Terry Crews on Masculinity, True Power, Therapy, and Resisting Cynicism | The Tim Ferriss Show | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Terry Crews on Masculinity, True Power, Therapy, and Resisting Cynicism | The Tim Ferriss Show".
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Terry, it is so nice to see you again. Thanks for taking the time. Good to see you too, Tim. I tell you, been a long time. It has. And last time we were in person on stage in Los Angeles, now we are remote, still looking at each other via video. And for those who can't see where I'm sitting, because they're listening to audio, I'm sitting in a studio with a projection of the skyline of Austin behind me because I had two location failures today. This is my third location. And maybe think of something I heard once when I did very little television, which was-- or it was more of a joke. And the joke was, why does thunder come after lightning? And then the answer was, because even God waits for sound. And I was hoping if you could maybe just give people a little bit of connective tissue related to your professional life, because people see the red carpet events. They see the TV shows. And they might assume that it's just like all highlights all day long. And I was just wondering if you could maybe add a little bit of color to what a day in the life actually looks like, because there's so much behind the scenes. It's seasonal for me. One thing I learned, especially now, it's not as entertainment has changed significantly, just in the last five years, especially after the pandemic, the last two years. And streaming has kind of taken over. I had a much more structured life before you do a sitcom. And you wake up at 4 in the morning, get the workout in, go to the set, do your whole thing. I mean, my workout is two hours. So no matter what my call time is, I'm up at least three hours before my call time, so that I can get all my workout in, my showering, all that stuff. And then I go right into a usual day. But, and that's a 12 hour kind of sitcom day, when I was doing Brooklyn Nine-Nine for eight straight years, that was my go to. And that's kind of how the day went. But now it's streaming. And the way everything is going, people have now started to do limited series. And I'm not on Brooklyn anymore, but I am doing, I did a stint on a TV series, Bram C called Tales of the Walking Dead, which is gonna be really cool. But it was all in Atlanta, and we shot 15 hours, and it was like shooting a movie in 10 days, you know what I mean? And that's kind of how everything goes. It's always like, hurry up, shoot it all, and then now you're down for two weeks, three weeks, finding out what your next thing is. But this is the thing, I never lose my own structure.
Habits, Interests, Values And Personal Attitudes
Terry's workday structure. (03:19)
You know what I mean? Wherever I'm at, I have my, the first thing I find is where I'm gonna work out. What, and then also what I'm gonna eat, and also my timing of my eating, I still do intermittent fasting. I'm going, I'm in the beginning of 12 years now, straight of intermittent fasting, and doing my eight hour window from two to 10. And then it changes by when I go to, you know, whatever time zone I'm in. And now it's funny because a lot of times I find I can go one meal a day. I actually enjoy skipping that two o'clock, and then maybe by three or four, having a charcuterie or something like that, with some, you know, real satiate and cheese, and some, you know, meat, and that's it. And then I have a dinner, and then I'm done. That's kind of the way I've been doing it lately. But the industry changing so much, and so much is also on social media. You know, it's now, they expect, every production expects to take all your followers with them, you know? So you're like doing two jobs at the same time. And this is where I had to really, really, kind of push back a little bit, because too much phone time is just not good for you. - Yeah.
The effects of technology on Nick's focus and performance. (04:39)
- Like I never bring my phone when I'm working. I leave my phone in the trailer. I find that if you have, you know, if I lose my focus, I could lose my career. And the lack of focus that comes from always checking an email, always checking, we are a post and looking at what people are commenting on, and this kind of stuff, man, it slowly but surely changes you. And I saw it happening in my performances, you know, and I only did it for a small time, because I immediately started to see a decline in my performances. It didn't look like I was there. I didn't feel present. I was somewhere else while I was saying the lines. And I said, "Man, this is gonna hurt me." So I learned to just kind of leave, and create a seasonal kind of thing with my social media, just kind of like, and what was crazy and what I figured out, I didn't lose any followers. In fact, I'm a gang-something, you know? People are like, "Where you been?" You know, I'm going, "Oh my God, "because you get this feeling "or you gotta feed the beast." You know what I mean? Like if you don't keep the pipeline running, all of a sudden you're just gonna run dry, but I found it wasn't true. I found that when I'm doing America's Got Talent and it's time to promote and time to get your social media back up and running, it's like people never left. - Yeah. - And I was like, "Man, that was a really good thing "to find out," you know what I'm saying? - Good to test early and learn that you can do it. - Yeah, and again, I try to go to bed as early as I can. Like if I can get to bed literally at 8.30, I'm gone. Because I just enjoy my mornings. Like with my workout, it's my piece, man. I put my headphones on, I'll listen to your podcasts, I'll listen to some, I read a lot of good books via audiobook while I'm working out that just give me the insights and the thing that I need. And I literally, I probably read a book a week at least. And sometimes too, if it gets really rolling, if the books are short, but I find that the reading just really keeps me level-headed in a world of quick blurbs and people who wanna excite everyone else and get everybody riled up. One thing I like to say is the media likes to get everyone angry and keep them there because it's very profitable. You know, but reading calms all that down. You know what I'm saying? It's kind of like a very, it's a very realistic way of looking at life, you know what I mean? It's like as opposed to blowing through the day, it's like you're enjoying a sunset when you read a book. You know what I'm saying? That's the analogy that I have for that. And it gives me great perspective. Sometimes I read books on people that I wouldn't normally listen to or understand or try to understand. And then you get a deep, you get a new empathy for different people and you may not even agree, but I can definitely empathize with points of view and where people are coming from. And it gives nuance where there is, I mean, the depth of nuance has been kind of what's happening lately. You know what I mean? - Yeah. - Sharp contrast. So I have probably 27 footnotes that I've made for follow up questions on what you just said. So let me jump into some of them. We'll start with the end first. Are there any books, audio books, anything that you've kind of consumed long form that has stuck out to you or that has been memorable in the last, could be six to 12 months, two years. It's been a while since you and I saw each other. It feels recent on one hand, but it's awesome. - Yeah, yeah. - Quite a while ago. - There is a book. I'm trying to, it's, and Walter Isaacson is like my favorite biographer. You know, this man, he gets so in depth. - He's great. - It's like you're living a life with these people as you read it, you know what I mean? And I believe what is the one. Oh my God, it's about, it's with Jennifer Doudna and how she be quoted. - Codebreaker? I think the codebreaker. - Yes, Codebreaker.
