Anthony Robbins taught me how to use my unlimited power to awaken the giant within and get the edge. (If you’ve been a ‘Personal Power’ student for awhile, you totally get that. If you’re new to Tony, those three phrases are titles of two of his books and one of his digital programs)
As I mention in the mindful-empathy book I wrote (‘Excellence Off The Field‘), I was introduced to Tony when I was a student-athlete at Ucla. I had just been drafted by President Bush’s Texas Rangers (back when getting drafted meant a call on the house phone at ΘΞ fraternity), to play centerfield in Arlington, Texas, for Bobby Valentine. To celebrate the news, I threw on some Adidas flip-flops, grabbed a twenty and headed down to Westwood. Why? To find a book to read (1st time by choice) for the long bus rides in the minor leagues. I walked into a bookstore, closed my eyes, turned around and there it was: ‘Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement‘ by Anthony Robbins.
That book changed my life. I got a heart rate monitor & a juicer. I was ‘Power Breath Tapping’ in between altering my physiology, focus & beliefs. I had the ‘7 Beliefs Of Success’, the ‘Master System Of Decision Making’ & the ‘Ultimate Success Formula’ on lock, and I would soon make my debut in the Major Leagues⚾
On a deeply personal note Tony taught me that the individual and collective anxiety, grief & terror that I had experienced as an American of African-Ancestry, did not define me. He taught me that my nervous system (not my earth-suit), my spirit (not my shade of brown) and my beliefs/decisions (not other’s thoughts), were who I was. (& that like Dorothy, the power was always within me). He even taught me to question him at all times. So I did, and I do. Which brings us to the reason I’m writing this: the recent #MeToo moment Tony had with a survivor (@NanineMcCool) at UPW San Jose.
As an ally & empathy-coach (Btw, Tony’s PowerTalk on the ‘6 Human Needs’ was my gateway to nonviolent communication, and is where the philosophy of ‘Nonviolent Personal Power’ originated)…anyway, as an ally & empathy-coach, I knew how pained I felt watching the interaction…
(Happy #WomensHistoryMonth Btw)
…empathically speaking, typically when education comes before empathy, it comes across as toxic masculinity (the systematic use of verbal, emotional or physical violence, to minimize or dehumanize an individual or a group). Since Tony’s avatar reeked of gender & ethnic privilege (& the multiple call & responses to the crowd seemed like mob energy), I’m guessing there are women all over the planet that were re-traumatized by the glaring lack of empathic awareness, by someone (& this is key) who they put their hearts & trust in!
*ladies, here’s an example of an empathic apology (scroll down half way), for the role that my gender has played in your physical & emotional pain.
Now I don’t know what it’s like to experience sexual violence (or unwanted sexual contact), but I do know what it’s like to have my humanity diminished. And I do know the painful uncertainty of wondering if my dignity will be snatched at any moment around any corner. So it is from that place of empathic immersion (experiential transfer) that I write these words, send you loving support, and let you know that in the new paradigm we have your empathic back🙏
~Empathy before Empathic Honesty, and Empathic Honesty before Education~
Now, are you okay if we throw it down, philosophically?
I’m not sure many people would object to someone using their ‘Personal Power’ to transcend toxic life experiences. You might be familiar with two of my favorite TR quotes (“It’s not what happens, it’s what we do with what happens, that makes the difference” and “nothing has any meaning, except for the meaning that we give it”). Very valid and very empowering (given a solid table top foundation). That’s some deep heavy stuff though, for people coming to it from a certain toxic life experience. And if one of those table legs is loose or missing, the weight & the depth will crash the whole thing. So Tony’s thoughts, in that moment, in this contextual space, coming from Tony’s avatar of perceived gender & ethnic privilege (along with his unbelievable sway of influence in our culture), were understandably painful & traumatic!
Physically pushing on a human being can be a powerful empowerment exercise! Here it was not. Talking about men who fear hiring women in this climate can be vulnerable! Here it seemed tone deaf to the generations of collective female pain. Call & response can be transformational. Here it seemed like a toxic way to meet needs for protection, connection & (say it with me) significance!
