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Daraius: We’ve got a great team at Million Mile Secrets. But I miss writing as much as I did in the old days! So here I am writing about stuff that I really care about (and which isn’t all miles-and-points related).
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins
How was my weekend? Well, since you ask…
I walked across hot coals together with 8,000 others at 2 in the morning in a parking lot at the Renaissance hotel in Schaumburg, Illinois!
More importantly, I got over my fear of dancing and shaking my body with no agenda or meaning in front of other people. 🙂
Unleash the Power Within
I’ve always been very interested in psychology, influence, and marketing. Why are some folks so sure about themselves & certain about everything?
Regardless of what you think of him, I have no doubt that Kanye West loves himself more than many parents love their children, or husbands love their wives. 🙂
I struggle between feeling “good enough” and worthy of love just for being myself.
And between feeling that I’m not “good enough” and hearing my internal voice second-guessing and undermining me (you’re not interesting enough, you’re not funny enough, etc).
Over the last year, I’ve meditated, practiced yoga, studied Buddhism and Hinduism as a way to be calmer and to soften my critical internal voice.
A friend at a drawing class suggested looking into Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within, so I signed-up for the 4-day event in Chicago. The event isn’t cheap and tickets start at $650, but you do a LOT during those 4 days.
Here’s a tip: If you buy the cheapest ticket, but arrive, say, 15 minutes after the event starts, you likely won’t be able to find space to sit in your assigned section. So you can walk up to the closer rows and sit there. 🙂
I got back to the hotel at 3:00 am 1 night!
I used British Airways’ Avios points to book flights on American Airlines to Chicago. And I stayed at a different Hyatt Place hotel each night, so that I would get a “stay credit” towards my Diamond status.
Is This a Bleepin’ Cult?!
Besides psychology, influence, and marketing, I also like quirky and unconventional, and Unleash the Power Within delivered on all those.
The best I can describe the event is to imagine a military boot camp that’s as noisy and energetic as a rock concert (or mega-church!) led by two master storytellers (Anthony Robbins and Joseph McClendon).
These storytellers whip the crowd into a screaming, crying, yelling, dancing frenzy. And are so persuasive that they get folks to walk across burning coals on the 1st day, and to re-wire their negative internal beliefs on the 3rd day!
There was a huge conference room, many different flashing and colored lights, 5 to 6 large screens, and a stage where Tony Robbins “preached.”
I’ve never been to a mega-church (yet!), but the set-up was very similar to my impression of mega-churches, where charismatic preachers get the audience to jump, scream, yell, etc. We could see folks on the screens with their hands up, clapping, shaking and dancing!
And then we’d get dance breaks. Imagine 8,000 people suddenly jumping out of their seats and pumping their fists in the sky as LOUD music blares and people go crazy and start dancing.
I’ve always been very scared & suspicious of blindly following the crowd in religious activities/ sporting events, etc., because I don’t want to do what someone else is asking me to do without it making sense to me.
For example, why the heck should I support the Chicago Cubs just because I (used to) live in a North suburb of Chicago? I’m going to cheer for the better team!
And if I was around in the 60s, why the heck would I support unequal laws which made it “illegal” (ha!) for non-whites to take part in many activities which were legal if you were white?
I even found it hard to participate fully in the orientation program in my business school, because I saw that the tactics used were designed to get us to bond and be loyal to our school. Nothing wrong in getting us to bond together, but the techniques used are very obvious to me and make me uncomfortable when I encounter them.
Religion, cults, the military use certain tactics to gain compliance and indoctrinate folks into their way of thinking.
And very similar tactics were used at Unleash the Power Within – charismatic leaders telling stories, call-and-response techniques, the cold room temperature and the lack of food & the long hours, group activities such as dancing and walking on fire, etc.
I felt very uncomfortable when I saw how easily folks responded to those techniques.
What I Liked
That said, Robbins and McClendon did an outstanding job of forcing folks to reflect on their negative internal voice and beliefs, which prevented them from living the lives they want. And in helping folks to dream and envision the life they want.
For example, if Milton thinks that he is bad with money, his belief will turn into a self-fulfilling statement and he will believe that about himself.
One of my favorite exercises was a gratitude exercise where we reflected and felt appreciation for all the good in our lives. It started with being grateful for the little things like feeling the breeze blow across our faces to being grateful for our loved ones.
I had tears in my eyes at the end of the exercise.
For a long time, I’ve been scared and uncomfortable of dancing. My internal voice would say “This isn’t fun” or “You can’t move as well as the others out here, etc.”
During the event, there were regular “dance breaks” where suddenly a song would blare loudly from the loudspeakers and folks would jump up and dance. For the 1st time in my life, I played along instead of staying seated or running away from the discomfort.
And it worked! By the end of the 4th day, I was comfortable shaking and moving!!
Now, I’m not taking up dancing as a hobby anytime soon. But losing this fear of moving is alone worth attending the event to me.
I don’t agree with everything Tony Robbins says and the aggressive up-selling and marketing of his other products turned me off.
But I greatly admire him for sincerely caring about helping folks and for his generous donations to feeding folks globally and helping the most vulnerable in the world.
One of my favorite Robbins’ quotes is:
“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.”
I also liked the focus on living a healthy life filled with nutritious food and exercise.
After the conference was over (we barely had any time to eat during the conference), I visited a small Indian restaurant, which specialized in food from the Southern India state of Andhra Pradesh. Sampurna’s Indian Flavor is in Schaumburg, Illinois, and I can’t wait to go back there!
I adhered to Tony Robbins’ message of eating healthy. OK, maybe I had 2 pieces of Gulab Jamun. But I’m sure I danced off the calories earlier!
The food was very oily, spicy, and authentic!
Besides the cult-ish influencing tactics used, I was also put off by the aggressive up-selling for Robbins’ other courses, products, and business interests.
I have no doubt that Robbins’ was very successful in generating a lot of business for his other courses during the 4 days. Folks were running to stand in long lines to sign-up for future classes.
However, I don’t like being sold to, and Robbins’ used literally every influence tactic known to push his courses and products. I found myself listening to the pitches, and mentally identifying which influence tactic was being used (anchoring, consistency, etc.)
I particularly disliked it when the seminar would transition (without warning) into 2-hour long sales pitches without any warning.
On the other hand, this was a fascinating insight into a masterful salesman and marketer. This, too, was worth the price of admission for me!
This isn’t how I usually spend my weekends, but I loved the thrill of walking over burning hot coals and overcoming my fear of dancing.
And being reminded that gratitude is truly the antidote to anger and fear.
That includes being thankful for what I’ve been given. And who I already am. Being self-critical isn’t the only way to achieve. I’m learning that what I thought was pushing me forward was holding me back.
I’m not a dancer. I’m not a fire walker. I’m not a lot of things. But I’ve got the courage to try. And I love myself for that.