Greetings from Palm Beach, Florida, where I’m joining a few friends to attend another Tony Robbins 6-day event. Quick announcement before we start – my team and I are currently fleshing out new productivity software ideas. We’re looking for great engineers / indie hackers to partner up with in the new year. If you’re interested, let me know here & we’ll be in touch if we think there’s a fit!
Anyway, a few months ago, I attended Tony’s Business Mastery event which was very focused on how to grow your business, unsurprisingly. The event we’re attending this week is Date with Destiny which is his flagship event that’s all about finding your purpose, figuring out what you want to do with your life, and taking action towards making it happen. Or something like that 😹
The first thing to say up front is that a lot of people are puzzled as to why someone would pay lots of money to fly across the world to attend a 6-day seminar, that lasts 14 hours each day, to learn “the same stuff you can find in a book or a blog post”. In fact, last time I mentioned I was at Tony’s Business Mastery event, I had a few email replies from people saying: “saying “dude why the hell would you pay thousands of dollars to attend an event that’s teaching you basic-ass stuff you can find in (insert your favourite business or self-help or religious text here)”.
And yes, it’s true, that you can find the content in various way quicker, way cheaper forms. But the content isn’t the point. I’ve been trying to figure out some sort of metaphor that explains the point of attending a personal development seminar. And here’s what I’ve come up with. There are 3 things, mainly.
- A live concert experience – What’s the difference between listening to Taylor Swift songs on Spotify and attending her live concert? The content is the same, but the context changes everything. At the concert, you experience the same songs, but with a vibe, energy and community that you wouldn’t hope to get from your headphones at home.
- A group exercise class – What’s the point of attending a group fitness class when you can do the same exercises in the gym on your own? The content is the same, but the context changes everything. In the class, you’re surrounded by people also doing the same thing, pushing themselves to be stronger, with a high-energy coach leading the session and motivating and encouraging you on. Some people don’t need the community layer to get fit, but a lot of people benefit from it.
- A university lecture – What’s the point of attending a university lecture or seminar in real life, when you could just watch the recording at home, or read the book that the professor wrote? The content is the same, but the context changes everything. When you’re in a real-life lecture or seminar, you’re carving time out of your life to focus on that one thing, you’re surrounded by others doing the same, and you’re there in-person with the professor and their assistants who you can ask questions to.
A Tony Robbins live seminar is a combination of all three points – it’s the energy and vibe of a live concert, it’s a community of people interested in personal development (a group fitness class), and it’s the time you’ve carved out of your life to focus on a (mostly) educational activity that’s helping you improve your performance in specific areas of your life.
That’s the point. That’s (a big part of) why people pay thousands of dollars to attend one of these. Sure, there are some people who max out credit cards to do it, and I don’t think that’s a sensible move. But if you can comfortably afford it, there’s something about the real-life experience that’s so much more powerful than getting the same content through a book, a podcast or a video.
Anyway, I thought in this email, I’d share some of the insights or lessons that I’ve personally taken away from the event so far.
What’s holding you back from living your best life?
A lot of the event is based around questions you ask yourself – it’s your own destiny after all, and no one else can tell you what that’s going to be.
So on Day 1, the main question in the first half of the day was: “What do you actually want, and why do you want it?” + “What’s been holding you back from getting it?” I ask myself the first half of this quite a lot anyway while journaling, but the second half was new. I realised after doing some introspection during the event, that there are a few patterns that hold me back.
1 – Fear of Failure – The classic one. I realised that I tend to avoid setting ambitious or hard goals because of a fear of failure, or more accurately, a fear of feeling disappointed. What’s great about this is that I focus on goals that I can control, and focus on enjoying the process of doing them, but a challenge with this pattern is that it encourages me to stay broadly within my comfort zone.
2 – Avoidance of Discomfort – Speaking of, I realised that I do a lot to avoid the feeling of pain or discomfort. On one level, this is natural – we’ve evolved to do whatever we can to avoid pain. But the issue with it is that growth often comes from discomfort or pain. This props up all the time when I’m working out – I’ll avoid pushing myself, and sometimes even not complete the workout, because I’m reluctant to push myself into an area of discomfort. I hadn’t quite realised that this was my pattern, and it’s one I’m committed to changing.
3 – Fear of Being Disliked – I realised that a lot of my behaviour is motivated by trying to get people to like me more, or trying to avoid the disapproval of others. This is great because arguably, my need to be liked or admired or appreciated directly led to me starting my YouTube channel and spending the last 7+ years of my life focused on teaching others. But what’s challenging about it is that I often hold myself back from sharing my true feelings, and from having tough conversations, and from setting healthy boundaries. I tend to avoid conflict, and I’m often overly affected by seeing negative comments on the internet, or negative-tinged replies to these emails…
Start with “What’s Great About That?”
There’s a big focus on positivity, gratitude and appreciation. One of the tangible takeaways from this is when discussing our own weaknesses or negatives (or indeed, when thinking or talking about anything at all), we might train ourselves to ask “What’s great about that?”
You may have noticed that I started with “What’s great about that is…” when discussing my fear of failure, and my fear of being disliked. I don’t normally do that – normally I go straight into the constructive criticism. What’s the point of screwing around with all this positivity bullshit when we can cut straight to the important stuff, right?
But one thing I’ve really taken away from this event, and seeing the various “interventions” that Tony does with people in the audience, is that positivity is a powerful state, or frame, when trying to make changes in our life.
Every pattern of behaviour is intended to serve us. Fear of failure, fear of being disliked, avoidance of discomfort – all of these are patterns that we develop over time to serve ourselves in some way. Therefore, everything has an element of “greatness” about it. Even the most honorific events have some element of “silver lining” underneath them. And acknowledging that is a nice way to begin the process of “improving” or changing the way we respond.
If I feel like I don’t want to do it, then I must do it
This is a fun little implementation intention that I picked up – whenever you don’t feel like doing something, just do it. Sounds trite, but it’s pretty powerful stuff, that I’ve been applying during my workouts this week. When I have that feeling of “urgh I don’t want to do this”, I’m trying to recognise that, and overriding it with “I must do it”.
“I don’t feel like brushing my teeth” therefore I must brush my teeth. “I don’t feel like finishing this workout” therefore I must finish the workout.
It’s only been a few days but I’ve found it pretty helpful so far. We’ll see if that lasts. Or rather, I’ll make it last.
There’s still a few days to go from the event, and I’ve taken dozens of pages of notes so far. As I write this, I realise that there’s something about the experience of learning these things that makes them land differently (obviously) compared to writing them in an email, or reading them on a screen.
But I guess the entirety of the field of personal development is based around getting you to actually do the things you probably know you should do. It’s about not just intellectually knowing that “consistency is good” but living true to that so that your body, your heart and your soul know it, not just your mind.
Have a great week!
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