Dr. Tommy Watson grew up often separated from his five siblings. His parents were drug addicts and repeatedly incarcerated so he was in and out of foster homes and motels. In third grade, he visited his mother in jail which spurred him to value freedom above all else. By the time he was a senior in high school, he was homeless and his parents had been arrested 121 times.
Sports represented his ticket to the future so he played hard. Upon graduation, he had more than thirty scholarships and selected the University of Minnesota. There, he went on to play football and was scouted by the NFL – only to have a career-ending injury that put him on a new path and focused on education. What he left behind included two parents and a brother in prison plus a sister addicted to crack. He vowed to move forward: motivation became his M.O..
I had to learn how to dream beyond my circumstances – it’s so important to have a vision for yourself.Dr. Watson
Dr. Watson was fired from his first job but that fueled his motivation to do better. In his mid-20s and with a college degree, he joined McDonalds. There, he was groomed for leadership and worked hard to complete his doctorate. It may come as no surprise that his PhD thesis was on motivation. “My McDonald’s experience was one of the best of my life – I got to learn about marketing and leadership on their dime. I learned how to develop other people and how to work through other people to get things done. One of the keys to successful entrepreneurship is to delegate because you can’t do everything yourself,” he said.
Motivation comes from freedom
Money isn’t what motivates him – freedom does. “That why entrepreneurship works for me,” he mused. He lives to make a difference in people’s lives. When Grit Daily probed on how he stays positive despite all the adversity he’s faced, this was his response. “Failure and success aren’t opposite ends of the spectrum; they’re intertwined in a circle and you need them both. I wouldn’t be who I am today with the agony, the defeat, and the victories.”
What do you learn from winning all the time? We learn from our bumps and bruises. Sometimes we have to look back to move forward.Dr. Watson
He closed the podcast lamenting the lack of creativity and critical thinking being taught in schools. Dr. Watson urges everyone to share their stories so that we can find a middle ground and get along. If you need a dose of Monday Motivation, tune in!