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Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Wake up and take control of your life! From the bestselling author of Inner StrengthUnlimited 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.
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A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, New York 10020

Copyright © 1991 by Anthony Robbins

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

First Free Press trade paperback edition 2003

FREE PRESS and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster Inc.

For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or

Designed by Quinn Hall

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Summit Books edition as follows: Robbins, Anthony.

Awaken the giant within : how to take immediate control of your mental, emotional, physical & financial destiny! / Anthony Robbins.

p. cm.

Originally published: New York : Summit Books, © 1991.

1. Success—Psychological aspects. I. Title.

[BF637.58R63 1992]

158′1—dc20 92-30041


eISBN 978-0-743-27433-3

Lyrics from “I am … I said” by Neil Diamond. Copyright © 1971 Prophet Music, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.


As I begin to reflect on the magnitude of this project, I am reminded of the celebrated quarterback who sprints onto the field in the last quarter of the game, confers in the huddle, confidently strides out to the line of scrimmage, and throws the perfect spiral pass fifty yards downfield into the end zone to score the winning touchdown! The fans cheer, the coaches are thrilled, and the quarterback gets to joyously revel in the glory of winning the game. But it was a team effort. The quarterback is the public hero; however, in any game in life there are a multitude of players who are the hidden heroes, and in this endeavor there have been many. I have never been known to have words fail me, but as I begin to put on paper the feelings I have toward so many loyal and phenomenally selfless family members, friends and co-workers, I am overwhelmed. There is difficulty in assigning a hierarc; hy since it has been a true team effort from the beginning.

To my wife, Becky, my mom, and my four children—Jairek, Josh, Jolie, and Tyler—your love is my strength. Nothing is more important to me.

To my assistants, Deena Tuttle and Karen Risch, two amazing dynamos, who remained devoted to the vision that what we were doing would make a difference, even when it meant staying up all night away from husbands and children, even following me all over the country, at all times remaining cheerful and supportive. This book could not have been completed without their unswerving faithfulness.

To my Field Sales Representatives and Managers, who daily work out in the field in order to bring me into a city to overflowing seminar rooms; and to my franchisees, the Personal Development Consultants, who have helped me prove that video-based seminars do make a difference, I thank you for your courage and your dedication. To the Customer Service Representatives at Robbins Research International, who inspire the customer to take action and grow to new levels, I am so grateful.

To my entire team at the Robbins Research International offices in San Diego, who work crazy hours in order to launch my brainstorms and maintain the integrity of the vision, I salute you.

To my partners and associates of all the Anthony Robbins Companies, especially my dear friends at Fortune Management, your sensitivity to my unbelievable schedule touched my heart.

To the participants who have attended my seminars, I have learned much from you and acknowledge you for your participation in this work. A special thank you to the Certification class of 1991 who supported me as I worked throughout the night for more than two weeks in order to deliver this book on time.

To Earl Strumpell, whose love, friendship, and twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment to obtain and maintain whatever resources I need has given me the peace of mind to create.

To Dr. Robert Bays, my dear friend, whose wisdom and unconditional love pulled me through the bumpy roads, and whose input I always hold valuable, I am eternally grateful. To Vicki St. George, a gem of a friend, thank you.

To Michael Hutchison, who consistently holds himself to a high standard, I feel blessed by our relationship. To my best friend, Michael Keyes, thanks, buddy, for your humor and wit, your compassion and support. To Alan, Linda, and Josh Hahn for your inspiration and friendship; I look toward a long adventurous future.

To the “castle crew,” especially Theresa Lannon and Elizabeth Calfee, who are the best support system on earth, thanks for keeping this man’s home his castle!

To my good friends at Guthy-Renker Corporation, Greg Renker, Bill Guthy, Lenny Lieberman, Jon Schulberg, and John Zahody, who, along with the staff of Cassette Productions, have helped me to distribute over 7 million audio tapes carrying my Personal Power philosophy to people around the world in the last two years alone, I cherish our friendship.

To Peter Guber, for your inspirational phone calls and support, I deeply value our relationship.

To Ken and Marge Blanchard, the quarterly rendezvous with Becky and me are always the source of mutual magic and ever-increasing respect.

To Martin and Janet Sheen, for being such outstanding examples of passion, integrity, and commitment, thank you for being a light.

To all of the volunteers of the Anthony Robbins Foundation, the homeless, prisoners, children, and the elderly will never be the same because of your constant commitment to selfless contribution. You truly make a difference!

To Robert Cialdini, Stu Mittleman, Phil Maffetone, Paul Pilzer, and John Robbins, your contributions to this book will impact the quality of people’s lives.

To tae kwon do Grand Master Jhoon Rhee, whose constant love, loyalty, and knowledge inspire me to greater accomplishment, I respectfully bow to you, sir.

To the incredible staff of our Fiji getaway, the Namale Plantation Resort, and to the members of the neighboring villages of Viville and Nadi, you have truly taught me by example that life is a gift and a joy, that happiness is the only way to live.

To Jan Miller and her competent crew, my loyal liaison in this idiosyncratic publishing business, I take off my hat. To Dick Snyder, Bob Asahina, and Sarah Bayliss, thank you for your faith in me, once again.

To the giants whose shoulders I stand upon, the teachers who have shaped so much of my philosophy, strategies, and skill, I acknowledged you in Unlimited Power and I salute you once again.

And finally, thank you to a whole host of behind-the-scenes folks who supported me, including: Kathy Moeller, Suzy Gonzales, Joan Meng, Nancy Minkus, Shari Wilson, Mary Kent, Valerie Felts, Leigh Lendzian, Dave Polcino, Cherrell Tarantino, Mark Lamm, Robert Mott for the art work, and the guys at Franklin Type in New York.

These people never accepted that something was impossible. We all expected and received miracles throughout this odyssey, and we have all grown and become more in the process. You are all giants in my life.

Dedicated to the unlimited power

that lies sleeping within you.

Let it slumber no more.

Most of all for me, to my wife,

Becky, who is a living example of

unconditional love and support.

I love you, honey.





1. Dreams of Destiny

2. Decisions: The Pathway to Power

3. The Force That Shapes Your Life

4. Belief Systems: The Power to Create and the Power to Destroy

5. Can Change Happen in an Instant?

6. How to Change Anything in Your Life: The Science of Neuro-Associative Conditioning™

7. How to Get What You Really Want

8. Questions Are the Answer

9. The Vocabulary of Ultimate Success

10. Destroy the Blocks, Break Down the Wall, Let Go of the Rope, and Dance Your Way to Success: The Power of Life Metaphors

11. The Ten Emotions of Power

12. The Magnificent Obsession—Creating a Compelling Future

13. The Ten-Day Mental Challenge



14. Ultimate Influence: Your Master System

15. Life Values: Your Personal Compass

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

17. References: The Fabric of Life

18. Identity: The Key to Expansion



19. Day One—Emotional Destiny: The Only True Success

20. Day Two—Physical Destiny: Prison of Pain or Palace of Pleasure

21. Day Three—Relationship Destiny: The Place to Share and Care

22. Day Four—Financial Destiny: Small Steps to a Small (or Large) Fortune

23. Day Five—Be Impeccable: Your Code of Conduct

24. Day Six—Master Your Time and Your Life

25. Day Seven—Rest and Play: Even God Took One Day Off!



26. The Ultimate Challenge: What One Person Can Do

The Anthony Robbins Foundation

About the Anthony Robbins Companies


As the Chief Psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, I see so much human misery, not just in the mentally ill patients we treat, but also in the “normal,” “healthy” staff that treat them. I also see the same unhappiness in the high-functioning, relatively successful people I treat in my private practice. Quite often, the pain and misery are unnecessary and finally end when the people take charge of their beliefs, feelings, and actions in order to modify the process of their lives. Unfortunately, most of the time they don’t. They wait, then try to alter the bad result or, often, go to a shrink wanting just to complain about their awful life or in some way be “fixed” by someone else.

Empowering people to realize that they determine the outcome of their own lives is not always easy. In fact, it’s usually an overwhelming task. Consequently, I’ve always searched for new methods and technologies to pass along at the hospital and to my private patients. It was five years ago that I first heard about Tony Robbins’s work and attended one of his seminars in New York. I expected and received a truly unusual evening. What was unexpected was Tony’s genius in the realm of human behavior and communication. That night I learned that Tony shares my belief that anyone who is basically sane can take command and live life fully. Soon afterward, I attended Tony’s two-week Certification course and passed on much of what I learned there to colleagues and patients. I called the course “a basic training for life.” I then began recommending his tape series and his first book, Unlimited Power.

Although some of my colleagues are offended or surprised when I recommend the works of such a young man who doesn’t have academic credentials, those who actually read or listen to Tony come to agree. In addition to comprehensive, good information, Tony has a talent and a compelling style that make his material easy to grasp.