Why Nick was smitten with Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson and Jennifer Doudna. (09:13)
Oh my God. That, let me tell you man, and I'm a big science guy. - And for people who don't know, this is CRISPR related. I mean, there's a lot to it, but very CRISPR related. - Well, she, Jennifer was this biologist who basically helped develop CRISPR, but what happened while I was reading the book, it blew me away because I learned about, and it's the first time I heard it, but it was all about James Watson, you know, Watson and Crick, his teammate, they basically discovered the whole, the helix. - The structure of the double helix. - The structure of the double helix and the whole thing. But, you know, James Watson went public about how he felt that the intelligence of blacks were inferior to everyone else because of their genes. And you gotta understand, as I'm reading this book, it my heart just sunk into my stomach. I was like, wow, this is the man who is probably going to be, go down in the annals of history as being, you know, this innovator, this person that really solved so many problems, but here he is, creating a new one right at the same time. It hit me really, really hard because this is another thing. There was a level of success you get to that it actually can harm you. One example is even when I watched the last dance, the Michael Jordan documentary, and Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time, but was he happy? - Yeah. - When you look at the whole doc, you go, my God, like, here's a man who's, who's like, I don't know if we could really say that he was actually fulfilled in any of this. In fact, you know, a lot of teammates, a lot of people were like, he was one of the people that you really didn't want to be around. You know what I mean? And this is the crunch, this is not a judgment on Michael Jordan, but it's like myself included. You know, I was the guy who had what everyone would say was everything and was great, but I had all these other things wrong at the same time. And here I was, I was successful, I was popular and everybody liked me and the whole thing, but you know, my wife was ready to lead. She was like, I can't put up with it anymore. And that reminded me a little bit of James Watson's conundrum, you know what I mean? It was like, here he is, one of the smartest men on earth, and he's got this thing so wrong. But see, this is how we think even as men, we think whoever runs the business is the guy with the biggest bench press. And you're like, but that makes no sense. Like, yo, but I have the biggest bench press, so I get to say what goes on in this business. But that doesn't mean you know anything about inventory or, you know, but it's such a wild take where you're like, you're misrepresenting here. And for me, I look at those things and these things in Hollywood and science and politics in almost every genre of what you would call life. And I say, man, that's the mistake we could always make.
The mistake we can never forget and that could happen in any outcome every day (12:41)
And we can never forget that. And we have to humble ourselves. We have to really, really understand that we're all just beginning, even when you've succeeded, when you've got this thing, you've got your, you're still starting at day one, every day. And is the mistake, just assuming that you know more than you know or that you have more certainty and more places than you actually do, is that the crux of the issue? Or is there, would you describe it a different way?
The mistake to Terry is self-righteousness. (13:26)
- You know what I would describe, the mistake is, the mistake to me is self-righteousness. - Mm. - That's the mistake. The mistake is you have deemed yourself self-righteous. And when you are self-righteous, you can now do the most heinous and human things to other people, because you feel right. Because you know in your heart you're right. And but for thousands of years, and this is the thing where it's so crazy because now we can mix everything up. 'Cause people have, I think there's a lot of conflating going on even with racism. People say, well that's racist. Well, actually a lot of it is self-righteous. You know what I mean? And if you define a problem correctly, you can actually deal with the problem correctly. And this is the thing about self-righteousness is that you can be black and self-righteous. You can be gay and self-righteous. You can be white, self-righteous. You can be a policeman and self-righteous. You can be all kinds of things. It doesn't matter. You can be poor and self-righteous. But we have these things, especially in Hollywood, where it's like you're poor. Now you got the upper hand, you know more. And you're the downtrodden and you're this and that. It's kind of like what I call victimology, where it's like you've created a hero out of anyone who's been abused or hurt. But the issue is, is also, there's two ways to be self-righteous. You can be, you know, you can have like the divine right of kings. You can be like, I was born this way, or you can say I've suffered more than anybody else. So now I get to say how everything goes. You see what I mean? - I do. - I think a lot of people have never looked at the other side. You know what I mean? It's just like someone who suffered a lot is immediately given all this play. But my thing is, is that, but you still have to respect other people. You still have to understand that you are no better than the others. And the phrase I've used before, and we'll continue to use is that it's really, how can you compare your suffering to another person? You know what I mean? It's kind of like, it's not the oppression Olympics. It's just not. You know, you can't, we got rights. We get the be right, because we've suffered the most. And I always look at that and have to examine it, even in the light of my own suffering, in my own thing. And let me tell you, no one has basically been a victim more than Terry Cruz. Okay, I had victimology down. I was like, okay, my father was abusive. My, you know, I grew up, I'm black, I grew up poor, I grew up in the hood, I had every excuse in the book. You know what I mean? And I felt justified in my self-righteousness. And I used that, I used that against my family. I used that to manipulate people. I used that, you know, in order to gain things that I never earned. 'Cause I knew people would give me the benefit of the doubt because of my background. I knew I could use that. But in the end, when all is said, and done, it did not leave me fulfilled because I knew these things didn't play. Like, but the problem with victimology is all those excuses, they work for a minute. Like, but they expire very quickly, you know what I mean? Like, I like to call it an expired credit card. You know, it's kind of like your excuses, they have a valid date, but it spires like really fast. And then you try to use it the next day and you get declined, you know what I mean? And it's kind of like every excuse you ever wanted to use there's a time when it doesn't work anymore. - I would love to hear more about your personal experience. So you had, as you mentioned, victimology down. And then at some point, you reflected back on that and with self-awareness and then changed behavior or your perspectives, how you approached things. Were there any particular triggers? Was there a particular day? Could you sort of tell a story or give us an example of something that catalyzed that change? Because for a lot of people, if they have any perspective, they may not change that. They may not actually have a trigger to turn it inward and take a look at that. So could you describe what happened? - Well, you know, in our house, we call it D-Day. It was the day everything changed.
