5. Tony Robbins - Part 1
I did not expect to become a Tony Robbins fan. His bold masculine physiognomy, perfect white teeth and American con-man-sized smile immediately prejudices me against his authenticity. After all, no one is really that perfect.
I listened to a Tony Robbins audio book once. Just a generic part of my broader self-help education. After all - you can’t dismiss something you haven’t experienced. I can’t even remember the title and I will have to look through my audio library to find it.
I didn’t find it.
It was so unmemorable that I must have deleted it. I recall driving to and from the daily grind, that one-and-a-half hour daily urban commute, just to attend the Just-Over-Broke, listening to his enormous white smile telling me all these things that just seemed ridiculously over the top and optimistic beyond belief.
Having ‘experienced’ his message once by audio recording I would have happily completed my life without ever joining the Tony Robbins cult; eyebrows raised in self-justified scepticism as I listened to any friends or fans raving about him and his message. But something happened to change all that. A series of events that brought me back around to re-examine his message and his value to my growth and lifestyle design.
The personal results are nothing short of mind-blowing.
I became a raving fan in May. I was attending an event in Sydney as a testimonial speaker for Wealth Mentor who were establishing themselves with Success Resources as a new front-end partner. It was exhilarating. Delivering a message in front of 2000 people is every bit as exciting and fulfilling as completing a formation sortie with a challenging profile. The crowd responded to me. I felt the connection acutely from the stage as I looked through the blinding white lights to the people below, hungry for success, for answers and instruction, I felt the heat on my skin, all energy and raw emotion and tingling.
The event itself will not go down in history as a raving success for the Wealth Mentor team, but I was pleased with the small part I played in it. I delivered everything I could have been expected to deliver and from it, I will build further opportunity.
That small personal victory placed me directly in the path of the man himself - Tony Robbins. As the key note speaker for the event I was curious to sit though his message in person although I sat with limited expectation on content. I expected a well oiled media machine, a veritable pandoras box of emotional manipulation, music and visual magic, coupled with wily sales strategy preying on vulnerable people who wished only to improve their lives and would pay big money to whoever could convince them to follow their ‘proven strategy’ to easy wealth and instant happiness.
He did not disappoint. It was the full media circus, all the tricks, a rock concert of self help slogans, deep insights and practical applications. A well orchestrated frenzy of slapping hands and wild dancing, a puppet master of human emotion, tears laughter and deep memories and the crowd lapped it all up and screamed for more. He spoke directly to me, of 2000 people he spoke into my heart, drew out my memories, guided me through the lows of my baggage and the highs of my soaring dreams. He connected to each and every heart personally. His content shook me to the core. I thought I understood a lot of this stuff. But, he explained, if you truly “knew” something, you would practise it. You would live with that truth every day. My own example spoke clearly to me. I have ‘understood’ for a long time that my next step forward in personal growth and prosperity would be to mediate daily, but I have not found the time in each day to action this somewhat idle intent. So I did not really understand. If I understood, I would do.
Some of his content I already understood and acted out within my life and choices. Some of it I already teach my pilot trainees as part of accessing their optimised human performance. But even when he spoke of the concepts I understood and lived he thrilled me with the effectiveness of his delivery. You don’t go and see Tony Robbins to hear his message, you go to Tony Robbins to experience his message. He guides you through living the emotions and then choosing your action. In the moment of your deepest memories and emotion he presents you the choices you have, and you choose from your deepest and strongest self. His delivery is based in science, faultlessly logical, and lead by his own example. He is everything he speaks to; his own best testimonial. The reality and truth of his words emanate from his person with every sentence, with every gesture and with a humbleness that has to be seen to be believed. As he walked the crowd he looked into eyes and hearts and the people all reflected the authenticity and love that he radiated towards them back at him. I both experienced Tony Robbins in that moment, and I watched with fascination as an outsider the effect he had on the crowd, on my own person and with disbelief I witnessed Stephen engage in a way that his independent and fiercely autonomous soul rarely engages with external human inputs, especially on the topic of how to live or love.
There was a pivotal moment in his delivery, a phrase that has come to mark a permanent point of change in my life. It was a recognition, of sorts, and the articulation of a grief I have never been able to understand let alone express or release. He spoke the following words on success and failure:
The phrase, however seemingly innocuous, nearly broke me. My eyes filled with tears and my throat constricted. The physical reaction to the emotion was immediate but the brain was slower to catch up. Why did this just affect me so profoundly? The observer within me was alert, watchful, noticing that these words unlocked a powerful emotion from deep within me and recognising that this signified and unhealed wound.
As my brain slowly processed the very physical reaction I was experiencing, images of my Air Force pilot graduation flashed through my mind. I had been awarded my Wings, achieved in very difficult circumstances too and yet I felt somehow that I had not achieved success. The years following graduation flipped like the pages of a book in rapid time, images in my mind of obstacle after obstacle, sinking feelings of failure, inadequacy and chronic illness plaguing my body. Even a walk through the long dark valley of a depression, cleanly slicing steel and blooming crimson droplets against my white skin.
Understanding came quickly now, scattering the haunted memories that painted the picture of those difficult years in stark clarity.
I never celebrated my pilots course success. I never reached a place where felt that I had succeeded at my dream of being a pilot in the RAAF. Only that I had successfully avoided failure.
And avoiding failure is not the same as success.
The fulfilment had never followed.
I cried then, for the young girl who tried so hard in the face of such enormous life challenges and who never let herself feel successful or fulfilled in a career she worked so hard to create, enduring so much and persevering in the face of enormous odds.
And so here we were, a few months later preparing to attend his flagship event - Unleash The Power Within. We had purchased his product without hesitation, gratefully handing over thousands of dollars for the opportunity to experience more of what this great orator had to offer. We each believed so completely in the content and delivery of the Tony Robbins message that we also bought our brother and sister, Kim and Amanda, tickets to the 4 day event without ever needing to see the money return to us. Conspiring to have them confront their own emotions and life obstacles with the most effective tool we had ever experienced. Money was no object in the face of the enormity of this opportunity.
And just like that we witnessed the most effective sales platform that the world has ever seen, bought into the greatest non-pitch sales pitch ever constructed and became raving fans of the smoke and mirrors media storm that is Tony Robbins and his entourage.