Today we’re going to talk about Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins. As I’m reviewing this book, it’s going to be the first one in the Start To Success members area. Now, maybe it won’t always remain in that spot, but there’s a reason I’m putting this up first. Just like the “Start To Success Formula” course started with cultivating the right mental attitude towards our future business, this book is so powerful and can help you create the right mental state for life in general. I think it’s almost impossible to overestimate the power that our minds have to consciously change our lives for the better, even when we’re in tough circumstances.
Let’s start with a quote from Tony: “Quality questions create a quality life.” More specifically, in the book he says “I realized that the main difference between the people who seemed to be successful—in any area!—and those who weren’t was that successful people asked better questions, and as a result, they got better answers.” He goes on to say that this is one of the most important concepts in the book, which, by the way, is over 500 pages long and dense!
I’ll take one step back from this and say that “questions create a better life.” I say this because, like anything in life, practice makes better, and you have to start somewhere. After a lot of practice, I’ve gotten to the point where I actively question and challenge everything that I do at one point or another. Now, obviously this can be taken too far, but if you really analyze how you spend your time, for example, you may find that you waste it doing things just because you’re used to doing those things, and they don’t really serve a purpose anymore.
The fact that you’re here makes me think that you already ask some questions like this. Like “how can I improve my life?” That’s a pretty big one, though, so we can break it down into specific, empowering questions like “why do I get upset with my wife when she asks me what I’m doing this weekend?” Or “why do I always get drunk when I hang out with Joe?” Or “why do I go to church every Sunday?”
If we start by asking ourselves questions like this, we can discover many things that we just do out of habit, and we really don’t want to anymore. We can also realize why some of the things that we do are so important to us, and we should focus on them even more. But just this act of challenging ourselves is 1) humbling, and 2) effective at creating a more purposeful and enjoyable life.
It’s amazing what I’ve accomplished just by challenging why I think what I think and do what I do. It’s either driven by evolution or programming, and you all know what I think about today’s programming. That’s why this business, courses, and community exists in the first place. So, don’t be afraid of what you might find; be afraid of what you may be ignorant to for the rest of your life. Then, once we’ve gotten REALLY good at asking ourselves questions, it seems a lot easier to communicate and ask other people questions.
Ok that was quite the ramble on that intro quote I know. But that’s how important I think that subject is, and it’s the first of our “golden nuggets” from this book. The next one we’ll talk about is Tony’s “ultimate success formula.” Then, his trademarked “neuro-associative conditioning,” or NAC. And lastly, we’ll highlight the concept that “repetition is the mother of skill.”
The Ultimate Success Formula is originally from Tony’s previous book, Unlimited Power. It’s kind of funny: He refers to this formula as “an elementary process for getting you where you want to go.” I think this is a great way to highlight the difference between “simple” and “easy.” This formula is extremely simple, but if it were easy, more people would be where they want to be in life.
The formula says that you 1) decide what you want, 2) take action, 3) notice what’s working or not, and 4) change your approach until you achieve what you want. Simple, right? Unfortunately, most people struggle with every single step:
Most people have no idea what they actually want in life. This goes back to programming: Be default, we all just kind of do what we think we’re supposed to do, what our parents did, and what our neighbors, school, religion, and culture tells us to do. You can solve this problem by asking yourself quality questions.
Action? Most people never take action, and we’ll get into why in the next point. Oh, and by the way, I’m not perfect either. I struggle with the same things as everyone else, so know that I throw myself in the bunch here. The big difference, is that I, like you, am taking steps to better myself.
We have to be willing to critically analyze what’s working and what’s not, and change our action appropriately. This is tough, because we’re all narcissistic to a degree, and we want to believe that we know best. Here, just try to eat some humble pie and listen earnestly to the feedback you’re getting.
Then it’s just a feedback loop. Act, analyze, adjust until you get what you want.
Ok, why do most people never take action? It’s because they focus too much on how they’re going to accomplish their goals, and, because they don’t have all the answers right now, they get paralyzed and never take that first step. Tony says that “it’s not important initially to know how you’re going to create a result. What’s important is to decide you will find a way, no matter what.” This empowers you to take that first step, and then you figure out the “how” on your journey.
Let’s talk about neuro-associative conditioning (NAC). Again the concept here is rather simple. Tony says that “to change our behavior… we must link unbearable and immediate sensations of pain to our old behavior, and incredible and immediate sensations of pleasure to a new one.” In the Start To Success Formula, I talked about a friends uncle (let’s call him “Unc”) who quit smoking by snapping a rubber band on his wrist whenever he thought about having a smoke. Let’s use this as an example, and then I challenge you to come up with a behavior you want to change, and use this method!
The first step is to “decide what you really want and what’s preventing you from having it now.” This one’s easy, Unc wanted to quit smoking, probably for health reasons, and the addiction was preventing him.
The second step is to “Get leverage: associate massive pain to not changing now and massive pleasure to the experience of changing now!” The difficulty in changing habits is that the pain of bad habits is usually in the future, so we weight it much less than the immediate pleasure we get from our habit. One way or another, we have to reach a pain threshold—you know that breaking point where you say “I’ve had it!”—and he did this by creating real, physical pain immediately. By the way, I’m not suggesting you start hurting yourself; this is just an example. But, somehow, you must create perceived pain of remaining where you are.
Step 3, “interrupt the limiting pattern,” is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of brooding over wanting a cigarette for who knows how long, Unc interrupted with a snap! Tony says you can do this by just jumping up and shouting something ridiculous when you start thinking of your old habit.
Step 4, “Create a new, empowering alternative.” The key here is to make it a positive one. A lot of people, when they quit smoking, replace it with eating, and they gain a bunch of weight, which isn’t healthy either. Replacing it with walking or talking with a spouse could be empowering.
Step 5, “Condition the new pattern until it’s consistent.” The shocker here is that you can do this mentally. If you rehearse doing the empowering alternative in your mind, over and over, you create the association. This is why visualizing success is so important!
And the final step, “test it!” This can be done mentally, by imagining the situation that prompts the bad habit, and physically, when it occurs. If you find your old habit winning, review the process: Make sure you know what you want, get leverage, interrupt, create an alternative, and condition. Remember this process; with it, you can change anything in your life.
Repetition truly is the mother of skill. As we’ve just learned, repeating something allows us to condition and reprogram our brain. This is one of the reasons I encourage you to never respond to something by saying “I already know that.” Instead, either say “I’ve heard this before, but repetition is the mother of skill” or, if you can, say “I’ve already implemented this in my life, so I’m going to move onto something else.” And that’s the key, if it’s something that’s important to you, but you haven’t implemented it yet, then repeat, repeat again, until you do.
And that brings us to our summary. I truly hope you all embrace these concepts, and, if you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend you bump it to the top of your list. It is profound. In summary, though, to get whatever we want in life, we first start by understanding what we really want. Once we have that, we are ready, even if we don’t know how we’ll get it yet. Take action, fire, and adjust your aim as necessary.
And last but not least—in fact, probably most important—the exercise. 1) What is a question you can challenge your behavior with? 2) What is a habit you want to create or break? And 3) How are you going to reprogram your brain to accomplish that?
I hope you all enjoyed this, and I’ll see you in the next one!