The Day Everything Changed (Clich, but True) (18:30)
And, you know, I've made, I've gone public a lot about my pornography addiction. And then there's a lot of people who say you could never really be addicted to pornography or whatever and it's always been said that, but all I knew was I couldn't stop. That's all I knew. For me, it was a numbing device. It was something that I went to when I was sad, when I was happy and I always went back to it and it left me unfulfilled and I had to get more to get a feeling of fulfillment, but then it would be left empty again. So it was a cycle, I couldn't stop. But it was also a secret that I held from my family and my wife and the whole thing. And my wife finally confronted me on it. And let me tell you what was so wild and really, really strange is that I was, the question I was asking was, why doesn't she believe me? But the question I should have been asking was why did I lie? You know what I mean? Think about that. The same, it's all in the context, it's the same. And I'm sitting here lying and wondering why she won't believe me. It's all out focused. It was all her. It was the responsibility was on her in order to make me right. Like you should believe me 'cause I'm telling you this, but I was lying. I was lying. I don't wanna deal with this. No, I got no problem. I don't do any of this. And then it, and why didn't she believe me? But once it switched into why am I lying, all of a sudden it went inward. All of a sudden I had to ask myself the questions I had been avoiding for years and years and years. And it was like, hey man, you have an issue. Why aren't you doing something about it? And like I said, and I would pull out that card of excuses and this and I would say, well, you know, I'm a man and you know, man, we need to, I have a high six drive and this kind of stuff and I'll pull out that card. And then my wife declined it. That credit card was done. It was expired. And she was out. And you know what, Tim, what's so crazy is that I was like, fine, bye, leave. You know, I'm Terry Cruz. I can get 81 and I want. In fact, I will. And you know what, this is a normal thing in Hollywood. The voice is pretty normal and it's not a big deal. In fact, my career won't suffer and nobody cares if I lose my family. Hollywood certainly doesn't. And you said, didn't I listen to myself talking like that? And I went, who are you? Like, I didn't like that guy. And I started to have internal conversations with myself and I was like, man, this is not who you say you are. And I realized I was two different people. And when you have a double life, when I said double life, what I mean is I was more concerned with the image. I was more concerned with the image of Terry Cruz rather than who Terry Cruz really was. And it was two different people. And once I started to try to put them together, my world crumbled. Everything that I knew, everything that I was around, everything that I thought I stood for. I thought I was like, yeah, you know, women are equal and the whole thing, but nothing in my behavior would do that or even said that. And in fact, I thought I was more valuable than all the women in my life simply because I was a man. Simply because of the culture. I grew up in black culture and hip hop culture and sports culture. And there was a lot of misogyny. There was a lot of you, the man, dog, hey, man, you better get your girl in line.
Toxic Masculinity & Objectification (23:01)
That kind of, these kind of words, these kind of, and it wasn't looked at. It was looked at as like, yo, man, you know, you control your wife or your girl. You actually owned her. I remember in the NFL going to the strip club and we'd be in the club and with all the guys and the whole thing and the girls would be up on stage. And one of them would come down and actually want to talk to the players. And I would look at her like, okay, you know, she'd start talking, you know, I gotta get used for my kids and then you'd like, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. You're like, you're ruining the experience because you're becoming a human being right before my eyes. I like you to be a picture. I want you to be a doll, a mannequin. I mean, Tim, once you start, I mean, once you open that can of worms, it's literally like a domino effect. Like everything started to fall on itself. And I went through a huge, huge, just, and then, I gotta say this, because in my culture, when I grew up, you know, therapy was looked at as ridiculous. And because they, where I grew up, it was like, you can't cure crazy.
The stereotypes around therapy, and why it's important (24:20)
That was the term. It was like, if you're crazy, you can't cure it. My father being an alcoholic, he went to a psychologist one time. And I was probably around 12, 13 years old, and I'm like, wow, I think, you know, my dad's finally gonna get some help and the whole thing. And dude, it was crazy because like a week later, the psychologist killed himself. It was on the front page, the newspaper. Oh my God. And I went, that don't work. You know, my whole mindset was like, huh? Like did my father kill him? Like, did he say something that made this guy jump off a bridge? And he got literally jumped off a bridge. I was like, what? That doesn't work. And so I had in my mind that all this therapy stuff is mumble jumble, you know? And so there was a, there was a block. There was a resistance to that. And I finally saw a counselor who said you need to go to this place and get some therapy. And I was like, oh, no, you know? And I remember, and my wife said, look, you know what, if you don't do this, like, there's no hope of us ever coming back together because we had split up at that time. And so I went and I said, all right, I'll give it a shot. And I'm sitting in this room with these people and... Terry, may I interject for one second? Oh, yeah, go ahead. One question. So did you guys sort of split at that point or were things on ice because of how you handled the situation D-Day in that conversation? Or was it the subject matter, like the addiction itself and other things? I guess I'm asking, was it what you did or was it how you handled what you did or something else? It was what I did because what happened was I confessed to a infidelity that happened ten years earlier. As a result of this addiction. Because, you know, I went to a massage parlor and got a hand job and I vowed I would never, ever tell anybody. You know, it was one of the things, but I was at the beginning of my career. I was in Vancouver. I was by myself. I thought I would never be there. I thought I'd never do something like that, but, you know, it was wild because I found myself in those circumstances and I did it, but I thought I would never tell. I was like, I'm taking this secret to the grave, man. This is never ever coming out, but my wife constantly, she was like, "No, you did something." She said, "You're something you're not telling me." And she knew. And you get, like I said, I was lying the whole time, you know, and she could feel that, you know what I mean? You could feel when your significant other is not telling you the truth and it was just, there was something she didn't know. And when I told her, I remember just, it came out and I remember she was just going, "That's it." Like, wow. Who am I living with? Like she had no idea. And that was the thing because I had put an image in front of her and what was so crazy is that she was married to this image. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to her. There's no honesty in the relationship because you have to cover a lie with another lie. And then it just keeps continuing to grow. I mean, we were getting farther and farther apart is what was happening. And she knew it. She felt it. And that was the D-Day moment. And she said, "I'm out." She's like, "That's it. You can't come home." And you have to show me that you want this, that you actually want to do something. And like I said, in the beginning, I was like, "I'm fine." And then I realized I was like, "You know what? Because the whole thing was about her." And it's little beady questions. It was just like, "Man, maybe it's me." And realization that hit me, that it was me. That it was. And I have to say this, going into therapy, all the great thing about therapy, especially with addiction therapy, was just the 12 steps. You know, the 12 steps.
