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on July 26, 2001
Tony Robbins is a gifted salesman. He has boundless energy, optimism, and knows how to set goals. If his books and tapes were as effective as his sales prowess, we would all have been immensly successful and deliriously happy long ago.
Robbins pivots his approach around Thorndyke's Law of Effect that, briefly, states that behavior that gives rise to a pleasurable state of affairs tends to be repeated, and behavior that gives rise to a painful state tends not to be repeated. Then Robbins shifts into Watson's and Skinner's behavioralism and pushes operant conditioning, saying that every problem is a behavioral problem. He then shifts gears once again and talks about the "power of focus," which is his spin of Gestalt psychology. When this brew is delivered optimistically, it has some effect, especially if you listen to Robbins on tape.
There are some more serious issues. For example, I believe that his nutritional advice is harmful to all but those with a very unusual metabolism. His motivational material can also build up unrealistic expectations and set you up for frustration when you don't even come close to meeting them. So much in life does not depend on you and me, so much is other people's doing and blind fate, so many insights and ideas come to us to late. This book has insights, but it is not great.
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on February 13, 2004
Ahoy Me Mateys!
Ahem... (mentally clearing throat sound)...
For a couple of reasons, this poor unwashed reviewer suggest that if you like this here tome on personal change strategies you'd do much better to listen to Anthony's *Powertalk* tape series. Tony is a competent hypnotist, he uses his vocal range and tonal shifts to good effect. Little of this "installation by Tony" effect happens when you read the book (which I supposedly didn't read, but lets create a big mental movie of me (however you imagine me to be) reading the book, so you'll find what I'm saying more congruent with your (wildly innacurate) PRESUPPOSITIONS....) Ok ? nice pretty movie all done ?... goody...
So, azz I was saying, you'll get a LOT of useful mileage out of his Powertalk series, Tony's good stuff served straight up with a bare minimum of static... the book's treatement of "asking the right questions" is boring and dry, but the Questions Powertalk is really smokin' good when Tony breathes life into his subject... when you go back and reread the Questions part of the book (which I supposedly did not read, so run your head movie here at the sound of the imaginary BEEP), you think, ech, I should LISTEN TO THE TAPE AGAIN... (hint)... Tony feels that the Question "piece" is the most central to his success strategy, hence if you want to bypass a lot of the phluph and get right to the hot'n'heavy core of what makes this dude tick... listen to the Questions tape, like everyday for a week until it soaks DEEPLY into the white matter of your brain...
Once you got that rooted in better than a twenty year old oak, listen to his tape on REFERENCES, another thing that in the book is blaaaah... his trancework isn't as hot on References, and he does push the idea that doing the Firewalk is a Reference you just can't do without. Nice little embedded command Tony, but thanks just the same. Seminar plugs aside, References is a real mind opener and probably out to be distributed free in high schools to make kids a little less grossed out by the idea of education.... again, in the book it's, OK, great, got it, next, uh what ?
A third one I thought a lot of was the Six Master Steps to Change which is out of print but you can get them used here on Amazon. Six Steps is another good case of cutting through the hype and doing good changework. Really the nut of what Tony's change technology is all about. Plus he uses one of good old Dave Dobson's moves, happens real quick, but it is a goodie. Scramble pattern well presented, amazing little piece of business to move you strongly away from liking chocolate (har! nice!) and an interview with Mark McCormick (what the didn't teach you at harvard business school...for you business types)...
Anyway, in my considered opinion, Tony has his warts but he's got a lot of good stuff, and he's got a lot of filler, padding, and whatnot too. The smart move is to get the Powertalk tapes which is the best concentration of real work, the book by comparison is a total snooze.
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on February 10, 2004
Curious statement to make, NLP/NAC wise, innit ?
How does one do a thorough NLP "metaperspective" on this statement ?
What are the presuppositions here ?
(there but for the Grace of Tony go I ?) (Tony=God ?) (Tony=State of Grace ?) Hmmmmm....
What is the author telling us by the structure of his thinking ?
(is there an internal representation of a "here I am" track which is related to a state of Grace, and a second, parallel track, the, um, "there but for" track ? How do these two state dependant tracks relate to one another ? Would it be possible to perform a thought experiment and visualize or whatever a third track where unexpected, but really interesting things happen that aren't directly related to the Here and the There track ?)
Could Tony do some interesting things with it, personal changewise, should he be so inclined ?
(what images/thought processes cause the speaker to reject/move away from/ experience anxiety/aversion to the "There" track ? What places the "other person" on the There track ? Is it possible that bridges between the two tracks could exist that allow for constructive information flow ?) (if not, what thought processes prevent this from happening ?)
Meta-Beliefs, anyone ? That's your ticket to ride.
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on February 9, 2004
before winding up my arm for a brief sermon on the effectivness
or sometimes effectiveness or sometime non effectiveness of NLP ideas, however they are packaged....
An NLP joke that was making the rounds in the trainings. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those that don't. Get IT ?
