By January 13, 2010 Read More →

Lessons Learned from Tony Robbins

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“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” – Tony Robbins

This post is my attempt to surface and share some of my favorite lessons from Tony Robbins.

Tony Robbins is a living example of smart and gets results.   He walks his talk.   He’s a powerful combination of action, passion, and commitment to continuous improvement.   When it comes to unleashing your best, Tony Robbins sets the bar.  I actually think one of his super skills is bringing NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to the masses and making it practical.

My Dad first introduced me to Tony Robbins by having me listen to Personal Power.  As I listened,  I felt like I was given the Holy Grail of Greatness.  I immediately used the information and techniques to shoot from #192 out of 196 students to #4, in one of my toughest classes at the time.  It was that single experience that both convinced me he was the real deal, and that skills can make all the difference in life.  Without further ado, here are my top 25 lessons from Tony Robbins.

25 Lessons Learned from Tony Robbins

While it’s always a challenge to distill somebody’s greatness into a set of lessons, it’s especially challenging with Tony Robbins given his depth and breadth in the field of human excellence.  He’s paved so many paths, turned over so many stones, and shared such a wealth of know-how, that I found it tough to pick the right lessons to share.   Here we go:

1. Three levels of mastery.

Robbins says we move through three levels of mastery: intellectual, emotional, and physical.  We might understand something intellectually, but not have any emotional reaction to it or be able to actually do it.  When we do know something at the emotional level, we have an emotional reaction.  This is a simple, but powerful model for thinking about stages of mastery, and it actually parallels Bloom’s Taxonomy.

2. Four classes of experience.

Robbins outlines four types of experience as a frame for thinking about what types of experience to do more of, and what to do less of:  Good for you, good for other people; good for you, bad for other people, bad for you, good for other people, and bad for you, bad for other people.

3. Six human needs.

We go through cycles of needs and some seem at odds.  Robbins says our 6 human needs are: certainty, uncertainty, significance, connection, growth, contribution.  We have a need for certainty until we are certain, and then we need surprise and variety.  We have a need to stand out and be significant and make our mark on the world, but we also have a need to blend in and be part of the crowd.  We have a need to experience growth and to make our contribution and give back to others.

4. Act on it.

Knowledge is power, and action is results.  Start with something simple and build momentum.  Decide and act.  Take massive action.  Have a bias for action.  Take consistent action.  Throw massive action at your problems.  Robbins teaches us that smart’s not enough.  If we’re smart, but don’t take action, we can end up smart and broke, smart and fat, or smart and alone.  We need to take consistent actions and improve our results.  Along those lines, it’s not enough to know what to do, you need to do what you know.

5. Ask better questions.

Learn how to ask better questions to get more effective results.  Thinking is asking and answering questions.  If you want better answers, ask better questions.  Take control of your question and answering process by asking empowering questions.  Don’t ask “why” question (e.g. why can’t I do this?), ask “how” questions (e.g. how can I do this?)   Ask happy questions or inspiring questions.  Use precision and ask precisely instead of generalizing or abstracting.

6. Be a student of possibilities.

Robbins teaches us to be open to other possibilities and continuous learning.  Don’t let your attitudes and beliefs limit you.  Change your internal representation – your belief about what’s possible.  Find ways that work for you to uncover and change your limiting beliefs.

7. Be resourceful.

To be resourceful, ask resourceful questions. (e.g. How might you solve this? Who can help?   How can you leverage what you’ve got? )   By asking your brain the right questions, you’ll engage your RAS (reticular activating system) to help you solve your problems.

8. Build a library of profound knowledge.

Find reference examples of greatness.  Create a personal knowledge base of success patterns and distinctions.  Study and collect stories of successful people that you can learn from and inspire you.

9. Change the frame to change your game.

How you look at things determines what you think, feel, and do.  A frame is how you see things.  Reframe things to change your perspective.  Practice the power of perspective and add new lenses you can use to see things a new way.