Eventually, my wife and I took the Date With Destiny™ course which contains many of the concepts that are in Tony’s latest work, Awaken the Giant Within. That weekend gave us the means to make alterations in our own values, rules, and controls, which, over the past two years, have allowed our lives to become much more productive and fulfilling.

I see Tony as a great coach in the game of life. His accurate insight, intelligence, passion, and commitment are always present and inspiring. Reading this book is like actually sitting across from Tony and becoming engaged in an engrossing and entertaining conversation with him. It should be referred to again and again, like a user’s manual, whenever life presents a new challenge or requires a change in course. It provides an arsenal of tools for lasting change as well as lessons for enriching the quality of life. In fact, if enough people read this book and sincerely apply its teachings, it could put me and many of my colleagues out of business.


“Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action.”





“A consistent man believes in destiny, a capricious man in chance.”


We all have dreams … We all want to believe deep down in our souls that we have a special gift, that we can make a difference, that we can touch others in a special way, and that we can make the world a better place. At one time in our lives, we all had a vision for the quality of life that we desire and deserve. Yet, for many of us, those dreams have become so shrouded in the frustrations and routines of daily life that we no longer even make an effort to accomplish them. For far too many, the dream has dissipated—and with it, so has the will to shape our destinies. Many have lost that sense of certainty that creates the winner’s edge. My life’s quest has been to restore the dream and to make it real, to get each of us to remember and use the unlimited power that lies sleeping within us all.

I’ll never forget the day it really hit me that I was truly living my dream. I was flying my jet helicopter from a business meeting in Los Angeles, traveling to Orange County on the way to one of my seminars. As I flew over the city of Glendale, I suddenly recognized a large building, and I stopped the helicopter and hovered above it. As I looked down, I realized this was the building that I’d worked in as a janitor a mere twelve years ago!

In those days, I had been concerned whether my 1960 Volkswagen would hang together for the 30-minute trip to work. My life had been focused on how I was going to survive; I had felt fearful and alone. But that day, as I hovered there in the sky, I thought, “What a difference a decade can make!” I did have dreams back then, but at the time, it seemed they’d never be realized. Today, though, I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. As I continued my flight south along the coastal route, I spotted dolphins playing with the surfers in the waves below. It’s a sight that my wife, Becky, and I treasure as one of life’s special gifts. Finally, I reached Irvine. Looking below, I was a little disturbed when I saw that the off ramp to my seminar was jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic for more than a mile. I thought to myself, “Boy, I hope whatever else is going on tonight gets started soon so that the people coming to my seminar arrive on time.”

But as I descended to the helipad, I began to see a new picture: thousands of people being held back by security where I was just about to land. Suddenly I began to grasp the reality. The traffic jam had been caused by people going to my event! Although we had expected approximately 2,000 attendees, I was facing a crowd of 7,000—in an auditorium that would hold only 5,000! When I walked into the arena from the landing pad, I was surrounded by hundreds of people who wanted to give me a hug or tell me how my work had positively impacted their lives.

The stories they shared with me were incredible. One mother introduced me to her son who had been labeled “hyperactive” and “learning disabled.” Utilizing the principles of state management taught in this book, she was not only able to get him off the drug Ritalin, but they had also since been transferred to California where her son had been retested and evaluated at the level of genius! You should have seen his face as she shared with me his new label. A gentleman talked about how he had freed himself from cocaine using some of the Success Conditioning techniques you’ll learn in this book. A couple in their mid-fifties shared with me that, after fifteen years of marriage, they had been on the brink of divorce until they learned about personal rules. A salesman told me how his monthly income had jumped from $2,000 to over $12,000 in a mere six months, and an entrepreneur related that he had increased corporate revenues by over $3 million in eighteen months by applying the principles of quality questions and emotional management. A lovely young woman showed me a picture of her former self, having lost fifty-two pounds by applying the principles of leverage that are detailed in this book.

I was touched so deeply by the emotions in that room that I got choked up, and at first I couldn’t speak. As I looked out on my audience and saw 5,000 smiling, cheering, loving faces, in that moment I realized that I am living my dream! What a feeling to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt I had the information, strategies, philosophies, and skills that could assist any one of these people in empowering themselves to make the changes they desired most! A flood of images and emotions flowed over me. I began to remember an experience I’d had only a few years before, sitting in my 400-square-foot bachelor apartment in Venice, California, all alone and crying as I listened to the lyrics of a Neil Diamond song: “I am, I said, to no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair. I am, I cried. I am, said I. And I am lost, and I can’t even say why, leavin’ me lonely still.” I remembered feeling like my life didn’t matter, as if the events of the world were controlling me. I also remember the moment my life changed, the moment I finally said, “I’ve had it! I know I’m much more than I’m demonstrating mentally, emotionally, and physically in my life.” I made a decision in that moment which was to alter my life forever. I decided to change virtually every aspect of my life. I decided I would never again settle for less than I could be. Who would have guessed that this decision would bring me to such an incredible moment?

I gave my all at the seminar that night, and when I left the auditorium, crowds of people followed me to the helicopter to see me off. To say I was deeply moved by the experience would be an understatement. A tear slid down my cheek as I thanked my Creator for these wonderful gifts. As I lifted off the grass and ascended into the moonlight, I had to pinch myself. Could this be real? Am I the same guy who eight years ago was struggling, frustrated, feeling alone and incapable of making my life work? Fat, broke, and wondering if I could even survive? How could a young kid like me with nothing but a high school education have created such dramatic changes?

My answer is simple: I learned to harness the principle I now call concentration of power. Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives. Controlled focus is like a laser beam that can cut through anything that seems to be stopping you. When we focus consistently on improvement in any area, we develop unique distinctions on how to make that area better. One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular. In fact, I believe most people fail in life simply because they major in minor things. I believe that one of life’s major lessons is learning to understand what makes us do what we do. What shapes human behavior? The answers to this question provide critical keys to shaping your own destiny.

My entire life has been continually driven by a singular, compelling focus: What makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives? How is it that so often people from such humble beginnings and devastating backgrounds manage in spite of it all to create lives that inspire us? Conversely, why do many of those born into privileged environments, with every resource for success at their fingertips, end up fat, frustrated, and often chemically addicted? What makes some people’s lives an example and others’ a warning? What is the secret that creates passionate, happy, and grateful lives in many, while for others the refrain might be, “Is that all there is?”

My own magnificent obsession began with some simple questions: “How can I take immediate control of my life? What can I do today that can make a difference—that could help me and others to shape our destinies? How can I expand, learn, grow, and share that knowledge with others in a meaningful and enjoyable way?”

At a very early age, I developed a belief that we’re all here to contribute something unique, that deep within each of us lies a special gift. You see, I truly believe we all have a sleeping giant within us. Each of us has a talent, a gift, our own bit of genius just waiting to be tapped. It might be a talent for art or music. It might be a special way of relating to the ones you love. It might be a genius for selling or innovating or reaching out in your business or your career. I choose to believe that our Creator doesn’t play favorites, that we’ve all been created unique, but with equal opportunities for experiencing life to the fullest. I decided many years ago that the most important way I could spend my life would be to invest it in something that would outlast it. I decided that somehow I must contribute in some way that would live on long after I was gone.

Today, I have the incredible privilege of sharing my ideas and feelings with literally millions of people through my books, tapes, and television shows. I’ve personally worked with over a quarter of a million people in the last few years alone. I’ve assisted members of Congress, CEOs, presidents of companies and countries, managers and mothers, salespeople, accountants, lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and professional athletes. I’ve worked with phobics, the clinically depressed, people with multiple personalities, and those who thought they had no personality. Now I have the unique good fortune of sharing the best of what I’ve learned with you, and for that opportunity I am truly grateful and excited.

Through it all, I’ve continued to recognize the power individuals have to change virtually anything and everything in their lives in an instant. I’ve learned that the resources we need to turn our dreams into reality are within us, merely waiting for the day when we decide to wake up and claim our birthright. I wrote this book for one reason: to be a wake-up call that will challenge those who are committed to living and being more to tap their God-given power. There are ideas and strategies in this book to help you produce specific, measurable, long-lasting changes in yourself and others.

You see, I believe I know who you really are. I believe you and I must be kindred souls. Your desire to expand has brought you to this book. It is the invisible hand that guided you. I know that no matter where you are in your life, you want more! No matter how well you’re already doing or how challenged you now may be, deep inside of you there lies a belief that your experience of life can and will be much greater than it already is. You are destined for your own unique form of greatness, whether it is as an outstanding professional, teacher, businessperson, mother, or father. Most importantly, you not only believe this, but you’ve taken action. You not only bought this book, but you’re also doing something right now that unfortunately is unique—you’re reading it! Statistics show that less than 10 percent of people who buy a book read past the first chapter. What an unbelievable waste! This is a giant book that you can use to produce giant results in your life. Clearly, you’re the kind of person who won’t cheat yourself by dabbling. By consistently taking advantage of each of the chapters in this book, you’ll ensure your ability to maximize your potential.

