By Abhishek Thakore
The world’s leading authority on peak-performance, bestselling author, and among the best-known personalities in the field of self- development, anthony (tony) robbins has an ability to simplify and sell knowledge in an experiential manner
In the heart of London, about 12,000 people from all over the world have gathered. In a stadium of gigantic proportions, 10 cinema size screens project the figure on stage. “At the count of three, we celebrate… One” and every single person begins to clap. “Two”…the clapping gets faster and an air of eager anticipation builds up in the room…. “three” and suddenly there is a huge roar…the screen flashes “Rock the House” as music blasts and people go into a wild frenzy of celebration. This is no rock concert, but a weekend seminar called Unleash the Power Within, led by Anthony Robbins, one of the world’s most famous and successful New Age gurus.
Well into the seminar, Tony, as he is familiarly known, continues to mesmerise the participants. “Now is the time to break free from every fear you have….Now is the time to go for it,” he says and the sound track of Top Gun blasts in the background. Every one of the 12,000 people march out, braving the cold London rain, barefoot. Tribal sounding drumbeats and fire fighting equipment set the stage for about 30 beds of burning red coals! And one by one, people begin to walk across these coal beds. For many it’s just a casual walk on 15 feet of burning hot coals – for others, it’s a life-changing experience. Tony uses the firewalk as a metaphor for being able to break through limiting fears. If success is the lesson he teaches, Tony himself is perhaps the best living example of his own lessons.
In the 25 years that he has been in the field of self-development, Tony’s achievements are extremely impressive. Having interacted with over 50 million people from 80 different countries, creating the largest selling personal development audio system (Anthony Robbins Personal Power and Personal Power II) and worked with a range of leaders from Nelson Mandela to Princess Diana, Tony Robbins is a familiar name on the New Age circuit.
As the eldest among many siblings, he endured a relatively deprived childhood. One of his earliest memories is when his family was short of food on Thanksgiving, and a basket of food mysteriously appeared at the door. The event moved him deeply, serving as inspiration for Basket Brigade – a humanitarian effort that feeds over one million people in nine countries.
Today, he enjoys the status of being one of the most successful peak performance coaches in the world in less than a decade. His work draws from a number of disciplines: Jim Rohn, the motivational speaker, as well as Richard Bandler and John Grinder (the co-creators of Neuro-Linguistic Progra-mming), are among those who have inspired him as mentors.
Simplifying some of the most complex but effective principles in the field of self-development, Tony developed his own version of NLP called Neuro Associative Conditioning, or NAC. A financial setback that made him bankrupt, a failed dotcom ‘DreamLife’ as well as his recent divorce, indicate that failure is as much a part of his life as ours, but eventually he seems to have the ability to weave them into a tapestery of overall success. From owning a 400 sq. ft. bachelor apartment and a broken down car when he started off, he is the chairman of five companies and vice president of two more. His companies do close to half a billion dollars of turnover annually, including his island resort at Namle, Fiji.
Tony’s two books—Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within contain much of his work—simplified knowledge from a cross-section of disciplines, generously mixed with stories and written in an arresting style. The first tryst with Tony Robbins live is typically at the Unleash the Power Within (UPW) seminar, where an audience of anything from 5,000 to 12,000 is entertained, instructed and motivated by the charming giant. While the firewalk is the high point of the workshop, there is a mix of processes from NLP-like Anchoring and Timelines, as well as pain-pleasure concepts. As much as a workshop, the experience comes close to a high energy rock concert – complete with audio and video as well as lighting effects carefully orchestrated all through the workshop.
The workshop was personally for me, a life-changing experience that helped me crystallise my resolve to pursue my dreams. What makes these workshops so effective is their generous mix of entertainment. Using stories and jokes as well as unmatched spontaneity, he manages to create an instant rapport with the audience and make things fun. A typical session will have its share of rousing instructions such as ‘Stand on your feet and bend forward’ or ‘Celebrate at the count of 3’. His mastery over his subject is particularly remarkable in his one-on-one interactions with participants. And finally, his trademark energy keeps the audience pumped for long hours at a stretch.
Beyond that is the Mastery University – advanced workshops that include Life Mastery which has lessons from other gurus like Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer; Date with Destiny which Tony himself created and Financial Mastery which has lessons on financial success. There is also a personal network which you could be a part of, called Platinum Partnership – priced at a cool $65,000!
Tony is now working with United Nations and as a peace negotiator for the US too. He has lectured at leading universities in the US a commendable achievement given that the man does not have a college degree, but only possesses ‘PhD results’, as he himself puts it. Awestruck fans do everything from surrounding him (very similar to those trying to take a darshan of a saint in India) to putting up signs saying ‘Tony for President’.
He has recently ventured into making inspirational movies based on the transformational stories of his participants. Prior to this, he was known for his appearance in Shallow Hal. Tony Robbins has his fair share of critics who decry his cheeky ‘infomercials’ and his sales team’s aggressive marketing. The hardsell is regrettable, but thousands will testify that the world is definitely a better place for the existence of Anthony Robbins.
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