people in a collective effort toward attaining more wellness and satisfaction from life. So far, his message is resonating. He has over 6,000 followers on Instagram and is rapidly building his brand.

“It’s about living a life of passion,” he says when asked what his social media objectives are. “People who are grateful for the life they have. I don’t interview just anyone. It has to be someone I think has good intentions, someone who has formed their own path and aspirations.”

His brand and his message are expanding, but Harrington is still facing the expected challenges of any entrepreneur. “Having money to support what I want to do. You need money to support yourself, and you need money to realize your goals. To add value and to create really good content, it costs money.”

“I make a decent wage at PGA, and I don’t live a lifestyle where I need a lot of stuff. I’m not a guy who is going to buy a really nice car. I like to live within my means, but to support a family and create that life for myself, it’s going to take money. So money is something I struggle with.”

To overcome this obstacle, Harrington will have to exercise a few character traits he admittedly is still tinkering with. “It goes back to that self-belief. People who are successful in the world have this unbelievable self-belief. To do anything great in the world, you have to have that. That’s where magic happens, where people create amazing things.”

“When I have a vision for something, I’m texting my buddies nonstop, like `why are these people not sprinting around to help me’?” he says with a boisterous chuckle. “Patience is something I need to work on developing.”

There is a fine line between patience and assertion, a tightrope that cannot be easily navigated. I think back to even a few years ago, when I was in a hurry to finish grad school and begin making “real” money. It’ll be easy, I thought. A little effort and a lucky bounce or two, and bam, I would be raking income my direction.

But my experiences have been anything but serene. I sandwiched a year in Beijing between a run promoting a commercially unsuccessful book, then a leap into the art of ghostwriting. Each has taught me something, the most important being that the road to satisfaction is not one without heavy resistance.

Even now, as I have a more crystallized vision for how to be successful, new roadblocks present themselves each day, whether it’s taking meetings that possess little likelihood of success, or tracking down a client for a check I needed yesterday for the money I spent today.

Despite these adversities, it’s taken time to realize that competition is not necessarily an external force. Instead, the real inhibitor is what’s visible when I look in the mirror each morning. Simply put, the resistance is me.

In the past, I allowed Grey Goose, Tinder, and myriad other vices to become problematic, until I eventually reached a juncture where I couldn’t live another day under that guise, so I shed the toxicity and swallowed an ego that for too long constantly needed validation. Now, I wake up each day attempting to live without constraint, no longer a slave inside my own head of insecurity and shame. This is the headspace I have always wanted to occupy.

And as our meeting concludes, this is what I try to impress upon Harrington, being consistent and relentless in the pursuit of something meaningful. But perhaps these words are as much a reminder to myself as they are a token of advice. Harrington’s time is going to come, perhaps sooner than he or anyone else realizes. QS


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