I challenge you not only to do whatever it takes to read this book in its entirety (unlike the masses who quit) but also to use what you learn in simple ways each day. This is the all-important step that’s necessary for you to produce the results you’re committed to.


For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent. We’ve all experienced change for a moment, only to feel let down and disappointed in the end. In fact, many people attempt change with a sense of fear and dread because unconsciously they believe the changes will only be temporary. A prime example of this is someone who needs to begin dieting, but finds himself putting it off, primarily because he unconsciously knows that whatever pain he endures in order to create the change will bring him only a short-term reward. For most of my life I’ve pursued what I consider to be the organizing principles of lasting change, and you’ll learn many of these and how to utilize them in the pages that follow. But for now, I’d like to share with you three elementary principles of change that you and I can use immediately to change our lives. While these principles are simple, they are also extremely powerful when they are skillfully applied. These are the exact same changes that an individual must make in order to create personal change, that a company must make in order to maximize its potential, and that a country must make in order to carve out its place in the world. In fact, as a world community these are the changes that we all must make to preserve the quality of life around the globe.


Raise Your Standards

Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards. When people ask me what really changed my life eight years ago, I tell them that absolutely the most important thing was changing what I demanded of myself. I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things that I aspired to becoming.

Think of the far-reaching consequences set in motion by men and women who raised their standards and acted in accordance with them, deciding they would tolerate no less. History chronicles the inspiring examples of people like Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, César Chávez, Soichiro Honda, and many others who took the magnificently powerful step of raising their standards. The same power that was available to them is available to you, if you have the courage to claim it. Changing an organization, a company, a country—or a world—begins with the simple step of changing yourself.


Change Your Limiting Beliefs

If you raise your standards but don’t really believe you can meet them, you’ve already sabotaged yourself. You won’t even try; you’ll be lacking that sense of certainty that allows you to tap the deepest capacity that’s within you even as you read this. Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands, telling us how things are, what’s possible and what’s impossible, what we can and can not do. They shape every action, every thought, and every feeling that we experience. As a result, changing our belief systems is central to making any real and lasting change in our lives. We must develop a sense of certainty that we can and will meet the new standards before we actually do.

Without taking control of your belief systems, you can raise your standards as much as you like, but you’ll never have the conviction to back them up. How much do you think Gandhi would have accomplished had he not believed with every fiber of his being in the power of nonviolent opposition? It was the congruence of his beliefs which gave him access to his inner resources and enabled him to meet challenges which would have swayed a less committed man. Empowering beliefs—this sense of certainty—is the force behind any great success throughout history.


Change Your Strategy

In order to keep your commitment, you need the best strategies for achieving results. One of my core beliefs is that if you set a higher standard, and you can get yourself to believe, then you certainly can figure out the strategies. You simply will find a way. Ultimately, that’s what this whole book is about. It shows you strategies for getting the job done, and I’ll tell you now that the best strategy in almost any case is to find a role-model, someone who’s already getting the results you want, and then tap into their knowledge. Learn what they’re doing, what their core beliefs are, and how they think. Not only will this make you more effective, it will also save you a huge amount of time because you won’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can fine-tune it, reshape it, and perhaps even make it better.

This book will provide you with the information and impetus to commit to all three of these master principles of quality change: it will help you raise your standards by discovering what they currently are and realizing what you want them to be; it will help you change the core beliefs that are keeping you from where you want to go and enhance those that already serve you; and it will assist you in developing a series of strategies for more elegantly, quickly, and efficiently producing the results you desire.

You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action. If you will allow me the opportunity, through this book I’ll be your personal coach. What do coaches do? Well, first, they care about you. They’ve spent years focusing on a particular area of expertise, and they’ve continued to make key distinctions about how to produce results more quickly. By utilizing the strategies your coach shares with you, you can immediately and dramatically change your performance. Sometimes, your coach doesn’t even tell you something new, but reminds you of what you already know, and then gets you to do it. This is the role, with your permission, that I’ll be playing for you.

On what, specifically, will I be coaching you? I’ll offer you distinctions of power in how to create lasting improvements in the quality of your life. Together, we will concentrate on (not dabble in!) the mastery of the five areas of life that I believe impact us most. They are:

1. Emotional Mastery

Mastering this lesson alone will take you most of the way toward mastering the other four! Think about it. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it just to have less fat on your body? Or is it because of the way you think you’d feel if you freed yourself of those unwanted pounds, giving yourself more energy and vitality, making yourself feel more attractive to others, and boosting your confidence and self-esteem to the stratosphere? 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. It’s amazing how often we use the intelligence at our command to work ourselves into unresourceful emotional states, forgetting about the multitude of innate talents each of us already possesses. Too many of us leave ourselves at the mercy of outside events over which we may have no control, failing to take charge of our emotions—over which we have all the control—and relying instead on short-term quick fixes. How else can we explain the fact that, while less than 5 percent of the world’s population lives in the United States, we consume more than 50 percent of the world’s cocaine? Or that our national defense budget, which currently runs in the billions, is equaled by what we spend on alcohol consumption? Or that 15 million Americans are diagnosed every year as clinically depressed, and more than $500 million worth of prescriptions are written for the antidepressant drug Prozac?

In this book, you will discover what makes you do what you do, and the triggers for the emotions you experience most often. You will then be given a step-by-step plan to show you how to identify which emotions are empowering, which are disempowering, and how to use both kinds to your best advantage so that your emotions become not a hindrance, but instead a powerful tool in helping you achieve your highest potential.

2. Physical Mastery

Is it worth it to have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, yet not have the physical health to be able to enjoy it? Do you wake up every morning feeling energized, powerful, and ready to take on a new day? Or do you wake up feeling as tired as the night before, riddled with aches, and resentful at having to start all over again? Will your current lifestyle make you a statistic? One of every two Americans dies of coronary disease; one of three dies of cancer. To borrow a phrase from the seventeenth-century physician Thomas Moffett, we are “digging our graves with our teeth” as we cram our bodies with high-fat, nutritionally empty foods, poison our systems with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, and sit passively in front of our TV sets. This second master lesson will help you take control of your physical health so that you not only look good, but you feel good and know that you’re in control of your life, in a body that radiates vitality and allows you to accomplish your outcomes.

3. Relationship Mastery

Other than mastering your own emotions and physical health, there is nothing I can think of that is more important than learning to master your relationships—romantic, family, business, and social. After all, who wants to learn, grow, and become successful and happy all by themselves? The third master lesson in this book will reveal the secrets to enable you to create quality relationships—first with yourself, then with others. You will begin by discovering what you value most highly, what your expectations are, the rules by which you play the game of life, and how it all relates to the other players. Then, as you achieve mastery of this all-important skill, you will learn how to connect with people at the deepest level and be rewarded with something we all want to experience: a sense of contribution, of knowing that we have made a difference in other people’s lives. I’ve found that, for me, the greatest resource is a relationship because it opens the doors to every resource I need. Mastery of this lesson will give you unlimited resources for growing and contributing.

4. Financial Mastery

By the time they reach the age of sixty-five, most Americans are either dead broke—or dead! That’s hardly what most people envision for themselves as they look ahead to the golden age of retirement. Yet without the conviction that you deserve financial well-being, backed up by a workable game plan, how can you turn your treasured scenario into reality? The fourth master lesson in this book will teach you how to go beyond the goal of mere survival in your autumn years of life, and even now, for that matter. Because we have the good fortune to live in a capitalist society, each of us has the capability to carry out our dreams. Yet most of us experience financial pressure on an ongoing basis, and we fantasize that having more money would relieve that pressure. This is a grand cultural delusion—let me assure you that the more money you have, the more pressure you’re likely to feel. The key is not the mere pursuit of wealth, but changing your beliefs and attitudes about it so you see it as a means for contribution, not the end-all and be-all for happiness.

To forge a financial destiny of abundance, you will first learn how to change what causes scarcity in your life, and then how to experience on a consistent basis the values, beliefs, and emotions that are essential to experiencing wealth and holding on to it and expanding it. Then you’ll define your goals and shape your dreams with an eye toward achieving the highest possible level of well-being, filling you with peace of mind and freeing you to look forward with excitement to all the possibilities that life has to offer.

5. Time Mastery

Masterpieces take time. Yet how many of us really know how to use it? I’m not talking about time management; I’m talking about actually taking time and distorting it, manipulating it so that it becomes your ally rather than your enemy. The fifth master lesson in this book will teach you, first, how short-term evaluations can lead to long-term pain. You will learn how to make a real decision and how to manage your desire for instantaneous gratification, thus allowing your ideas, your creations—even your own potential—the time to reach full fruition. Next you’ll learn how to design the necessary maps and strategies for following up on your decision, making it a reality with the willingness to take massive action, the patience to experience “lag time,” and the flexibility to change your approach as often as needed. Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year—and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!

I’m not sharing these lessons with you to say that I have all the answers or that my life has been perfect or smooth. I’ve certainly had my share of challenging times. But through it all, I’ve managed to learn, persist, and continually succeed throughout the years. Each time I’ve met a challenge, I’ve used what I’ve learned to take my life to a new level. And, like yours, my level of mastery in these five areas continues to expand.

