If you were fortunate enough to have been in attendance for Theo Fleury‘s epic presentation at FitClub24 last Wednesday night, count yourself extremely lucky. On his Linkedin profile, Theo’s title is Motivational Speaker. While he does provide motivation, he is far more than a man that stands on a soapbox getting you ‘fired up’ with no real substance behind his rants. His graphic description of severe sexual abuse, his initial inability to cope with the mental torture of his past, and then his ultimate triumph are mind-blowing. He is real, he is raw, and he lays his whole life story before your eyes to get his powerful message across.
As a professional hockey player, Theo certainly learned the value of relationships, teamwork and support. He was lucky to have been mentored by some of the greatest leaders to ever play in the game. In the early stages of his pro hockey career he played for the Calgary Flames, a team that had many true leaders and future hall of famers; guys like Lanny MacDonald, Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk. When he played for Team Canada in the Canada Cup and the Olympics, he learned from guys like Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Joe Sakic, which is an incredible education for a young man. But once he stepped outside of the safe cocoon of his hockey family, it was a different story.
With no relationship, no teamwork, no support, no tools and no mental or emotional foundation, his life was as he described it; “a complete disaster.” From an early age he never had the psychological infrastructure or education that a young person needs to handle the pressures of dealing with abuse. He had nobody to turn to, only drugs and alcohol, and in a big way.
As I sat there listening to his story, I could not help but think of how vitally important it is to provide strong leadership and support to our family, friends, co-workers and fellow FitClubbers. I was lucky to have been brought up by caring, loving and supportive parents, but I could not help but think of how many people could have grown up like Theo did; no caring, no loving, no support and nobody to turn to when the difficulties of life happen.
One in three people suffer from some sort of mental trauma. Be it sexual abuse, mental abuse or physical abuse, 30% of the population is directly affected by one of these. Let me say that again: 30% of the population. That begs the questions; “How many of the people that you come in contact with in your day-to-day life are part of this statistic?” “How many people do not have the proper tools to handle it?”
Theo stated that the only way that he can deal with his past was to create great relationships that harbour teamwork and that are extremely supportive. As he said, he now surrounds himself with a group of people that are not unlike his Calgary Flames teammates in the early 90’s. His team consists of people that support, motivate and keep him moving forward regardless of what happens. Like his favourite symbol, the frog, he may look left or he may look right, but he never moves backwards, only forward. He thanks his team for that.
Don’t underestimate the role that you play as a coach, trainer, parent or boss. It is your responsibility to lead and lead from the front. It is your responsibility to acquire the necessary tools to show people the way. I am absolutely convinced that surrounding yourself with positive, motivating and inspiring people as well as constant personal development is the only way to go. There is no substitute for incredibly positive relationships, a great team, a supportive cast of characters around you, and for consistently making yourself a better leader and person.
Your team, friends, family and coworkers need you.
Well done Theo!