Awaken the Giant Within

How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny
This book is all about pushing you to raise your standards and question limiting beliefs.
Tony Robbins

This book in 3 sentences

  1. You can decide to change the direction of your life at any moment by raising your standards and changing your limiting beliefs.
  2. Learn to use the forces of pain and pleasure to shape your behavior in the direction you want.
  3. Ask yourself empowering questions and

Book Notes


You can make a decision any moment which can alter your life forever. You can decide never again to settle for less than you could be.

Controlled focus is like a laser beam that can cut through anything that seems to be stopping you.

Most people fail in life simply because they major in minor things.

How to create change:

  1. Raise Your Standards - otherwise, it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.
  2. Change Your Limiting Beliefs - they shape our every action, thought, and feeling we experience.
  3. Change Your Strategy - e.g., find a role-model, someone who’s already getting the results you want, and then tap into their knowledge.

Virtually everything we do is to change the way we feel—yet most of us have little or no training in how to do this quickly and effectively.

Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year—and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!

The Power of Decisions

Decision making is a tool you can use in any moment to change your entire life.

Ask yourself: “How am I going to live the next ten years of my life? How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I’m committed to?” Now is the time to design the next ten years of your life—not once they’re over.

It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.

The Ultimate Success Formula - how to get where you want to go, no matter what:

  1. Decide what you want
  2. Take action
  3. Notice what’s working or not
  4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want.

Successful people make quick decisions because they are clear on their values and what they really want for their lives.

The word “decision” comes from the Latin roots de, which means “from,” and caedere, which means “to cut.”

Decision making is a muscle you can strengthen. The more decisions you make, the better you’re going to become at making them.

Three decisions that control your destiny:

  1. What you decide to focus on.
  2. Your decisions about what things mean to you.
  3. Your decisions about what to do to create the results you desire.

It’s likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by some better decisions upstream.

Most people never consciously set up their internal decision making system – it’s been unconsciously conditioned by parents, peers, teachers, TV, advertisers, and culture.

Your decision-making system is based on: 1) your core beliefs and unconscious rules, 2) your life values, 3) your references, 4) the habitual questions that you ask yourself, and 5) the emotional states you experience in each moment.

Success is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is often the result of bad judgment! Those seemingly bad or painful experiences are sometimes the most important.

One of the most important decisions you can make to ensure your long-term happiness is to decide to use whatever life gives you in the moment.

How to harness the power of a decision?

  1. Remember the power of making decisions – it’s a tool you can use in any moment to change your entire life.
  2. Make a true commitment – Never to leave the scene of a decision without first taking a specific action toward its realization.
  3. Make decisions often – the more you make, the better you get at making them.
  4. Learn from your decisions – it’s OK to make mistakes, just learn from them.
  5. Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
  6. Enjoy making decisions.

People are Motivated to Avoid Pain & Seek Pleasure

The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life.

If you’ve ever been in a destructive relationship and finally made the decision to use your personal power, take action and change your life, it was probably because you hit a level of pain you weren’t willing to settle for anymore... This is the magical moment when pain becomes our friend.

Much of our drive in life comes from our anticipating that our actions will lead to a more compelling future, that today’s work will be well worth the effort, that the rewards of pleasure are near.

If we link massive pain to any behavior or emotional pattern, we will avoid indulging in it at all costs. We can use this understanding to harness the force of pain and pleasure to change virtually anything in our lives,

Simply by linking pain to the behaviors we want to stop at such a high level of emotional intensity that we won’t even consider those behaviors any longer.

It’s not actual pain that drives us, but our fear that something will lead to pain. And on the flip side, we’re driven by a belief that somehow taking a certain action will lead to pleasure.

Anything you want that’s valuable requires that you break through some short-term pain in order to gain long-term pleasure – to go against the basic conditioning of our nervous systems.

Changing Your Beliefs Can Change Your Life

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.

Global beliefs: our big beliefs that have a massive influence on our lives. These are beliefs about our identity, people, work, time, money, etc.

By making one change in a limiting global belief you can change virtually every aspect of your life in a moment!