Also, living my lifestyle may not be the answer for you. My dreams and goals may not be yours. I believe, though, that the lessons I’ve learned about how to turn dreams into reality, how to take the intangible and make it real, are fundamental to achieving any level of personal or professional success. I wrote this book to be an action guide—a textbook for increasing the quality of your life and the amount of enjoyment that you can pull from it. While I’m obviously extremely proud of my first book, Unlimited Power, and the impact it’s had on people all over the world, I feel this book will bring you some new and unique distinctions of power that can help you move your life to the next level.

We’ll be reviewing some of the fundamentals, since repetition is the mother of skill. Therefore, I hope this will be a book you’ll read again and again, a book you’ll come back to and utilize as a tool to trigger yourself to find the answers that already lie inside you. Even so, remember that as you read this book, you don’t have to believe or use everything within it. Grab hold of the things you think are useful; put them in action immediately. You won’t have to implement all of the strategies or use all of the tools in this book to make some major changes. All have life-changing potential individually; used together, however, they will produce explosive results.

This book is filled with the strategies for achieving the success you desire, with organizing principles that I have modeled from some of the most powerful and interesting people in our culture. I’ve had the unique opportunity to meet, interview, and model a huge variety of people—people with impact and unique character—from Norman Cousins to Michael Jackson, from coach John Wooden to financial wizard John Templeton, from the captains of industry to cab drivers. In the following pages, you’ll find not only the benefits of my own experience, but that of the thousands of books, tapes, seminars, and interviews that I’ve accumulated over the last ten years of my life, as I continue the exciting, ongoing quest of learning and growing a little bit more, every single day.

The purpose of this book is not just to help you make a singular change in your life, but rather to be a pivot point that can assist you in taking your entire life to a new level. The focus of this book is on creating global changes. What do I mean by this? Well, you can learn to make changes in your life—overcome a fear or a phobia, increase the quality of a relationship, or overcome your pattern of procrastinating. All these are incredibly valuable skills, and if you’ve read Unlimited Power, you’ve already learned many of them. However, as you continue through the following pages, you’ll find that there are key leverage points within your life that, if you make one small change, will literally transform every aspect of your life.

This book is designed to offer you the strategies that can help you to create, live, and enjoy the life you currently may only be dreaming of.

In this book you will learn a series of simple and specific strategies for addressing the cause of any challenge and changing it with the least amount of effort. For example, it might be hard for you to believe that merely by changing one word that is part of your habitual vocabulary, you could immediately change your emotional patterns for life. Or that by changing the consistent questions that you consciously or unconsciously ask yourself, you could instantly change what you focus on and therefore what actions you take every day of your life. Or that by making one belief change, you could powerfully change your level of happiness. Yet in the following chapters you’ll learn to master these techniques—and many more—to effect the changes you desire.

And so it’s with great respect that I begin this relationship with you as together we begin a journey of discovery and the actualization of our deepest and truest potentials. Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.

So let’s begin our journey by exploring …


“Man is born to live and not to prepare to live.”


Do you remember when Jimmy Carter was still the President of the United States, the Empire was striking back, Yoda and Pac Man were the rage, and nothing came between Brooke Shields and her Calvins? The Ayatollah Khomeini had come to power in Iran and held our fellow Americans hostage. In Poland, an electrician from the Gdansk shipyards named Lech Walesa did the unthinkable: he decided to take a stand against the Communist hold. He led his co-workers in a strike, and when they tried to lock him out of his place of work, he simply climbed over the wall. A lot of walls have come down since then, haven’t they?

Do you remember hearing the news that John Lennon was murdered? Do you remember when Mount Saint Helens erupted, leveling 150 square miles? Did you cheer when the underdog U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets, and went on to win the Olympic gold medal? That was 1980, a little more than ten years ago.

Think for a moment. Where were you then? What were you like? Who were your friends? What were your hopes and dreams? If someone had asked you, “Where will you be in ten or fifteen years?” what would you have told them? Are you today where you wanted to be back then? A decade can pass quickly, can’t it?

More importantly, maybe we should be asking ourselves, “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? What am I going to stand for from now on? What’s important to me right now, and what will be important to me in the long term? What actions can I take today that will shape my ultimate destiny?”

You see, ten years from now, you will surely arrive. The question is: Where? Who will you have become? How will you live? What will you contribute? Now is the time to design the next ten years of your life—not once they’re over. We must seize the moment. We’re already immersed in the early part of a new decade, and we’re entering the final years of the twentieth century! And shortly we’ll be in the twenty-first century, a new millennium. The year 2000 will be here before you know it, and in a mere ten years, you’ll be looking back on this day and remembering it like you do 1980. Will you be pleased when you look back on the nineties, or perturbed? Delighted, or disturbed?

In the beginning of 1980, I was a nineteen-year-old kid. I felt alone and frustrated. I had virtually no financial resources. There were no success coaches available to me, no successful friends or mentors, no clear-cut goals. I was floundering and fat. Yet within a few short years I discovered a power that I used to transform virtually every area of my life. And once I’d mastered it, I used it to revolutionize my life in less than a year. It was the tool I used to dramatically increase my level of confidence and therefore my ability to take action and produce measurable results. I also used it to take back control of my physical well-being and permanently rid myself of thirty-eight pounds of fat. Through it, I attracted the woman of my dreams, married her, and created the family I desired. I used this power to change my income from subsistence level to over $1 million a year. It moved me from my tiny apartment (where I was washing my dishes in the bathtub because there was no kitchen) to my family’s current home, the Del Mar Castle. This one distinction took me from feeling completely alone and insignificant to feeling grateful for new opportunities to contribute something to millions of people around the world. And it’s a power I continue to use every single day of my life to shape my personal destiny.

In Unlimited Power, I made it abundantly clear that the most powerful way to shape our lives is to get ourselves to take action. The difference in the results that people produce comes down to what they’ve done differently from others in the same situations. Different actions produce different results. Why? Because any action is a cause set in motion, and its effect builds on past effects to move us in a definite direction. Every direction leads to an ultimate destination: our destiny.

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. The key and most important question, then, is this: What precedes all of our actions? What determines what actions we take, and therefore, who we become, and what our ultimate destination is in life? What is the father of action?

The answer, of course, is what I’ve been alluding to all along: the power of decision. Everything that happens in your life—both what you’re thrilled with and what you’re challenged by—began with a decision. I believe that it’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. The decisions that you’re making right now, every day, will shape how you feel today as well as who you’re going to become in the nineties and beyond.

As you look back over the last ten years, were there times when a different decision would have made your life radically different from today, either for better or for worse? Maybe, for example, you made a career decision that changed your life. Or maybe you failed to make one. Maybe you decided during the last ten years to get married—or divorced. You might have purchased a tape, a book, or attended a seminar and, as a result, changed your beliefs and actions. Maybe you decided to have children, or to put it off in pursuit of a career. Perhaps you decided to invest in a home or a business. Maybe you decided to start exercising, or to give it up. It could be that you decided to stop smoking. Maybe you decided to move to another part of the country, or to take a trip around the world. How have these decisions brought you to this point in your life?

Did you experience emotions of tragedy and frustration, injustice or hopelessness during the last decade of your life? I know I certainly did. If so, what did you decide to do about them? Did you push beyond your limits, or did you just give up? How have these decisions shaped your current life path?

“Man is not the creature of circumstances; circumstances are the creatures of men.”


More than anything else, I believe it’s our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny. You and I both know that there are people who were born with advantages: they’ve had genetic advantages, environmental advantages, family advantages, or relationship advantages. Yet you and I also know that we constantly meet, read, and hear about people who against all odds have exploded beyond the limitations of their conditions by making new decisions about what to do with their lives. They’ve become examples of the unlimited power of the human spirit.

If we decide to, you and I can make our lives one of these inspiring examples. How? Simply by making decisions today about how we’re going to live in the nineties and beyond. If you don’t make decisions about how you’re going to live, then you’ve already made a decision, haven’t you? You’re making a decision to be directed by the environment instead of shaping your own destiny. My whole life changed in just one day—the day I determined not just what I’d like to have in my life or what I wanted to become, but when I decided who and what I was committed to having and being in my life. That’s a simple distinction, but a critical one.

“Wait! Wait! Listen to me! … we don’t have to be just sheep!”

Think for a moment. Is there a difference between being interested in something, and being committed to it? You bet there is! Many times people say things like, “Gosh, I really would like to make more money,” or “I’d like to be closer to my kids,” or “You know, I’d really like to make a difference in the world.” But that kind of statement is not a commitment at all. It’s merely stating a preference, saying, “I’m interested in having this happen, if I don’t have to do anything.” That’s not power! It’s a weak prayer made without even the faith to launch it.

Not only do you have to decide what results you are committed to, but also the kind of person that you’re committed to becoming. As we discussed in Chapter 1, you have to set standards for what you consider to be acceptable behavior for yourself, and decide what you should expect from those you care about. If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors 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.