10. Focus on continuous improvement.

Achieve physical, mental, financial, and spiritual wealth.  Robbins suggests adopting a principle he calls CANI.  It stands for Constant And Never Ending Improvement.  According to Robbins, “You’re growing or dying … you’re either climbing or sliding.”

11. Know your rules.

We all carry around a bunch of rules about things.  When you have conflict, it’s usually because of a conflict in rules.  For example, somebody has rules about how they know you love them, and your behavior doesn’t match (e.g. You tell them you love them, but they need to see it with random acts of kindness.)  You can keep getting tripped up by these rules until you know what they are.  You can dump your rules by asking questions, “In order to be successful, I need to …” and whatever follows are your rules.  You can ask other people.  You can ask your kids, “In order to be a successful Mom or Dad, what do I need to do?”  Robbins makes the point that what you don’t know can hurt you, and by dumping it out, you know whether the rules are helping you or getting in the way, and you can better meet expectations for yourself or others.  For example, you might find that your rules for success are unreasonable and you would never meet them, so no matter how hard you try, you will always shoot yourself down.  Get a grip on your rules and make them work for you.

12. Learn effective techniques for learning faster with improved results.

Skill takes repetition and practice.  Robbins says, “Repetition is the mother of skill.”  Use repetition to improve your skills.  If you use repetition with improvement, you create life mastery.  People hate repetition, but it creates power.  Be willing to do the boring things everyday to improve yourself.  Don’t just do the same things over and over – improve the actions.

13. Learn how to handle and solve problems more effectively.

We become more of who we are by the problems we solve.  Robbins says, “The only people without problems are those in cemeteries.”  You improve your ability to solve problems by framing and reframing problems and by improving your communication to yourself and others.  Adopt a healthy attitude towards your problems.  Reframe problems as “challenges.”  Adopt the belief that “resistance makes you stronger” and that we expand and grow ourselves the most by solving problems.

14. Learn how to set more effective goals.

Use goals to help shape your destiny and unleash your best.  Ask yourself, who would you like to become? … what do you want to have, do, or create? … and what do you want to earn and contribute.  Write your goals down to improve your chance of success and improve your clarity.  Make sure your ladder isn’t up against the wrong wall (don’t climb to the top, only to find it’s not what you want.)  To make your goals sticky, have a compelling reason for them.   If you can’t write at least a paragraph on why you need to complete the goal, then it’s not compelling enough.  Either find the right goal or find the right reason.  Have a timeframe on your goals and start taking simple actions towards your goals, a day at a time.  Robbins suggests, “stay committed to your goals, but flexible in your approach.”

15. Learn how to master your body.

Robbins encourages several success patterns here including, breathing effectively, eating water-rich foods, eating less, and combining foods effectively.  According to Robbins, if you like to eat a lot, the secret of eating a lot, is eating a little, because then you’ll be around long enough to eat a lot.  Aside from learning from experts, Robbins also suggests exploring Natural Hygiene.

16. Learn how to master your communication with yourself and others.

Robbins teaches us that the quality of your life is the quality of your communication, with ourselves and others.  Learn more effective self-talk.  You can be your best friend or your own worst enemy.  Go from critic to coach.  Robbins answers the question, “Why do we communicate?”  We communicate to feel good or expand the feeling, get rid of a negative feeling, or to change a result.  Focus on rapport before influence.   Communication often breaks down because you’re stressed or you have different perceptions of reality or different meanings.  Robbins suggests a technique he calls reality bridging.  The idea is to acknowledge that you have different views, and continue to feel good about each other, while working for a solution.

17. Learn how to master your emotions.

Master your emotional intelligence.  Robbins asks, “Why do we do anything we do?” – It’s to change our state or to change how we feel.  Make positive emotions a habit.  Don’t let other people push your buttons.  Learn how to run your emotions or they’ll run you.  Avoid throwing your emotions into a pendulum, by leading a balanced emotional life.  Learn how to change your state.  Motion creates emotion.  Change your physiology to change how you feel.

