Many folks have inquired about my Date With Destiny in Orlando earlier this month. In addition to the holidays, I returned from this week-long event with Tony Robbins thoroughly worn out and sick. Over a week and a half later and I’m still working on recovering. Additionally I am in the process of moving, I just switched from PC to Mac, and oh, I am leaving Tuesday for an 8-hour drive to do Christmas with the family.
All that said I experienced far too much in those 6 days to further delay sharing it. This was my third Tony Robbins event and by far the most intense. It was held at the JW Marriott in Orlando, FL. There were ~2,500 people attending. I’d guess the average person there spent ~$3,800 for the event alone (no, I did not type too many 0’s there). Lasting life change is expensive!
At every event I meet people and I generally ask them how they describe these events to their friends. No one ever has a good answer – most just tell people: we didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, didn’t stop to pee, it was GREAT, just go do it!! The general public tends to classify Robbins as a ‘motivational speaker’. That is a lot like calling Warren Buffett a stock trader. Sure, a modicum of what Robbins does can be considered motivational, but Robbins is anything other than a “rah-rah” guy.
In fact, to quote the man himself, Robbins is a “why guy.” While most people are just planning what time to pick up kids from soccer or how to get to the next meeting on time, Robbins is asking himself: why? Why do we do/say/think what we do? Why do some people get addicted to substances and others don’t? Why do some rape victims spend their lives in therapy while others go on to become happy, healthy wives and moms, and work to change the world around them in the process? Why do two kids from the same home environment end up in such radically different life positions? Why… why do some people become victims while others become heroes?
The persistence of this simple question, combined with his primary life question of “how can I make this better?” has driven Robbins to unlock the keys to inducing massive, instant (and better)… lasting change in the majority of participants in a room of 2,500 people from 55 different countries, some listening via headphones with live translation.
So what happens in this room over the course of 6 days? Well for starters, my estimates put the number of hours spent physically in the seminar at close to 85 hours in those 6 days, and we started at 1:00 p.m. the first day. I should begin by explaining this is an immersion program, in its truest sense. Immersion – if you want to truly understand a new language you have to immerse yourself in it – go live in the country and sink or swim. You have to give yourself no other option but to learn. Learn or starve. Robbins approach is the same – although in the midst of it all, it feels more like my idea of Marine boot camp.
The first few days feel a bit like you are being ripped to shreds, from the inside… and you like it. You realize, through a series of teachings and examples just how detrimental some of your existing set of values and rules may have been on your life. But logically getting it isn’t the goal here. You have to feel it. You have to realize and visualize all the areas in your life that your old rules/values/actions have hurt you, hurt others, how they’ve held you back. If you understand where they came from, that’s great, but if you don’t, who cares? You don’t need to analyze it, only to recognize it and feel the weight of it in your life. You need to feel the weight of how your life will look in 5 or 10 years if you continue with status-quo.
Some of these processes take people very deep emotionally, mentally, spiritually. It’s not uncommon for the lights to be low with deep, soft music playing, and Robbins’ powerful voice forcing people into the deepest, darkest places in their souls… pushing them through the ugliest, most painful things they’ve experienced… sobs in stereo as the anguish is brought to the surface and spilling out however it can. You hear people yelling in emotional pain, wailing aloud, and so absorbed in it they aren’t even aware of the 2,000+ people around them. But they know, because Robbins has perfected this process, that this very moment is their moment… this is their destiny… their one shot to blow their prior self to bits, and only by doing so, can they re-build the self they were destined to become, the self they were born as, but systematically reprogrammed by any number of things along the way.
At this point, it helps if you really do have some deep-seated issues which have held you back. I found much of the sobbing to be very distracting, but recognized that a lot of people were in the middle of some major life change. I also surprised myself with some realizations along the way – like how many rules I’d created in my life and how they actually worked against me, rather than serving me. It’s hard not to learn a lot about yourself in one of Robbins events. It’s also not hard to become convinced that you have or had problems that weren’t really there. I didn’t, but I did begin to wonder.
Once you have experienced the visualization of how your life could look if you do not change these things which have held you back all these years, Robbins walks you through a glimpse of the magnificence your life will become through some basic reprogramming. The beauty of it is… it’s all in your mind. The ugliness, the brilliance… whatever you see or experience is all your own unique picture. The same exact techniques work for two-thousand and five-hundred different people from fifty-five different countries, at the same time!! Robbins helps you draw on your own subconscious to come up with your own blueprint for your life – sprinkled with lots of subtle nuances nudging you towards becoming a better person – more giving, loving, compassionate.
I’ve heard people say that Robbins brainwashes his audience. If brainwashing is accurately defined as: any effort aimed at instilling certain attitudes and beliefs in a person – beliefs sometimes unwelcome or in conflict with the person’s prior beliefs and knowledge, in order to affect that individual’s value system and subsequent thought-patters and behaviors, then I’d say – almost. The new set of attitudes and beliefs are not directly produced by Robbins. He offers a lot of idea generators and guidance for creating healthy alternatives, but the goal is to stimulate each person’s mind to generate their own new blueprint.
If 2,250 people walk out of the seminar changed for the better, determined to love more fully, give more freely and live more passionately, then that’s the kind of brainwashing society might do well to endorse.
For 12 – 16 hours per day, exhausted but enthusiastic, worn down but full of belief, emotionally spent but ready to be filled anew, people press on – dancing to the frequent music breaks, turning to give a back massage to their neighbor when prompted, hugging well over 100 people each day, high-fives all around, jumping up and down so hard that if you stand still you literally feel the floor shaking beneath you, and all the while Robbins is pouring his all into every minute. He is on stage agonizing with you, but anticipating the other side, dragging the entire audience through hell and back, awaiting the electricity of the final day – transformation day… because he’s been doing this for 31 years, and he knows what you will see/feel/experience better than you will even after it has happened.
One thing this seminar does well is that it integrates all the senses. You can cognitively decide to make a change, but if that decision doesn’t get absorbed by your nervous system, or your physiology doesn’t change to reflect how you would stand/look/behave as part of your new decision, or your spirit does not embrace the decision as being who you now are, then the chances it will stick are slim.
Robbins has refined these processes over the last 3 decades and has a system that works for most people. All five senses get pushed beyond reason, effecting change until your entire being radiates your new life as a result of changes you have made during the week. The approach is to start by identifying where you are today – after all you can’t possibly get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are now. Even the best of maps couldn’t get you to your destination without knowing your exact starting point.
These are the introductory highlights into a week with Tony Robbins. My review isn’t all glowing and there is a degree of manipulation that takes place within the seminars which bothers me quite a lot. The man didn’t reach billionaire status without convincing a lot of people to spend a lot more money than they could afford on his products. More to come…