Live At Tony Robbins: Leadership Lessons Learned on Day One


By Jas Singh

Today I’m in the Excel Theatre, East London. Usually the scene for rock concerts, exhibitions and in the recent past even The Olympics. But today, a very different spectacle. Although just as dramatic.

Eight thousand people have flocked from across the world for the weekend to meet their famed idol. One of the first self-help gurus of them all.

Tony Robbins is in town.

For those who aren’t familiar, Tony Robbins is one of the most famous personal development coaches in the world. From humble beginnings, as a teenager he quickly rose to fame – coaching millions with his personal development tapes and videos. A leading business coach as well, he was voted one of the “Top 50 Business Intellectuals in the World” by Accenture and is personal advisor to some of the most high profile leaders globally. In the past he has even advised the president of The United States and the world famous hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones has even publicly admitted that Robbins has been a key component of him making his billion dollar fortune – for which he pays Robbins millions o dollars a year just to speak with him for a few minutes each day.

I was first recommended to attend a Tony Robbins seminar by Marc Benioff, CEO at his annual conference Dreamforce in San Francisco a couple years ago. Benioff is a highly successful and larger than life executive in his own right but in the past things were very different. As a twenty something he was rapidly progressing through the ranks at Oracle, but like many young executives always aspired to do something more. He admits to this day that attending a Tony Robbins seminar completely changed his life and literally gave him the belief to quit his job immediately and set up Salesforce. Ten years later and Five billion dollars richer I’d say it was a pretty good decision.

I didn’t really know what to expect today at “Unleash The Power Within”, but to be honest it has been an amazing experience. Lots to take in, at times tiring, with plenty of hi-fiving strangers and lots and lots and lots of noise. It’s like the Woodstock of leadership.

Yet amidst the mayhem, there has been tons of useful information that can be applied to leadership. Delivered with Tony’s enthusiasm and energy it really hits home and makes you think.

Here are 3 key lessons Tony has taught us today:

1) Leaders see themselves as they are, but no worse

The key to personal success is usually change. Many of us know what we want, but lack the honesty to see ourselves exactly as we are in the present. And unless we know exactly where we are starting from we will be unable to know precisely what developments we need to make.

As Tony explains, most of us fall into two distinct categories. Either was are over-optimistic and tend to mask our weaknesses and current obstacles with well crafted excuses and false hopes. We have a reason for everything – the elusive promotion is coming any day now, new surges in sales are just around the corner (as they have been for the last two years now), and we’re sure the current team will start performing eventually. We hope.

The second half of our population are natural pessimists – always considering the worst possible case scenarios and protecting the downside. Over reacting to market movements, always unsure as to whether they will be able to cope with new client requirements, and always viewing opportunities as risks.

Leaders are balanced. They realise the key to achievement is seeing every situation exactly as it is – no better, no worse.

It sounds pretty straightforward but he’s demonstrated across the audience several times today that such a balanced perspective is very rare.

Accurate diagnosis leads to optimum performance.

2) Managing your state is the key to success

Ever been in a situation when you’ve know exactly what you want? Exactly why you want it? Even known perhaps exactly what to do? Yet even then, still failed to take action?!

As Tony explains, this is common in humans and is due to a lack of understanding of something called state management.

Managing your state is an essential skill for success. It’s something that comes with practice and habit, with an understanding that state is controlled by three main factors – physiology, beliefs and language.

State management in it’s various forms are sometimes referred to as “getting psyched up”, reaching a “peak state” and getting “in the zone”.

Robbins goes into detail as to how any of us can control our states instantly using a variety of techniques and principles. Although simple, seeing the results work on normal people in a live setting is fascinating.

In front of our very eyes, he’s literally upset, frustrated and even weeping people and within ten minutes they’ve been running around full of enthusiasm.

Great leaders understand the importance of state and are able to change it instantly.

3) Complexity is the enemy of action

Through numerous examples and speaking to many of the attendees, Tony has illustrated why most people fail to act, even if they have mustered up the energy to execute their plan.

It’s often because their plan is far too complicated.

Ever built a to-do list the night before and then procrastinated to act the next day? Even when you realise the tasks are important, possibly even critical?

The likelihood is because your list is either too long, or too complicated. In most cases, complexity itself is the enemy of action.

But there’s also a bit of a paradox at work.

We are impressed with complicated solutions.

But we don’t implement them because, well, they’re complicated.

Simple solutions are easy to implement, but we don’t implement these because, well, they seem so simple.

Great leaders understand and use this uniquely human trait. Often, they are paid more than the rest of us not because of their ability to deal with complex situations, but rather their tendency to make things brutally simple.

Simplicity drives action.


It’s been a crazy day. With 8 non-stop hours gone and still 3 to go, there’s plenty more to get through. Including a fire walk across 2000 degree coals in an hours time.

Yet during this first day, Tony Robbins has already proved how personal development in oneself is perhaps the most important investment anyone can make.

Hiring managers should realise the importance of this quality in candidates – those who are committed to continuous self-improvement will always grow in value.

Wish me luck for the fire-walk…

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