Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins – Book Summary

awaken the giant book summary

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Lesson 1: Decisions determine your destiny, not your conditions.

  • Decisions are a tool that can change your life. The minute you make a new decision you set in motion a new course, effect, direction, and destination for your life.
  • You literally begin to change your life the moment you make a new decision. But remember, if there is no action, then you haven’t truly decided.
  • The quality of our lives is based on our decisions. So let’s learn how to make them.
  • The five elements that make up a decision are beliefs, rules, values, references, and emotional states.


Lesson 2: Beliefs of events shape our lives, not the events themselves.

  • Beliefs are a feeling of certainty about something.
  • If I get my dream job it’s my belief about it that will shape my life, not the job itself.
  • A dream job means nothing without the belief that it enables me to support myself by doing what I love.
  • Most of our beliefs are generalizations about our past based on our interpretations of painful and pleasurable experiences.
  • To change a belief, link pain to the old one, and pleasure to the new one.
  • To help you understand this, let’s look at an example.
  • Tony doesn’t drink alcohol. He believes alcohol brings him more pain than pleasure. He reinforced this belief by drinking so much that he felt horribly sick and vomited everywhere. He hasn’t drunk since. 
  • I can resonate with Tony’s story. It is very rare that I drink enough to the point of feeling sick because I have linked massive pain with this through past experiences of drinking too much. I find it much more pleasurable having a few drinks than feeling sick, having your friends clean up your vomit, and suffering from a hangover next morning.
  • So if you want to give up alcohol, for legal reasons I’m not going to suggest that you get blind drunk until you feel like dying, but it’s something to think about.
  • Alternative ways to link pain to drinking is to go to a seminar and learn about the negative effects of alcohol consumption.
  • You should also link pleasure to giving up alcohol by keeping track of the money you save and embracing your family and friend’s positive response to giving up.
  • The more experiences you have, the more potential there is for changing beliefs. But if you want to believe you can become a millionaire, how do you gain those experiences in the first place?
  • Well, Tony Robbins advice is you read books, and learn from the experiences of mentors. Although your own experiences will have a bigger impact on your beliefs, reading about someone else’s experiences that led them to become a millionaire will reinforce the belief that you too can become a millionaire.


Lesson 3: Create rules that make it easy for you to feel pleasure and hard to feel pain.

  • A rule is a type of belief that describes what has to happen in order for us to feel good.
  • We all have rules.
  • For example, I have a rule that I’ll only feel productive on a day if I’ve read a book, watched an educational YouTube video, or effort into creating content. 
  • Now that we know what rules are, how do we take advantage of them? The key is to create rules for ourselves that will make us feel great, and aren’t determined by events outside of our control.
  • Having rules that are reliant on being fulfilled by external influences will set you up for disappointment.
  • In my opinion, a bad rule is to expect appreciation to allow you to feel good every time you help someone.
  • The reality is that not everyone will thank you for your efforts. It’s human nature.
  • A much more empowering rule would be to expect to feel good by knowing you’ve helped someone out, even if they don’t thank you.
  • If you donate blood and nobody thanks you, create a rule that allows you to feel great about the fact that you’ve saved three lives, rather than only allowing yourself to feel good after being appreciated.
  • If you’re longing for happiness what are your rules for what has to happen to make you feel good?
  • Tony’s big claim is that nothing has to happen for you to feel happy.
  • You could feel happy right now for absolutely no reason.
  • Think about it. If you make a million dollars, the million dollars doesn’t give you any pleasure. It’s your rule that says when I hit this mark, then I’ll give myself permission to feel good. So just change your rules.
  • The moment you decide to feel good, you send a message to your brain to change your responses in the muscles of your face, chest, and body to change your breathing, and to change your biochemistry within your nervous system that causes you to feel the sensations you call pleasure.
  • This rule doesn’t rely on outside events, just changing your own thoughts, which makes it a rule where it’s easy to feel pleasure and hard to feel pain.
  • Create more of these rules, and you’ll make massive improvements in your life.


Lesson 4: Your values determine the quality of your decisions.

  • The direction of our lives is controlled by our values. For long-term happiness, we must live by our highest ideals.
  • We can’t do this if we don’t know what our values are. Every decision is guided by our values.
  • So if you don’t know what they are, prepare for pain.
  • Anytime you have difficulty making an important decision it’s because you are not clear about your values.
  • Let’s have a look at how Jolie’s values affected her big decision to become a performer at Disneyland.
  • Initially, she was thrilled to be working at Disneyland. Her schedule, however, was extremely demanding. It required hourly commutes in rush hour traffic, several hours of rehearsals, and she had to get up very early. This became tiring.
  • The worst part is it cut into her personal life and prevented her from spending time with her family and friends. She began to cry and complain.
  • One morning, she’d had enough. Disneyland became painful for her. Why?
  • She could no longer spend time with all those she loved most.
  • She also felt being a trainer, which she was before she went to Disneyland, helped her to grow more than anything else in her life.
  • She didn’t feel like she was growing at Disney.
  • So Tony asked her what her values were.
  • She said they were love, health, growth, and accomplishment.
  • He then asked her what’s important about working at Disneyland?
  • She said she was originally excited and saw it as an opportunity to make new friends, receive recognition for her work, have fun, and experience a sense of accomplishment.
  • At this point, she said she wasn’t feeling accomplished, healthy, or like she was growing anymore.
  • Tony said, “If you left Disneyland, spent time at home, and then went to Hawaii, what would that give you?”
  • She immediately brightened up. “I could have some time with my boyfriend. I’d feel free again. I could start exercising and get my body back in shape. I could find other ways to grow and achieve. I’d be so happy.”
  • Before she started working at Disney she was fulfilling her top three values. Love, health, and growth.
  • By going to Disney she aimed to work on her fourth value, accomplishment. However, by so doing, she missed out on fulfilling her top three values.
  • This is a common experience where you’ll have to realize that we must accomplish our highest values first.
  • So, identify your values. Ask yourself what is most important to you in life.
  • Write down 10 values and order them by their importance. Some examples are passion, freedom, family, and friends.
  • You can also have 10 values you want to avoid. They could be emotions like humiliation, frustration, depression, and anger.
  • List these in order of which ones you’d like to avoid most.
  • So for ultimate success make sure to live by your values every day no matter what.


