Would you pay $1,095 for a four-day personal growth seminar?
I attended Tony Robbin’s seminar, Unleash the Power Within, which took place in Sydney. The seminar boasts that it helps you:
“Confront and breakthrough all your fears and uncertainty. Identify your greatest passion with laser clarity. Learn how to focus your energy on what you truly want, not what you fear. Get the tools for creating the life you were meant to lead.”
Before going, my hopes were high. I’d seen plenty of Tony Robbin’s speeches and was blown away by his magnetism and wisdom. The seminar did deliver in a few ways, but in others, it was frustrating and disappointing. This was a bit surprising, seeing as how I really expected to be wowed. My expectations were high because Tony showed an unyielding confidence in his program and fans gave him rave reviews. However, the true test of its value will only reveal itself in the next few months.
So if we look at the quote above that I took from Robbin’s site, it makes a few promises that I argue they did deliver. For someone who needed clarity, focus, and fear-elimination, I think there was value in Tony’s methods.
During the program, we worked through what we value, what human needs we all have and which ones we prioritize, and our beliefs (limiting and empowering). Oh, and we walked on hot coals. They were a bit over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The most moving portion of the seminar was the section on destroying limiting beliefs. We did some outrageous things that I prefer not to mention here. There were large waves of emotions moving through the arena of nearly 8k people, with heartwrenching cries that sounded from the depths of hell. It was powerful, scary and empowering. Only time will tell if it was actually effective.
Another thing I appreciated was the focus on values, rather than just promoting the accumulation of riches. Tony drilled in the fact that money does not even remotely equate to happiness, and that when we are working in life, we need to have our values ahead of us, not dollar signs. We also reviewed two aspects of human psychology: what 2 basic fears drive all of us and what 6 basic needs drive us. They are as follows:
Our two human fears
- We aren’t enough
- Because we aren’t enough, we won’t be loved
A lot of decisions are made from this standpoint, and it changes our results in life when we operate from the point of fear rather than power. These stem from childhood and the way humans progress from innocent babies who receive unconditional love, to humans that need to be reprimanded/molded and seem to have to earn affection.
The 6 human needs are (four basic, two spiritual)
- Certainty (Basic: we need to know that something will be there for us, that there is a degree of security and stability in our lives)
- Uncertainty (Basic: we need variety and change to accompany our certainty or life would seem pointless)
- Significance (Basic: we need to feel like we matter to someone other than ourselves)
- Love/Connection (Basic: the most important need of all- we need human love and connection in order to SURVIVE)
- Growth (Spiritual: we need to grow as a person to feel truly fulfilled, progress = power)
- Contribution (Spiritual: you truly realize your life’s purpose when you contribute and help others)
After some self-exploration, we identified our two highest values. Mine are Love and Growth, in that order. The order of our values is very important because whichever is your priority is the one which you will base your decisions off of. Others develop grave problems when they put Certainty and Significance in their top two, and unfortunately, the majority of people do.
One of Tony’s flagship training ideas is that physiology rules our minds. He says that in order to make any real change, we first need to change our state and break our normal thinking patterns. This involves physically changing our state. He changed our state over the course of an hour or two in order to give us the ability to walk on burning coals without feeling it. It was a really trance-like experience. I felt like I was a part of a tribe with the steady drumbeat and intense ritual.
Tony uses states in a variety of ways on a day-to-day basis. He primarily focuses on the idea that we need to hype ourselves up, prime ourselves in the morning with meditation and use techniques to avoid negativity. However, we can utilize negativity by associating negative experiences with something you don’t want in your life any longer. You can do this physically as well, like being forced to smoke so much that you never want another cigarette in your life.
His focus on the body carried over until the last day of the seminar, where we reviewed the importance of health. As you can see from the pyramid below, health is an essential function that must exist before anything else in your life can be mastered, much less enjoyed. I found the health aspect of the seminar very fascinating and innovative. It touched on a wide range of topics, some that were new for me, but none were fully developed. We lightly discussed: breathing techniques, meditation, diet, cell-health, disease, the power of chi, bone density techniques, sitting postures, etc…
The four biggest flaws in Tony’s program is that it
1. Was too basic
As someone who’s been an avid self-help, personal growth learner, I’ve already run into most of Tony’s ideas before. I was hoping that this seminar would go far into our psyche, penetrating things I had trouble reaching on my own. Instead, most of the time it was teaching me things I already know, but have trouble implementing. He said we often “know” but don’t “understand” because we don’t live it. But I’m wondering if just hearing about it again and again will lead us to this understanding or if it has to come from something more profound, like life experience.
Overall, we skimmed over a few topics on the surface level, and I was just hoping for a bit more substance. You could argue that four days is not enough to really delve into these topics, however, I felt that time wasn’t properly utilized during the seminar and could have been used for that- which brings me to my next point…
2. Wasted too much time on selling us other programs
We are smart people. We are here, paying a lot of money to be wowed. People took planes, found sitters, stepped away from businesses, loved-ones and life’s expectations- all things that Tony doesn’t take lightly. Even though he promised true commitment to us, he failed in the area of effectively using our time.
We spent a great deal of time hearing speeches and learning about other programs that he offers, which I should note, are much more expensive. I felt like he spent at least HALF of the seminar in self-promotion mode. Sales, sales, sales.
Smart people know when they’re being sale-bullied from a mile away. Still, most of the audience were die-hard Tony fans, so they were excited about the opportunity for more. For the rest of us, though, it was a waste of time. I paid over a grand for this experience and $500 of it is being used to convince me to spend more money. Is that fair?
3. Tony was absent half the time
Ok, it’s my fault. I’ve never been one to read the fine print. When the Terms and Conditions pop up on any site, I click off of it faster than I drop a hot pan.
So when I arrived, I didn’t know that more than half the seminar would be conducted by Tony’s colleagues- who are much less moving than him (there’s a reason Tony gets paid a million dollars for one coaching session). I felt a bit cheated by this, but overall, it was okay. I understand he needs to rest his damaged vocal cords, but it seems like he shouldn’t overcommit and not deliver the full experience. Instead of getting a live experience, we spent half the time watching VIDEOS of Tony talking. You know I can get those on Youtube for free, right? Which brings me to the last point –>
4. This material is almost all found online
The internet is a wonder. Pirated material is widespread and Youtube has 90% of the material we covered. The stories Tony told I had all heard before VARIOUS times. And I mean I remembered he used the exact. same. words. The repetition killed me. I don’t mind learning the concepts multiple times, but I want them delivered with different stories, pleaseeee.
The program has some invaluable aspects of community, live attention from Tony and helpful self-development ideas. I can’t say whether I would recommend going because I have yet to see if there’s been any lasting change or transformation as a result of attending this program. Just know before going that Tony will be missing half the time and when he’s gone his colleagues will be barraging you to spend, spend, spend!