What Terry appreciates about the 12 Steps (28:47)
They work for every sort of addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, sex, all these things. And it starts with like the serenity prayer, which has helped me to accept the things that I can't change and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Okay? But you have to understand, men, especially in my world, you live life as if you're in a revenge movie. I'm laughing because I'm a lot smaller than you are, but I understand. You know what I mean? I get it. Hey, movies like that, man, like Payback and Death Wish and... Oh, Wrath of Man. I mean, there's a long list. Oh, Wrath of Man taking this thing where you get on the phone and you tell the guy, "I'm going to hunt you down. I'm going to take you and your crew out one by one, and you're going to die slow." You know, it's like... Man on fire, also a good one. Oh my God. And you make them pay for everything. You make them pay for everything they ever did to you. That's the male fantasy.
It's All About Settling Scores (30:05)
It's better than sex. You know what I mean? Like, Tim, it's like, oh my God. You can literally sit in the theater like, "Man!" Oh, that feels good. But this is the problem, Tim. This is the problem, man. I found out. And this is so crazy. You can either have success or revenge, but you can't have both. It blew my mind. And when you're talking about getting revenge, this is why I even alluded to the 12 steps, was because revenge is trying to control things you can't control. You know what I mean? It's literally like you've lost it, and now you've just got to even the score. You know, most of us are all about settling scores. You know? But the thing is, the score is never really settled. Things just get worse. Things tend to fall apart. I bring up incidents where the things where I used violence. I was the kind of guy. I even start my book out where I talk about how I beat this man up on the street, man, for disrespecting my wife. And this was in Pasadena. This was around, oh, I would say 2008, 2009. And this guy, he basically talked disrespectfully to my wife. And she was just like, whatever. But I put this dude out. I mean, literally put his head on the concrete. And the police came, and it was a big, hula-blue man. And the only way I got out of it was because it was a guy in the crowd who was like, "No, no, no, no. I saw the whole thing, officer. This guy came up there and they were bothering them too, and the whole thing. So I got away with it." But it was way out of, it was way too big a reaction for what was done. But that was me, settling my scores. Here's the revenge movie. You know? And my wife pulled me to the side. We went home and she said, "Meteri," she said, "You have to promise me. Promise me that you will never, ever do anything like that again." And I was like, "What? I mean, you need to be protected." And she said, "Wait a minute." She said, "I got this." But you are going to lose everything you have. You said, "You're going to get sued. You're going to get shot and injured, or you may be killed by someone who you go up against on the wrong day or a police officer." You know? Like, you can't go around and putting people on their head like this. And tell them, I was just like, "No, I got to. This is my thing. This is me being a man. This is what this is about. This is me being tough." And she said, "No, Teri." She said, "You got to promise me. Promise me." And I said, "Okay. All right. I promise. I promise." And I don't even think I meant it, you know, at the time. But I made a promise to her that I was going to take the righteous path and be less violent, you know, or non-violent and try to handle things in a non-violent way. And little did I know in the future it would actually save my life in so many ways, so many ways. And what I mean is by not choosing revenge, because that's what that is, is when you put somebody on it. You know, the whole thing is a little bit like you play in chess and you don't know the right move, so you turn over the board. That was my answer for everything. You know what I mean? Like, I'm stuck on a move. Instead of thinking my way out of it, my answer was just turn everything over. Yeah. That was my answer for everything. And it led me to a very, very hollow existence. So there I was in therapy trying to figure my life out and trying to control the things that I couldn't control, because you can't control people. You can't control what people say to you. And a lot has been said about even my friend Chris Rock and my friend Will Smith, and what just happened at the Academy Awards. Right. And I, there was a time when I was Will Smith. But what saved me was when I was the time I was Chris Rock. And it didn't descend into chaos. I decided to what you would call take an L for one day, but actually win the whole war. The other thing in therapy I discovered is when you can have the courage to change the things you can. And let me tell you this, there was some, because of victimology, I had given up control on probably every aspect of my life. It was always up to somebody else. Even where I worked, what I did, it was always someone else's decision. And then I found out I had a lot more power than I realized.