Unfortunately, most people never do this because they’re too busy making excuses. The reason they haven’t achieved their goals or are not living the lives they desire is because of the way their parents treated them, or because of the lack of opportunities that they experienced in their youth, or because of the education they missed, or because they’re too old, or because they’re too young. All of these excuses are nothing but B.S. (Belief Systems)! And they’re not only limiting, they’re destructive.

Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant. It can change your relationships, your working environment, your level of physical fitness, your income, and your emotional states. It can determine whether you’re happy or sad, whether you’re frustrated or excited, enslaved by circumstances, or expressing your freedom. It’s the source of change within an individual, a family, a community, a society, our world. What’s changed everything in Eastern Europe in the last few years? The people there—people like you and me—have made new decisions about what they’ll stand for, what’s acceptable and unacceptable to them, and what they’ll no longer tolerate. Certainly Gorbachev’s decisions helped pave the way, but Lech Walesa’s determination and commitment to a higher standard built the road to massive economic and political change.

I often ask people who complain about their jobs, “Why did you go to work today?” Their answer usually is, “Because I had to.” You and I need to remember one thing: there is virtually nothing that we have to do in this country. You certainly don’t have to go to work. Not here! And you certainly don’t have to work at a particular location on a particular day. Not in America! You don’t have to do what you’ve done for the last ten years. You can decide to do something else, something new, today. Right now you can make a decision: to go back to school, to master dancing or singing, to take control of your finances, to learn to fly a helicopter, to turn your body into an inspiration, to begin meditating, to enroll in ballroom dancing, to attend a NASA space camp, to learn to speak French, to read more to your children, to spend more time in the flower garden, even to fly to Fiji and live on an island. If you truly decide to, you can do almost anything. So if you don’t like the current relationship you’re in, make the decision now to change it. If you don’t like your current job, change it. If you don’t like the way you feel about yourself, change it. If it’s a higher level of physical vitality and health you want, you can change it now. In a moment you can seize the same power that has shaped history.

I’ve written this book to challenge you to awaken the giant power of decision and to claim the birthright of unlimited power, radiant vitality, and joyous passion that is yours! You must know that you can make a new decision right now that will immediately change your life—a decision about a habit you’ll change or a skill that you’ll master, or how you’ll treat people, or a call that you’ll now make to someone you haven’t spoken to in years. Maybe there’s someone you should contact to take your career to the next level. Maybe you could make a decision right now to enjoy and cultivate the most positive emotions that you deserve to experience daily. Is it possible you might choose more joy or more fun or more confidence or more peace of mind? Even before you turn the page, you can make use of the power that already resides within you. Make the decision now that can send you in a new, positive, and powerful direction for growth and happiness.

“Nothing can resist the human will that will stake even its existence on its stated purpose.”


Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision. Who would have thought that the determination and conviction of a quiet, unassuming man—a lawyer by trade and a pacifist by principle—would have the power to topple a vast empire? Yet Mahatma Gandhi’s indomitable decision to rid India of British rule was a virtual powder keg that set in motion a chain of events that would forever change the balance of world power. People didn’t see how he could accomplish his aims, but he’d left himself no other choice than to act according to his conscience. He simply wouldn’t accept any other possibility.

Decision was the source of John F. Kennedy’s power as he faced off Nikita Khrushchev during the tense Cuban Missile Crisis and averted World War III. Decision was the source of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s power as he gave voice so eloquently to the frustrations and aspirations of a people who would no longer be denied, and forced the world to take notice. Decision was the source of Donald Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of the financial world, and also the source of his devastating down-fall. It’s the power that allowed Pete Rose to maximize his physical abilities to Hall of Fame potential—and then ultimately to destroy his life’s dream. Decisions act as the source of both problems and incredible joys and opportunities. This is the power that sparks the process of turning the invisible into the visible. True decisions are the catalyst for turning our dreams into reality.

The most exciting thing about this force, this power, is that you already possess it. The explosive impetus of decision is not something reserved for a select few with the right credentials or money or family background. It’s available to the common laborer as well as the king. It’s available to you now as you hold this book in your hands. In the very next moment you can use this mighty force that lies waiting within you if you merely muster the courage to claim it. Will today be the day you finally decide that who you are as a person is much more than you’ve been demonstrating? Will today be the day you decide once and for all to make your life consistent with the quality of your spirit? Then start by proclaiming, “This is who I am. This is what my life is about. And this is what I’m going to do. Nothing will stop me from achieving my destiny. I will not be denied!”

Consider a fiercely proud individual, a woman named Rosa Parks, who one day in 1955 stepped onto a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and refused to give up her seat to a white person as she was legally required to do. Her one quiet act of civil disobedience sparked a firestorm of controversy and became a symbol for generations to follow. It was the beginning of the civil rights movement, a consciousness-awakening ground swell that we are grappling with even today as we redefine the meaning of equality, opportunity, and justice for all Americans regardless of race, creed, or sex. Was Rosa Parks thinking of the future when she refused to give up her seat in that bus? Did she have a divine plan for how she could change the structure of a society? Perhaps. But what is more likely is that her decision to hold herself to a higher standard compelled her to act. What a far-reaching effect one woman’s decision has had!

If you’re thinking, “I’d love to make decisions like that, but I’ve experienced real tragedies,” let me offer you the example of Ed Roberts. He is an “ordinary” man confined to a wheelchair who became extraordinary by his decision to act beyond his apparent limitations. Ed has been paralyzed from the neck down since he was fourteen years old. He uses a breathing device that he’s mastered against great odds to lead a “normal” life by day, and he spends every night in an iron lung. Having fought a battle against polio, several times almost losing his life, he certainly could have decided to focus on his own pain, but instead chose to make a difference for others.

Just what has he managed to do? For the last fifteen years, his decision to fight against a world he often found condescending has resulted in many enhancements to the quality of life for the disabled. Facing a multitude of myths about the capabilities of the physically challenged, Ed educated the public and initiated everything from wheelchair access ramps and special parking spaces to grab bars. He became the first quadriplegic to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, and he eventually held the position of director of the California State Department of Rehabilitation, again pioneering this position for the disabled.

Ed Roberts is powerful evidence that it’s not where you start out but the decisions you make about where you’re determined to end up that matter. All of his actions were founded in a single, powerful, committed moment of decision. What could you do with your life if you really decided to?

Many people say, “Well, I’d love to make a decision like that, but I’m not sure how I could change my life.” They’re paralyzed by the fear that they don’t know exactly how to turn their dreams into reality. And as a result, they never make the decisions that could make their lives into the masterpieces they deserve to be. I’m here to tell you that it’s not important initially to know how you’re going to create a result. What’s important is to decide you will find a way, no matter what. In Unlimited Power, I outlined what I call “The Ultimate Success Formula,” which is an elementary process for getting you where you want to go: 1) Decide what you want, 2) Take action, 3) Notice what’s working or not, and 4) Change your approach until you achieve what you want. Deciding to produce a result causes events to be set in motion. If you simply decide what it is you want, get yourself to take action, learn from it, and change your approach, then you will create the momentum to achieve the result. As soon as you truly commit to making something happen, the “how” will reveal itself.

“Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth—that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.”


If making decisions is so simple and powerful, then why don’t more people follow Hike’s advice and “Just Do It”? I think one of the simplest reasons is that most of us don’t recognize what it even means to make a real decision. We don’t realize the force of change that a congruent, committed decision creates. Part of the problem is that for so long most of us have used the term “decision” so loosely that it’s come to describe something like a wish list. Instead of making decisions, we keep stating preferences. Making a true decision, unlike saying, I’d like to quit smoking,” is cutting off any other possibility. In fact, the word “decision” comes from the Latin roots de, which means “from,” and caedere, which means “to cut.” Making a true decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility.

When you truly decide you’ll never smoke cigarettes again, that’s it. It’s over! You no longer even consider the possibility of smoking. If you’re one of the people who’s ever exercised the power of decision this way, you know exactly what I’m talking about. An alcoholic knows that even after years of absolute sobriety, if he fools himself into thinking that he can take even one drink, he’ll have to begin all over again. After making a true decision, even a tough one, most of us feel a tremendous amount of relief. We’ve finally gotten off the fence! And we all know how great it feels to have a clear, unquestioned objective.

This kind of clarity gives you power. With clarity, you can produce the results that you really want for your life. The challenge for most of us is that we haven’t made a decision in so long we’ve forgotten what it feels like. We’ve got flabby decision-making muscles! Some people even have a hard time deciding what they’re going to have for dinner.

So how do we strengthen these muscles? Give them a workout! The way to make better decisions is to make more of them. Then make sure you learn from each one, including those that don’t seem to work out in the short term: they will provide valuable distinctions to make better evaluations and therefore decisions in the future. Realize that decision making, like any skill you focus on improving, gets better the more often you do it. The more often you make decisions, the more you’ll realize that you truly are in control of your life. You’ll look forward to future challenges, and you’ll see them as an opportunity to make new distinctions and move your life to the next level.

