unleash the power within

A few months ago a girlfriend approached me asking if I’d be interested in attending a Tony Robbins event, Unleash the Power Within. Not knowing anything about Mr. Robbins, I said “sure, why not.” I absolutely admire so many qualities of this young lady and if she thought to invite me, I better take her up on the offer and challenge myself to learn. I didn’t do the 10 weeks of pre-work, instead the first time I heard an ounce about Tony Robbins was live, from himself directly, on  Thursday, July 14, 2011, in Chicago, Illinois!

For those that know a lot about Tony’s work and know a bit about what I do, it may surprise you that I know nothing about the guy. For those that know a lot about Tony and know how structured I can be, you might wonder why I didn’t research the conference or his style of leadership. I can confidently say that I don’t know why I didn’t google the guy. It may have been a good idea… ha ha. :)

I arrived at the event late overwhelmed.

4 days. 50 hours of learning. 4000 people from over 10 countries.

A brief overview of the days that followed:

Day 1: Turn Fear into Power (10 hours)

  • Intro to psychology
  • Exploring the 6 human needs: certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth, contribution
  • Processing your greatest fear
  • Firewalking exercise

Day 2: Turn Dreams into Reality (14.5 hours)

  • Momentum and drive
  • Exploring your passion
  • Closing your financial gap
  • Importance of peer groups
  • Determining your x-factor

Day 3: Break Through to your New Life (15.5 hours)

  • Evaluating your wheel of life: physical body, emotions & meaning, relationships, time, work/career/mission, finances, celebrate & contribute
  • Key elements of progress
  • Strategies for success
  • Limiting beliefs vs. empowering beliefs
  • Path to mastery

Day 4: Powers of Pure Energy (10 hours)

  • Keys to healthy body/healthy mind
  • 5 sources of disease
  • 12 principles of a vital life
  • Ten day challenge

I can’t begin to sum up what I have learned over the last 4 days.

Partly because I am processing everything still and also because I learned a hell of a lot.

Key concepts from the event:

  • PEAK STATE. You need to find your happy place — and no this does not include mashed potatoes or a glass of wine. ;) For many of the attendees at this event, a bizarre superhero move put them in peak state. Finding state is about finding the place where your strength shines through. The point where you are at your strongest physically, mentally and emotionally is your peak state.
  • BE GRATEFUL. Tony never lost sight of giving more than you take. He continually tied back his content to giving back to the community and being grateful for what life gives you. Appreciate people, situations, moments – the good and the bad. In the words of Tony, “Stop being busy doing stupid shit. Remember what it means to give.”
  • WEALTH. Wealth is not about money! Instead it equals caring and creativity. Being someone who is not money-oriented to start with, I can appreciate a statement like this. ;) You will feel most rich when you give, show love and have the opportunity to be creative. Wealth is about challenging yourself to be your ultimate best self.
  • SHITTY DAYS. Make the worst day of your life, the best day of your life. Enough said.
  • PEER GROUPS. Your friends 100% affect your standards. Tony continually reinforced: “Who you spend your time with is who you become.” He challenges you to accept your family, but pick your friends. You goal should be to surround yourself with people that are equal or better than yourself. Everyone needs to evaluate your current friend circle, discover alignment and then choose to stay or leave. The best team will challenge you — NOT support you. Seems harsh, but ridiculously true.
  • X-FACTOR. How are you different from other people? What value do you add to the lives of others, your organization or the community? By adding intangible value and consistently maintaining it, you are able to master both yourself and your business.
  • RAISE YOUR STANDARDS. Levels of standards are poor, good, excellence and outstanding. The key thing to note though is that standards have changed over time and in today’s society poor = pain, good = poor, excellence = good, outstanding = excellence. A great example that Tony shared was when he was speaking to a man who’s wife recently left him. He said to Tony: “I was a good husband.” Tony says” “That was the problem.” Get it? If you goal is outstanding, yes, you have a lot of work to do, but you will stand out from the rest. For ultimate success, the key is to maintain an outstanding standard in multiple aspects of your life.
  • MASTERY. The key components of mastery are modelling behaviour, immersion and spaced repetition. If your standards are high and you want to try out a new hobby/activity/language/skill etc, you need to give it your all. Modelling is explained through finding someone who has already mastered the game (i.e. find the best of the best) and get them to teach you. Immersion is immersing yourself in the activity or learning (i.e. Do you learn Spanish best while you are in Mexico for 4 weeks or once a week for 10 weeks in your hometown?). Spaced repetition is continually touching back into that hobby/activity/language/skill/etc to keep your fresh, current and engaged. It seems easy eh? Well why does not one do it. :)
  • ENERGY. Health should be measured through energy, instead of skinny/fat, weight in numbers and attitude. Pure energy comes down to vital breathing, live foods, essential oils, alkalinity, aerobic energy, nutrition, structural alignment & strength and a directed mind & heart. If you have constant energy, you are healthy.