Take an L for a Day, Win the War (35:28)
I was like, if I just work on me, if I stop pointing at everyone else, and I just put 100% into improving myself, all of a sudden things started to change. Tim, I have to tell you man, that first year was really, really hard coming out of therapy. And I mean, I was there in and out for a while. We would do it by phone, we would go back in. It was a place called Psychological Counseling Services in Phoenix. And they had dealt with a lot of people who had a guy who had really lost everything because of these kind of addictions. And it was really, it was wild because I thought, can I change? I was getting triggered every five minutes. I was like, I don't know. But what was happening is as I continued to work on myself, I began to change. I changed. I slowly but surely started to see things the way I needed to see them. And what's so crazy about belief is when you believe you're different, you slowly start to become different. You have to believe it first. You know what I mean? Terry, would you mind giving an example? It would be very helpful because I think from the outside looking in, people see this incredible physical specimen, certainly in all my interactions with you and your descriptions and stories and tribe of mentors. You've done a lot of self development and you've worked on yourself a lot. Could you give an example from that chapter during or after therapy of something that you worked on or a belief that you gave attention to? I could tell you a distinct example that let me know I was different. We were on vacation. And it's so innocuous and small and tiny, but it was so powerful. We were on vacation. And my son was 16 now, but he was probably four years old. And I have five total kids, four daughters and my son. And we were out to dinner and he spilled his water all over the table. And it was all over me. It was all over everybody. And I just said, hey, man, I said, that's okay. We get a towel. And I said, hey, man, when people make mistakes, it's okay. You know, and I started dabbing up the water and the whole thing now. That sounds like nothing. The whole table was looking at me like this. I mean, they just were frozen, like eyes bugged out like, what is this?
Coming to terms with past behavior (38:13)
You have to understand, Tim, the way I was was like, what is wrong with you? What? I mean, you, did you see the water right there? Yeah. Now you, what you going to, you know, you got me wet. You got this wet. You're costing it. I'll pay for this dinner. You guys can't stay, stay still. You guys are not paying attention. I mean, I would have went off. Tim, I can't count the family events. And the things that we went to do that I ruined. Now you also have to understand that these things were happening also because with my addiction comes guilt. You know your lying, you know what I mean? You know what you're doing. So you take it out on everyone else. I would snap at the end of the drop of a hat. And it was because I was angry with me because I couldn't control myself. So I would go off on everyone else. This is common, like, you know, where you're your projection. That's the term. And I was projecting my own guilt onto everyone else.
Conflict Management And Personal Relationships
Terry's relationship with his children (39:27)
And I was that guy. I have to say I still, I have adult children right now that I still apologize profusely for how they grew up. The teary crews that I was back then was he was my way or the highway. It was vicious. Now this is the thing, Tim. And again, I was Mr. Self-Help still. And the whole thing is I never, I never hit my wife because I was like, my mom went through that. So my idea of what I was comparing myself to what I saw and I was like, I'm way better than that. What I grew up in, it was like, man, people, women were getting smacked like with impunity. And it was expected that you were to beat your wife. It was expected that you owned your kids and you beat them within an inch of their lives. You know what I mean? And so I'm like, I'm better than that. Look at it. I mean, you guys are living a good life and you ought to be lucky. You know what I mean? But it was still cruel. It was cruel. It was self-righteous. Yeah. That self-righteousness that I had mixed in with the guilt that I already felt. It really kept my family in this kind of cage and an attempt to control them and an attempt to control my family and control the way they thought and control everything, control the fact that you spilled the water. You know what I mean? And my wife looked at me when I just dabbed that water up and didn't lose the thing. And I'm going to tell you, man, I wouldn't have perceived it. She said, "Oh my God." She pulled me to the side. She said, "Terri, you're different." Man, I'm sorry. I mean, just even going back to that moment, I was like, "What?" She was like, "Terri, you're different. You changed. You changed." And it hit me that all... And this is years later. This is years into the therapy.
How a high-profile incident tested his resolve (41:42)
You know, years into constantly working on myself. And my behavior started to change. And I'm going to fast forward a little bit to 2017 is when I think I believe what was crazy. We were still going through it last time we talked. And I talked about the time my agent assaulted me at a party in Hollywood. And the whole thing was, I mean, it was so degrading. And so, I mean, I pushed him off. I was like, "What is your problem?" I don't know what his problem was. I think he was on... He was high or whatever. I don't know what he was doing. But it was... All I could say is, "Here is this guy. He's the head of the Motion Picture Department, William Morris Endeavour, my own agency. And he grabs my crotch in the middle of this party and I'm going, "Get off me. What the hell are you doing?" Now, my first instinct, because what I had done my whole life is to put people on their head. And I could have killed this guy. I mean, I don't even think that there's anybody who could... Who would even doubt my ability to murder this man. You know, it's like, not the question here. But I remembered my promise. And I remembered my therapy. And I remembered the water. I remembered that I was different. And I said, "You know what? The whole phrase responsibility is just that. The ability to respond. I get to choose how I'm going to act in this way."
The phrase responsibility is just that. (43:35)
And I went against decades of programming and said, "No. No. I grabbed my wife's hand and we walked out." Now, Tim, I'm going to tell you, I got in the car. I was going to drive the car right back through the car. I'm trying to terminate. You know what I mean? Again, the movie never stopped. Revenge movie was still there, Tim. I was going to turn around and drive right through the front door. And just start blazing on everybody. I was like, "That was in my head." But I kept driving. And I remember not even seeing where I was going. And I ended up in a driveway. And I remember my wife's voice echoing over and over. She said, "I'm proud of you, Terry. I'm proud of you, Terry. I'm proud of you." Because she said that she was there and she saw the whole thing. She said, "I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of you. And it kept me and it held me." Man, when I say it saved my life, the question is, "Would anyone who believed me had I knocked this guy out?" That's the question I like to give to anybody. I could have said, "Yeah, he did this, whatever." And everyone would have looked at me like, "Wait a minute. He's ahead of William Morris. That makes no sense. Why would he do that?"
Baiting and revenge narratives (45:03)
And you knocked him out, mate, because you are angry about something. There you are, super big, muscular, angry black man who probably got pissed off. Probably was drinking too much. And I don't drink at all. But everyone would have had a picture of what happened that night that I would not have been able to overcome at all. And like I said, I even asked the head of William Morris. I asked Aria Manuel. I said, "Man, if I didn't knock him out, would you have had any mercy on me?" He said, "No, Terry, we wouldn't. We wouldn't." And I was like, "Damn it. This is the world we live in."
