Awaken the Giant Within: Summary & Review

awaken the giant within

Awaken the Giant Within is Tony Robbin’s guide to taking charge of your life, ranging from your mood to your finances to your relationships.
It contains most of Tony Robbins’ teachings.

Exec Summary

  • Change what things mean to you and you change your life
  • Change your focus and you change your life
  • Change your question and you change your life
  • Change your beliefs and identity and you change your life

Full Summary

Dreams of Destiny

The 5 areas that impact us the most:

  1. Emotional Mastery: the final goal of most things we do is to change how we feel
  2. Physical Mastery: “mens sana in corpore sano” said the Latins. Such as; mental and physical fitness are connected
  3. Relationships Mastery: we are social beings, we can’t be happy without great relationships around us
  4. Financial Mastery:
  5. Time Mastery: it’s not time management as it may sound, but more about nurturing your ideas and potential for long enough to come to life. People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade

Decisions: The Pathway to Power

Tony Robbins says that to take control and direct our lives we must take control of our decision power.

We must be able to decide and commit to a course of action. Not once, but repeatedly and consistently.

Robbins advises the readers to decide who they are going to be and what they are going to do.
And then commit to.
And then stick to it.
Remove any other backup options if need to be and burn your bridges.

Three decisions with which you will control your destiny are:

  1. What to focus on
  2. What do things mean to you
  3. What to do to create the results you desire

Our brain set up an internal system to make our decision-making more automatic:

  1. Core beliefs and (unconscious) rules
  2. Life values
  3. References
  4. Habitual questions
  5. Emotional states

It’s scary, that the vast majority of people never take conscious care of their thoughts and their actions.
But the good news is that you can always override and change the system with conscious and directed effort.

The Forces That Shapes Our Life

Here we get into a major pillar of Robbin’s NLP-fueled philosophy:

What you link pain to, and what you link pleasure to shapes your destiny.

Tony Robbins says that everything we do is either to avoid pain or to get pleasure.

When you don’t do something even though you know it would be good for you is because you associate more pain with doing it than not doing it.
The net value is not positive yet in your mind.

And if you don’t change in spite of the pain you are experiencing is because you haven’t experienced enough pain to change yet.

So the secret to changing then is to associate major pain with the behavior or habit you want to quit and massive pleasure with the behavior you want to move towards.

For more ideas on changing habits check out “Atomic Habits“.

Belief Systems

Tony Robbins says that Beliefs are generalizations telling us what leads to pain and what leads to pleasure.

Most of our beliefs are a generalization about our past and what happened to us.
But they are not the reality of what happened to us, but the meaning we gave to that event. It’s indeed not about the actual experience, but about the meaning we give to our experiences.

The problem is that once we adopt a belief we take it for granted, we treat it as truth and we forget it’s simply our interpretation.

A belief is supported by a number of references we feel confirm that belief.

My Note:
Oftentimes though we discard references running against our beliefs or we modify references to make them fit with our beliefs. 

And we do that with unhelpful beliefs as well!

The most effective way to change a belief is to associate massive pain with that belief and massive pleasure with the new belief you want to adopt.

How to Change Neuro-Associative Conditioning

Tony Robbins gives us 6 steps to change neuro-associative conditions:

Step 1: Decide What You Want (and what’s stopping you)

The first step to creating any change is deciding what you want so that you have something to move towards.


what do I want (instead of..) .. ?

The more specific you can be, the more clarity you will have and the more power you will command to achieve what you want more rapidly.

It’s important you focus mostly on what you WANT, not what you DON’T want, remember, you get what you look for and what you focus on.

At the same time, we also must learn what’s preventing us from having what we want.

At the bottom of it, it’s because we link more pain to making a change than to staying where we are.

So ask yourself what is the pain you have associated with changing in the past and the pleasure you’ve gotten by not following through.

Step 2: Leverage! Use Pain and Pleasure

Change is usually not a question of capability but almost always a question of motivation.

The only way to make a change now is to create a sense of urgency that’s so intense that we’re compelled to follow through.

Tony Robbins says that one of the things that turn virtually anyone around is reaching a pain threshold, such as such an intense level of pain that you know you must change now.

If you tried to make a change and failed it means the level of pain for failing to change was not intense enough.

To get leverage ask yourself pain-inducing questions: rather than being busy estimating the price of change as we mostly do, ask:

  • what will this cost me if I don’t change?
  • What will I miss out in my life?
  • How will it affect my loved ones?
  • How much life will I have missed 2 years from now? 5 years from now? 10…?

Then ask yourself positive questions about what the change will mean to you once it’s happened.

For example: if I do change, how that will make me feel, what kind of momentum could I create, how my family and friends will be, and how happier will I be?

Gets lots of reasons, or better yet, get strong reasons!

