Notes & Quotes: Tough by Terry Crews

The following are my favorite quotes from Terry Crews's Tough: My Journey to True Power.

  1. When I promised [my wife] Rebecca to walk away from that fight, I took the first step on a road to becoming a completely different person, and to become a completely different person, you need more than a promise. You need therapy. You need mentorship. You need love and support and patience from your family and friends. More than anything, you need time.
  2. Half the reason I kept chasing my football dream was to get out of Flint [Michigan] and away from the guys like Juice and the Top Dawgs. So, needless to say, I was surprised to find out that joining the NFL meant I hadn't left the streets at all. I had teammates who were gang members. And I'm not talking about "former" gang members. These were guys with active ties to the Crips and Bloods, and they brought all that macho bullshit into the locker room with them.
  3. Something needed to change, but looking at yourself in the mirror and facing your demons is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. You will duck it and avoid it--and make excuses for ducking it and avoiding it--for a long, long time.
  4. The purpose of being tough is not to attack, but to protect. The purpose of being strong is not to dominate, but to support. The purpose of having power is not to rule, but to serve. What I've learned is that to be a true man is to be the ultimate servant. With any talent or advantage that life has given you, whether by birth or by circumstance, your duty is to use that advantage in the service of others.
  5. Between [my dad] Big Terry and [my mom] Trish, I caught it coming and going. If my father was addicted to alcohol and anger, my mother was addicted to religion and fear. Neither of them knew how to overcome, and together they made for a toxic pair. When they went at it, it was legendary. It was always brutal, and we were always in the middle.
  6. The way addiction works, whether it's alcohol or heroin or food or sex, is that you latch onto a thing or a habit or a substance that gives you a reprieve from reality. But when more problems arise from the substance you're abusing, that substance then presents itself as the solution to the same problems it has caused. And round and round you go, not even recognizing the cycle you've created for yourself. It's only looking back now that I can see the pattern.
  7. HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired). If an addict is feeling any of these emotions, those are the times when he's most likely to slip. So I learned to examine my feelings and create new triggers for healthier behaviors.
  8. Luck doesn't always fall from the sky. You can't just name it and claim it. Yes, it's luck, and you don't control when or where it happens--or if it's good luck or bad--but it comes only if you're working for it. It comes as the fruit of what you're putting out into the universe. For a long time, the only vibe I was giving off was arrogance, selfishness, and entitlement, and nothing came my way. After my experience at Labor Ready, I was giving off only exuberance and enthusiasm and dedication, no matter how menial the task. People noticed.
  9. We always tell ourselves we don't have time to spend an hour exercising every day. We're too busy with work and with family. But the thing about the hour of exercise is that it makes you feel so much better that the other twenty-three hours of the day become that much more productive. Giving up that hour of time actually gets you more time, because it gives you better use of your time. You sleep better. You work more efficiently. You eat better, too, and not because you're forcing yourself on some diet you hate, but because your body doesn't want that unhealthy food anymore. More than anything, it forces you to manage your time to make sure you have that hour for the gym, and that fact alone ensures that you're paying attention to your days and making the most of every moment.
  10. Tithing helped me understand that money doesn't really exist. It's a symbol, a representation of value given for value received.
  11. The best way to become successful is to serve people. The more people you serve, the more valued you are. The more valued you are, the more you receive, which can come in the form of more money, or it can come in the form of other intangibles that are worth more than money, like happiness, respect, and a sense of purpose. Work becomes its own blessing. So now, the question I ask myself every morning is not "How do I make more money?" The question I ask myself is "How do I increase my value?"
  12. Somebody's always jacked in. Which is why you always have to be cognizant of who that person is and how much power they have over you. Like my son with his iPhone, whoever's got that cord controls what you hear, which means they can set your mood. If they can set your mood, they can influence how you feel. If they can influence how you feel, they can change the way you think. And if they can change the way you think, they can control the way you behave.
  13. The kids who were misbehaving, they weren't that different from me, actually. When you see poor kids in the hood acting out, a lot of them are trying to find out if anybody gives a damn about them, because their whole lives they've grown up with the feeling that nobody does.
  14. We should always strive to create a world that is just and fair, but injustice and suffering will always be with us. We cannot will them out of existence, and we cannot control when or how they will be inflicted upon us. We can only control how we respond. Power and agency come from within. Dignity and self-worth come from within.
  15. Letting someone else make you angry is giving them too much control over your life. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can always control how you respond. You are never powerless. You always have a choice.
  16. An insult hurts only if there's a ring of truth to it; it only hurts if you believe it. My mother calling my dad a broke-ass drunk cut him to the bone, because it was true. But if you called Bill Gates broke, you wouldn't be insulting the man, because he knows he isn't broke. He'd laugh at you and shrug it off.
  17. As the city started to crater, the newspapers salivated over every detail. If it bled, it led, and if a black man was responsible for it, all the better. Anytime a black man did anything, the headlines would literally read a black man killed three people today or a black man has crack den or four dead in crack den, with several black people. If it was a white man, he was just a man, but if it was a black man, his race was always called out.
  18. Seventh grade was the year I went from being treated like a black boy to being treated like a black man, and the difference was stark. I noticed it the minute it happened. My mother loved going to the big department stores at the mall. As a kid, I hated it because she would spend all her time trying stuff on but then never buying anything because we didn't have any money. As an adolescent, I hated it because I had white salespeople on me all the time. "What do you want? What are you looking for? What do you need? Can I help you?" Even after they backed off, I could feel their eyes following me around the store, like I was about to steal something.
  19. Every situation carries with it the potential for social miscues and misunderstanding. If you go into those interactions expecting the worst, you're going to get it. Because all you get back from any situation is what you put into it.
  20. Frederick Douglass understood power and agency in the same way that Viktor Frankl understood power and agency. They come from within. We can and should protest and call out injustice in the world, but we cannot control or stamp out every injustice that exists. What we can control, what we do have power over, is ourselves. We can always choose what we say and how we respond. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm understood that, too. Those men and women were able to endure everything from segregated rail cars to prison cells, because nothing the world threw at them could dim the light they carried inside themselves. That is true power.