Tough, and the expectations some communities have for confrontation and retaliation. (45:50)
And think about this when I look at the jails that are full right now of young black men, old black men, how many were baited, how many were pulled, how many were tricked into reacting in a way, how many were baited and turning that chessboard over. And it's so easy because again, it's the revenge movie. You know, it's so easy because that's what you're supposed to do. Tim, let me tell you, right now in our community, in the black community, there is an expectation that if anybody calls you nigger, you knock them out. That's the reaction. I mean, this was told to me many, many times. And it's told to each other like, man, if you see, there are videos on TikTok about when it happens, you see it. So my calls to my nigger, and all of a sudden you knock the guy out no matter what. But the thing is, and the thing that hit me, and it hit me hard, was that I would only really be offended if I felt I was a nigger. But there's no such thing as a nigger. So why would you offend me? I had to examine all of these things. It's like calling Bill Gates broke. He would look at you and laugh like, okay, you know what I mean? And so if anybody ever called me nigger, I can look at you and go, no, that's not it. And I can count it to ignorance instead of it being a bait and a switch and a trigger in order for someone to get me into a position that would make me vulnerable. And I was, and let me tell you, Tim, this stuff is tough. This is why I call it the book tough, because it's hard to do. It's very, very hard.
On demonstrating strength and internal confidence. (48:03)
So I want to dive into, I'm actually going to pull up a couple of paragraphs about the book because I've been looking forward to this conversation for many reasons. And the title for folks, just so they get the idea, tough, my journey to true power. So I want to read just an abbreviated two paragraphs and then launch into a question about this. So from Brooklyn Nine, Nine, Star Terry Crews, the deeply personal story of his lifelong obsession with strength and how after looking for it in all the wrong places, he finally found it. I've got several paragraphs, but I'm going to leave those for now and come to the last that I have in this little blur, which is with tough, Crews Journey of Transformation offers a model for anyone who considered themselves a tough guy in quotation marks, but feels unfulfilled, anyone struggling with procrastination or self-sabotage and anyone ready to achieve true lasting self mastery. So let me combine that. And I apologize for the long question, but it will have a question mark at the end of it. A quotation that I love that I believe you also love, which is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which is, "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards." And the reason I bring that up is that my experience, also just being male and priding myself on having certain characteristics or developing certain types of strength, is that you don't want to be perceived as a coward, you don't want to perceive yourself as a coward. So how do you think about the, and I think the reason many people, many men, let's just say, respond hyperaggressively in different situations is to prove to themselves and others that they're strong and not weak? So how do you, and this might sound like a funny question, but sort of demonstrate strength, think about strength so that you don't have that self perception. Maybe that's a bad question, but I'd love to just see where that goes because if someone, I feel like for someone to have the ability to walk away, they need to have supreme confidence on some level in their own strength, or that maybe that self perception. So I'd love to hear you speak to any of that in any direction that might make sense. Listen, I understand your question because that was the conundrum that I dealt with, even when my wife challenged me on this stuff, I was like, but what if somebody does this and this, you know, and the thing is, is that toughness in a supremely hyper masculine world is about how hard can you give a punch. But what I found is that there's a toughness in a right kind of world is how you take them. There's two ways, like to be a great boxer, you have to learn how to take them. You know what I mean? The greatest boxers in the world took punches. That's the issue. Yeah, if you have a glass jar, you know, I mean, you can have the hardest swing of all time. I mean, I look at, you know, but all the fight fans out there, when you look at form in Ali and all the punches he took. I think I would never recommend anybody go through that, you know. But what I say is how that right there is a sign to me that there's another toughness that's involved endurance. I guess that's the phrase endurance, which is not a, you know, super fast, two minute, three minute event. It's long. It's long term. It's how much can you take? You know what I mean? How long can you? I love, love, love, Victor Frankle and his story. And I've probably read everything that he's ever put out. And the endurance that this man put up with in the Nazi concentration camps, as he watched all his friends died, his family died, his wife. And he came out saying yes to life. I said, man, that's the kind of endurance that transcends. And I think that it's truly, truly one of the things where that level of toughness is where I want to be. Because this is another thing, you know, the world really, really determines winners way too early. They just do. I mean, and it's always celebrated. I mean, the valedictorian of your high school, you know, that's, but most of these people don't end up winning long term, you know what I mean? It's like whoever's winning at a young age, it's like, wait a minute. I think we need to look at the people who over time have displayed success and really displayed just have seen the most of life and seeing all the lumps and been through all the things and what have they been through? That's where you get your real examples. I am a results oriented person. Whereas when I see how most of the world celebrates just instant wins, you know what I mean? I like to call it the sportification of our culture. You know, things have been sportified. And this is where it goes back to even our last conversation is when I say how people have how I feel that competition is the opposite of creativity. Yeah.
