Terry Crews — His Journey to True Power | The Tim Ferriss Show (#587)

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Key Takeaways

  • You don’t have to “feed the beast” – spending less time on social media will not cause you to lose followers
    • Reading is a great way to remain level-headed in a world of social media content and sensationalism
  • When you are self-righteous, you can do the most horrible, inhuman things to other people
    • Terry used self-righteousness against his family, to manipulate people, to gain things he never earned
  • Hollywood and victimology – everyone who’s been abused or hurt is a hero
    • Just because someone suffers, it doesn’t mean they are better than everyone else
  • For Terry, pornography was a numbing device, something that he always came back to (sad or happy) and which always left him unfulfilled
  • Terry was two different people; he was more concerned with the image of Terry Crews than who he really was
    • Once he began to put the two personas together his world crumbled, it was like opening a can of worms (undercover misogyny and toxic masculinity)
  • Going into therapy changed his life (especially addiction treatment and the 12 steps)
  • When he was sexually assaulted by a Hollywood executive 
    • “…I don’t even think that there’s anybody who would even doubt my ability to murder this man.” – Terry Crews
    • Instead of descending into chaos, Terry remembered the promise he made to his wife and the time spent in therapy
  • Revenge is the ultimate male fantasy; make them pay for everything they ever did to you
    • “You can either have success or revenge, but you can’t have both.”  Terry Crews
  • Too many men respond with aggression to prove that they are not weak
    • “The greatest boxers in the world took punches.”- Terry Crews

Intro

  • Terry Crews (@terrycrews) is an American actor, television presenter, and ex-NFL player
    • In this episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, Terry Crews provides insight into his struggles with pornography addiction, hypermasculinity and sexual harassment. He also explains the benefits of long-term psychotherapy, and praises Victor Frankl’s incredible endurance
  • Host – Tim Ferriss (@tferriss

Key Books Mentioned

The Structure of the Entertainment Industry Has Changed, but Terry Never Lost His Structure

  • Entertainment has changed significantly in the last 5 years (especially during the pandemic)
    • A lot of the industry is present on social media (two jobs at the same time)
    • “Every production expects to take your followers with them.” – Terry Crews
    • Streaming has taken over
    • People have started to do limited series (only one season with an entire story wrapped up fully)
    • It’s like shooting a movie in 10 days; “it’s always like hurry up, shoot it all, and then you’re down for two-three weeks finding out what your next thing is.” – Terry Crews
  • The structure of the entertainment industry has changed, but Terry never lost his structure
    • Wherever he is, he finds a place to work out
    • His timing of eating never changes (12 years of intermittent fasting)
    • He goes to bed as early as possible

Too Much Phone Time Is Never Good for You

  • You lose focus when you constantly check e-mails, tweets, comments, etc.
    • Terry realized very quickly that the lack of focus harms his career
    • He instantly started to see a decline in his performances
    • You don’t have to “feed the beast” – spending less time on social media will not cause you to lose followers
    • For Terry, it was the opposite; people were eager to see what he is up to

The Death of Nuance

  • Getting up early and working out brings him peace
    • Headphones + podcasts/audiobooks for valuable insights
  • He reads a book a week, sometimes two
    • New empathy for different people
    • Reading is a great way to remain level-headed in a world of social media content and sensationalism
    • “The media likes to get everyone angry and keep them there because it’s very profitable.” – Terry Crews
    • Reading is one of the best ways to calm down when you feel overwhelmed, it’s like you’re enjoying a sunset when you read a book
  • Reading Walter Isaacson’s The Code Breaker
    • Watter Isaacson is his favorite autobiographer
    • Reading the book, it was the first time Terry heard about James Watson (the double helix) and his long history of racist comments
    • Terry was crushed to learn about Watson’s scientific racism (assumes black people are less intelligent)
    • One of the smartest people on earth is an unrepentant racist
    • “This is the man who is probably going to go down in annals of history as being this innovator, a person that solves so many problems, but here he is creating a new one right at the same time.” – Terry Crews
  • Watching the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance
    • “There is a level of success you can get to that can actually harm you.”– Terry Crews
    • Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time, but was he happy?
  • Terry had everything (success, popularity, he was lovable, etc.), but had everything else wrong at the same time
    • His wife was ready to leave
    • Even when you’ve succeeded, you are only just at the beginning
  • Don’t fall into the trap of self-righteousness, stay humble
    • When you are self-righteous, you can do the most horrible, inhuman things to other people
    • All that just because you know in your heart that you are right