A few more ways to summon up more leverage:

Public Commitment
A public commitment might also help.
Or make the commitment to those people who will not let you off the hook

Personal Integrity
One of the strongest forces in human personality is the drive to preserve the integrity of our own identity and we often don’t realize our own contradiction.

If you want to help someone you better access the leverage of keeping integrity.

do so by asking them questions that make them realize for themselves the inconsistencies (ask questions rather than telling them as that will only make them push back).
And this is also a tool you can use on yourself.

Example: Fixing a Marriage

A woman was not able to give herself 100% to her husband.

Tony Robbins found out it was because she gave 100% to her family but felt let down.

Tony asks what will happen to her relationship if she doesn’t give 100% (here Tony is looking for leverage). S
he tells him it will eventually lead to break up and bad feelings overall.

Now Tony got leverage.

Her pattern though is still that “what if he lets me down”.

So Tony asks “lemme ask you a question, have you ever driven on a road where only a line was dividing you and the other cars? Is it possible someone could come to your side of the road and kill you? How could you then drive a car under those conditions”. “well… I trust.. “ “what happens if you don’t trust… “ “I cannot get from here to there, I’m trapped”.

Now the association of not trusting is with not living, with being trapped, which means living a poor life.

In brief: Ask yourself what it has cost you so far, what it will cost you if you don’t change over the next 2-3-4 years, and how it makes you feel. Then ask yourself what will you gain by taking this action right now and make a huge list that will make you feel great emotionally (say to yourself: I’ll gain I’ll gain I’ll gain.. )

Step 3: Interrupt The Limiting Pattern

If we run the same old patterns, we’re going to get the same old results.

So we gotta interrupt the old patterns.

A powerful pattern interrupting system also creates leverage, and with these two steps alone you can already change anything.

You have to interrupt the pattern while it’s happening. And the more outrageous the way, the more effective it will be.

Example: Stop Overeating
If you overeat, your pattern interruption could be to stand up at the restaurant and scream “PIG” pointing at your seat.
This way it both interrupts the pattern makes you shy to do it again and gives you a reason not to overeat again.

Example: Breaking Pattern With Water
A woman was crying about the relationship between her and her husband.

Tony throws water on her to interrupt that pattern.

Then he asks her “what about your husband”. Now she’s laughing and she’s not so negative anymore.

Tony again tells her “no wait, you were crying not long ago” now she starts crying again, and Tony throws water on her again.
She laughs again now. “no, tell me about your husband”, and then she replies “no we’re fine” “no tell me about your husband again.. “ and again water.

From then on she always smiles and links smile to her relationship.

This process of building new routes is what Daniel Coyle calls myelinization in The Talent Code.

Step 4: Create a New, Empowering Alternative and Link Pleasure to it

Step 4 is critical to establish long-lasting change.

We want to change our neuro associations because they have some major side effects we don’t like.

But in our brain, those neuro associations and patterns have been designed for us to avoid pain and have been going on likely for a long time. So there can be a tendency to get back to them again.

So if you don’t replace them with something new, chances are you’ll be going back at it again.

You avoid going back to the old habits by filling the gap with a new set of behavior that will give you the same pleasurable feelings without the negative side effects. The benefits of the old feelings or behaviors must be preserved by the new behaviors or feelings.

Short-circuit Another Pleasure for the New Alternative
You can also use the pleasure of something else to start feeling strongly about the new pattern and link it to the new pattern through repetitions. For example:

Example: Music to Stop Overeating

Tony Robbins associated pain with not finishing everything on his plate.

He started associating pain with overeating and pleasure in pushing the plate away with food still on it.

He pushed the plate away playing his favorite music and putting himself into peak state, feeling pleasure while pushing the plate away, again and again.

Example 2Surfing to Learn

Tony Robbins received a kid who, the teachers said, couldn’t learn.

Tony made him talk about something he loved: surfing.

And then Tony asked, “how did you learn to do that”. “I learned that.. “

Now the kid is talking about learning.
Then he asked what would it be like to develop a surfing school.

Now the kid starts linking school to something great.

Then Tony Robbins took words the kid could not spell and told him to spell them as if he was surfing, with the same sitting position, with the same breathing, and with the same rhythm.

Guess what?

He was able to spell them.

Example: beat fear with the feeling of power

Tony Robbins was treating a guy fearing elevators.

So he got him thinking about a time he was feeling strong and powerful.
And then suddenly think about riding an elevator.
And he did it over and over again until the strong and powerful feelings started rubbing off the elevator rides as well.

For someone with a phobia, indeed, let them think about a time they felt super powerful.
And make them associate feeling strong and powerful with their phobia.

They feel differently, they behave differently.