I can’t overemphasize the power and value of gaining even one, single distinction—a sole piece of information—that can be used to change the course of your life. Information is power when it’s acted upon, and one of my criteria for a true decision is that action flows from it. The exciting thing is that you never know when you’re going to get it! The reason I read over 700 books, listened to tapes, and went to so many seminars is that I understood the power of a single distinction. It might be on the next page or in the next chapter of this book. It might even be something you already know. But for some reason, this is the time it finally sinks in and you begin to use it. Remember that repetition is the mother of skill. Distinctions empower us to make better decisions and, therefore, create the results that we desire for ourselves. Not having certain distinctions can cause you major pain. For example, many of the most famous people in our culture have achieved their dreams but have still not found a way to enjoy them. They often turn to drugs because they feel unfulfilled. This is because they are missing the distinction between achieving one’s goals and living one’s values, something you will learn to master in the pages to follow. Another distinction that many people don’t have causes pain in their relationships on a regular basis. It’s a rules distinction, another key element we’ll be examining in our journey of self-discovery. Sometimes, not having a certain distinction can cost you everything. People who run strenuously yet continue to eat fatty foods, clogging up their arteries, court heart attacks.

For most of my life, I’ve pursued what the famed business expert Dr. W. Edwards Deming calls profound knowledge. To me, profound knowledge is any simple distinction, strategy, belief, skill, or tool that, the minute we understand it, we can apply it to make immediate increases in the quality of our lives. This book and my life have been committed to pursuing profound knowledge that has universal application to improving our personal and professional lives. I’m constantly figuring out how to communicate this knowledge with people in ways that truly empower them to improve their mental, emotional, physical, and financial destinies.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”


Three decisions that you make every moment of your life control your destiny. These three decisions determine what you’ll notice, how you’ll feel, what you’ll do, and ultimately what you will contribute and who you become. If you don’t control these three decisions, you simply aren’t in control of your life. When you do control them, you begin to sculpt your experience.

The three decisions that control your destiny are:

Your decisions about what to focus on.

Your decisions about what things mean to you.

Your decisions about what to do to create the results you desire.

You see, it’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny. Know that if anyone is enjoying greater success than you in any area, they’re making these three decisions differently from you in some context or situation. Clearly, Ed Roberts chose to focus on something different than most people in his position would. He focused on how he could make a difference. His physical difficulties meant “challenge” to him. What he decided to do, clearly, was anything that could make the quality of life for others in his position more comfortable. He absolutely committed himself to shaping the environment in a way that would improve the quality of life for all physically challenged people.

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.”


Too many of us don’t make the majority of our decisions consciously, especially these three absolutely crucial ones; in so doing, we pay a major price. In fact, most people live what I call “The Niagara Syndrome.” I believe that life is like a river, and that most people jump on the river of life without ever really deciding where they want to end up. So, in a short period of time, they get caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges. When they come to forks in the river, they don’t consciously decide where they want to go, or which is the right direction for them. They merely “go with the flow.” They become a part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values. As a result, they feel out of control. They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of the raging water awakens them, and they discover that they’re five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, they say, “Oh, shoot!” But by then it’s too late. They’re going to take a fall. Sometimes it’s an emotional fall. Sometimes it’s a physical fall. Sometimes it’s a financial fall. It’s likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by some better decisions upstream.

How do we turn things around if we’re caught up in the momentum of the raging river? Either make a decision to put both oars in the water and start paddling like crazy in a new direction, or decide to plan ahead. Set a course for where you really want to go, and have a plan or map so that you can make quality decisions along the way.

Although you may never have even thought about it, your brain has already constructed an internal system for making decisions. This system acts like an invisible force, directing all of your thoughts, actions, and feelings, both good and bad, every moment that you live. It controls how you evaluate everything in your life, and it’s largely driven by your subconscious mind. The scary thing is that most people never consciously set this system up. Instead, it’s been installed through the years by sources as diverse as parents, peers, teachers, television, advertisers, and the culture at large. This system is comprised of five components: 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. The synergistic relationship of these five elements exerts a force that’s responsible for prompting you to or stopping you from taking action, causing you to anticipate or worry about the future, making you feel loved or rejected, and dictating your level of success and happiness. It determines why you do what you do and why you don’t do some things that you know you need to do.

By changing any one of these five elements—whether it’s a core belief or rule, a value, a reference, a question, or an emotional state—you can immediately produce a powerful and measurable change in your life. Most importantly, you’ll be fighting the cause instead of the effects. Remember, if you’re overeating on a regular basis, the real cause is usually a values problem or a beliefs problem rather than a problem with food itself. Throughout this book, step-by-step, I’ll be guiding you in discovering how your master system of decision making is set up, and you’ll be making simple changes to make it consistent with your desires—rather than continue to be controlled by your past conditioning. You’re about to embark on a fascinating journey of discovering who you are and what truly makes you do what you do. With these distinctions of power, you’ll be able to understand the system of decision making that your business associates, spouse, and other loved ones are using. You’ll finally be able to understand their “fascinating” behaviors, too!

The good news is that we can override this system by making conscious decisions at any moment in our lives. We don’t have to allow the programming of our past to control our present and future. With this book, you can reinvent yourself by systematically organizing your beliefs and values in a way that pulls you in the direction of your life’s design.

“I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”


There is one final impediment to really utilizing the power of decision. That is that we must overcome our fears of making the wrong decisions. Without a doubt, you will make wrong decisions in your life. You’re going to screw up! I know I certainly haven’t made all the right decisions along the way. Far from it. But I didn’t expect to. Nor will I always make the right decisions in the future. I have determined that no matter what decisions I make, I’ll be flexible, look at the consequences, learn from them, and use those lessons to make better decisions in the future. Remember: Success truly 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. When people succeed, they tend to party; when they fail, they tend to ponder, and they begin to make new distinctions that will enhance the quality of their lives. We must commit to learning from our mistakes, rather than beating ourselves up, or we’re destined to make the same mistakes again in the future.

As important as personal experience is, think how invaluable it is to have a role model as well—someone who’s navigated the rapids before you and has a good map for you to follow. You can have a role model for your finances, a model for your relationships, a model for your health, a model for your profession, or a model for any aspect of your life you’re learning to master. They can save you years of pain and keep you from going over the falls.

There will be times when you’re on the river solo and you’ll have to make some important decisions on your own. The good news is that if you’re willing to learn from your experience, then even times you might think were difficult become great because they provide valuable information—key distinctions—that you will use to make better decisions in the future. In fact, any extremely successful person you meet will tell you—if they’re honest with you—that the reason they’re more successful is that they’ve made more poor decisions than you have. People in my seminars often ask me, “How long do you think it will take for me to really master this particular skill?” And my immediate response is, “How long do you want it to take?” If you take action ten times a day (and have the proportionate “learning experiences”) while other people act on a new skill once a month, you’ll have ten months of experience in a day, you will soon master the skill, and will, ironically, probably be considered “talented and lucky.”

I became an excellent public speaker because, rather than once a week, I booked myself to speak three times a day to anyone who would listen. While others in my organization had forty-eight speaking engagements a year, I would have a similar number within two weeks. Within a month, I’d have two years of experience. And within a year, I’d have a decade’s worth of growth. My associates talked about how “lucky” I was to have been born with such an “innate” talent. I tried to tell them what I’m telling you now: mastery takes as long as you want it to take. By the way, were all of my speeches great? Far from it! But I did make sure that I learned from every experience and that I somehow improved until very soon I could enter a room of any size and be able to reach people from virtually all walks of life.

No matter how prepared you are, there’s one thing that I can absolutely guarantee: if you’re on the river of life, it’s likely you’re going to hit a few rocks. That’s not being negative; that’s being accurate. The key is that when you do run aground, instead of beating yourself up for being such a “failure,” remember that there are no failures in life. There are only results. If you didn’t get the results you wanted, learn from this experience so that you have references about how to make better decisions in the future.

“We will either find a way, or make one.”


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. The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if: 1) You clearly decide what it is that you’re absolutely committed to achieving, 2) You are willing to take massive action, 3) You notice what’s working or not, and 4) You continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way.

Anyone who’s succeeded on a large scale has taken these four steps and followed the Ultimate Success Formula. One of my favorite “Ultimate Success Stories” is Mr. Soichiro Honda, founder of the corporation that bears his name. Like all companies, no matter how large, Honda Corporation began with a decision and a passionate desire to produce a result.

In 1938, while he was still in school, Mr. Honda took everything he owned and invested it in a little workshop where he began to develop his concept of a piston ring. He wanted to sell his work to Toyota Corporation, so he labored day and night, up to his elbows in grease, sleeping in the machine shop, always believing he could produce the result. He even pawned his wife’s jewelry to stay in business. But when he finally completed the piston rings and presented them to Toyota, he was told they didn’t meet Toyota’s standards. He was sent back to school for two years, where he heard the derisive laughter of his instructors and fellow students as they talked about how absurd his designs were.

