© picture taken from Tony Robbins Facebook page
I recently got back from a 4-day seminar with Tony Robbins. Actually, I got back from 4 days with 14 000 other attendees, hundreds of volunteers, many successful guest speakers AND Tony Robbins. Why? Because just like all the people in the crowded, loud Prudential Center (home of the New Jersey Devils), I wanted to be a better version of myself. Here are some reflections I had and some teachings I brought back.
Why are we stuck?
From Internet quotes to PhD’s written self-development books, we already know most of it:
-The past does not equal the future unless you live there;
-Associate with people who are succeeding in the areas you want to succeed;
-True change in your life comes from within;
-Let go of your fears;
-bla bla bla….
If you know it all, why aren’t you doing it? Why is it that when you dig inside, you know exactly how to achieve most of your goals, the smaller and the bigger, but you end up not doing most of it… Are you weak? Are you just not able or too lazy? Maybe you don’t love yourself? Is it possible that your strategy is just not good? Is it possible that you have all the ingredients but are not quite familiar with the recipe? Even if you get it sometimes, why are you not able to replicate it in all aspects of your life? Tony has some wisdom and knowledge he’d like to share!
You know that sense of motivation, renewed energy and purpose you get from a little inspirational video on YouTube or from a Ted Talk? How much time does it really last? Between a minute and a couple days if it really touched you?
Now how about 4 straight days of at least 12 hours of that hum? How much time would that wonderful feeling last? Days? Months? Years? Nope… unless you do things differently the outcome will always be the same (sounds like another famous quote there!). From that 1 min video or a roughly 50-hour seminar, the challenge is always the same: how do I keep this motivation going?
Rewiring your brain with neuro-associative conditioning
Well, there are no real ‘’tricks’’, but there is an understanding of psychological patterns, of ‘’The mind’’ that controls you and how you can actually be in the driver’s seat if your approach is good. If you want to get bigger biceps, grab those dumbbells, but if you want to get a more efficient brain (because it won’t get bigger…to the best of my knowledge), what can you do?
Tony Robbins is the founder of the neuro-associative conditioning (NAC) science. It is founded on neuro-linguistic programming, developed to model communication strategies of effective therapists. NAC is a system that aims to create changes in human emotions and behaviour based upon the premise that there are two determining reasons for human behaviour:
2. the desire to gain pleasure.
In order for the brain to efficiently evaluate how to rapidly accomplish these two tasks, we have to create neuro-associations (physical and psychological associations within the nervous system) that will be used to instantly determine the meaning (whether painful or pleasurable) of situations, people, things, sounds, emotions, etc.
These neuro-associations determine our representations of reality and are, therefore, the directing force of all human behaviour. Even though a lot of associations are natural (you will want to turn the volume down if Justin Bieber’s version of Despacito is playing if that is painful, or up if it’s enjoyable, depending on what type of person you are), a lot is not as easy. Don’t forget, we might evolve at an astounding rate in our ways, with technologies and so on, but our brain is basically the same as it was 1000, 10 000 or even 100 000 years ago. Most of the things we do and most of our interactions, are way too complex for a ‘’survival first’’ brain to recognize if something is enjoyable or painful in the long run. Short term impact is easier for the brain to figure out and that is why it is easier for the brain to associate food, alcohol or drugs to pleasure or why you obviously don’t go walking on fire…
In my opinion, Tony is simply one of the best brain coaches you can get. His career as a speaker is now more than a quarter century old and he has spoken to over 50 million people from more than 100 countries… Now that’s dedication! He has coached and helped countless of the most respected people on earth, from presidents (Bill Clinton) to athletes who dominated their sport (Serena Williams). It’s all about learning and giving back for him and that is how you achieve sustainable joy vs. momentary pleasure.
Here is a short lesson at the base of NAC:
- Fear is what stops us from moving forward.
- Emotions are what control and determine the quality of our lives.
- We do what we do because of 6 human needs.
The 6 human needs or why do we do what we do
That was one of the first lessons we learned during the four-day seminar. There are 4 primal needs and 2 spiritual needs that drive us through life in an eternal quest for meaning.
The 4 primal needs are:
1. The need for certainty
2. The need for uncertainty/variety
3. The need for significance
4. The need for connection/love
The 2 spiritual needs are:
5. The need for growth
6. The need for contribution
Most humans are driven by 2 dominant needs and their actions. How they feel and what they say will be inclined to fulfill these needs. Even if all of these needs can be positive, there are unfortunately so many negative ways you can fulfill the first 4. For instance, you might know someone who likes to complain about his job, his marriage, his friends or someone that always has little health problems that he likes to talk about…What need is this person meeting when you listen and care (or act like you do)? Right, significance. For a lot of people, helplessness is power. The only way for sustainable joy is to put the two spiritual needs first.
There is A LOT to be said about the seminar and Tony’s approach. I didn’t cover all the dancing, jumping, singing, high fiving (there was a lot of each), but all you have to know about these parts is that your physicality is the first force that affects your emotions. Smile and you’ll feel happy - rings a bell? Well it’s science based. Breath, posture and movement all have great impacts on our mindset. The second force is focus. Try it for 5 minutes, focus on great moments of your life, moments where you felt gratitude or pride, focus on how it makes you feel right now. If you are not trained, it might be easier for the sake of the exercise to focus on moments where you felt pain, felt ashamed, felt really bad. How does it make you feel now? Focus can make you FEEL! For those of you reliving these hurtful memories, here is a quote directly from Tony Robbins: ‘’Stay in your head, you’re dead!’’.
It is not because you are weak that you stopped whatever you started, that you are feeling helpless, that your energy level is low or whatever, it’s just because you’re not doing it right! Now, do you want excuses or results (smelling the quotes again…)? Isn’t it time for your journey to really start? The difference between dreaming your life and living your dream is always smaller than you think. It lies in small changes, but it is YOUR responsibility to educate yourself on what these changes are.
Small homework for the sake of taking action
- For the next 2 weeks, put 8 alarms everyday to remind you to drink a glass of water. This may sound silly, but most of us are living in a dehydrated state that is not helping your cells (brain cells included) function to their full potential.
- Watch a documentary once a week. In this time and age, it is so easy to educate yourself, so treat yourself. If you can, start with documentaries on food and health, you wouldn’t believe how terrible the average North-American person treats its body without even knowing it.
- Read a self-development book every month. If you are already doing it, pump up those numbers!
Here was my thinking writing this article: share, share, and share. If I can inspire even a single person to seek for more, to aim for knowledge, to strive for action, I will have had a positive impact on another life and in the end, that’s all I can wish for. Once you start sharing, life will never be the same again.