 Step 5: Condition the new Pattern Until it’s Consistent

Conditioning is the way to make sure a change you create is consistent and lasts long term.

The simplest way is simply to rehearse it again and again with tremendous emotional intensity until a neurological pathway is created.

Any pattern that is continually reinforced will become automatic and will become a conditioned response. Anything we fail to reinforce will eventually dissipate.

Imagine It
And you can begin to condition the pattern by just imagining! Remember: your brain can’t tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something you actually experience.

Reinforce It with Rewards
We can reinforce our own or someone else’s behavior through positive (or negative) reinforcement.

Such as every time we produce the behavior we want, we give a reward (praise, a gift, attention, a smile, etc.).

Punishment and rewards are not the same as reinforcement. Reinforcement comes immediately after, and punishment and reward may occur long afterward.
And timing is absolutely critical: the sooner the better.

Example: How to Make Your Partner Call You

A BF who wants the GF to call him every day might berate her for the delay when she finally calls.

If when they call you, you give them a negative reaction right away, that’s negative reinforcement by giving pain right after the behavior you want to encourage.
The pain will be linked to calling you.

Remember: link pleasure to any behavior you want someone to repeat.

So the next step is to draft a schedule to reinforce your new behavior. Reward yourself for succeeding step after step.

Caveat is to make the reinforcement variable, otherwise, the reward will become the norm, and expected, and won’t help us anymore.

Step 6: Test it!

One way of testing if it will work is “future pacing”, from NLP, which means you imagine the situation that used to frustrate you and notice if it still frustrates you or if your new pattern has replaced it.

Example: Quit Smoking

if you have the urge to smoke when feeling overwhelmed, imagine yourself in an overwhelming situation.

then notice if you have an urge to read or run or whatever new alternative you’ve conditioned instead of smoking.

It’s good to make sure the pleasures of the old pattern are maintained in the new one.

Also, it’s good to test the “ecology”, such as the impact of the changes you’ve made and if they fit in with who you are.

How to Get What You Really Want

If you dig deeper to examine why you want anything in the first place, you will eventually find out that you want it because it gives you a certain feeling or emotion.

Tony Robbins says that one of the quickest ways to change how we feel is by changing our physiology.

Another way is to change what we focus on: focus on what you want rather than what you fear and you will feel better and are much more likely to reach your goal.
And a great way to change your focus is with questions.

Here’s another great idea: write down a list of everything that makes you feel great. Now you have a whole list of what you can do to feel superb.

Questions are the Answers

Tony Robbins says that quality questions lead to a quality life.

Three great things questions can do for you:

1. Change your focus
Questions will quickly change what we’re focusing on consequently will quickly change how we feel

2. Change what we delete
What you don’t think of, you will forget. By keeping at the forefront of your mind the positive stuff of your life you will also delete all that makes you unhappy.

3. Questions give you new resources
The brain will search and scan all the options available based on the question we ask ourselves.

If you ask yourself “how can I be so stupid”, as many of us do, guess what? You will find a ton of reasons.

But if in times of difficulty, you ask yourself “how can I turn around” your brain will deliver ways to turn it around.

The problem-solving questions:

  1. What’s great about this problem?
  2. What’s not perfect yet?
  3. What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
  4. What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?
  5. How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?

Emotion is created by motion

Vocabulary & Metaphors

Tony Robbins says that there’s a link between the words we use and the states we feel.

Replace words such as “terrible”, “tragedy”, “it killed us”, and “furious” with something gentler.

The 10 Emotions of Power

As we’ve seen, we can choose what emotions to feel at any time.

It’s still good to “listen” to them though from time to time to see where we’re at.
They’re like an internal compass pointing towards the actions you must take to reach your goals.

Four basic wrong ways people deal with emotions:

  1. Avoidance (trying not to feel anything at all) ;
  2. Denial (faking that “it doesn’t feel that bad”) ;
  3. Competition (a race to who’s “got it worst”) ;
  4. Learning and Using (the correct one)

Mastering emotions is done in 6 steps:

  1. Identify what you’re really feeling;
  2. Acknowledge and appreciate, knowing emotions support you, you never want to make your emotions wrong.
  3. Get curious about the message this emotion is offering you. It will help you master your emotions, solve the challenge and prevent the same from occurring again.
  4. Get confident you can handle it immediately. Remember a time you felt similarly and successfully handled it.
  5. Get certain you can handle it in the future as well. Rehearse handling situations where this Action Signal comes up again.
  6. Get excited and take action.

And these are the ten emotions of power:

  1. Love and Warmth
  2. Appreciation and gratitude
  3. Curiosity
  4. Excitement and passion
  5. Determination
  6. Flexibility
  7. Confidence
  8. Cheerfulness
  9. Vitality
  10. Contribution

Note on Negative Feelings:
Tony Robbins also says not to forget that there is power in the pressure of dissatisfaction and in temporary discomfort.
You can use this pain in your life to achieve more and propel yourself towards more positive action.