When I 1st started talking about Anthony Robbins to my NVC trainer father, his response to me was ‘when you meet the Buddha on the road, slay him’. It took me a while to get what he meant, but I think I understand now. Tony Robbins has played a ‘significant’ role in transforming my life, and for that I feel truly grateful. He is also a human being who I happen to disagree with on this (not to mention the whole profanity thing, with Deepak talking about words releasing chemicals, and, anyway…). I believe that the tools I’ve acquired (& expanded upon) are the same technology (more effective method) that can be used to build the next step in the empowerment staircase. And since the staircase is for the entirety of team-humanity, I invite anyone who wants to #RiseUP, to join in Tarana Burke‘s call for ‘Empowerment Through Empathy’
As Oprah said, #BeAWarrior (an empathic warrior: strong, kind, brave & present)
Anthony Robbins taught me how to use my unlimited power to awaken the giant within and get the edge. I hope my father (the man who named me Anthony) likes what I’ve done with it😎NonViolentPersonalPower
‘Significance’ Translation For This ‘#MeToo’ Conversation:
If you just read the above, then you know my take (as an ally & a nonviolent-empathy coach), on TR’s use of toxic masculinity! This addendum is to clear up any subjectivity around how the human need for ‘Significance’ is being used by TR:
“Human behavior is complex, but human motivation is not. We seek the common needs and nothing else” ~Larry C. Rosen
One of these ‘common human needs’ (‘present manifestation of the divine energy within’ ~Marshall Rosenberg) is ‘Significance’ (in the same way that Certainty, LOVE & Respect are ‘common human needs’). Our needs are common but our strategies (the vehicle to get us to our common human needs), differ.
Externally, my common human need for Respect might be met by someone holding the door for me (or anticipating a challenge I will have in the future, and addressing it early). Internally, my common human need for Respect IS met, by meditating, exercising & sharing empathic tools with people.
When I was 10 years old I used to get picked on for being awkwardly tall & uncoordinated (5’5″, 170). I didn’t realize why I was doing it at the time, but I went through about a 6 month period where I would push older kids who weren’t as big as me. I was trying to get Respect, internally, by powering over others, externally.
Powering over others is also a way we can meet our internal need for ‘Significance’, but in both cases since the behavior doesn’t serve life (is not healthy), the BEHAVIOR is like a drug, used to meet a common human need, rather than a delicious feast that can nourish us all😙
Another thing you might want to know, is that ‘Significance’ is an umbrella term for about 8 concepts. See if any of the following connect with your heart & soul:
(1) The sense that your needs matter & are valued.
(2) The sense that you are important.
(3) The sense that you matter & are valued
(4) The sense that you are needed.
(5) The sense that you are cared for.
(6) The sense that you are unique.
(7) The sense that you have a purpose in life.
(8) The sense that you are making a difference.
When we choose a healthy way to meet our common human needs, usually everyone can benefit. If we choose a toxic way to meet our common human needs (like powering over others) we may get a sugar high, but in the long run no one benefits. Kind of ironic that the only reason we are here is because TR chose to power over ‘#MeToo‘ & @NanineMcCool.
The thing about sharing this delicate technology with people, is that folks need lots & lots of EMPATHY (understanding), before they can hear it, employed in an artfully compassionate way! If it’s done in a dismissive way, without empathy…well you see how that worked out.
TR issued an apology today (TR #MeToo apology). It wasn’t an empathic apology (see above), but he did use Tarana’s message of ‘Empowerment Through Empathy.’ He didn’t use empathic awareness, which would have included acknowledging toxic behavior towards Nanine & would have excluded any personal stories (a lesson I learned 1st hand in the Big Leagues, when I once tried to tell a friend how rough the August heat in Texas was⚾). There is some spirited debate online right now about the adequacy & the efficacy of TR’s apology. The sense I get from TR students is: the women are extremely ‘cautiously optimistic’, and the men…have we talked about group privilege and toxic masculinity yet?😎
Any Q’s, or was that all crystal clear?😁