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Awaken the Giant Within Book Review

How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

by Tony Robbins, Anthony Robbins

Copyright © 1991 by Anthony by Robbins

Wake up and take control of your life! From the bestselling author of Inner Strength, Unlimited Power, and MONEY Master the Game, Anthony Robbins, the nation’s leader in the science of peak performance, shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life.

The acknowledged expert in the psychology of change, Anthony Robbins provides a step-by-step program teaching the fundamental lessons of self-mastery that will enable you to discover your true purpose, take control of your life, and harness the forces that shape your destiny.

The Best Way to read this book is to highlight the paperback version

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" Champions are those who can get themselves to constantly improve and consistently perform at peak levels. Anthony Robbins is the ' ultimate coach ' for that special breed of men and women who will never settle for less than they can be "

I read just about everything Anthony released but Awaken the Giant is my favorite. I first read this book in 2014 and since then Tony Robbins has released more books and more audio systems but the principles are still the same. This book was my introduction to Neuro Linguistic Programming which proves effective if you practice it (I emphasize if). Tony speaks a lot about his own experiences also and some of the struggles he faced growing up which allows the reader to make comparisons to their current situation. The only thing I should stress about this book is that it will not provide you a system in finding what you should be doing or should be in life. Tony has many tools in the book to assist you in taking action towards your goals but I’ve found that the search for what you should be doing is really up to you. The only reason why I say this is that I have read reviews in the past where people walk away disappointed because they have a lot of fuel and no car to put it in. Such as life, it’s up to us to get the car. I do recommend this book though. It was very beneficial.

Probably one of the most popular self-help books ever written. I found it inspiring and insightful, although not all that original. Most of it was just common sense and standard psychology, particularly behaviorism and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The gist is that we can change our lives by changing our beliefs and thoughts, and associating pain with bad habits and pleasure with more beneficial habits.

While it’s always good when someone makes psychology more accessible to the layman, there’s something about this book, and Tony Robbins in general, that feels way too much like he’s trying to bottle it and sell it. For example, there is a very common, though inspiring, sentiment in American culture that we can and should constantly better ourselves. But Tony Robbins had to invent an acronym and trademark it: CANI!(tm), which stands for “Constant and Neverending Improvement!” Which brings me to his writing style! Why must he end every other sentence with an exclamation point? It makes it exhausting to read!

Seriously though, I know there are plenty of people who feel totally comfortable to business- and marketing-speak, who find Tony Robbins sincere and invigorating. More than once, I found myself thinking big, imagining what other great things I might want to accomplish in my life

Quotes in the book
-The greatest leverage you can create for yourself is the pain that comes from inside, not outside. Knowing that you have failed to live up to your own standards for your life is the ultimate pain

-It states “the desire for gain must exceed the fear of failure” in order to accomplish something.

-Once we effect a change, we should reinforce it immediately. Then, we have to condition our nervous system to succeed not just once, but consistently

-The difference between acting badly or brilliantly is not based on your ability, but on the state of your mind and/or body in any given moment

-All too often, the security of a mediocre present is more comfortable than the adventure of trying to be more in the future

– Determination is the wake-up call to the human will.”

CANI -Constant And Never-ending Improvement
“It must be constant commitment backed up by action.”
Questions you should answer about yourself:

1. What have I given today?
2. What have I learned today?
3. How has my day added to the quality of my life?
This guy has great energy


Anthony Robbins is one of the most well known self-improvement and motivational speakers. Even though his first book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ was published more than a decade ago, it still holds immense relevance in today’s world. This is a book packed with plenty of strategies on how to take charge of your emotions, health, relationships and finances. It is a holistic book that offers timeless philosophies that can help you reach your true goals and discover your passion in life.

I have read several self-help books and while most were helpful, I find ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ a very well thought-out book. Self-help books tend to lean too much on the advice, but offer little in the way of execution. This book seems to be more of a practical, strategic guide than a book of superficial hope, which is a good thing. I would completely recommend it to anyone looking to bypass the fluff, hype or superficial positive thinking literature for a more substantial read.

I would recommend to read it a couple of times in order to understand and implement the underlying philosophies. Robbins’ literature is heavily influenced by Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), which might at times be a bit complex to get the hang of.

