Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
Sit Down and Read
Why it’s Awesome
““It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently”
-Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within
Is there anyone on the planet who has changed more lives than Tony Robbins? The man has been a leader in the self-development community for around 40 years at this point. I’ve had the privilege of attending one of his live program called Unless The Power Within and can confirm that he has incredible knowledge and skill.
Awaken the Giant Within is arguably the best book Robbins has ever written. It’s tough to convey his personality and charisma through writing but he does about as good of a job as possible. This book lays out major fundamentals of self-development and explores in detail the process of changing your life in such a way that can only come from decades of experience. It’s the equivalent of watching an Olympic athlete nail a perfect performance.
My favorite concept from this book is the idea of reference experiences. We all have an identity, or self-image of who we believe we are and what we think about the world. It’s this identity that controls the vast majority of our behaviors. If we have an identity as a shy person (like I did) then we are going to act in a way that reinforces this identity.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagine the chaos our lives would be if we changed our identity every time we were presented with a different piece of evidence. As far as our genetics are concerned, what we’ve believed up until this point has been good enough to keep us alive. But at the same time, this mechanism is what is going to keep people stuck in life.
In order to change our identity, you need what Tony Robbins calls reference experiences. Reference experiences are just experiences that reinforce a certain belief.
For instance, say I wanted to develop a new identity as someone who is good with money. I would want to seek out experiences where I made good decisions about money. Slowly but surely, the new beliefs would begin to take hold, like putting legs under a table to support it.
This is where it starts to get trippy. People will often say that experience is what makes someone talented. And certainly there is a degree of learning and skill which can’t be ignored. But how much competence comes from practice and how much comes from changing your identity about your level of competence?
It’s easy to say “I’m an expert” at skill X when you’ve been doing it for twenty years and practicing every day. You’ve development massive amounts of reference experiences to support that identity. And because of that, you’re going to act with a level of confidence no one else an match up with.
Pure speculation on my part, but I would guess that our identity has a much bigger role than most people would believe. Human beings have incredible potential to act a wide variety of ways without prior “training”. But we always assume our skill level is due to increased practice and not an internal change.
Another key point Robbins makes is that you need to focus on what you want, not on what you fear. The average person is just trying to cope with the challenges of the day. They get home from work and just want to watch TV or eat some shit food to relax and numb themselves.
Is it any surprise that this strategy only gets you more of the same? Coping only leads to more coping because you’re not seeking to really change anything. It’s like wondering why you never score a goal when you spend 100% of your time on defense.
Fuck that. Start playing some offense. Make a strategy for a positive life that inspires you, not just how you can “get through the day”.
Robbins has an excellent section on goal setting on this book and what it really means to commit to something. Highly recommend you come back to it several times in your life when you’re looking to make some changes because the process is deceptively simple.
Why Does It Suck
Some of the points Robbins makes really are just common sense. This is a very foundational self-development book so if you’re already really crushing it at life or have read a lot of modern self-development, you might want to skip this one.
Also, there are times when Robbins can be really corny. You gotta understand he has an extremely mainstream audience and can’t necessarily write or talk in a way as someone with a more niche audience.
The Wrap Up
Read this book. Tony Robbins is a rare human who shouldn’t be dismissed as just some “motivational speaker”. The man is a success scientist with a unique ability to essentially rewire your brain for the better. I’m not joking, after I came back from Unleash the Power Within I couldn’t sleep. It was like I could feel new neuro-pathways being formed and old ones getting dropped. My life hasn’t been the same since.
At worst, if you read this book you’ll be reinforcing already good beliefs you have about the world. At best, it will 180 your entire life.
That’s a gamble I like to take.