No ? Didn't get it ? Wait a minute... this isn't The Forum, this isn't EST, we don't get IT around here.
But this much is true. Every decade or so there is a new face in town, the man with the answers, the guy everybody, male or female has a crush on, the figure we identify with as our big enlightened thousand watt smile hero.
Once it was Billy Sunday, once it was Krishnamurti, once it was Werner Erhard, you can fill in the blanks in your free time.
This isn't to say that Tony is doing bad stuff... its OK stuff, decent quality, functional stuff, but it isn't the Second Coming or anything... there are still lacunas, incomplete areas, tough ideas that have been watered down to be suitable for mass marketing purposes.
Then there is this small but nagging issue of Meta-Belief. And another called Congruity.
Well fine and dandy, last one first. Congruity. The master teacher on the subject of Congruity is a man, still alive but elderly, who lives and works in Friday Harbor, Washington State, across the sound from Anacortes, and to this day teaches seminars on Congruity. His name is David Dobson and he is spoken of by some as a living Milton Erikson.
Anybody here ever taken the touble to locate Dobson and study with him ? Anybody here ever heard of Dobson ? Tony Robbins sure did. He was scheduled to attend the same trainings with Dobson that I was... Tony got distracted doing infomercials or something and broke off at the last minute, sent one of his people on ahead. Did Tony ever get around to serious face time with Dave ? No way to know.
Tony sure talks a lot about Congruity, but he tosses it out there like another groovy idea, some mental secret sauce, instead of boring in on the deep levels of understanding Congruity, its significance, the distinctions of congruity and incongruity, and the near mystical levels of human interaction Dobson calls Other Than Conscious Communication. Dave is out there to this day. You want to get a tight bead on Congruity ? See Dave while he is with us. Then carefully compare Tony's understanding of Congruity with Dobson's
Ah yes, Meta Beliefs... I think that I was the first person in NLP to start talking about Meta Beliefs, and then there was a kinda sorta tentative acceptance of this distinction... to etherial for certain types who like to ground their mojo in crisp pictures and plangent bell tones...
Meta Beliefs are "beliefs about beliefs". The previous reviewer, who evinces a strong faith based worldview, has a powerful Meta Belief that informs his thought processes. Is that good or not so good ? Lets examine.
His Meta Belief is that strong, unshakable belief (although he doesn't say exactly how this belief is represented in his thinking.... movies ? sparkly pictures ? echo chamber type sounds ?) is the prime determinant of success or failure. To assert "change your belief, and you will change your reality accordingly" is, in itself, a potent meta belief that could, potentially, be liberating, self limiting, or not much or either, depending on the context and circumstances.
Could his Meta Belief be refined to give him more real world effectiveness ? Undoubtedly so. Many early peoples, or pre industrial peoples had intense faith in their gods and totems, yet they were wiped out by smallpox and modern weapons regardless of their ghost dances and visits to the spirit world.
The Cherokee, on the other hand, were darned smart, they kept elements of their faith, but they studied the European ways that made them successful and emulated accordingly. They were the only Native American to develop a unique alphabet , Sequoian, based on Hebrew, Greek, and something else, published newspapers in Sequoian, learned to fire hard brick, trained lawyers who argued before the US Supreme Court, and sadly, unnerved Andred Jackson sufficiently (he was afraid they'd form an alliance with the English) that Jackson wiped them out and stole all their possessions.
The Trail Of Tears aside, one could say that the Cherokee had much more sophisticated Meta Beliefs than their plains bretheren.
They could analyse and choose when faith in the old gods would be of benefit, and when careful analysis and consideration of costs vs. benefits of material actions could alther their fate.
Tony falters, in my opinion, when he dives right in and insists that you change your belief system. He should take more time to closely examine Meta Belief and how it brings belief systems into existence. Once you gain leverage at the Meta Belief level, although you must be exceedingly careful with it, profound change becomes available.
Other parts of the world today, obviously those riven with strife and deprivation appear to be suffering from either a complete loss of belief in anything (Nihilism), i.e. the Meta Belief that nothing can be worth believing in except immediate survival, or hyper intensified Meta Belief,(Absolutism) i.e. the more anything causes me to doubt my belief, the greater that proves the power of the Dark One... thus feeling of doubt, questioning, or curiosity about the Outer Realms are in and of themselves evidence of seduction into the ways of Error... quite a gummy thought loop to find oneself mired within, like those super sticky glue traps....
However, the great advances toward modern thinking were precisely great Meta Belief shifts, as when Martin Luther insisted that each man and woman be responsible for his or her relation to the Creator, which required a great social innovation, universal literacy so any person could read the Bible and make up his mind for himself as to what it meant.