Self-Development And Life Philosophy
Resistance over competition. (53:56)
This is so key. I've highlighted that when I reviewed our first conversation. I'd love for you to just elaborate on that. I will, I will because it's something that's that I've been challenged on and people are like, but you without competition, you'll never get better. And you got to have competition. You got to get on. I said, no, you don't. You do not have to compete with other human beings. Now the thing is you don't need competition, but you do need resistance. Two different things. Listen, the work, the fact that you get up is a resisting, it's you're going to face resistance with going outside. The wind is fighting you. You know, when you if you plant something, weeds are automatically grow, they grow up. Anything good is attacked. You have to build a house. You have to everything is so easy for entropy to happen, but everything that's worth something has to be built, has to be designed, has to be created. And it has to be you automatically have resistance, but competition, however, I think, you know, imagine if the world had evolved through competition, there would only be one set of people doesn't work that way. The world evolved through collaboration. That's how I feel society evolved, that's how humanity evolved. It's all through collaboration. But again, that revenge movie, that whole thing that we live, it's about competition. It's about putting me on top. And now I'm on top and I got to cancel everybody else and so and so you got to go down and I am the winner and you're the loser. And this is a it's a sportification. It's like I won, I beat everybody, I'm the best in the world today. It's king of the hill. But someone's coming to kick you off. And when you live those rules, it's kind of like if you go your whole life canceling everybody, you eventually have to cancel yourself because you're not perfect. You know what I mean? It's like one thing that gets me mad Hollywood loves to point the fingers at everybody. And Hollywood at the Academy Awards, it actually canceled itself. But you blew my mind. The standing ovation after the assault, everyone was sitting there like at home like what? You canceled yourself. This is crazy. And you realize, wait a minute. Now when I go into collaboration, when you realize that the world is a house and this is the thing and the world, this is the way guys like to play where it's like, hey man, I am on my side of the house. I got the kitchen. The kitchen is mine. I can cook whatever I want and they'll flaunt it. Like I got all this kitchen and it's all mine. Well the other guys like, well, check it out. I'm on this side of the house. I have the bathroom. I can take a shower. I'm clean. I'm good. Well, Tim, eventually the guy in the kitchen's got to use the bathroom. The guy with the bathroom's got to use the kitchen. You see what I'm saying? Now this is the problem because if it's a sport, who won? Who won? Yeah, right. Today the guy with the bathroom. But tomorrow the guy with the kitchen and it's endless. And when you do that, what you're doing to me, it's like, you know, this is a phrase I love to use.
Why any movement without reconciliation is already a failure. (57:32)
And there was a lot being said. I said things about what was going on with Black Lives Matter, what was going on with a lot of our culture during this whole time. And my issue was that any movement that doesn't start with reconciliation, I don't want any part of it. We have to reconcile. We have to reconcile men to women. We have to reconcile Black to white. We have to reconcile Republican to Democrat. We have to reconcile. That's the first rule because if we don't, what you're doing is postponing a war. That's all you're doing. It's postponing it. It's a matter of, okay, we strike the day and we'll have to wait and then we'll get our bearings together and we'll strike again later and then they come get you and you come get them. But with reconciliation, there's an agreement. With reconciliation, there's an understanding. With reconciliation, there's peace. Wherever you have reconciled, there's going to be peace. And I knew and I got in a lot of trouble at the time for talking about, hey, I decide to unite with good people, Black and white, no matter the race, no matter the color, no matter the creed, no matter the ideology. I said, I am going to unify with good people and I was really put through the ringer for that. But I feel really good about it because I made my stand in the middle of a lot of name calling a lot of people who wanted to fight. And listen, I understood the anger. I understood it. I was that guy. You know what I mean? I was like, but I realized if we just turn over the chessboard every time, we're not going to get anywhere. You know what I mean? It's like these kinds of things have to be, there's no winning until we reconcile.
An art-driven approach to life and questioning the rules. (59:45)
There's no, sometimes you got to stop playing the game. You know what I mean? And when I say a game, that's exactly what I'm talking about. You have to walk off the court and say, we're not playing today. Now we're going to work together. One thing that has always impressed me about you and our interactions and looking back at your history and certainly in our first conversation, we talked a lot about your art and your ability and many, many sort of chapters of life spent with one foot in the art world, which we won't get into right now, but people can really take a look at this very closely and they should. And also from the segueing, from playing professional sports, then to say entertainment and then folding in the design elements, you're very good at questioning the rules of the game and choosing new games to play. And I think it really highlights a number of things, one of which is your ability to choose creativity over competition. Like Terry Cruz is a category of one. And if you create a category of one, it's kind of blue sky and you can create the rules of the game that you want to participate in as opposed to constantly climbing hill after hill depending on who offended you or upset you that day to go through like the vengeance marathon, which is not just an exhausting way to live, but it's also a very incremental way to succeed in any given field. So I just wanted to say that I spot that pattern over and over again in you and I admire it a lot.
When you add competitive fire to collectivism, the spark can grow into a wildfire. (01:01:14)
Thank you so much for that. And that's what just to elaborate on your point, that's what bothered me so much about what James Watson alluded to. Because he now, race was a competition. And I was like, you need each other. We all, we need everyone. And if you make a competition out of it about this race is smarter than the other, do the jeans and this kind of things, I was like, man, what are you talking about? Like, think about the musical's greatness that black culture has brought in. I mean, that's a whole another kind of intelligence. There's several ways to be intelligent. You know what I'm saying? And I'll go, you know, you can't do what the loneliest monk did. You know what I mean? You can't redo that. It's one of these things where you look at John Coltrane and you go, my God, like, how do you even, you can't even put math on that? It's kind of like, wow, how did you create that? It's another level of intelligence that we don't understand. But if you create this game that everybody has to play and then you determine the winners, and I said, man, it was a huge mistake. And like I said, it hurt me so bad because I love science and I love this stuff. And I see a lot of scientific racism involved with, even when you're talking about coding and with computers and that world where there was, I believe, Shockley, I think his name was, who really came out with some very racist things about just about the ability to learn computers and black people and this whole thing. And I just go, man, these guys, it's that self-righteousness, you can't, but this is another thing. And this is what I had to address. I've seen black people get the same way about what they have.