But rather than focusing on the pain of the experience, he decided to continue to focus on his goal. Finally, after two more years, Toyota gave Mr. Honda the contract he’d dreamed of. His passion and belief paid off because he had known what he wanted, taken action, noticed what was working, and kept changing his approach until he got what he wanted. Then a new problem arose.

The Japanese government was gearing up for war, and they refused to give him the concrete that was necessary to build his factory. Did he quit there? No. Did he focus on how unfair this was? Did it mean to him that his dream had died? Absolutely not. Again, he decided to utilize the experience, and developed another strategy. He and his team invented a process for creating their own concrete and then built their factory. During the war, it was bombed twice, destroying major portions of the manufacturing facility. Honda’s response? He immediately rallied his team, and they picked up the extra gasoline cans that the U.S. fighters had discarded. He called them “gifts from President Truman” because they provided him with the raw materials he needed for his manufacturing process—materials that were unavailable at the time in Japan. Finally, after surviving all of this, an earthquake leveled his factory. Honda decided to sell his piston operation to Toyota.

Here is a man who clearly made strong decisions to succeed. He had a passion for and belief in what he was doing. He had a great strategy. He took massive action. He kept changing his approach, but still he’d not produced the results that he was committed to. Yet he decided to persevere.

After the war, a tremendous gasoline shortage hit Japan, and Mr. Honda couldn’t even drive his car to get food for his family. Finally, in desperation, he attached a small motor to his bicycle. The next thing he knew, his neighbors were asking if he could make one of his “motorized bikes” for them. One after another, they jumped on the bandwagon until he ran out of motors. He decided to build a plant that would manufacture motors for his new invention, but unfortunately he didn’t have the capital.

As before, he made the decision to find a way no matter what! His solution was to appeal to the 18,000 bicycle shop owners in Japan by writing them each a personal letter. He told them how they could play a role in revitalizing Japan through the mobility that his invention could provide, and convinced 5,000 of them to advance the capital he needed. Still, his motorbike sold to only the most hard-core bicycle fans because it was too big and bulky. So he made one final adjustment, and created a much lighter, scaled-down version of his motorbike. He christened it “The Super Cub,” and it became an “overnight” success, earning him the Emperor’s award. Later, he began to export his motorbikes to the baby boomers of Europe and the United States, following up in the seventies with the cars that have become so popular.

Today, the Honda Corporation employs over 100,000 people in both the United States and Japan and is considered one of the biggest car-making empires in Japan, outselling all but Toyota in the United States. It succeeds because one man understood the power of a truly committed decision that is acted upon, no matter what the conditions, on a continuous basis.


The following are actual rejection notices received for these famous—and incredibly successful—books.

Animal Farm, by Georse Orwell “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”

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 that you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea.”

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

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

Honda certainly knew that sometimes when you make a decision and take action, in the short term it may look like it’s not working. In order to succeed, you must have a long-term focus. Most of the challenges that we have in our personal lives—like indulging constantly in overeating, drinking, or smoking, to feeling overwhelmed and giving up on our dreams—come from a short-term focus. Success and failure are not overnight experiences. It’s all the small decisions along the way that cause people to fail. It’s failure to follow up. It’s failure to take action. It’s failure to persist. It’s failure to manage our mental and emotional states. It’s failure to control what we focus on. Conversely, success is the result of making small decisions: deciding to hold yourself to a higher standard, deciding to contribute, deciding to feed your mind rather than allowing the environment to control you—these small decisions create the life experience we call success. No individual or organization that has become successful has done so with short-term focus.

On a national scale, most of the challenges that we’re currently experiencing are the result of not thinking of the potential consequences of the decisions we’ve made. Our crises—the S&L scandal, the challenge in our balance of trade, the budget deficit, our educational malaise, drug and alcohol problems—all are the result of short-term thinking. This is the Niagara Syndrome at its most potent. While you’re raging along the river, focusing on the next rock you might hit, you don’t—or can’t—see far enough ahead of you to avoid the falls.

As a society, we’re so focused on instantaneous gratification that our short-term solutions often become long-term problems. Our kids have trouble paying attention in school long enough to think, memorize, and learn partly because they’ve become addicted to instantaneous gratification from constant exposure to things like video games, TV commercials, and MTV. As a nation, we have the highest number of overweight children in history because of our unrelenting pursuit of the quick fix: fast food, instant pudding, and microwave brownies.

In business, too, this kind of short-term focus can be deadly. The whole controversy surrounding the Exxon Valdez disaster could have been averted by making one small decision. Exxon could have outfitted its tankers with double hulls, a proactive decision that would have prevented oil spills in the event of collision. But the oil company chose not to, looking at the immediate rather than long-range impact on its bottom line. Following the crash and resultant spill, Exxon is responsible for paying a whopping $1.1 billion* as some compensation for the devastating economic damage it has caused, not to mention the immeasurable ecological destruction to Alaska and surrounding areas.

Deciding to commit yourself to long-term results, rather than short-term fixes, is as important as any decision you’ll make in your lifetime. Failing to do this can cause not only massive financial or societal pain, but sometimes even the ultimate personal pain.

One young man you may have heard of dropped out of high school because he decided he wasn’t going to wait any longer to follow his dream of becoming a famous musician. But this dream didn’t become reality quickly enough. In fact, by the time he was twenty-two, he feared that he had made the wrong decision, and that no one would ever love his music. He’d been playing in piano bars, and he was flat broke, sleeping in laundromats because he no longer had a home. The only thing that had been holding him together was his romantic relationship. Then his girlfriend decided to leave him, and when she did, it pushed him over the edge. He immediately focused on how he could never again find another woman as beautiful as she. What this meant to him was that his life was over, so he decided to commit suicide. Fortunately, before doing so, he reconsidered his options and decided instead to check into a mental institution. Spending time there gave him some new references about what real problems were. He later recalled saying, “Ohh, I’ll never get that low again.” He now declares, “It was one of the best things I ever did because I’ve never gotten to feel sorry for myself, no matter what’s happened. Any problem since then is nothing compared with what I’ve seen other people go through.”* By renewing his commitment and following his dream long-term, he eventually had all that he wanted. His name? Billy Joel.

Can you imagine that this man, whom millions of fans love and supermodel Christie Brinkley married, was ever worried about the quality of his music or finding a woman as beautiful as his ex-girlfriend? The key to remember is that what appeared to be impossible in the short term turned into a phenomenal example of success and happiness in the long term. Billy Joel was able to pull himself out of his depression by directing the three decisions that we all control each moment of our lives: what to focus on, what things mean, and what to do in spite of the challenges that may appear to limit us. He raised his standards, backed them up with new beliefs, and implemented the strategies he knew he must.

One belief that I’ve developed to carry me through extremely tough times is simply this: God’s delays are not God’s denials. Often, what seems impossible in the short term becomes very possible in the long term if you persist. In order to succeed, we need to discipline ourselves to consistently think long term. A metaphor that I use to remind myself of this is comparing life’s ups and downs to the changing of the seasons. No season lasts forever because all of life is a cycle of planting, reaping, resting, and renewal. Winter is not infinite: even if you’re having challenges today, you can never give up on the coming of spring. For some people, winter means hibernation; for others, it means bobsledding and downhill skiing! You can always just wait out the season, but why not make it into a time to remember?


In review, let me give you six quick keys to help you harness the power of decision, the power that shapes your experience of life every moment that you live it:

1. Remember the true power of making decisions. It’s a tool you can use in any moment to change your entire life. The minute you make a new decision, you set in motion a new cause, effect, direction, and destination for your life. You literally begin to change your life the moment you make a new decision. Remember that when you start feeling overwhelmed, or when you feel like you don’t have a choice, or when things are happening “to” you, you can change it all if you just stop and decide to do so. Remember, a real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.

2. Realize that the hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment—a true decision. Carrying out your commitment is often much easier than the decision itself, so make your decisions intelligently, but make them quickly. Don’t labor forever over the question of how or if you can do it. Studies have shown that the most successful people make decisions rapidly because they are clear on their values and what they really want for their lives. The same studies show that they are slow to change their decisions, if at all. On the other hand, people who fail usually make decisions slowly and change their minds quickly, always bouncing back and forth. Just decide!

Realize that decision making is a kind of act in itself, so a good definition for a decision might be “information acted upon.” You know you’ve truly made a decision when action flows from it. It becomes a cause set in motion. Often the effect of making a decision helps create the attainment of a larger goal. A critical rule I’ve made for myself is never to leave the scene of a decision without first taking a specific action toward its realization.

3. Make decisions often. The more decisions you make, the better you’re going to become at making them. Muscles get stronger with use, and so it is with your decision-making muscles. Unleash your power right now by making some decisions you’ve been putting off. You won’t believe the energy and excitement it will create in your life!