Creating a Compelling Future

To awaken the giant within you, you must find a major goal that inspires you and that will drive you to log the long hard working hours needed to succeed.

You start creating a compelling future for your goals by getting a clear WHY you want to achieve those goals (read more on the power WHY in Simon Sinek Start With Why).

Then start feeling the joy of moving towards your goal.
Enjoy the little steps, love the path as much as the final attainment, and relish in the constant and never-ending improvement (CANI).

Then Imagine yourself once you have accomplished the goal. How does it feel, what it will mean to you?

And don’t forget that all goal setting must be followed by immediate and constant action.

The Master System

Tony Robbins repeats that how we evaluate what happens in our life changes our life. There are five key elements that will decide how we actually evaluate things:

  1. State
  2. Questions we ask
  3. Values hierarchy
  4. Beliefs
  5. Reference experiences

Life Values: Your Personal Compass

The author says that our values tell us what we pay attention to and determine the kind of person we are.

Values are built from beliefs, which are built from references, and there are both values we move towards, and value we reject and wants to move away from.

Ask yourself: what kind of person do you need to be in order to achieve all that you want? Ask yourself that question and go become that person.

Step 1 – awareness
Gain awareness of your current values.
Ask yourself: what’s most important to me in life? Is it peace of mind, impact, or love..?

Step 2 – decide
Make a conscious decision about the values you want to live by.

As yourself not “what’s important to me” but “In what order do my values need to be to achieve my ultimate destiny?”

Ask yourself what other values you need to add (in the case of Tony, intelligence wasn’t there), and what values you need to eliminate (Tony found out that by constantly focusing on being free, he was missing out on the freedom he already had, so he dropped it from the list and felt immediately freer).

Ask which benefit you get from which values and which cons you get (for example for Tony having passion at the top meant he was burning out)

Example of a question to ask yourself: how would your capacity to deal with fear, frustration, and rejection be affected by placing “courage” high upon your move towards value?

Note on Values: Don’t Compare
it’s a human tendency to compare and switch based on what you see from people around that you would like as well.
Once you decide your values and your path DON’T compare yourself to people who have chosen different paths and values as that would make you switch course and be unhappy.

References: the Fabric of Life

Tony Robbins that references are all that has happened or that we’ve seen or heard or read or imagined in life.

The references’ strength depends on the amount of emotion attached to them and the number of similar reference experiences.

They do not necessarily have to be accurate, but they do become accepted as real, regardless.
We have countless references for everything, often running contrary to each other.

And references build our beliefs not neutrally, but in the way we select them and the meaning we attach to them!

Nothing in life means anything but the meaning you give it, so please give your past events an empowering meaning to build powerful and empowering beliefs.

Write down some events you think impacted you negatively, and instead of using it as an excuse to beat yourself up, look for a positive and empowering lesson: there are no tragedies if something good can eventually come of it.

We are not our pasts unless we live there.

We are not our pasts. Uless we live there.

Identity: The Key to Expansion

Tony Robbins says that identity is the beliefs we use to describe and define ourselves.

And identity beliefs create the boundaries of our lives.

Often the challenge we face in making a change is that we feel the change is inconsistent with who we are.

To define who we are we often look at our behaviors, at how we act and what we do.
And when start acting a certain way, the tendency is to keep acting that way to keep consistent with ourselves (see Cialdini).

But your past is not your future, and Tony Robbins says you can always change your identity.

  1. Define your current identity
  2. Decide who you want to be
  3. Develop a plan of action to take that will start shaping your new identity. Choose friends accordingly
  4. Commit to your identity by letting everyone around you know about the new you

awaken the giant within

Tony Robbins Criticism

Some people in the scientific community scoff at Tony Robbins’ imperfect popularization of scientific findings.

And well, I must admit that he does mention some pop-psychology and quite a few self-help myths.

When it comes to financial advice, Robbins lost a case in court for providing misleading information (I remember one of his tapes claiming that you can get a “higher return without higher risk”).

However, even as a reviewer who prefers fact-checked information, I must say that Tony Robbins also delivers so much potentially life-changing information that he is in a category of his own.

Awaken The Giant Within – Review

Awaken the Giant Within is a wonderful read for everyone.

It delivers applicable and life-changing information that can lead you to take control of your emotions, your states, your actions, and your fate.

And as a matter of fact, not just your life, but apply these insights and you will lift the people around you to new heights as well.

Get the book on Amazon

3 thoughts on “Awaken the Giant Within: Summary & Review”

  1. Zangwill.Baron

    Without a reef, there will be no beautiful waves; without setbacks, there will be no magnificent life

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