Lesson 5: Expand your references to expand your life

  • References are experiences that enable us to more effectively evaluate what things mean and what we can do. 
  • They include everything we’ve ever seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled. The more references you have, the more choices and opportunities you’ll have. 
  • If you’re at a point where you don’t know what to do with your life, I suggest you gain more references. Go traveling, try something new like martial arts, painting or go skydiving. 
  • My friendly acquaintance made the effort to try skydiving once. He absolutely loved it. Now he is a full-time skydiving instructor. 
  • He would never have had that reference of skydiving if he didn’t try and look at what he’s doing now. He jumps out of planes for a living.
  • References had tied closely with beliefs that we talked about earlier. More references can help support the belief that you want to have. If your dream is to be a world-class personal trainer but you’re struggling to believe you can be. Then support the belief with references.
  • Talk to world-class trainers and ask about their experiences that got them there. 


Lesson 6: Only make important decisions in resourceful emotional states

  • When we make decisions about what things mean and what to do, we must be in a resourceful state of mind. If you’re doing a business deal, make sure you are feeling well and not resentful or angry. Otherwise, you could make a poor decision.
  • I realize this is a very simple concept, however, we often forget to notice the states were in when making decisions. So make an effort to realize this in your day to day life.


Lesson 7: Ask the right questions

  • Larry was a Jewish prisoner at Kracow concentration camp during World War Two. One day he looked at the nightmare around him and confronted a harsh truth. If he stayed there one more day, he would surely die. For weeks he asked other prisoners, how can we escape this horrible place. Don’t be a fool, they said. There is no escape. 
  • He wouldn’t accept these answers. All of a sudden he got the answer. Only a few feet from his work, he saw a pile of decaying bodies that had been shoveled into the back of the truck.
  • Instead of asking how could the Nazis be so heartless. He asked, how can I use this to escape and instantly he got his answer. As an end of the day near and the work party headed back to the barracks, Larry ducked behind a truck. In a heartbeat, he ripped off his clothes and dove naked into the pile of bodies while no one was looking. He pretended he was dead. The smell was vulgar but he waited and waited. 
  • Finally, he heard the truck stop. Eventually, it came to a stop and dumped the bodies including one man pretending to be one of them into a giant open grave outside the camp. Larry remained there for hours until nightfall. When there was no one there he got up and ran naked 25 miles to freedom. This is a real story of a man who asked the right questions to change his fate. 
  • Tony goes on to say that thinking is nothing but the process of asking and answering questions. 
  • If after hearing this you’re thinking that’s true or that’s not true, you had to ask yourself either consciously or unconsciously a question and that question was, Is this true? 
  • So to change the quality of our lives, we have to habitually ask empowering questions like Larry did. 
  • Asking yourself these positive questions on a regular basis will help you make better decisions and improve the quality of your life. 


Lesson 8: Understand your master system

  • Your master system is made up of five components that determine how you evaluate everything that happens in your life. Making great evaluations will help you make great decisions.
  • Improving just one area of your master system will dramatically improve the evaluations you make and therefore your decisions. 
  • If you are deciding to quit your job, for example, make use of each component in your master system. 
  • Make sure you’re in a resourceful emotional state. Do you really think it’s wise to make the decision to quit your job when you’re angry or frustrated? Go for a walk to calm down and help clear your head before making the decision.
  • Secondly, you should have written down your top ten values in order of importance. If your top three values of family, passion, and peace. Does your job help you live these values? If you’re going to war for the army and you rarely get to see your family and you’re just doing it for the money, then you’ll feel empty and unfulfilled because you aren’t living your top three values.
  • Ask yourself what are the advantages and disadvantages of staying in my job. How can I align my top three values with my current job. And do I need to get a new job to live my values. 
  • Have you quit a job in the past. If you have, reflect on this experience. Talk to others who have quit their jobs and read about other people’s experiences to help guide your decision. 
  • Your beliefs make a big difference in what decision you make. Personally I don’t believe getting a new job with a higher income will make me happier. It will open up the opportunity for more experiences like an expensive skydiving trip but it is possible to have a bad day and feel unhappy while skydiving. 


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