18. Learn how to master your energy.

It’s tough to go out and change the world if you don’t have the energy.  Eat well, get enough sleep, and pay attention to how blood sugar levels make you feel.

19. Learn how to master your mind.

Learn how your brain works to gain pleasure and avoid pain.  Direct your mind with focus and questions.  You get what you focus on.  To change your focus, change your questions.

20. Learn how to master your relationships.

Nurture and grow your relationships.  People are your greatest resource.  Make everyone your mentor and learn from everyone you know.  Never question intent.  You can question behavior, but not intent.  When you question intent, such as “You don’t care about me” or “You wanted to hurt me”, judging can destroy communication.  Instead, focus on the behavior, not the individual.  Remember to give other people what you want – the benefit of the doubt, and remind yourself that “people always do the best they can with the resources they’ve got.”

21. Live with passion.

Find your passion and unleash it in others.  Robbins teaches us to “live with passion” and “happily achieve over achieve to be happy.”  Follow your heart.  Passion is our fuel for life.  It’s our drive.  Make work your play and play at your work.

22. Make meaning.

You’re the most important meaning maker in your life.  You determine the meaning that comes from something; it then becomes a reality to you.  Choose a meaning that makes you more effective.  Metaphors are a powerful way to shape how you think about things.  Use metaphors that empower you.  For example, what’s your metaphor for life — is life a game? … is it a dance? … is it an epic adventure? … is it a comedy? … is it a tragedy?

23. Model success.

Learn and model the success of others.  Robbins teaches us that “success leaves clues.”  Find the people that are the best at what they do and use them as reference examples.  Find real-world examples of people or things with the results you want.  Work backwards from success to save time figuring it out from scratch.   Find the short-cuts and the proven paths based on people who have been there and done that.  You can use techniques and concepts from NLP such as modeling, to model excellence more effectively.

24. Raise your standards.

If you want to dramatically change your life, raise your standards.  Stop accepting certain things.  Turn your “SHOULDs” into “MUSTs” and your “some days” into “today.”

25. Test it yourself.

Does it work?  The only way to really know is to test it for yourself.  Robbins says don’t take his word for it, try it out for yourself.  Let results be your judge.

Top 10 Tony Robbins Quotes

Robbins has an amazing way with words and so many of his quotes are sticky and hit home.  Here are my top 10 Tony Robbins Quotes:

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  1. Determination is the wake-up call to the human will.
  2. It not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know.
  3. Repetition is the mother of skill.
  4. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers
  5. Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
  6. The past doesn’t equal the future.
  7. The quality of your life is the quality of your communication, with yourself as well as with others.
  8. There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.
  9. The path to success is to take massive, determined action.
  10. There’s always a way – if you’re committed.

He has the perfect way of saying some things that you already know to be true, but he makes them hit home, and he has a way with coming up with some incredibly profound insights.

Tony Robbins Quotes Organized by Topics

I’ve included some of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes below.  I’ve organized them using the following categories: General, Action, Change / Decisions, Communication, Fear / Failure, Goals, Life, Questions, and

Success:

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General

  • Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts.
  • The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.
  • The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.
  • The only people without problems are those in cemeteries.
  • Want to learn to eat a lot? Here it is: Eat a little. That way, you will be around long enough to eat a lot.
  • Whatever happens, take responsibility.
  • When people are like each other they tend to like each other.

Action

  • I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve.
  • If you can’t, you must. If you must, you can.
  • In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.
  • Personal power is the ability to take action.
  • The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.
  • The truth is that we can learn to condition our minds, bodies, and emotions to link pain or pleasure to whatever we choose. By changing what we link pain and pleasure to, we will instantly change our behaviors.
  • We will act consistently with our view of who we truly are, whether that view is accurate or not.
  • You always succeed in producing a result.