Once accepted, our beliefs become unquestioned commands to our nervous systems, and they have the power to expand or destroy the possibilities of our present and future.

Three categories of beliefs: opinions, beliefs, and convictions.

An idea is like a tabletop with no legs – it won’t stand up by itself. Beliefs have legs. If you really believe, “I’m sexy,” how do you know you’re sexy? Isn’t it true you have some references to back this up?

With enough emotional intensity and repetition, our nervous systems experience something as real, even if it hasn’t occurred yet. Every great achiever I’ve ever interviewed has had the ability to get themselves to feel certain they could succeed, even though no one before them had ever accomplished it.

The only reason we have a belief about something is that we’ve linked massive pain to not believing it or massive pleasure to keeping it alive.

New experiences trigger change only if they cause us to question our beliefs.

Create mastery by turning beliefs into conviction

  1. Start with the basic belief.
  2. Reinforce your belief by adding new and more powerful references.
  3. Find a triggering event, or else create one of your own. Associate yourself fully by asking, “What will it cost me if I don’t do this?”
  4. Finally, take action. Each action you take strengthens your commitment and raises the level of your emotional intensity and conviction.

A simple way of breaking a pattern is by scrambling the sensations we link to our memories.

The way to expand our lives is to model the lives of those people who are already succeeding.

Brainstorm all the beliefs you have – those that empower you and disempower you: little beliefs that don’t seem to matter at all and global beliefs that seem to make a big difference. You might discover a belief that is underemployed, one that you should strengthen into a conviction.

Use Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC) to Rewire Your Brain

  1. Decide What You Really Want and What’s Preventing You From Having It Now.
  2. Get Leverage: Associate Massive Pain to Not Changing Now and Massive Pleasure to the Experience of Changing Now!
  3. Interrupt the Limiting Pattern.
  4. Create a New, Empowering Alternative.
  5. Condition the New Pattern Until It’s Consistent.
  6. Test it!

How to get what you really want

What we really want is simply to change the way we feel. We want these things because we see them as a means to achieving certain feelings, emotions, or states we desire.

In other words, your behavior is not the result of your ability, but of the state that you’re in at this moment.

Emotion is created by motion. Everything that we feel is the result of how we use our bodies.

Anyone can continue to feel good if they already feel good, or if they’re “on a roll”; it doesn’t take much to accomplish this. But the real key in life is to be able to make yourself feel good when you don’t feel good, or when you don’t even want to feel good.

If you wanted to, couldn’t you get depressed at a moment’s notice? You bet you could, just by focusing on something in your past that was horrible.

And again, you could focus on things that haven’t happened yet, and feel good about them in advance. This is the power of goals.

Drivers know that you go where you look; you travel in the direction of your focus.

Ask empowering questions

Questions provide the key to unlocking our unlimited potential.

Quality questions create a quality life. You need to burn this idea into your brain, because it’s as important as anything else you’ll learn in this book.

Remember, ask and you shall receive. If you ask a terrible question, you’ll get a terrible answer. Your mental computer is ever ready to serve you, and whatever question you give it, it will surely come up with an answer. So if you ask, “Why can’t I ever succeed?,” it will tell you—even if it has to make something up!

“Why me?” rarely produces a positive result, while “How can I use this?” usually leads us in the direction of turning our difficulties into a driving force to make ourselves and the world better.

Questions are the laser of human consciousness. They concentrate our focus and determine what we feel and do.

Don’t fall into the trap of accepting someone else’s or your own disempowering presuppositions.

Life is just a Jeopardy! game; all the answers are there—all you have to do is come up with the right questions to win.

Ask yourself… What is great about this problem?   What is not perfect yet?   What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?   What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?   How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?

The Vocabulary of Ultimate Success

Most beliefs are formed by words—and they can be changed by words as well.

If you describe a magnificent experience as being “pretty good,” the rich texture of it will be smoothed and made flat by your choice of words.

People with an impoverished vocabulary live an impoverished emotional life; people with rich vocabularies have a multi-hued palette of colors with which to paint their experience, not only for others, but for themselves as well.

Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary—the words you consistently use to describe the emotions of your life—you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.