Anthony Robbins is one who needs no introduction as far as Personal Development goes. Reading Awaken the Giant within is akin to attending a spiritual retreat/workshop. This book is a whooping 500 and some pages. I purchased it about 8 years ago but never quite got around to it. All along I kept saying to my friends that I know this book will change my life and indeed it has. I will never be the same again. This book is not to be read passively. Clear your schedule, grab a book mark, pencil, jotter or whatever you need. Forget speed reading though, because this is one book you want to sink your teeth into and soak in every word. Do the work! Awaken the Giant within is a very practical book. There’s a lot of exercises to do in book especially in chapter 12 which is entitled creating a compelling future. These little workshops help you identify your desires, goals and aspirations. This is one book that it will do you well to read once every month.
The first thing that jumps off the page for me is that in order to create long lasting change you have to follow 3 principles:

1 Raise your standards

Write down what you will no longer tolerate from yourself. The only way to change an organization, the world or yourself is by raising your standards. Rosa Parks typifies the example of raised standards in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a White person as she was legally required to. This act of civil disobedience inspired a whirlwind of controversy which was the beginning of the civil rights movement.

2 Change your limiting Beliefs

If you raise your standards and you don’t really believe that you can meet them, you have sabotaged yourself already. You must develop a sense of certainty that you can and will meet your goals. Ed Roberts exemplifies someone who raised his standards and transcended his limiting beliefs. Ed Roberts was confined to a wheelchair for a number of years. He did not let that deter him. He set to add value to a world he sometimes found condescending. Ed is responsible for creating wheelchair access ramps, special parking spaces and became the first quadriplegic to graduate from University of California. ‘It is not where you start out but your decision about where you are determined to end up.’

3 Change your strategy

Find a role model- someone who is already getting results in the area of your interest and mirror that person. You can have as many role models as aspirations. We are blessed to live in a generation where the world is our oyster. Your role model must not necessarily live in your city, you can connect with people just as easily on the internet.

Having identified the 3 principles for lasting change, we will move on to the decisions that control your destiny. These are decisions on:
1 What to focus on
2 What things mean to you
3 What to do to create the results you desire
You can be sure that if someone is enjoying greater success than you in an area, they are making 3 decisions different than you are in some context. Keeping in mind that nothing in life has meaning except the meaning you give to it. Furthermore it is not what happened to you in the past or what is happening now that determines who you become. The only defining factor is how you interpret these events.
Tony goes on to give analogies of people who have come from potentially damaging backgrounds and come out straight. He also gives examples of others who came from privilege and still ended up with drug addictions. One of such examples is two brothers who were raised by a father who was often chemically induced and in and out of jail. One of the sons followed in his father’s footsteps . The other brother became a dedicated family man and a manager in a top multinational company. When asked individually why they became the people that they are today, surprisingly they both gave the same answer “ Given my family history, I don’t see how I would have turned out any differently.” That just goes to emphasize the fact that it is not what happens to you that determines the trajectory of your life but what meaning you give to the experience.
Our beliefs are very important. They shape our destinies. Beliefs are a feeling of certainty we have created over a period of time based on our opinions and references(our experiences, the opinions of our friends, family and society). In order to direct our lives, we must take conscious control over our beliefs because under all that we think, lives all that we believe.
Now that we have established what beliefs are and the power that they hold over us. There are 3 patterns of beliefs that cause us to feel helpless.
1 Permanence
You have to develop an attitude that no matter what curve ball life throws your way- this too shall pass.
2 Pervasiveness
An achiever does not see a problem as controlling their whole life. They have a conviction that whatever problem they may encounter they have the intelligence to come up with a solution.
3 Personal
Don’t see a problem as a personal flaw. If you fail at something. What that is is an invitation to change your approach. Failure in and of itself does not exist in life- only results. Success is the result of good judgement. Good judgement is the result of experience which can only be gotten as a result of bad judgement.
If successful people are honest with you, they will tell you that the reason they have succeeded is because they have made more poor choices than most people. Tony gives an illustration about how important it is to fail constantly and on a grandiose scale. When Anthony Robbins was in his twenties, he identified a goal for himself which was public speaking. Even though he was not very good at it at first, he would book himself 3 times a day to anyone who would listen. As a result he began to stand out among his peers because he had accumulated about a decade worth of experience in one year. Then his associates started commenting on how lucky he was to have an innate talent. When in reality where he excelled was ridiculous work ethic and his ability to put himself out there- his constant and consistent effort was paying off.
Other examples of people who did the work and persevered in the face of adversity are Soichiro Honda. In 1938, he designed his first car which did not meet the standards of Toyota when he presented it to them. This inspired him to go back to school. At school he created another model which was heavily mocked by his instructors and fellow students. Though the odds were against him, Soichiro persisted.
Unfortunately the war was going on at the time and his factory was bombed twice. Instead of seeing this as a set back, Soichiro took the empty gasoline cans which the US fighters discarded and used it as concrete to build his cars. He called them gifts from President Truman. Not long after he bounced back from this, there was an earthquake that levelled the factory followed by a shortage of gasoline. During the scarcity, Soichiro attached a motor to his bicycle and used it to get around. It wasn’t very long before his neighbours began to request that he replicate the bicycle with a motor for them. Seeing an obvious niche, but lacking the capital he wrote 18,000 bicycle shop owners inviting them to invest in this venture. 5000 of them advanced the capital. When the bikes were first created the sales were not encouraging because the bikes were too bulky. Soichiro made one last adjustment and made them a light weight and called them the supercub. He won the Emperors award and became an ‘overnight success.’
Also worth noting are some rejection notices/feedback that were received by these famous and incredibly successful authors listed below:

Animal Farm, by George Orwell
“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
“It does not seem to us you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea.”

