Theo Fleury’s story came to my attention while doing research for an article. I almost passed over it because I didn’t think a National Hockey League legend would have anything in common with women facing adversity. His message, however, was too intriguing to pass by:
“Don’t Quit Before the Miracle is a message everyone needs to hear at some point in their life. It’s about hope, about moving forward, about never giving up, even when the obstacles you face appear overwhelming and unbeatable.”
Theo is a champion. He won an Olympic gold medal as part of the 2002 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team, a Stanley Cup while playing for the Calgary Flames, and he was selected to the NHL All-Star hockey team seven times throughout his career. And he accomplished all of this while standing 5’6” and being one of the shortest players to ever skate in the NHL.
Theo’s early life was stacked with adversity cards: he had an erratic home life; he was told constantly that he was too short to succeed in hockey; and he became a father at age 19. His grit and determination to win made him a contender, and he was convinced if he worked hard he would find success at whatever he did in his life.
However, there was one secret adversity card that almost cost him his life. It was the one card he couldn’t work past: his junior hockey coach sexually abused Theo over a two-year period.
As Theo’s shining star rose, trying to hide this secret put him on a path of self-destruction — and by his own admission, the abuse turned him into a “raging alcoholic lunatic”. Eventually the two worlds collided and he lost everything…his career, his marriage, and even his reputation. One night, he put a loaded gun in his mouth and contemplated suicide. His story could have easily ended here: ”NHL Legend Goes Down In Flames”. But it didn’t.
I spoke to Theo as he returned from a speaking engagement in which his “Don’t Quit Before The Miracle” message raised $150,000 for Special Olympics. I asked him about that dark moment in his life. What was it that made him stop and move in a new direction?
His answer was simple. He told me that he wanted to stop being a victim, and he was done running from his secret. He recognized that he had the grit to stand up again, but he knew he needed support in staying upright. He joined a recovery group and has never looked back.
His journey since that day has not been easy. He had to face the day after retirement from professional hockey when he woke up with nothing but a high school diploma and a family to support. He launched a business only to see it fail. He shot a reality television show that didn’t take off. As he says, “For four years, I chased every opportunity without any real focus.”
Things changed for him in 2009 when he decided to go public with his story of abuse in his book, Playing With Fire. The book continues to be the number one best-selling sports book in Canada and has become a guidebook for men who have been abused.
Theo is committed to speaking out about how the abuse he suffered almost destroyed his life, and he spends his days talking to various groups about overcoming challenges. He is fueled by the overwhelming number of emails and letters he receives from men thanking him for sharing his story as they too were abused.
And he is launching a foundation to help victims of sexual abuse. His mission is to show by example that all of us have the power to overcome whatever adversity we may face in our lives and can go from Victim to Survivor to Victor to Advocate.
In listening to his message, I recognized that “Don’t Quit Before The Miracle” absolutely applies to me. My divorce has left me with some enormous obstacles to overcome, but I am done being the divorce victim. I’m ready to leave the financial deceit and broken dreams behind me and rebuild a new life for my children and me. I’m not quitting before my miracle!
Theo Fleury’s 4 Steps: Don’t Quit Before The Miracle
1. HARD WORK
Know that it will take hard work to move you from “I am a victim” to “I am a survivor” to “I am a victor”. This work could include therapy, reflection, diet, exercise, working two jobs, rehab or even chemotherapy, so dig deep and don’t quit.
2. CONSCIOUS CONTACT EVERY DAY
Find a higher power than yourself. Some call it God, some call it humanity, some call it a global spirit. However you define it, make a conscious decision every morning to connect yourself to a greater purpose. Stop the “Why me?” voice in your head.
3. FIND SUPPORT
Remember that you are not alone. Reach out and find supportive people to help you on your path. Open up and share your story with others. The ones that stick around and listen are your true friends.
4. GIVE BACK
Celebrate the progress you make and share it with others who need help. Even if you are only a few steps ahead, you will give hope and encouragement to those who are wondering how they are going find success in their new life.
Join the conversation below: Are you facing obstacles in your life? What tools are getting you through?