Remember, if three people can have the same experience, yet one person feels rage, another feels anger, and the third feels annoyance, then obviously the sensations are being changed by each person’s translation.

If an assemblage of words you’re using is creating states that disempower you, get rid of those words and replace them with those that empower you!

You can soften emotional intensity using modifiers; for example, by saying, “I’m just a bit peeved,” or “I’m feeing a tad out of sorts.”

The Power of Life Metaphors

“Few things are more debilitating than a toxic metaphor.” - Mary Catherine Bateson

Metaphors are symbols and, as such, they can create emotional intensity even more quickly and completely than the traditional words we use. Metaphors can transform us instantly.

When a client said, “It’s like they have us in a box with a gun to our heads.”, he turned to the CEO and asked, “What color is the squirt gun?”

If you are feeling really bad about something, take a quick look at the metaphors you’re using to describe how you are feeling, or why you are not progressing, or what is getting in the way.

For example, in reading interviews with Donald Trump, I’ve noticed that he often refers to life as a “test.” You either win first place, or you lose—there’s no in between. Can you imagine the stress that must create in his life, interpreting it this way?

As I’ve become more sensitized to metaphors, what I’ve begun to believe is that having only one metaphor is a great way to limit your life.

However, sometimes it’s useful and important to get ourselves to feel negative emotions with strong intensity.

Most of us have never consciously selected the metaphors with which we represent things to ourselves.

One of the most empowering global metaphors that has helped me through tough times is a story shared by many speakers in personal development. It’s the simple story of a stonecutter. ... Was it this one single hit that broke the stone open? Of course not. It was the constant and continual pressure being applied to the challenge at hand.

Often when things look bleak people think, “This is going to go on forever.” Instead you can say, “Life has its seasons, and I’m in winter right now.”

The Power of Emotion

If the message your emotions are trying to deliver is ignored, the emotions simply increase their amperage; they intensify until you finally pay attention.

If you want to make your life really work, you must make your emotions work for you. You can’t run from them; you can’t tune them out; you can’t trivialize them or delude yourself about what they mean.

The emotions you once thought of as negative are merely a call to action. In fact, instead of calling them negative emotions, from now on in this chapter, let’s call them Action Signals.

You are the source of all your emotions; you are the one who creates them.

Six Steps to Emotional Mastery
  1. Identify What You’re Really Feeling... ask yourself, “What am I really feeling right now?”
  2. Acknowledge and Appreciate Your Emotions ... Whatever you resist tends to persist. You’ll find your emotions “calming down” almost immediately.
  3. Get Curious about the Message This Emotion Is Offering You... this is an immediate pattern interrupt to any emotion and enables you to learn a great deal about yourself.
  4. Get Confident... remember a time when you felt a similar emotion and realize that you’ve successfully handled this emotion before.
  5. Get Certain You Can Handle This Not Only Today, But in the Future as Well... remember the ways you’ve handled it in the past, and rehearse handling it in the future.
  6. Get Excited, and Take Action... you can easily handle this emotion, and take some action right away to prove that you’ve handled it. “Kill the monster while it’s little.”

Create a Compelling Future

Every morning when you wake up, even if you feel physically exhausted from a lack of sleep, you’ll still find the drive if your goals excite you.

“The way I usually know I’ve set the right goal is when it seems impossible but at the same time it’s giving me a sense of crazed excitement just to think about the possibility of achieving it.”

Have you ever bought a new outfit or car, and then suddenly noticed it everywhere you looked? Once you decide that something is a priority, you give it tremendous emotional intensity and focus.

Atg least twice a day, rehearse and emotionally enjoy the experience of achieving each one of your most valued goals.

Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.

The key question you need to ask is, “What kind of person will I have to become in order to achieve all that I want?”

A good rule to follow: never leave the site of setting a goal without first taking some form of positive action toward its attainment.

Goals exercise

Take 5 minutes and brainstorm:

  1. Personal development goals
  2. Career/business/money goals
  3. Toys/adventure goals
  4. Contribution goals

The Master System

In modelling the most successful people in our culture, one common denominator I notice without fail is that they make superior evaluations.

