Self Help for the Guru: The Book That Changed Tony Robbins’ Life

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Tony Robbins has changed the lives of countless individuals. That’s not a figure of speech; Robbins actually can’t count the amount of people who have named him responsible for their turnarounds. When pressed, his first three examples are a stranger who caught his infomercial while a gun was in his hand, the rapper Pitbull, and his own step-son Josh, who he shepherded from drug-abusing youth to chief marketing officer of America’s Best 401K. “That will always stand as the hardest intervention I had to do,” Robbins says. “But now he thanks me almost every day.”

Now with his newest bookUnshakeable, Robbins hopes to pass along crucial information about the stock market he has learned from his billionaire clientele. Here Robbins discusses how he hopes to change lives through the text, and the book that set him on the path of self-improvement.

Can you tell me about your inspiration and process in writing Unshakeable?

To best honest, I hate writing books. I like movement. Sitting down to write is really painful for me. I spent five years writing that first book, and I wrote this one in five months. The reason that I did was to try to bring some sense into the rampant fear that is going on right now. About a year ago I interviewed Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan, and he is the reason that I wrote this book. I asked him back then what he would do if he were still the Chairman of the Reserve. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Resign.” Then I interviewed Howard Marks, who runs Oaktree Capital. He manages $100 billion, and he said if you aren’t confused by what is going on, then you don’t know what’s going on. I knew that since I had access to these guys, I could help tell people what to do rather than just sit on the sidelines. I wanted people to be able to read the book in four hours and destroy any fear there is out there with facts.

Do you remember the book that helped you early on?

For me, one of my pivotal experiences was when I was 17 years old. I had a number of different fathers in the house, about four, and my mother kicked the last one out. Then she thought I was on his side, so she kicked me out as well. He went back out east to Chicago, and I went to a bookstore. I was so depressed and I knew I had to feed my mind. I stumbled upon The Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol. It is all about conditioning your mind and turning your fears into strengths. Once I had read that, I lived that book.

What about that book did you connect with?

I really loved the message the book held, that what you put out there and what you believe could actually come to be; how true beliefs are actually based in a feeling of certainty. Not only that, but you could create that feeling of certainty. There are a lot of things said about affirmations, but this is really about incantations. This is not you thinking to yourself, this is you projecting out loud and into the universe. If you do it right, you are getting the message deep into your unconscious mind and changing your conditioning.

How did you change your own mindset?

Because of all this I was very depressed at the time, and in the book they instructed us to put our core statements on the mirror, so that you could see yourself and your message together every morning. I was living in someone’s laundry room at the time, in this tiny house, and I wrote in soap on the mirror, “Only a loser is depressed.” Because I was feeling depressed every day and I knew I wasn’t a loser.

What did you feel once you started adopting those messages?

I really stopped feeling sorry for myself. I stopped blaming my mother for everything that was wrong in my life. She was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs. She also was abusive and would smash my head into a wall or fill my mouth with liquid soap until I threw up because she thought I was acting out of line. I never talked about her while she was alive, and I still love her to this day. The fact is if my mother had been the mother I hoped for, I wouldn’t be the man I am proud to be today. All of this is inside me somewhere, driving me to visit 14 countries in a year and work 50 hours on a weekend. I suffered so much, I didn’t want anyone else to suffer and I was obsessed with finding answers. Now I am obsessed with having the answers and sharing those answers.

What other books do you consider required reading?

I would say As A Man Thinketh, by James Allen, is another classic that I recommend to everyone. I also love The Fourth Turning, which is about the cycles of history. It talks about how history repeats itself and how the oldest person remembers those events. They remember the financial crisis, and they remember the war. Back in the day, when an elder died, history would be repeated because nobody had the memory of the mistakes that had been made. There is another book called Generations, which really digs into how ideas can be passed down generationally. I am a huge history buff, because the more you understand history, the more you understand life.