If you’ve never been to a Tony Robbins event or read his latest book, Money Mastery, you’re probably a little cynical about “that guy in the infomercials.” Which is fine. A little cynicism in an age of idolizing gurus is a healthy thing. However having just been to my first “Unleash the Power Within” weekend with Tony Robbins, I can now recommend parking your cynicism for a few days and getting along to one (regardless of whether you think you “need” to). Whether it changes your life or not, I can guarantee you that you’ll never regret it. And I don’t make guarantees like that lightly.
The 12 keys I share below do not do justice to the experience of an UPW event: a rock concert on steroids where you walk on fire and reimagine your life. While some of the concepts below are one’s I’ve written about in my previous columns and books, all are worth repeating. I hope a few will hit home for you, “unleash your power within” or just remind you to do more of what you already know works. I’ve yet to meet one person who doesn’t benefit from a regular reminder. Tony included.
1. Decide what you want.
Let’s face it, it’s impossible to create your ideal ‘dream life’ if you aren’t sure what it actually looks like. Many people have no idea. So before you do anything else, give yourself some empty time with a blank page to map out what a truly extraordinary life looks like for you – physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally, in your relationships, the work you do and the impact you make. Creating a vision for the future you want provides a compass to guide you forward – what to steer toward and what to steer away from. As the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up someplace you don’t much like.
2. Know why you want it!
When Tony talked about knowing your big WHY behind the goals and vision you have for your life, it struck a chord. As I wrote in my second book Stop Playing Safe, “ A clear sense of purpose will compel you into action and fuel your bravery to overcome any size obstacle. ” So get crystal clear about why it is so important for you to pursue your vision for success and achieve your goals. What lies at stake if you don’t? If it’s not meaningful enough, you won’t stay the course when the going gets tough. When your why is about serving something bigger than your ego and need for significance, the more powerful you’ll be in achieving it and figuring out the hows. To quote Tony: “The more you use the gifts you have to serve others, the more you’ll get the gifts you want.”
3. Take action, massive action!
It’s easy to live with excuses and justifications about why you can’t do what you want, at least not now. Maybe later. But inaction exacts an increasingly steep toll on our lives. Nothing is a more powerful antidote to fear than action. Daily action. Massive action! Don’t wait to know everything before you do something. Start talking to people. Extend an invitation. Risk a rejection. Ask for an introduction. Introduce yourself to an influencer. Offer your services. Get your finances in order. Ask for help. Learn a skill. Read a biography. Hire a coach. Join a group. JUST DO SOMETHING. Every. Single. Day.
4. Reframe problems.
So you’ve got problems – the tough economy, a difficult boss, your company’s culture, unsupportive family, too little resources/education/experience/finances (or lack thereof). Join the boat! It’s not your problems that keep you from creating what you want, it’s the story you tell yourself about them that provides you with an excuse to stay in your comfort zone. To quote Tony, “See things as they are but not worse than they are. Your problems are really just invitations to step through fear.”
5. Tell stories that expand possibilities (discard beliefs that don’t).
You don’t see the world as it is, but as you are. Accordingly, the words you use to describe your present, past, or future create the reality you inhabit. If you cast yourself as a helpless victim, you’ll be just that. If you cast yourself as the master of your fate, you’ll be that too. You can’t change your history, but you can rewrite your story of it and in so doing, expand the possibilities for your future. To quote Tony, “The past does not equal the future. Unless you live there.” The red hot coals I walked on during the first evening of UPW were evidence of the power of belief. Tony’s private planes and multibillion dollar business empire are testament to the power of his.
6. Flip fear into an ally.
Too often we cast fear as ‘the enemy’ when in fact, if fear wasn’t wired into our DNA we humans wouldn’t be here! Rather than vilifying fear, we need to harness its energy and make it work for us. We can do that by focusing not on what might happen if we risk failing at achieving our goals and dreams, but how we will feel if we avoid the risk! Psychologists call this “Neuro-Associative Conditioning.” In my own work, I call it ‘Flipping Fear’ to turn it into your ally. You can do this by stepping into your future self and imagining how you’ll feel in the years to come if you let the fear that’s undermined your actions to now continue to pilot your life. Get really present to how it will cost you. Visualize yourself staring at yourself in a mirror 1, 5, 10, 25 years from now if you’ve let it continue to keep you from stepping up to the plate in your life and doing whatever it takes to achieve what you want. Fear regret more than failure.
