Last month, I announced that I'd be studying a book by Tony Robbins titled Unlimited Power and summarizing its contents and reflecting on them and my efforts to apply them to changing my own life. I think it's time to get the proverbial show on the road.
Chapter 1: The Commodity of Kings
Success is continual personal growth including that of helping others to grow. Success comes through the exercise of power. "Power" is "the ability to act," and personal power is the ability to change your life the way you want. In today's world, power consists chiefly of the effective control of information through internal and external communication. Extraordinary people are not, generally, extraordinarily talented; they just communicate with themselves and others in powerful ways that we can all learn.
Our feelings come not from what happens around and to us, but from how we interpret those happenings, and life's meaning is not intrinsic, but is what we give it. We can control our own feelings, thoughts, and actions the way a director controls the elements of a movie and the audience's reactions to it, and we can either do an effective or ineffective job of directing our "movie."
Excellence comes from following the "Ultimate Success Formula":
(1) Set a clear goal.
(2) Decide on a clear course of action and take it.
(3) Evaluate the results.
(4) Modify actions until goal is achieved.
Seven fundamental character traits that we can cultivate can enable us to follow this formula to success:
(1) Passion for excellence
(2) Belief that we can succeed
(3) Strategy for success
(4) Clarity of values
(5) Energy to persevere
(6) Power to bond with others
(7) Mastery of internal and external communication
I like Robbins' definitions of personal success and power. From a Wilberian integral perspective, they involve cultivating growth through several key lines of consciousness development that ultimately empowers us serve others as well as ourselves. I also believe that Robbins is on to something when he speaks of personal power as effective action stemming primarily from the control of information through the skillful exercise of internal and external communication. That is, we can shape our internal world of perceptions, thoughts, emotions, values, attitudes, and volitions and how we convey this internal world to the outside world through our words and actions to achieve success.
I also agree with Robbins that events in the world don't generally make us feel the emotions and commit the acts we do in response, but, rather, it's how we perceive, interpret, or understand those events. This echoes such ancient Stoics as Epictetus and anchors such modern psychotherapies as REBT. But whereas REBT tends to focus more on eliminating patterns of thinking that produce chronic and self-defeating emotions and behaviors, Robbins has taken the insight that thoughts shape emotions and conduct and used it to create, with the help of NLP and other pre-existing systems, a popular and purportedly effective formula for achieving positive personal growth and happiness. God knows I could use such a formula to change my life.
When I look at the four elements of Robbins' "Ultimate Success Forumla," they seem obvious enough; yet, I have seldom if ever systematically applied these principles to achieve major goals. My goals have often been poorly defined, my course of action vague and haphazard, my evaluation of results deficient in terms of seeing clearly what's happening when I do what I do beyond simply noting that I like or don't like the way things are going, and my adaptive responses to my deficient evaluations have been stubbornly inflexible. That is, I've tended to keep doing the same things over and over hoping that they'll finally work out the way I want if only I try a little harder or get a little help from someone or something. It's time to try another approach, and Robbins' seems promising.
When I examine Robbins' seven fundamental character traits necessary for success, I find myself lacking in all of them. But it seems to me that the root problem lies in #2. To put it bluntly, I haven't believed that I can succeed. I've allowed my cognitive weaknesses and numerous experiences of failure and avoidance to convince me that I'm essentially a hopeless case with no chance of accomplishing anything of significance whether it's being a good husband, getting and keeping a good job, writing a good book, or being a good person. Obviously, when one believes one isn't capable of succeeding, it's virtually impossible to make the skillful effort to summon passion, develop a sound strategy, clarify one's values, energetically persevere in one's efforts, bond well with others, and master communication.
So, it seems to me that I have to focus especially hard on addressing my lack of belief in myself, and that is exactly what I've been working on lately. Robbins will no doubt address this particular theme in future chapters, and I'm looking forward to learning from them.
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