Just Because You Suffer, It Doesn’t Mean You Are Better Than Everyone Else

  • There is a lot of conflating going on, even with racism
    • A lot of it is about being self-righteous 
    • There needs to be a proper definition before attempting to fix the problem
  • Hollywood and victimology – everyone who’s been abused or hurt is a hero
    • There are two ways to be self-righteous:
      • The divine right of kings (“I was born this way”)
      • Believing you’ve suffered more than anybody else
    • Just because someone suffers, it doesn’t mean they are better than everyone else
    • Why even compare your suffering to that of other people? It’s not a contest
  • Terry was the biggest victim, he had every excuse in the book:
    • His father was abusive
    • He’s black
    • He grew up poor
  • Terry used self-righteousness against his family, to manipulate people, to gain things he never earned
    • All those excuses work only for a short period 

Terry’s D-Day and Pornography Addiction

  • Some people find it hard to believe that you could ever be addicted to pornography
    • For Terry, pornography was a numbing device, something that he always came back to (sad or happy) and which always left him unfulfilled
    • When confronted by his wife, he would lie about it: “I was asking ‘why doesn’t she believe me?’ but the question I should have been asking was ‘why did I lie?’.” – Terry Crews
  • At that time, Terry was two different people; he was more concerned with the image of Terry Crews than who he really was
    • Once he began to put the two personas together his world crumbled, it was like opening a can of worms (undercover misogyny and toxic masculinity)
  • Going into therapy changed his life (especially addiction treatment and the 12 steps)
    • Where he grew up therapy was looked at as something ridiculous ( you can’t cure “crazy”)
    • There was a learned resistance towards therapy that stemmed from his childhood and relationship with his father
  • With addiction comes guilt
    • Knowing that what you’re doing is wrong so you take it out on everyone else
    • He would snap at everyone without hesitation because he was angry with himself and at his own lack of control
    • Self-righteousness + guilt kept his family in a cage. He was attempting to control them
    • Long-term therapy and constantly working on himself brought out positive changes in his behavior
  • When he was sexually assaulted by a Hollywood executive 
    • “…I don’t even think that there’s anybody who would even doubt my ability to murder this man.” – Terry Crews
    • Instead of descending into chaos, Terry remembered his promise he made to his wife and the time spent in therapy
    • Responsibility is the ability to respond
    • Terry took his wife’s hand and walked out, effectively going against decades of programmed reactions
  • If anybody calls you out, you are expected to knock them out 
    • Nowadays, Terry is more likely to contextualize it as ignorance, or a trigger for someone to get him into a position of vulnerability
    • “When I look at the jails that are full of young black men, I think about how many were baited into turning that chessboard over, and it’s so easy because again, it’s the revenge movie.” – Terry Crews

Revenge Is the Ultimate Male Fantasy

  • Revenge is the ultimate male fantasy; make them pay for everything they ever did to you
    • “You can either have success or revenge, but you can’t have both.”  Terry Crews
  • Revenge is trying to control things you can’t control (evening the score)
    • The truth is we can’t control people, and we can’t control what people say to us
    • The score is never really settled, things just get worse 
  • After beating up a man on the street for disrespecting his wife, Terry learned that violence sets you up for a very hollow existence
    • This approach saved his life in so many ways
    • “The whole thing is a little bit like you’re playing chess and you don’t know the right move so you turn over the board. That was my answer for everything.” – Terry Crews 
  • There was a time when he was like Will Smith at the Oscars, but what saved him was the “Chris Rock mentality” (not descending into chaos)
    • Take an “l” for one day but win the whole war

Masculinity and Hyperaggression

  • Too many men respond with aggression to prove that they are not weak
    • “The greatest boxers in the world took punches.”- Terry Crews
    • Terry believes that endurance is an underrated part of toughness 
    • Long term, it’s all about how much can you take and keep going (like Rocky said)
  • For this reason, Terry loves the work of Viktor Frankl 
    • Frankl understood the construction of meaning
    • He survived Auschwitz in 1944 and came out declaring “yes to life”
    • That’s the kind of endurance and level of toughness that Terry wants to achieve
  • The world determines winners way too early 
    • E.g. highschool valedictorians
    • Most of these people don’t end up winning long term
  • The sportification of our culture
    • Competition is the opposite of creativity
    • There is no need to compete with other human beings 
    • It’s through collaboration that we build a better place to live in
  • “That revenge movie that we live is about competition it’s about putting me on top and now I’m on top and I got to cancel everybody else.” – Terry Crews
    • Terry doesn’t want to be a part of any movement that doesn’t start with reconciliation 
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