Key learnings:

  • MY PRIMAL DRIVERS: Significance and growth. I currently need recognition and acknowledgement of a job well done. as well, I thrive in an environment where I’m constantly learning and challenging myself to be a better person. Tony told us that we needed to determine our current drivers and then decide where I wanted them to be. Tony thinks that everyone should work towards love — it’s always the end goal. I get the reasoning and thought process, but as of right now,  but I choose growth and contribution as my goal. Growth will be even more important as I progress and I intend to raise my degree of contributing to others and giving back to society.
  • MY GREATEST FEAR: Failure. 100%. What’s the benefit of this fear? Well, I’m an overachiever and stride through life not letting myself fail. Good and not good if you know what I mean! A question that I need to constantly ask myself, “If you fail, what is the worst thing that might happen?” Death. No. Learning. Likely. Why did I do the walk across the 12 feet of 2000 degree hot coals during the firewalk on Day 1? Because I couldn’t fail… obviously. ;)
  • MY PASSION: We did an exercise where we needed to reflect on what we love/hate, where are passion lies and what we really want. My list was long for all of them, except passion. My passion came down to education and teaching, writing and giving back. Simple and for whatever reason, I didn’t have that clarity until this weekend.
  • MY WHEEL OF LIFE: There are 7 categories on your wheel of life. My strengths were physical body, emotions and meaning, work/career/mission and celebrate/contribute. My weaknesses were relationships, time and finances. This exercise was extremely reflective for me — not in the sense that it shared something new, more so that it reinforced where I needed to spend my time and how to set goals for the days, months and years to come. I maybe, just maybe, tend to set guys up for failure [run… away… now… ;)], lead a generally all over the place life and have completely disorganized finances. Tons of room for improvement.
  • MY MOST POWERFUL LOCATION: My left ear. Wink wink nudge nudge. If you were wanting to whisper sweet nothings to me, head in the direction of my left ear. ;) Other options were from in front, behind, and right ear.
  • MY HEALTH: I need to get my skinny phat ass back to the gym and keep health top of mind. I’m totally good at all the component of health when I want to be, but it has to be top of mind. The entire 4 days, Tony reinforced the importance of rituals. I somewhat interpret that as routine. With routine, rituals, whatever and a belief in why health is important to your entire being, you make it happen. You just do.

My frustrations with the event:

  • THE ENVIRONMENT. The environment was intense. The only way to define it is ‘rah rah fist pump rah rah.’ A large part of this event was building energy. Rather than processing information in your head, you yell it out to the audience. Rather than smile when you have made progress, you high five. Rather than do team building activities, you have dance parties. Rather than clap in agreement of a powerful statement, you hit your chest and “make your move.” When Tony needs to ensure the participants have understood a concept… he uses a technique called “say… Yes!” and “say… Aye!” The result is chanting in unison. If you were standing at the back of the room or had a birds eye view from above, you would undoubtedly be like “Who the eff are these weird people?” On Day 1, I thought holy shit and participated. By Day 3, I was done. I’ve had enough fist pumping to last a life time. Truly. Lifetime. When I want to center myself, being truly strong to my core and mind, I think of yoga. Calm. Deep Breathing. Reflection.  I found that continually shouting out my degree of awesome was completely illegitimate and distracted me from what we were trying to achieve. The environment worked for some people, it truly did. But for me? It felt cult-ish and crazy.
  • THE FANS. There were groupies. Yes, groupies. Tony has a following of supporters who continually come to the same event to learn more and support him in his mission. The problem is that 1) they were quit odd and 2) they were not making progress. Tony motivates them to make change and they come back to each event making minimal to no change!! Sure this is a generalization, but they took away from the newbie’s experience and were intense as hell. It is not motivating to see people attending this type of event who are not making progress. IMO, attending one of these events – regardless of your issue – should allow you to make progress in some area of your life. If you have come to the event and not learned, you haven’t given it your all.
  • THE SELLING. There was a focus on selling product. I understand that “Tony Robbins” is a corporation, not an educational institution or one-man-show, so absolutely there is a need to sell. Interested in selling to me though? Show me success, results, application and I will come to you on my own. Talking people into trials, deals, discounts, etc does not motivate me to buy. I have even more of an issue with it, because I believe that tons of people get ‘trapped’ into buying product/services all the time. At one point, someone from Tony’s team said just put the down payment on your credit card. FOR REAL? You teach Wealth Mastery and you want someone to put a $2000 down payment on their credit card… having no idea where they will find the next $8000-10,000? Perhaps it motivated some to bust their ass and find some cash, but for others? Total detrimental move.
  • THE LEARNING STYLE. There were numerous times during this event that I tied this experience back to the field of Human Resources and learning styles. Although this event had live speaking, recorded videos, activities, group work and workbooks, I truly believe it catered to one type of learner. One might say, it had to. 4000 people in one room and a lot of content to get through. I learn best in a small, intimate environment, with visual engagement and practical application. Likely why I thrived in college, instead of a university setting. I was most engaged in learning when Tony was speaking to hardcore content, live audience examples and follow-up exercise. Every time that dancing, high fives, fist pumps took place, I was ultimately distracted.