7. Adjust course as you go.
Whenever you take a plane flight, most of the time it’s off course by a few degrees. It’s the micro adjustments the pilot makes en route that enable it to land in the right place. Likewise, keep your eye open for how you need to be adjusting your approach as you navigate your way from current Point A to desire Point B. If you aren’t getting the results you want, change what you’re doing. Anything else is a surefire recipe for landing a long way off course from your intended destination.
As Tony Robbins said, “The results you get in life aren’t from one single decision, but from what you do after you make the decision.” Successful people are always monitoring their progress, and continually adjusting what they are doing to produce better results in response to the changing environment around them. They also don’t let setbacks and failures stop them. They learn the lessons, change their strategy, and press on.
8. Create daily rituals for ‘peak state.’
When you are feeling passionate, brave, focused, purposeful and absolutely determined to achieve a particular outcome, you’re unstoppable. When obstacles arise, you find a way around them. When setbacks happen, you bounce back fast. When people reject you, you move on. It’s not personal, just par for the course of achieving anything worthwhile. While I’ve always just thought of this as being ‘my best-self’, Tony Robbins calls this being in your ‘peak state.’ It’s a powerful term made all the more so when you embody it.
The question is: What will it take to be in your ‘peak state’ every day? How could you start your day more purposefully so you can be more focused through the day? How can you look after your body better, in ways that optimize energy, process stress and sustain energy? What new habits can you nurture that replace old destructive habits of thought and behavior? It’s the small things you do that few see which create the big results everyone wants. Below is a video I created with five rituals that I’ve found help me be in peak state!
9. Embrace uncertainty.
Most people want to feel in control of their lives and able to make decisions based on a future they can predict with certainty. But let’s face it, no matter how much you may try to control your environment, you can’t. Life is inherently uncertain and any certainty you think you have (beyond death and taxes) is mere illusion. Embracing life’s uncertainty liberates you to be decisive amid ambiguity and quicker to adjust your sails as the wind changes around you (rather than flipping out because it wasn’t in the weather forecast!)
10. Schedule priorities.
If you aren’t deliberate in how you prioritize your time, other people’s priorities will consume it. So schedule in your “MUST DO” activities into your calendar – for exercise, family, reflection, planning and the rituals to achieve your ‘peak state.’ Assuming you’ll just find the time amid the busyness of your life is fanciful thinking.
11. Find your ‘A team.’
Never underestimate the impact of the people around you to move you forward or hold you back. As Tony Robbins said “Your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of those around you.” So if the people you’re hanging out with aren’t bringing out your best and bravest, step out of your comfort zone and find people who will ; people who aren’t ready for settle for mediocrity and who want nothing less for you! Because, for better or worse, you can’t help but become more like the people you have surrounding you.
12. Be grateful for everything (even the crap!).
Gratitude is the most powerful tonic for life yet too often we focus on what is missing from our lives and what we don’t have rather than on all that we do. It keeps us living in scarcity, fuels resentment, self-pity and a sense of powerlessness. So stand guard of your mind and when you catch yourself dwelling on what’s missing, refocus your attention on all that you already have. Because no matter how dire things may seem, there is always something to be grateful for.
Celebrating even the small things – from the winter sun to the summer heat (you’re alive!), from your ability to read this article (many can’t), to the roof over your head (that many would love), from your toddlers’ tantrum to your teenagers untidy room (ah, the blessing of children) – can make a profound difference to both your health and happiness. Cultivating gratitude amplifies the blessings in your life, fuels positive emotions and keeps you from making small problems big. People who have a habit of forever focusing only on what’s missing – what they can’t do, or don’t have – will always be miserable… no matter how much fame or fortune they have! Don’t be one of them and if you have been, decide now to change that (and buy yourself a gratitude journal like Oprah uses!)