Lady Chatterlay’s Lover, by D.H Lawerence
“For your own good do not publish this book.”

Lust for Life, by Irving Stone
“A long, dull novel about an artist.”

There are three lessons to come away with from the notices above.
1 Success is not overnight or short term. Persevere and you may succeed with the next blow.
2 God’s delays are not God’s denials. Learn to honour lag time. If you are in the winter of your life, hang in there because spring is just around the corner.
The third underlying lesson is the fact that social proof is seldom ever accurate. An experiment on social proof was conducted in which someone yells “Rape!” for a subjects benefit. Simultaneously two people were planted very close by and were given instructions to ignore the cries. When the subject looked around and saw that no one was responding to the situation. He decided that the cries were insignificant and mirrored everyone else’s behaviour.
Another example is the story of Copernicus. In the days of the Seminal Polish astronomer, everyone was convinced that the sun moved around the earth because wherever they walked there it was. However in 1543 Copernicus created the first representative model of our sun- based solar system. Copernicus had the courage to challenge the ‘wisdom’ of the experts like other giants through the ages. It wasn’t until after Copernicus lifetime that his theories were finally accepted as truth.
Perhaps a more factual example that hits closer to home. Research has increasingly shown that there is a positive correlation between the amount of animal protein an individual consumes and their likelihood to develop cancer or heart disease. In fact the 3000 member committee responsible for Medicine put in a request for the department of Agriculture to drop meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk products from the recommended daily allowances. This dramatic shift in beliefs has brought chaos in many quarters. This is not uncommon because like the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer says, all truth goes through three steps:
First, it is ridiculed
Second, it is violently opposed
Finally, it is accepted as self- evident
Using social proof is a great way to limit your life. As Tony says most people live their lives in what he refers to as the Niagara syndrome. They just follow what everyone else does and drift which ever way the wind blows without consciously making a decision about where they want to end up. They never really stop and ask themselves the existential questions that inspire passionate living. People often overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade. 10 years from now you will surely arrive. The question is where. It is not what we do once in a while that shapes our destiny, but what we consistently do. Repetition is the mother of skill.
Although we cannot trust social proof, one thing we can always rely on is our values to steer us in the right direction. The only way to feel happy and fulfilled in the longterm is if we are living lives which are consistent with our true values. What are my values you might say. You probably haven’t articulated them on a piece of paper(which is very helpful by the way) but we all have them. Tony outlines the most common values across the board that people willingly identify with, which are:

And some values that we will do anything to avoid, namely:
Rejection. Anger. Frustration. Loneliness. Depression. Failure. Humiliation. Guilt
And how we rank these values on a scale of 1 to 10 largely determines our behaviour. Although we need to make sure that the values that we are moving towards do not clash in hierarchy with the ones we aspire to move away from. To succeed we must not only evaluate our values to see if they are in line with the person we want to become, we must also ascertain if we are leaving out some core values that could potentially be more helpful to us. For instance, as an individual one of the values on the top of my hierarchy is individuality. I value my alone time. However since I have decided with every fibre of my being the life I want to create for myself, I have to leverage some of my individuality/ alone time for say networking.
In line with our values is something called the ten emotions of power which are:
1 Love and Warmth
Believe that all communication is either a loving response or a cry for help.
2 Appreciation and Gratitude
Two of the most spiritual emotions. Living in this state will enhance your life immensely.
3 Curiosity
Be curious like a child. When you are curious nothing is a chore.
4 Excitement and Passion
‘Passion is the unbridled power to move our lives forward at a faster tempo than ever before.’
5 Determination
‘Determination is the wake-up call to the human will.’ Decide on something and cut off any other possibility.
6 Flexibility
‘Choosing to be flexible is choosing to be happy.’ Modify your approach where necessary.
7 Confidence
‘The ability to act on faith is what moves the human race forward.’ Take that leap!
8 Cheerfulness
Enhances your self-esteem, makes life more fun, and makes the people around you feel happier as well.
9 Vitality
Take care of your body
10 Contribution
‘The secret to living is giving.’ But don’t play martyr.
On the other side of the continuum are emotions that alert us that we need to change the direction of our focus. These emotions Tony refers to as action signals, which are: discomfort, fear, hurt, anger, frustration, disappointment, guilt, inadequacy, overload/overwhelm, loneliness.
A powerful way to switch focus when we are in one of these disenpowering states is by using Transformational Vocabulary and metaphors. Instead of saying something like “ I am so aggravated, I am just about to explode.” You could say something like “I am feeling a tad out of sorts,” or “I’m just a bit peeved,” or “I’m beginning to get a smidge cranky.” Also, remember that whenever you get upset and lose control- the other guy wins.
Other transformational words you might use are
Word/Phrase Modifier
Insecure Questioning
Angry Peeved
Depressed On the road to a turn around
I have to do . . . I get to do . . .
Overwhelmed Overloaded
In addition to modifiers, another winning tip is to model our lives after successful people we admire. Leaders are readers. Read biographies, mirror their mannerisms, body language, the way they relate to people etc. Also acknowledge the fact that great leaders are rarely ever realistic. With enough emotional intensity your nervous system can experience something as real even though it has not happened yet. Success manifests in the emotional realm first, before it materializes in the physical. You have to believe without an element of doubt that you have succeeded already. And you must begin to carry yourself in the way that that person you have become would. Does that mean you will be extremely cheerful knowing that everyday is a gift? Or will you start to recognize the various ways in which you are unbelievably blessed. Or will you be playful and find humour in the little things in life? And how will you treat the people around you? ‘With the kind of dignity, respect, compassion and love that this person would.’
Having said that you need to associate with positive people who inspire you and have the same values as you because you become the people you spend the most time with. Also you must realize that successful people do not sweat the small stuff. Cultivate the habit of removing weeds out of your garden with a playfulness, lest you will be upset all of your life. Tony gives an example about how one of his CEOs absconded with his money rendering his company bankrupt and how he handled the situation.
‘We first make our habits, then our habits make us.’ Know how to move yourself from a disempowering state to to an empowering one by asking the right questions. For example:
1 What can I learn from this situation if I wanted to?
2 What is not perfect yet about this situation?
‘Superior evaluations create superior lives.’
’18 or 80 you still need something to drive you forward.’ “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you are not absolutely thrilled to get out of bed every morning, your dreams are not big enough. To be truly happy and fulfilled, every day we must expand the rims of who we believe ourselves to be. Do not get stuck in any one identity. Change up your routine. Go ride in the back of a police patrol car in your local “ride along’ program. Go scuba diving. Go sky diving. Take a helicopter lesson. Ask yourself empowering questions like:
What more can I be?
What more will I be?
Who am I becoming?
Colonel Sanders woke up at the age of 65 and could no longer bear the pain of his meagre retirement checks. SO what did he do? He decided he was going to become a leading merchant in the fast food industry. When you have a strong enough why, you can bear almost any how.
Whatever you and I begin to identify with, we will become. Experience is not what happens to a man, but what he does with what happens to him. Do not think of who you have been but who you are now. Commit yourself to CANI( Constant And Never-ending Improvement). ‘If you are going to err in life, err on the side of overestimating your capabilities.’ Do not get caught up in limiting beliefs. Maybe you have failed one or two times in the past and you now have a global/giant belief that you are a failure. Perhaps you might have encountered some people who treated you really harshly and as a result you assume that people are generally evil. What if you adopt a global belief that serves you better and is in line with your destiny. Despite your references, you can choose to believe that people are wonderful. And if you treat them right they will reciprocate in kind. In addition cultivate the habit of expectancy. The next person you stand behind in line, the next person you seat next to on a plane, the next book you read might just be what will cause the floodgates to open.
With all these skills under your arsenal, as you reach for the stars remember that you will fall short time and time again. Don’t beat yourself up, instead learn from your mistakes. That way you will not repeat them. Also, in our pursuit for success and meaning we must always remember that we are not our bodies, we are not our past or our behaviour in the moment, it can all be over in one swift second because we are after all spiritual beings having a human experience as Wayne Dyer puts it. Regardless, the onus is on us to make the best of our time here.
Finally, “If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it easy to slip into behaviours and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve. You need to set and live by these standards no matter what happens in your life. Even if it all goes wrong, even if it rains on your parade, even if the stock market crashes, even if your lover leaves you, even if no one gives you the support that you need, you still must stay committed to your decision that you will live your life at the highest level.” SOCIETY MAY PREDICT, BUT ONLY YOU DETERMINE YOUR DESTINY!

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