For the most part there were two types of people who attended this event:

  1. Someone with some sort of immediate issue that was taking over their life. For example, smoking, weight loss, job loss, financial issue, etc. They were there to find their passion, get themselves back.
  2. Someone who is Type A, achievement oriented and keen to make themselves a better, more well-rounded, passionate person. Regardless of growth past and present, they need more.

I could think of a hell of a lot of people who would benefit from an event like this… but I don’t believe that everyone is ready. The experience was intense and at times, ridiculous. You will get the most from an event like this when you have an open mind, prepared for growth and committed to having a bit of fun.

So was it worth it?

I spent $500 on the event and 100% received that value back in learning and reflection. I even slacked out on Day 2 and 4, focusing on work for a few hours, but I still got what I needed. Yes there was repeat from other things I have learned and read in life. Yes it was intense at times and seriously thought “WTF.” In reflection, I would say that I needed to attend something like this in mid-2009. At that time, I needed someone to light a fire under my ass. Instead I went to Tunisia, Africa to attend a completely unrelated conference and meet some amazing people who were “my Tony Robbins.” People who inspired me to make change. People who challenged my thought process. People who set my mind up for success. People who told me what books to read. People who taught me that if you bust your balls, opportunities will find you.

“Unleash the Power Within” confirmed that I am headed in the right direction. I am so grateful for everything that has happened in the last few years — the people that I have met, the lessons learned and random things that have tested my values. I am proud to say that I have learned more about myself and my mission in the last 2 years, than in my entire life.

I can confidently say that I am committed to growing and turning life up a notch more.

I need to reflect on all I have learned, get back to goal setting, define my rituals and create a master plan!

Will I attend another event?

I am debating attending Life Mastery and Wealth Mastery in Fiji in 2012 or at some point in the future. Why? Because it is a small setting (60 people – which would be better for my learning style) without the rah rah fist pump rah rah and I truly believe I could get a lot out of it. The concept of peer groups reinforces that in order to excel, you need to surround yourself with people who already have the expertise and are excelling themselves. This event provides one with the opportunity to be connected to expertise in particular fields, but from people that the average individual never would be connected to. If I have a standard of outstanding or exceptional in my life, then why wouldn’t I make every effort to surround myself with best of the best…!

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins

Will I register because of what I heard about the event this weekend? No. I will register because I have researched the event, read reviews, received recommendations and know – know in my heart – that it’s the right decision for me!

Keen to understand a bit more about Tony’s thoughts on life? Check out his TED talk from 2006.

I admire Mr. Robbins. I didn’t watch him on the stage everyday thinking about how fabulously well-rounded he is. I thought… that will be me. No no, not the bizzilionaire with the foundation, million dollar coaching sessions and 19 million companies. The educator. The voice. The passionate, well-spoken person wanting to give back to the world.

Too many people live in that lukewarm shitty place in life.

Make changes. Switch things up. Strive high.

With love from Chicago. ❤