Reading a book by Tony Robbins at least once in our life is probably a good idea. The author has been a massive self-development phenomenon in the United States over the last three decades. There is a reason for it. He has conducted countless mass seminars, written several bestsellers, and given many talks. Overall, he deserves his reputation:  Awaken the Giant Within is indeed a great piece of work.

It condenses in one thick book a lot of self-development concepts made directly applicable. Among McKinsey training, there is this week they give when consultants reach leadership position (i.e. at the end of the engagement leadership role). People who went through it keep vivid memories, as it is fully centered on who we are as individuals and conveys: “if you want to quit for something better, it is okay”.

Reading Anthony Robbins reminded me of that training week agenda. The book raises a comprehensive set of good points about the way our brain works and what we should do about it. For instance, the author urges us to write down our values. We take important decisions based on them anyway, at least unconsciously. If we ignore them consciously, how to we plan to make good decisions?

The writing may be too American at times, examples may be overemphasized, and we may or may not appreciate the author talking that much about himself. Also, it probably tries to cover too much. Some topics are only lightly touched and would require more depth to be fully explored. Though, it boasts an exhaustive list of behaviors and skills to master; and it is smart, well intended, and always helpful.

Why not have a go?

Overall, the author believes in several principles that guide his suggestions:

Raise your long-term standards…

  • We should all raise our standards and objectives two levels up; it makes life more interesting
  • Long term focus is the key to eventual success
  • Once we have a high objective and communicate about it, we will find a way to reach it
  • We overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in ten years

… understand how your brain works…

  • We are driven by our brain’ search for pleasure and for pain avoidance
  • Our brain cannot make the difference between vivid imagination and actual experience
  • What we link pain to and what we link pleasure to shape our destiny
  • Our brain is easy to manipulate because it associates what happens simultaneously

… consciously rewire your brain towards your standards…

  • We should direct our associations to pain and pleasures, or we are not controlling our life
  • We change when pain becomes higher than pleasure; pain is a great tool to change a belief
  • We can learn to condition our mind, bodies, and emotions to whatever we choose
  • Change can happen in a split second the moment we decide to change

through words, pain, and decisions…

  • We should choose our vocabulary as our words influence our thoughts and acts
  • We should take control of the metaphors we associate to important topics, as they matter a lot
  • We are what we decide to be, and how we interpret what happens to us makes the difference
  • We are shaped by how we decide to remember the key moments in your life

… in order to modify your system…

  • We should change consciously change our beliefs so that they serve us
  • We should strive to be able to change state in any environment, as emotions are nothing but biochemical storms in our brain
  • We should write down our goals, values, and principles; or be ready to slip below our potential
  • We should learn to ask quality questions as they will help us to see new angles to situations

… and take action towards what we really want

  • We should start acting on our long-term goals the moment we define them, or we will forget
  • We should act a lot as success is driven by good judgement, which results from experience
  • Our goals may change along the way, but opportunities arise from being on the move
  • Improving every day is a good manner to keep growing and improve our quality of life

More in details, Tony insists we define giant goals because they create giant motivation. In particular

  • Personal development goals: what do we want to learn?
  • Career and business goals: what do we aim at?
  • Toys and adventure goals: what do we want to achieve and experience?
  • Contribution goals: what do we want to help society about?

To sustain our path towards these goals, Anthony Robbins suggests we become masters of:

  • Emotions mastery, as what happens to us is only the perception we have of it
  • Health mastery, as it allows us to live longer and in better shape
  • Having good relationships, as it makes life fuller and creates opportunity
  • Financials mastery, as it permits to focus on higher level goals than surviving
  • Time mastery, as we may otherwise react to others’ will rather than choose our path

To control our emotions, he reminds us some basic concepts

  • Identify what we’re really feeling (putting a name or label requires some training)
  • Acknowledge and appreciate our emotions, knowing they support us
  • Get curious about the message this emotion is offering us
  • Get confident that we can handle the emotion successfully
  • Get certain we can handle this not only today, but in the future as well
  • Get excited, and take action

(and don’t forget to take an immediate first step towards this goal the moment you define it! Even a simple symbolic action helps to compel us to achieve it. Otherwise, we tend to forget and move on)

More broadly, one of the author key advice is that we take control of what he calls our system. Indeed, every decision we make is guided by our values. And in most cases, we didn’t set them up. So, what about deciding consciously about them? Our system encompasses

  • Our core beliefs and unconscious rules: what we think is true and rights
  • Our life values: what we believe previous experience has taught us until now
  • Our references: our memories or the stories that shape our vision of our history
  • Our habitual questions: what we ask ourselves, what we focus on, what we give importance to
  • Our emotional states: our ability to feel relaxes and happy rather than stressed and angry

If we want to change a part of our system, Tony suggests we

  • Make certain we associate massive pain with the old pattern (or we will not change)
  • Make certain pleasure is associated with the new pattern (or change will not last)
  • Align with your values, beliefs, and rules (or we will revert to the old pattern)
  • Make sure the benefits of the old pattern have been maintained (find a substitute if need be)
  • Envision the future and imagine ourselves behaving in this new way

To do so, our favorite coach lists three decisions that control our destiny:

  • Decisions about what to focus on (there are millions of things we could focus on in a single day)
  • Decisions about what things mean to us (any even can be interpreted in many ways)
  • Decisions about what to do to create the results we desire (we must set a goal first, though)

A key action we may take is to clarify our system. For instance:

  • Make a long list of what makes us feel good (how do we plan to be happy if we ignore this?)
  • Write down a very good answer to the question « Who are you? » (and it is far from being easy)
  • Write down our ID card with everything we want others to know about us
  • Write down our obituary (obviously it feels weird, but it helps to clarify what we stand for)
  • Write down our metaphor suggestions to continue the sentence: « Life is like… » (it is telling!)
  • Make our values and principles explicit (or be ready to struggle making important decisions)
  • Communicate our values and principles around us (it helps others to adapt to us)

When we hit trouble, he offers his own routine of questions:

  • What is great about this problem?
  • What is not perfect yet?
  • What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
  • What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?
  • How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?

Finally, he hints we should be impeccable about our code of conduct. And if we do not have one, he suggests to follow the words of the poem Promise yourself by Christian D. Larson:

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your piece of mind
  • To talk health, happiness, prosperity to every person you meet
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something of value with them
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true
  • To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect the best
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for feat and too happy to permit presence of trouble

There are many other pieces of advice and points of interest in Awaken the Giant Within. The above is only what I chose to remember. Read the full version to make your own curation!

Allez faire un tour sur le site de Tony Robbins. Si vous avez une carte d’identité française, vous trouverez très certainement cela vraiment “too much”. Et pourtant… Peut-on être suivi par autant de gens pendant autant de temps en racontant vraiment n’importe quoi ? Et si nous dépassions certains blocages culturels ?