Change / Decisions

  • A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.
  • All personal breakthroughs being with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief.
  • Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards.
  • For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.
  • If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.
  • It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.
  • More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny.
  • We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.
  • Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.

Communication

  • The people who shape our lives and our cultures have the ability to communicate a vision or a quest or a joy or a mission.
  • To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

Fear / Failure

  • Let fear be a counselor and not a jailer.
  • Most people fail in life because they major in minor things.
  • One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.

Goals

  • Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction.
  • How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I’m committed to?
  • People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.
  • Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Life

  • I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.
  • In life you need either inspiration or desperation.
  • Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.
  • Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process.
  • Live with passion!

Purpose / Meaning

  • Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.
  • Everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves you.
  • It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives.
  • Things do not have meaning. We assign meaning to everything.

Questions

  • Quality questions create a quality life.
  • Questions provide the key to unlocking our unlimited potential.

Success

  • If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.
  • Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!
  • Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.
  • Success is the result of good judgment, good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is often the result of bad judgment!
  • Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
  • Take control of your consistent emotions and begin to consciously and deliberately reshape your daily experience of life.
  • The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.

Where to Go For More

You can get more information on Tony Robbins at the following sites:
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Books / Audio

Here are links to some of Tony Robbins’ products:

Do you have any favorite lessons from Tony Robbins you can share?

Posted in: Heroes, Quotes, Success

21 Comments on "Lessons Learned from Tony Robbins"

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  1. Faith vs. Belief - Sources of Insight | April 23, 2010
  1. Triple-Wow for Tony Robbins!!

    “There’s always a way – if you’re committed.” I was looking for a quote-of-the-day to put up under my Big Eye on my site today, and that is it!! Thanks a bunch, J.D.!

    So many great quotes and inspirations here, of course.

    I like too what he says about beliefs having the power to create or destroy — I’ll take create, any old time.

  2. That’s a lot of lessons. Tony Robbins is a true careerist of personal development. He has accumulated so much practical knowledge in this field and yet he’s still capable to focus on what is important. I respect the man.

    Eduard

  3. following the rule of 3 i am taking these with me:

    - The path to success is to take massive, determined action.
    - Whatever happens, take responsibility.
    - Most people fail in life because they major in minor things.

  4. JB King says:

    The 6 human needs resonates well with me. “Tony Robbins Asks Why We Do What We Do” is a TED talk about that he gave. It had a couple of quirky moments, like giving Al Gore a high five or noting what happened around 9/11 for a class he just happened to be giving at the time. Course I also love TED talks for getting the brain juices flowing.

    “Being able to laugh at yourself” would probably be another Tony Robbins lesson to my mind as he did appear in the film “Shallow Hal” in a cameo of sorts.

  5. davidburkus says:

    I don’t have any new ones. I just wanted to say how much I support #5: Ask Better Questions. That’s the number one thing Tony has taught me.

    Oh and as JB said, Tony’s TED talk is awesome. He even gets permission to go over the 18 minute time limit.

  6. I am most stricken by what you mentioned at the opening of this article:

    “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” – Tony Robbins

    I recently heard another version of this idea, which went something like “the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.”

    I think there is some truth to it, but what’s bizarre to me is that I see people repeating their actions and expecting different results all the time. It’s crazy.

  7. Lance says:

    I love this idea of being a student of possibilities. To me, that really says to believe in all that can be. And even beyond, what we might not see today. And what’s so good about this, is that Tony hasn’t just paid these words lip service, he has lived them!

  8. Patricia says:

    I have bookmarked this post JD – I used to love to listen to Robbins on my cross country car trips a number of years ago.

    I am busy letting go of some of the organizations that no longer serve my life or goals …and I want to get back on my mission and the fullness of my living. I book marked the post so I could come back and spend more time…
    Thank you for putting this together and for all the good posts you share with your readers – your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  9. Avani-Mehta says:

    I absolutely love Tony Robbins ‘Awaken The Giant Within’ and his audio books. They are alive.

