An awakening – (3 books that genuinely changed my life – PART 3)
At the time I picked up ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ I had not particularly heard of Tony Robbins. I certainly wasn’t aware of his huge status as a ‘guru’, speaking to thousands at a time, changing lives on the fly and being a coach to some of the most famous people in the world such as Jimmy Carter and Oprah Winfrey.
The great thing about that is that the book serves as a bit of an autobiography as it recounts in quite a personal way how the changes that Tony made through NLP techniques created the life that he now has. Tony Robbins is the classic case of someone going from homeless person to multi-millionaire. I urge you to catch some of his videos online – maybe his Ted Talk or some of his stuff on ‘Strategic Intervention‘.
When I read this book (and I also read ‘Unlimited Power‘ around this time) I was already familiar with NLP and had read the very practical ‘NLP for Dummies ‘. I had achieved some minor changes with the processes in the Dummies book and also learned some powerful attitudes that are embodied in NLP such as ‘The Map is Not the Territory’, and ‘The Meaning of the Communication is the Response you Get’, both of which have made it easier to be master of my personal experience.
Creating your future
‘Awaken the Giant Within‘ gave me the first sense that you really can be anything you want. Tony Robbins introduced me fully to the concept of instant change. The idea that instead of having to be in therapy for years, or working your way up painfully to a higher level in your career, you can do this in a matter of minutes or hours by harnessing the power of the brain and understanding how it works.
In the book Tony introduces us to concepts that are key to NLP. He talks about the language we use, our self-talk, and how to change it. He talks about the way asking the right questions can change our view of life. He shows the power of metaphors to create sudden shifts in our view of the world. Above all he shows us how to create our future in whatever way we want and gives us the tools to do it.
One of the key areas he focuses on is the area of our ‘beliefs’ or our ‘rules’. This has been a personal crusade of mine ever since and a key area in much of my therapy and coaching work. Our lives are hugely guided by our rules in life. One person may have a rule that says ‘Working 9 til 5 is exhausting and that means I can only spend my evenings watching TV because I don’t have the energy for anything else.’ another person may have the rule ‘I am a fit and active person and that means I escape from the stresses of my day by going to the gym and having a 45 minute work-out’. Which of these beliefs would work better for someone wanting to get fit and lose weight?
There are many ways to change our beliefs and Tony gives some suggestions in his book – he suggests linking as much pain to a harmful rule as you can and using your imagination to envisage what sort of person you would be if you have a better rule. For me the most important first step is to recognise a rule and write it down! Just that first act of writing it shows you once and for all that it is just that ‘only a rule’. You can rewrite the rules whenever you want.
The other great thing about this book is it is also a workbook of sorts – an approach that I use in my own book. I feel this is particularly valuable because it encourages the reader to take the actions and ask the questions of themselves then and there. The worst way to read any kind of self-help book is to just plough through and promise yourself you will do the exercises later!
The interesting thing for me now is that when I pick up my copy of the book I can see the notes I made then and I can see how far I have come. Since reading that book I have been the most consistently happy I have ever been. I have had the greatest sense of purpose, the deepest love, the strongest faith that I will overcome any barrier in my life. I am also the fittest and healthiest I have ever been (and I am 53).
Getting fit and healthy
In relation to that last comment, the exercises in this book and in Unlimited Power, have meant that I have at last learned to enjoy exercise, to love my body, to keep to a consistent program of fitness over a period of 7 years with hardly a break. I’m not a muscle-bound body builder but I am strong, slim and have loads of energy, and a lot of that I think I can put down to the help I got in Tony’s book.
I still return to it again and again. I have just picked up his new book too – Money, Master the Game – but I haven’t yet read much of it so I can’t comment yet.
Other books to be covered in this series:
The first two parts of this blog can be found here: