Jan 12, 2022
When it comes to the determination and tenacity that a strong mindset provides, Theo Fleury is a man who knows both. He’s a former NHL All-star, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Stanley Cup winner. His 15-year career spanned 1000 games and 1000 points scored. Today he’s helping as many people as he can, get to where they want to go. He does that through speaking engagements, brief encounters on the street, and more. His compassionate spirit enables others to feel safe and become whole through his own open spirit. He’s the recipient of the Canadian Humanitarian Award, the Aboriginal Inspire Award, and more. Listen to hear the inspiring story of Theo’s NHL career, battling his own demons, and how he’s moved on from there to inspire change in the world.
Theo Fleury began playing hockey at 5 years old and as he says, he fell “madly and deeply in love” with the game of hockey. The majority of his childhood was spent playing hockey and other sports. He loved being part of a team and loved winning. His small town upbringing enabled him to play with the same 13 teammates for 9 years on the same team, with the same three coaches. They created a winning culture built on respect, love and caring for each other, and responsibility. At 14 he was drafted into the Canadian Hockey League and was drafted into the NHL in January of 1989. 6 months later, he and his team won the Stanley Cup. Among his proudest achievements is the fact that he was able to play for Canada numerous times on national and Olympic teams.
Theo grew up in an era when addiction and mental health struggles were a reality but weren’t spoken about. As a child, his home was plagued by addiction as both of his parents struggled with addictions. As a result, hockey became his escape from the insanity at home. That experience allowed him a number of dream opportunities but also thrust him into a realm where the wounds of his past came readily to the surface. A battle with his own addictions and his own mental health ensued and he learned quickly that contrary to what was modeled for him as a child, he had to talk about his struggles and receive help. A near-suicide pushed him to the point of seeking help and Theo has since become a staunch advocate for mental health and addiction recovery.
Theo says that an extraordinary mindset is a common characteristic of the most elite athletes. At higher levels, everyone can perform athletically but those who excel have a mental capacity for figuring out the difficulties and persevering to win. That lesson extends beyond athletics into the difficult realms of life. Pain and trauma, in all areas of life, leaves us in emotional pain and suffering, which is what Theo considers to be mental illness. It’s an emotional pain that nobody else can see. Most people use addictive behaviors to deal with that pain which pushes them down the path toward death. It’s at that point where vulnerability and honesty about their own struggles and trauma start them on the road to recovery and healing. It’s courage, and as others see it they develop the ability to talk about their own struggles as well.
Listen to hear Theo’s advice on how you can improve your own mental health, help others with theirs, and be a change agent in your world.
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