How to Successfully Overcome an Identity Crisis w/ NFL Running Back Terrell Fletcher
Imagine living your entire life performing at the highest level, losing nearly everything, and then discovering your true purpose on this Earth?
That’s exactly what happened to Terrell Fletcher, NFL running back turned Senior Pastor, motivator, and best-selling author.
In my interview with Terrell, he shared his journey from losing his NFL superstar identity after retirement to finding the true meaning of life.
Read on for lessons on how to bounce back from crises of identity and unlock your life’s mission.
What were you doing during the three-year transition period between retirement and becoming a Senior Pastor?
Football is such a time-consuming activity that you don’t have a chance to find your true self. You inherit a stock identity – an NFL player. Upon retirement, you lose that identity and are left with the unpleasant feeling of emptiness.
So, I spent that period not looking for a new job, but searching for a new identity. I finally had time to explore the parts of myself that my football identity had suppressed.
As you began the search for your true identity, what did you gravitate towards?
I rediscovered the meaning that came through altruism. What non-professional athletes don’t understand is that the world centers around the team and you. Then, there’s your secondary world that includes your “handlers” – your agent, financial advisors, friends, and family. And you are the center of that world too. Without even realizing it, you become selfish.
Did you work during this transitional period, and did those jobs impact your soul-searching process?
I went into the sportscaster role, but my heart wasn’t connected to it. I also went the coaching route, but my heart wasn’t connected to that either. There wasn’t a feeling of purpose, even though I was still deemed a success in the eyes of others. That’s when I realized that people will root for you at the level of their expectation of you. If their expectation of you is lower than the level of expectation to which you hold yourself, then you feel insignificant. People will applaud you for average, so I learned that you can’t go off of what everybody else thinks.
How do you determine what brings you a feeling purpose and significance?
You have to find that thing in your heart and chase it. That’s where you find real satisfaction.
I always had a love for real estate, public speaking, and inspiring people. So, after failing to find purpose in sportscasting and coaching, I tried to hone those skills, hoping one or two of them would shake out.
But I knew that before I could find true purpose, I needed to performed deep introspection. That required addressing existential questions, like ‘Who am I? What do I have to offer this world. What core tenants of life am I going to operate in?’
What were the takeaways of this introspection process?
A life’s mission. My purpose is to motivate, educate, inspire, and entertain every person I come across. No matter what business venture I pursued, that mission would be a part of my job.
You mentioned the need to disregard other’s expectations of you. How did you shed these expectations to start living your new mission?
At first, I was giving into those expectations. I was following the path I thought I was supposed to follow. And it was a very predictable path – underdog athlete reaches his dreams, and now he becomes a sports announcer or a coach.
But through my introspection, I determined I didn’t want to be predictable. I didn’t want to be normal. Nothing about normal inspired me. I knew my core competencies lend to more than what people were expecting of me. I could have done it, and I probably would have attained some level of success. But I learned along the journey that I didn’t just want success. I wanted significance. I wanted meaning. And to do so, what I did needed to count towards somebody else’s life and not just my own.
How did this need to be altruistic and giving manifest in your life?
I began to understand that my pursuits had to be more than a money grab or a fame grab. So, I needed to find the underlying purpose for why I wanted all of those things. To discover the root of why I wanted to build wealth, why I wanted to be a household name, and why I wanted my face on TV. Once I deconstructed those, my “why” became clear and I found my true identity.
Through real estate, entertainment, faith, and inspiration, I fulfill my “why” and feel a sense of significance while giving back to the world.
Based on your journey, what is your Best Ever advice to real estate investors and entrepreneurs for finding and completing their life’s mission?
Always stay the course. Often times, we spend too much time focusing on our end goal and not enough time preparing for what’s going to show up between now and the end. Barriers, enemies to our success, whether they’re external or internal, are guaranteed to show up on the journey. But don’t give into them. Fight them. Do battle with them. Get victory over them. Because those barriers are not there to stop you; they’re designed to make you stronger.
How do we overcome these barriers to success?
You must realize that as long as you’re on the right path and have a goal in mind, every barrier that arises is meant to make you stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.
The thing that seems disastrous is actually going to be for your benefit in the long run. I wish someone would have told me that the troubles of my life were actually going to be what helped make me the man I am today. I would not have run from so many things. I would have embraced the journey, understood that barriers were a part of the process, got victory over them and kept on moving.
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