Clearly, Buffet evaluates his investment decisions quite differently from those who are extremely worried when the market crashes or euphoric when it soars. And because he evaluates differently, he produces a different quality of result.

Life values are your personal compass

The values you select will shape every decision you make in your life.

When you know what’s most important to you, making a decision is quite simple. Most people, though, are unclear about what’s most important in their lives, and thus decision making becomes a form of internal torture.

If you don’t know your true values, prepare for pain... your hierarchy of your values is controlling the way you make decisions in each moment.

For example, a person who’s trying to achieve the pleasure of success without ever experiencing the pain of rejection will never succeed long term.

Life has a way of testing our commitment to our values.

Rules: If You’re Not Happy, Here’s Why

What has to happen in order for you to feel good? Do you have to have someone hug you, kiss you, make love to you, tell you how much they respect and appreciate you? Must you make a million dollars?

As long as we structure our lives in a way where our happiness is dependent upon something we cannot control, we will experience pain.

You could be winning and feel like you’re losing because the scorecard you’re using is unfair.

Use the power of goals and a compelling future to pull yourself forward, but make sure you have a foundation of rules that allow you to be happy at any time.

Your rule for confidence could be, “If I decide to be confident, then I’ll feel that way toward anything, and my confidence will help me succeed.”

Create a set of rules for your moving-toward values that makes it easy to feel good, and a set of rules for your moving-away-from values that makes it hard to feel bad.

Rules should be designed to empower our relationships, not destroy them. Any time a rule gets in the way, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “What’s more important? My relationship or my rules?”

Don’t expect people to live by your rules if you don’t clearly communicate what they are. And don’t expect people to live by your rules if you’re not willing to compromise and live by some of theirs.

References: The fabric of life

References are all the experiences of your life that you’ve recorded within your nervous system — everything you’ve ever seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled — stored away inside the giant cabinet of your brain. Some references are picked up consciously or others unconsciously.

The larger the number and greater the quality of our references, the greater our potential level of choices. A larger number and greater quality of references enables us to more effectively evaluate what things mean and what we can do.

Imagination provides us a sense of certainty and vision that goes far beyond the limitations of the past. For example, Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile.

Explore the wealth of literature, stories, myths, poetry, and music. Read books, view movies and videotapes, listen to audiotapes, go to seminars, talk with people, and get new ideas. All references have power, and you never know which one could change your entire life.

Hearing something again and again will eventually condition you to use it. Repetition truly is the mother of skill.

Use contrast to put things into perspective. No matter how bad you think things are in your life, it’s good to remember that someone else has it worse.

Could it be possible that what seem like the worst days in our lives are actually the most powerful in terms of the lessons we can choose to learn from them?

If you want to expand your life, go for it! Pursue some experiences that you’ve never had before. Go scuba diving. Explore the undersea world, and find out what life’s like and what you’re like in a whole new environment. Go skydiving.

Take a moment now and write down five of the most powerful experiences that have shaped who you’ve become as a person.

Ask yourself “In order to really succeed at the highest level, to achieve what I really want for my life, what are some references I need?” Maybe what you need to do is model somebody who has really made their relationships work; find out what some of their beliefs are,

Now think of some fun references to have. Once you’ve brainstormed a list of great references to acquire, put a time line and a date on each.

Identity: The Key to Expansion

If you were to create an ID card that would represent who you truly are, what would be on it—and what would you leave off?

“I began to link pain to the idea of being a wimp. I knew my belief about being wimpy was limiting me, so I decided that was not who I wanted to be anymore.”

You can always decide to redefine yourself.

If you were to ask me who I am today (and I might decide to change tomorrow!), I would say that I am a creator of possibility, an instigator of joy, a catalyst for growth, a builder of people, and a producer of passion.

If we decide to think, feel, and act as the kind of person we want to be, we will become that person. We won’t just be behaving “like” that person; we will be that person.

If you’ll commit to giving an hour or two once a month, it will enhance your identity and you’ll become certain that you are “the kind of person” who truly cares, who takes deliberate action to make a difference.

© 2023 Mike Fiorillo
AboutBook Notes