    ‘Learn how to master your mind’ and ‘playing with vocab’ are two tips I usually can’t get enough of.

  10. Louisa says:

    I really enjoy listening to Tony Robbins – he’s just one of those people that you can’t help getting enthusiastic about! :-)

  11. JD says:

    @ Jannie

    That’s a perfect choice.

    Create is the way to go!

    @ Eduard

    I think that’s why I like about his approach. It’s about making meaning and getting results where it counts.

    @ Alik

    Whenever I wonder why I’m not getting results somewhere, I ask myself whether I really took massive, determined action.

    @ JB King

    TED talks make the heart grow fonder — talk about inspiration.

    It was a great cameo.

    @ David

    I lead a question-driven life, so I know what you’re saying. Asking questions is definitely a life changer.

  12. JD says:

    @ Melissa

    I haven’t heard the definition of insanity in so long, I almost forgot about it. I love it.

    One of my managers had a perfect way to wake people up … He’d ask, “Is it working?” or “How’s that going for you?”

    @ Lance

    You said it … he’s a living legend.

    @ Patricia

    Robbins and cross-country trips go perfect together. He’s a dynamic speaker and I like listening to him for stretches at a time.

    Thank you for your attitude of grattitude.

    @ Avani

    Alive is so choice. I like that.

    Language is a masterful way to shape your life.

    @ Louisa

    Talk about inspiration … he breathes good things to life.

  13. There’s a video clip of Tony talking ata TED session that provides the perfect glimpse into when his sense of purpose became crystal clear: Tony believes in the power of personal choice which lets you change the outcome of your circumstances.

    The power to act and change is a choice that Tony realized by observing his father’s behavior. He tells the story of their poverty and struggles, and how at Thanksgiving one year, his dad opens the door and someone is there on the doorstep with food for the family. I won’t reveal what happens, because it’s such a beautiful moment as Tony talks, and it’s the only time in his twenty minute TED speech that his mask drops so you can glimpse his heart’s purpose revealed.

    But it reminds us again that our purpose in life is shaped by what happens in our childhood and our responses to it.

    I think Tony is awesome, and I love that he has taken his passion and his purpose – to show others how to use their power of choice – and is changing people’s lives around the world.

  14. Paul Enfield says:

    I too have found #5 invaluable in interpersonal relationships. It really gives insight into how other people view the world and how differently they evaluate the same events.

    I’m going to take a pass at this with my son to pick out some gems for him to absorb.

  15. What a great man. He is the living embodiment of “the law of attraction.” He wills himself to success in every area of his life. My favorite lesson. Is learn how to master your emotions. Our emotions are the biggest dictator of happiness. (goes without saying) But why don’t we work with our emotions more.

    We don’t teach emotional development in the schools. We teach facts. If we taught more about passions, feelings, and how to relate to each other then this world would be a better place. I believe we are moving in this direction and it’s because of people like Tony that this world is improving.

  16. JD says:

    @ Janine

    It’s interesting how much Tony is about decision, action, and change. I noticed this as I was going through his quotes. A lot of his quotes are about deciding, which I hadn’t noticed before.

    @ Paul

    # 5 is powerful. Whenever I’m on the wrong path, I usually find I’ve been asking the wrong questions.

    @ Karl

    He definitely makes things happen. I think he’s an amazing balance of inspiration and technique. His ability to study succes and duplicate it is amazing.

    It’s a shame we don’t get taught emotional intelligence early on.

  17. Mustafa Cay says:

    Tony Robbins, is a leader in terms of performance. I recommend all his books. Especially Unlimited Power. This book has changed many lives.

  18. JD says:

    @ Mustafa — Unlimited Power really is the shining star among his sea of great work and contribution.

  19. John Mak says:

    I am a big fan of Tony Robbins! He have made a big impact in my life. I’ve read Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within. It’s great to know people like Tony, be inspired and live with passion! Thanks for sharing!
    John Mak

  20. Masha says:

    Wow! Love TR and this post! Thank you!