Terry Crews on Success, Accountability, and Toxic Masculinity – The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

Key Takeaways

  • Terry’s definition of intimacy – “When you can see me for who I really, really am and accept me, and love me”
  • Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about – we ALL have our demons
  • Anger is NEVER the solution
  • Greatness comes when you’re vulnerable


Terry’s Childhood 

  • Terry grew up with a “super abusive” father who was also an alcoholic
    • “If you were having fun, he wanted to suck all the air out of the room”
  • Terry remembers one time kissing his dad on the cheek when he was a kid
    • “He looked at me with such disgust and disdain, I said to myself that I’d never do that again”
    • “I felt so much shame, I’ll never forget it to this day, and I’m 50 years old.”
  • Terry’s mother was extremely religious
    • “My mother was addicted to religion”
    • “When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to play sports, go to the movies, dance…the only thing we did was go to church”
      • Terry felt his parents were at opposite extremes and that he had to please both of them at the same time – this was of course very hard to do
    • In church, the pastor was always telling people to be perfect or they wouldn’t be saved from the rapture
      • At 14 years old, Terry says he was wetting the bed from the panic of never feeling like he was good enough to be saved
  • Later on in life, Terry found several faults within his church
    • The priest was “selling drugs out of the pulpit and had girlfriends all over the church”

Masking His Porn Addiction

  • At 9 years old, Terry was exposed to pornography
    • “I developed an addiction immediately”
    • Terry didn’t drink alcohol or take drugs, instead he used porn as a coping mechanism to numb the pain of life
  • Terry kept his porn addiction from his wife for decades
    • He kept up a facade of everything being great, but inside he was deeply ashamed

Terry’s Biggest Mistake

  • Terry’s biggest regret in life is cheating on his wife
    • How did it happen? – During his first acting role, Terry was on a film set in Vancouver and was told to come back in a few weeks for his part, but he decided to stick around
      • For the first time, Terry decided to visit a massage parlor to “get a massage”
        • “I went there and I was unfaithful”
        • “I literally said – ‘I’m going with die with this’”
  • Terry soon found out that cheating on his wife affected many other areas of his life
    • Whenever his wife brought up a casual topic related to cheating or having an affair, Terry would get very angry and try to change the conversation
      • “I never went back to a massage parlor” – But Terry did continue going to strip clubs
    • Meanwhile, Terry’s porn addiction was still going strong

Men Seek Intimacy

  • “Intimacy is what a man is looking for. We need intimacy.”
    • What is intimacy?
      • “When you can see me for who I really, really am and accept me, and love me”
      • “But as guys, if you never show who you really are, how are you going to get intimacy?”
  • “Success is the warmest place to hide”
    • “Your public image often seems like most important thing of all. If your image is good, people will automatically think you’re good internally.”
      • But inside, Terry knew he was hiding a lot of pain and shame

Admitting His Mistake

  • Terry’s wife had a suspicion something was wrong and finally called him to talk about it
    • Terry, having none of it, hung up on her and refused to admit his mistake
    • However, moments later, he had a “spiritual experience” – he realized he needed to come clean – Terry then called her back up and told her everything
      • “I’ll never forget the gasp on the other end of the line”
      • “She said, ‘Don’t come home. Terry, you don’t have a home to come to.'”
  • Without his wife, Terry realized that all he had was his image, which was fake

The Fool, The Victim, and The King

  • Terry says men are usually in one of 3 stages in life: The fool, the victim, or the king stage
    • The fool jokes around without realizing there are consequences for every action
    • The victim blames everyone and everything for his problems
    • The king, however, doesn’t accept excuses or let negative people into his life
      • “As a king, you have to know that you are responsible for your life – good and bad”
      • “As a king, if something isn’t right, you know it’s your responsibility to change it”

The Road to Recovery

  • Terry eventually went to rehab to overcome his porn addiction (this was in 2010)
    • While there, Terry realized that he wasn’t a bad person, he had just made some bad decisions. This helped Terry admit his mistakes and start his journey down the road to recovery.
      • He thought to himself – “I did this, now let me correct it”
      • Terry began to take accountability for his actions and ask for forgiveness from others
  • Terry believed his wife would leave him because of his mistakes, but she stayed with him through rehab and beyond
    • Terry recalls her saying that she still loved him, and at that moment, Terry told himself he would do everything possible to fix his issues
    • Now 10 years later, Terry still goes to counseling to keep himself on the right path

Toxic Masculinity

  • Terry describes toxic masculinity as “the abuse of power”
  • Terry believes just apologizing for your improper actions is like hitting a person while driving drunk, simply saying sorry, and then driving away
    • You need to take accountability
      • “Accountability – you stay there with that person. Accountability – the police come, you’ve been driving drunk, so you get arrested. Accountability – you lost your license. Accountability – you’re paying fines and paying for the person you hit.”
      • “It doesn’t matter what status you are, you pay the price”
  • Terry is now an ambassador for the Polaris Project which fights sex trafficking, which of course is common in massage parlors

Anger Issues

  • “I had anger, I had big anger. Man, that’s how I got into the NFL. Seven years in the NFL was a fight, that is all you do. ”
    • “If you have two good parents, you’re probably not going to make it to the NFL”
    • “My only skill was the ability to take tremendous amounts of pain because I was angry”
  • How did he overcome his anger issues? – Terry’s wife helped him tremendously, specifically by showing him how to reflect on his anger, which eventually allowed him to realize that anger…is never a good solution
    • “The knowledge that I am capable of unspeakable evil means I can counteract it”


  • Terry is a fan of author Brene Brown
  • Terry is releasing a children’s book soon, stay tuned for details here
  • Terry’s 3 truths:
    • Accountability  “I would like to know that I taught and gave people an example of what being accountable looks like”
    • Love – “It’s impossible to truly love someone and control them at the same time”
    • Creativity – “There are no rules, there’s no one to tell you, ‘Hey man that’s not what a man does.’ No creativity works like that. Do whatever you want.”
  • Terry’s definition of greatness:
    • Vulnerability
    • “You have no courage without vulnerability and there’s no way you can be great until you can be vulnerable.”

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services