Lessons in humility and becoming more than the sum of your intended or assumed identities. (01:03:40)
And they go, we are more gifted in this and we're more gifted in that. And I said, man, all of that is the biggest mistake you can ever make because that level of self-righteousness will allow you to be extremely cruel to anybody else. It's kind of like, I don't know what to say, but you can't feel wrong because you don't think you're wrong and you can't even hear what people are saying. And it's so dangerous and so insidious that you have to call it out like a cancer. It's almost like a growth that can grow on any movement because most things start out with people with great intentions. You got to agree. Most things, most churches, most events, most movements, most things. And then all of a sudden people are in Guyana and drinking flavorade with Jim Jones and it's like, what happened? Yeah. There was a moment when things twisted and it's a tragedy. And I don't want to see that. I was in a Christian cult in college. It was nuts. But you see how just because you have great intentions, if they're not checked, if they're not balanced, if they're not really, if you don't really get that self-righteousness out of there and start at day one every day, you're going to be on the wrong path. And this is where I am. I'm constantly learning, constantly saying be teachable, man. Be teachable. It's so wild because I'm going to give you a crazy, crazy story. Really funny. I was on, I'm doing my first year of America's Got Talent and I'm loving it. I'm doing my thing. And I wear these beautiful suits and outfits and the whole thing. And I love this whole thing. You know, I'm Mr. Creative. I'm like, oh my God, I got this great shoes. I got this great thing. And we had this thing, we had a suit that we had a belt on the outside of it. It was really unique and kind of unique and a real high fashion. Well, I decide I'm going to go on the show and I'm going to do this. And NBC Rep is like, uh, Terry, could you? Did you just take the belt off? I was like, oh, really? Like you, you, you talking to me? I was like, Hey man, do you know who I am? You know, it was like, I am your show. I am the host of this show. I can wear whatever the hell I want to wear. Tim, it was like that. I switched into this like, what? How dare you talk to me like that? And dude, it was, it was wild because I was with my representatives and the people and they were like, you don't have to change it. You don't have to change whatever you want. Yeah, man, you don't have to do that. You just go out there anyway. Go out, just do what you want. And all of a sudden it hit me, Tim. It said, Hey man, dude, you driving their car. NBC is their truck. That's their car. Well, if they don't want the rims to spin, take the damn rims off, man.
Developing skillsets to tackle new projects, no matter the obstacles. (01:06:52)
Like, dude, why are you flipping on a belt? It was like, man, humble yourself. Relax because dude, these are the boss. I said, it's their show. It's not my show. And I said, oh my God, it was, I was that close to pulling this arrogant move where I was just going to go do whatever I wanted anyway. And it probably would have put everything that my whole future in jeopardy. And I took the belt off. The show went great. The NBC rep was like, thank you, Terry. Because a lot of times, bosses just want to be heard. And the show was awesome. And I realized how close I came off one arrogant move to losing probably one of the best jobs I ever had. Because it starts there. It's not one big giant move. It's always one little thing and then it grows and grows and grows. And I said, man, you got to start at day one every day, Terry. So it's hard, hard lessons, man. Like I said, this is tough. It's tough. It's tough. Hence the title of the book, you know, it made me think also about the example of the metaphor used earlier of walking outside and the wind is fighting you, right? Like maybe that's just the wind. Like that encounter is just the wind. It's not someone attacking you or insulting your manhood or it's just the wind in some cases, right? I've taken a lot of notes in this conversation for myself. I'm really looking forward to the book. And I also feel like this balance that you've described, you know, I think especially for not exclusively for, but I think often from a lot of the men listening will be one that comes up a lot. It's like, how do you find a place for male strength? If you feel like that has sort of been removed from society, how do you develop not just the self-perception, but the capability of being strong, having that endurance, that resilience, sort of defining strength in a way that isn't abusive and corrosive? And I also wanted to just mention because you brought up his name, Thelonious Monk. And one of my favorite quotes is actually from Thelonious Monk. And I wanted to bring it up because I think you exemplify it by constantly revisiting who you are starting at day one, asking yourself not just who is Terry Grusbitt, like who does Terry Grusbitt want to be. And the quote is, "The genius is the one most like himself." I just think there is so much depth in that quote.
Who is always in a geneticist? (01:09:46)
That's Thelonious Monk. A genius is the one most like himself. Of course, I can apply to herself. But every day is day one, like you said. That's right. That's right. I love it. I know we're coming up on time, Terry. The new book, People Can Find It, Where a Books are Sold, Tough Subtidal, My Journey to True Power. I highly recommend people checking out. People can find you on social media @tericruz on Twitter, Instagram, and then on Facebook, real Terry Crus. Is there anything else that you'd like to say? Any other comments, questions, complaints that you'd like to add before we wrap up?
In conclusion. (01:10:27)
Man, first of all, I just always, always enjoyed talking to you, Tim. Let me tell you, 90 minutes went like, "True." I went so fast. I can't even wait quickly. It went quickly. But I just want to thank you for letting me share my heart, man. What's wild is I tend to get misunderstood sometimes. And a lot of that is because of the ability to take things out of context. And I thank you for letting me talk so that it's in context. So you can see where it's coming from and where it ended. Yeah, for sure. When I see the future of what this world is, I'm very hopeful. I am an eternal optimist. And a lot has been said about getting things wrong and everybody making mistakes and this kind of thing. But my thing is these errors can push you into better things. One thing I like a quote that I heard that I love that got me through the pandemic is that sometimes your greatest hopes are destroyed to prepare you for something better.
And when you see your hope being dashed, people get disheartened. But I like to see it sometimes as you're being prepared for something better. For what is next? And I truly, truly think that we can have that better. And I really do. And I'm not a cynical, this is another thing. A lot of comedians tend to get a cynicism and this whole kind of thing. And I've always resisted that. I'm at war with cynicism. I've decided to be positive and be hopeful and believe the best about every human being and count a lot of this as a lot of negativity, as ignorance. And until people can figure it out, I'm here for you until I figure it. Because I don't even have to figure it out. You see what I mean? So we're all on this journey, because I can tell you 20 years ago, oh man, I was among the ignorant. You know, like, oh, I could easily be making excuses and all the things. And that's why I have so much empathy for everyone out there, everyone anywhere, because it's just a matter of time. So thank you for letting me share my heart. Thank you, Terry. And I want to say to everybody listening, there are many forces in the world that want you to be apathetic and I invite you to also be at war within yourself against cynicism because it is crippling. And what a great way to phrase it. Terry, thank you so much. Again, everyone, check out Tough My Journey to True Power. You can find links to everything we discussed in the show notes at tim.blog/podcast. And until next time, be a little bit kinder than you think is necessary, both to others and to yourself. And thanks for listening.