I’m feeling inspired by a Tim Ferris podcast featuring Tony Robbins – arguably the most well known person in the personal development industry. He popularised coaching and by being a life coach, made it something available to more than just executives and peak performers. For that, I’ll always be grateful to him (coaching has irrevocably transformed the quality of my life and countless others I know). However, previously much of Tony’s focus has been on achievement and success: How can we achieve more? How do we remove our unconscious barriers and blockages so we can be our best?
Having never really struggled with achievement (fellow high achieving addicts and those of us in recovery raise your hand) Tony’s message never resonated that much with me. Achievement wasn’t my issue. My earlier striver-self could always manage to get stuff done. Heaps of boxes ticked and goals kicked. Plenty that others even considered “impressive.” But was I content? Fulfilled? Not even close. I loathed my life. Each day was a chore to endure. I was a champ at suffering and I didn’t even know I was doing it. I just thought, that’s life.
Imagine my surprise to hear Tony speaking strikingly similar words during this interview. He recounted the story of Robin Williams and his ample achievements. It was a long and impressive list of firsts and accolades. He was loved by so many all across the world. And Robin Williams still hung himself. That is the tragedy of focusing on achievement. So Tony’s current focus is on ending suffering, which often cleverly disguises itself as stress. Same concept, different dress.
Listening to this interview, I did a little happy dance. I thought, FINALLY! He’s talking about what really matters. At a time when suicide, depression and anxiety rates are at an all-time high, we need to change the conversation so that it’s not about achievement, but rather, fulfillment. Because achievement without fulfillment is empty. And fulfillment leads to achievement anyway (at least that’s what the scientific research on happiness and well-being seems to show)!
So to quote Tony Robbins: “But over the last two years, my thinking has evolved. What I’ve come to realize is that the single most important decision in life is this: Are you committed to being happy, no matter what happens to you?”
Challenging situations are inevitable; stress is optional. Just like pain is inevitable, and suffering is optional.
We always have a choice about what we focus on. To the untrained brain, however, this choice isn’t always apparent. We don’t even realise we’re filtering out other realities and possibilities when we’re doing it. Tony’s words were that the stories we tell can uplift us or degrade us. I often say our stories enable or disable. Different words, same meaning. We’re creating our realities by the stories we tell. We can choose brilliantly beautiful stories. BUT, and he even says this, we need to train our brains to do this because they aren’t automatically wired that way. We’re wired for survival, which means we have an inbuilt negativity bias that we need to retrain to truly be happy.
It reminded me of a recent conversation I had with someone that was an Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) trainer. We were discussing conversion rates and he suggested that mine could be impacted by having a bad day. “I learned NLP; I don’t have bad days” I said to him jokingly, but in full alignment. The next day I was telling a friend about having a “Who am I? What am I doing with my life? How does any of it matter?” existential episode and feeling really low energy. And I recalled the comment I made about not having bad days and giggled. I wondered if that experience is what others might classify as a bad day… But to me, it wasn’t.
And I tried to recall my turning point when I couldn’t find anything to toss into the “bad day basket” anymore. It wasn’t an isolated incident so much as something that gradually compounded over time, like how cavities come from a build-up of tarter over time, and a habit of not brushing your teeth. I realised it was when my gratitude practice became so embodied that even on the most challenging days, I feel blessed. Even when my wonder, awe, and delight are buried beneath the surface of struggle, I know they are still there. Once upon a time I didn’t know that. But I know that now. And that knowing makes all the difference in the world.
So if you don’t know that, let us show you. Journey with us through Your Success Code to discover how much joy and bliss is available to you. Cultivate that and the achievement will inevitably follow. Focus on fulfillment first.