4. Learn from your decisions. There’s no way around it. At times, you’re going to screw up, no matter what you do. And when the inevitable happens, instead of beating yourself into the ground, learn something. Ask yourself, “What’s good about this? What can I learn from this?” This “failure” may be an unbelievable gift in disguise if you use it to make better decisions in the future. Rather than focus on the short-term setback, choose instead to learn lessons that can save you time, money, or pain, and that will give you the ability to succeed in the future.

5. Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. Once you’ve decided who you want to be as a person, for example, don’t get stuck on the means to achieving it. It’s the end you’re after. Too often, in deciding what they want for their lives, people pick the best way they know at the time—they make a map—but then don’t stay open to alternate routes. Don’t become rigid in your approach. Cultivate the art of flexibility.

6. Enjoy making decisions. You must know that in any moment a decision you make can change the course of your life forever: the very next person you stand behind in line or sit next to on an airplane, the very next phone call you make or receive, the very next movie you see or book you read or page you turn could be the one single thing that causes the floodgates to open, and all of the things that you’ve been waiting for to fall into place.

If you really want your life to be passionate, you need to live with this attitude of expectancy. Years ago, I made what seemed like a small decision, and it has powerfully shaped my life. I decided to do a seminar in Denver, Colorado. That decision caused me to meet a lady named Becky. Her last name now is Robbins, and she is definitely one of the greatest gifts of my life. On that same trip, I decided to write my first book, which is now published in eleven languages around the world. A few days later, I decided to conduct a seminar in Texas, and after working for a week to fill my own program, the promoter didn’t pay me for the event—he skipped town. The obvious person to talk to was the public relations agent he had hired, a woman who had similar woes. That woman became my literary agent and helped to get that first book published. As a result, I have the privilege of sharing this story with you today.

At one time, I also decided to take on a business partner. Choosing not to investigate his character in advance was a poor decision on my part. Within a year, he’d misappropriated a quarter of a million dollars and had run my corporation $758,000 in debt while I spent my life on the road doing more than 200 seminars. Fortunately, though, I learned from my poor decision and made a better one. In spite of advice from all the experts around me that the only way I could survive would be to declare bankruptcy, I decided to find a way to turn things around, and I created one of the greater successes of my life. I took my company to a whole new level, and what I learned from that experience not only created my long-term business success, but also provided many of the distinctions for the Neuro-Associative Conditioning™ and Destiny Technologies™ that you’ll be learning in this book.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”


So what is the single most important distinction to take from this chapter?

Know that it’s your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny. Before we learn the technology for changing how you think and how you feel every day of your life, I want you to remember that, in the final analysis, everything you’ve read in this book is worthless … every other book you’ve read or tape you’ve heard or seminar you’ve attended is worthless … unless you decide to use it. Remember that a truly committed decision is the force that changes your life. It’s a power available to you in any moment if you just decide to use it.

Prove to yourself that you’ve decided now. Make one or two decisions that you’ve been putting off: one easy decision and one that’s a bit more difficult. Show yourself what you can do. Right now, stop. Make at least one clear-cut decision that you’ve been putting off—take the first action toward fulfilling it—and stick to it! By doing this, you’ll be building that muscle that will give you the will to change your entire life.

You and I both know that there are going to be challenges in your future. But as Lech Walesa and the people of Eastern Europe have learned, if you’ve decided to get past the walls, you can climb over them, you can break through them, you can tunnel under them, or you can find a door. No matter how long a wall has stood, none has the power to withstand the continued force of human beings who have decided to persist until it has fallen. The human spirit truly is unconquerable. But the will to win, the will to succeed, to shape one’s life, to take control, can only be harnessed when you decide what you want, and believe that no challenge, no problem, no obstacle can keep you from it. When you decide that your life will ultimately be shaped not by conditions, but by your decisions, then, in that moment, your life will change forever, and you will be empowered to take control of …

* At this writing, Exxon is still in court settling related legal matters which may increase this number.

* Sheff, David and Victoria, “Playboy interview: Billy Joel,” Chicago: Playboy, May 1982.


“Men live by intervals of reason under the sovereignty of humor and passion.”


She had been been jogging for only about half an hour when it happened. Suddenly a dozen young boys began to sprint in her direction. Before she had time to realize what was happening, they pounced upon her, pulled her into the bushes and began to beat her with a lead pipe. One boy continually kicked her in the face until she was bleeding profusely. Then they raped and sodomized her, and left her for dead.

I’m sure you’ve heard about this tragic, unthinkable crime that happened in Central Park several years ago. I was in New York City the night it happened. I was appalled not only by the savagery of the attack, but even more so to hear who the attackers were. They were children, from the ages of 14 to 17 years old. Contrary to stereotypes, they were neither poor nor did they come from abusive families. They were boys from private schools, Little League players, kids who took tuba lessons. These boys were not driven crazy by drugs, nor were they racially motivated. They assaulted and could have killed this 28-year-old woman for one reason and one reason only: fun. They even had a name for what they had set out to do; they called it “wilding.”

Not more than 250 miles away in our nation’s capital, a jet airliner crashed on takeoff from National Airport during a blinding snowstorm. It hit the Potomac Bridge at the height of rush hour. As traffic snarled to a halt, emergency rescue services were immediately dispatched to the scene, and the bridge became a nightmare of chaos and panic. Firemen and paramedics were overwhelmed by the destruction, and dove again and again into the Potomac to try and save crash victims.

One man repeatedly passed the life preserver to others. He saved many lives, but not his own. By the time the rescue helicopter finally got to him, he had slipped beneath the icy surface of the water. This man gave his life in order to save those of complete strangers! What drove him to place such a high value on other people’s lives—people he didn’t even know—that he was willing to give his own life in the process?

What makes a person with a “good background” behave so savagely and without remorse while another gives his own life to rescue complete strangers? What creates a hero, a heel, a criminal, a contributor? What determines the difference in human actions? Throughout my life, I have passionately sought the answer to these questions. One thing is clear to me: human beings are not random creatures; everything we do, we do for a reason. We may not be aware of the reason consciously, but there is undoubtedly a single driving force behind all human behavior. This force impacts every facet of our lives, from our relationships and finances to our bodies and brains. What is this force that is controlling you even now and will continue to do so for the rest of your life? PAIN and PLEASURE! Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.

So often I hear people talk about changes they want to make in their lives. But they can’t get themselves to follow through. They feel frustrated, overwhelmed, even angry with themselves because they know they need to take action, but they can’t get themselves to do it. There is one elementary reason: they keep trying to change their behavior, which is the effect, instead of dealing with the cause behind it.

Understanding and utilizing the forces of pain and pleasure will allow you once and for all to create the lasting changes and improvements you desire for yourself and those you care about. Failure to understand this force dooms you to a future of living in reaction, like an animal or a machine. Perhaps this sounds like a complete oversimplification, but think about it. Why don’t you do some of the things you know you should do?

After all, what is procrastination? It’s when you know you should do something, but you still don’t do it. Why not? The answer is simple: at some level you believe that taking action in this moment would be more painful than just putting it off. Yet, have you ever had the experience of putting something off for so long that suddenly you felt pressure to just do it, to get it done? What happened? You changed what you linked pain and pleasure to. Suddenly, not taking action became more painful than putting it off. This is a common occurrence that many Americans experience around April 14!

“A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.”


What keeps you from approaching that man or woman of your dreams? What keeps you from starting that new business you’ve been planning for years? Why do you keep putting off that diet? Why do you avoid completing your thesis? Why haven’t you taken control of your financial investment portfolio? What prevents you from doing whatever it takes to make your life exactly as you’ve imagined it?

Even though you know that all these actions would benefit you—that they could definitely bring pleasure to your life—you fail to act simply because in that moment you associate more pain to doing what’s necessary than missing the opportunity. After all, what if you approached that person, and they rejected you? What if you tried to start that new business but failed and lost the security you have in your present job? What if you started a diet and went through the pain of starving yourself, only to gain the weight back eventually anyway? What if you made an investment and lost your money? So why even try?

For most people, the fear of loss is much greater than the desire for gain. Which would drive you more: keeping someone from stealing the $100,000 you’ve earned over the last five years, or the potential of earning $100,000 in the next five? The fact is that most people would work much harder to hang on to what they have than they would to take the risks necessary to get what they really want from their lives.

“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 don’t, life controls you.”


Often an interesting question comes up in discussions about these twin powers that drive us: Why is it that people can experience pain yet fail to change? They haven’t experienced enough pain yet; they haven’t hit what I call emotional threshold. 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. We’ve all experienced those times in our lives when we’ve said, “I’ve had it—never again—this must change now.” This is the magical moment when pain becomes our friend. It drives us to take new action and produce new results. We become even more powerfully compelled to act if, in that same moment, we begin to anticipate how changing will create a great deal of pleasure for our lives as well.

This process is certainly not limited to relationships. Maybe you’ve experienced threshold with your physical condition: you finally got fed up because you couldn’t squeeze into an airline seat, you couldn’t fit into your clothes, and walking up a set of stairs winded you. Finall