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on August 1, 2003
Im sorry, I feel I need to comment on a recent review placed here on July 29,2003. The reader asked how did I apply Tony's techniques specifically as to be a negative review. I felt I had to answer. Also, I DID read the book in it's entirety. A lot of the techniques are a bunch of BS to start with, so I won't even mention them. The ones I took seriously were goal setting and anchoring. Goal setting was fun, and I even wrote them down, created a timeline, etc.. But I can't say I acheived them all. Out the 9 major ones I set, I acheived four of them. Anchoring is also a techinque that doesn't work as well. I actually tried it. Whenever I had a lot of energy at a particular time, or felt really alert, I would slap my thigh with my hand. (connecting a feeling to something physical)I then tried to do this when I was sluggish or lacked energy but it simply didn't work. These techniques are not scientific at all.

Also, bear in mind, that, at the end of the day, no matter how great people think this guy is, he is still just an agressive salesman. What has he done that's so great? Produced a movie? Learned foreign language? Find a cure for cancer? No. All he did was sell his garbage on infomercials which he paid for. I also agree with Hucksterism's 101 comments as well. When you read his stuff, you think you discovered something great, but a week later you're back in the real world. Im not speaking without experience, either, I did his programs for years and haven't changed at all. In summary this book is nothing more than short term motivation that doesn't last.
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on December 16, 1998
Robbins constantly talks about success and achievment but what has he done except 1. Make a lot of money by selling people hope. 2. Got a black belt in karate by having personal instruction from a grand master. 3. Learn to fly a jet helicopter (couldn't you if you had the financial resources?) 4. Walked on Fire. Has he witten any major works of fiction or poetry, has he learned even one foriegn language? With NAC or NLP he should be able to teach himself 1/2 a dozen quickly. Has he created anything other than slick self improvement babble which encourages people to cover up their pain with mindless enthusiasm for acquiessence? I used his program and all it was good for was getting temporarily pumped up with false confidence. Robbins doesn't address the mystery and paradoxes of life. His clientele are people pusuing the emptiness of the American Dream, desperately trying to fill the void that it creates. Quick Fix Tony's solutions will rarely last longer than the afterglow of one of his seminars. Robbins will never run out of customers, naive young people are being sold the American Dream every day on TV and Robbins will gladly guide them towards it (for a small fee, of course). After all, as someone once said, "There is a seeker born every minute."
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on August 14, 1998
If you have very high expectations of this book, you may be bitterly disappointed. The authors slams together various self-development themes--most of which he already presented in his previous published work--and claims that if you follow his advice your life will be significantly changed for the better. Don't hold your breath, either figuratively or literally: it's hard to imagine most people regularly doing Robbins' breathing excercises or adhering to a vegetarian diet. Besides, these things seem to have little connection to feeling good and having lots of money, which seems to be the author's definition of success.
Besides some concrete, and apparently shaky advices, the book consists of broad phrases of encouragement and soothing statements about compatability of seemingly incompatible things, such as satisfaction and relentless drive. As in his previous work, Robbins seems to overstate the power of associative thinking, if true, this seems to me the most damaging criticism. He also regularly conflates Pavlovian conditioned reflex with simple mental associations which peple develop regularly and which have nothing to do with reflexes.
The book is an easy read. If you never had exposure to self-development literature, you may consider buying it. At times, however, the style is tedious, as Robbins unnecessarily underlines words or has them printed in bold type, or both.
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on January 25, 2004
Gerald Amada....
I studied with the same guys that Tony studied with and a whole lot more to boot. Did all the Erhard based trainings.
Tony doesn't necessarily have more skills or more raw I.Q. than a lot of the originators, he is a lot prettier, has more stamina, and the man knows how to work the stage with the best of them.
Go for it if you think it will help you make your way through life more elegantly. It may, it may not.
Be smart. Consider the other side of story. Negative thinking is a survival necessity. The more Tonified you get yourself, the more you need to balance your scales. Learn about making a useful alliance with your negative thinking. Positive needs Negative, Negative needs positive....
Like, what is the sound of one hand clapping? Nothing. Doh.
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on June 11, 1998
I have a library of 300-400 cassettes and at least as many books, most dealing with motivation and personal development and nobody speaks with the power of ROBBINS. I bought UNLIMITED POWER, AWAKEN THE GIANT and his PERSONAL POWER audio program. I read the books, listened to the tapes, did all of the exercises but nothing really dramatic happened. It was just like other books and tapes that get you all reved up and then you say "wow, what was that all about" and your back where you started from. I got mre benefit from NLP-The New Science of Achievement by NLP Comphrehensive than from all of ROBBINS material. I also strogly recommend the old but timeless classc "Think & Grow Rich" by Naploean Hill and "Business Buy the Bible" by WADE COOK.
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on May 27, 2000
The material is very disorganized and he constantly jumps from one topic to another within sections. He talks about himself way too much. And I don't think he goes in depth enough in the topics. Like for example the first chapter is about making decisions. He says that decisions can change your life in an instant and gives examples of people who have made important decisions and concludes that decisions can change your life. He gives no strategy for improving your decision-making skills besides "make more decisions". He does seem to have a lot of energy, which can be motivational. I'm going to guess that the motivational component is what is getting his high ratings, but I don't think the strategies he gives are very good.
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