May 31

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Get disturbed! Get motivated!

The sound of sobbing and cries of pain raise goosebumps as I feel the tears run down my cheeks. The lights are off and I’m standing with 6500 people imagining – with exquisite pain – the ghost of Christmas future.

I have the enormous privilege of attending a four day seminar with Tony Robbins, the American personal development leader and motivational speaker extraordinaire. He leads us through the “Dickens process” (named after Charles) designed to disturb us into changing our lives.

In a roomful of people hugely committed to personal development, self improvement and excellence there’s plenty of energy for new beginnings. But the vast majority of us admit to being guilty, at some point in the past, of turning over a new leaf and swiftly falling back to mediocre standards and bad habits. Tony is determined for this not to happen again.

He explains all we’re moved to take action by two forces, the urge to move away from pain and the urge to move towards pleasure. And pain holds the trump card. If we’re in pain, we move quickly without procrastination! The trouble is, most of us are fairly comfortable (or tell ourselves we are). This means the impetus to take sustained action – of the type that’s needed for success – is low. Step in Tony, who explains it’s important to stop minimising the gravity of the situation, and start being disturbed.

“You’re not a bit tubby, you’re fat!”

“You’re not going through a bumpy patch, you’re failing miserably!”

“You’re not being a bit ditzy, you’re dangerously chaotic and irresponsible!”

There’s a difference between mentally knowing something and feeling it in our bodies. So Tony has us immerse our entire selves – in the manner of A Christmas Carol – in our worst possible future: seeing it, hearing it, tasting it, smelling it, feeling it. With the added weight of group dynamics, the impact is significant. And the drive to change has shifted from a rational intellectual argument, to a gut wrenching instinct.

Back in my new life, away from the high fives and fire walks, I’m carefully carrying the disturbing thoughts of Christmas future. They form part of my toolkit to make the changes needed in my life, stick.

Action points:

Create some friction and generate some energy to change by asking the following questions:

1. What do you absolutely need to change, but repeatedly fail to follow through on?

2. What are the absolute worst consequences of carrying on without change, five years from now, ten years from now? What you hear, see, smell, taste and feel in that situation?

3. Now what are the absolute best consequences of making the change that’s needed?

Do let me know how you’re getting on. Ten days after the workshop I’m still disturbed enough to be getting up every morning at 6am for what Tony calls a ‘power hour’ exercising and reflecting on how best to use the day ahead. I am full of energy and it feels great.


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