Christian Long

Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do

In TED Talks on April 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Extra credit reflection by HERSH T.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Tony Robbins:  Why We Do What We Do


Motivation is one of the most complex and least understood of human characteristics. It is beclouded by so many different things and it can be affected so easily that changing its course is like changing the course of the wind. Mr. Robbins from the beginning of the talk automatically conveys a sense of absolute enthusiasm and excitement, it made me want to get up and pace with him. The most amazing thing was that right off the bat, Mr. Robbins puts into play a rather controversial idea that emotion is the driving force in our life. He says that with our minds we can rationalize things and make sense of things, and of course, humans are naturally selfish and so work in their best interests. But, what he says is true.

Emotion changes the way we perceive the world.

You know as well as I do, that if we thought rationally all the time people would not do the stupid things they do. But this incredible power of emotion is what makes humans humans. Now, he quantifies the two things that can affect a person’s life. Achievement and fulfillment. At first glance, one can think that they are so similar that why even differentiate. However, think about it thoroughly. Achieving the job that you thought you wanted is great, but does it live up to expectations. Does buying the brand new T.V. that neighbor Joe has really make you feel happy? Material satisfaction is limited in its ability to provide happiness. Fulfillment is the true measure of a successful life. When we see the major businessman who owns a three story house and five cars and the ten TVs and than we see that a poor man, who lives in a tiny, almost shack-like house, it is easy to see who is happier. Sure, the businessman seems happier, but the poor man has learned to appreciate life’s subtle and simply joys and can take happiness from things that the businessman does not even understand.

The most striking part of this talk is when Mr. Robbins is talking about what people most commonly complain about, and Al Gore, seated in the front row, says that he did not have the Supreme Court. And what does Mr. Robbins do? He stands up to such a prestigious and well-known man and respectfully denounces the effect the Supreme Court would have had. He uses a rather interesting phrase,”The defining factor is never resources, it is resourcefulness.” Now, there are many sayings out there which sound good but can’t hold their weight in water, he goes on to say that it is not just for cuteness sake. He is truthfully telling Mr. Gore that if he had conveyed the same amount of energy and human emotion that he had conveyed on the TED stage the day before, than Al Gore would have won the election. So Mr. Robbins solidifies the idea that emotion and the ability to connect to your audience, which is a common theme amongst the TED talks, allows you to do things you normally could not (such as win a presidential election).

What is it that affects our world?

Often people would answer that question by naming something that we can’t control: God, chance, destiny/fate. However, the true answer to this question is our decisions. Mr. Robbins brings up a moment which touches all of our hearts in Rosa Parks, and her decision not to go to the back of a bus. This small decision affected the world around her in such a profound way that even if she were still alive today she would not be famous enough. The fact that our decisions as human beings control the fate of the world is both scary and comforting. We know that to a certain extent we can control what will happen, however, we also know that all of that responsibility has been placed squarely on our shoulders. But, is that now what human beings have been striving for? A challenge worthy of the might of the human brain.

I challenge all of you humans out there, to consciously make a decision that you know will affect something.

And then, do it again. And again. And soon, you will realize that your life truly is in your control. Just up till now, it was in your subconscious control not your conscious. Of course, sometimes these decisions will conflict with other people’s decisions. And in that case, we want to influence that person right? Mr. Robbins seems as though he is a master manipulator, and he notes that to influence someone, we must already know what influences them. And, if we think about it, many people are one-track mind kind of people. If we can simply realize what it is that they wish to achieve or accomplish then we can affect them in such a way that they may not even realize that we have changed their minds.

Mr. Robbins then goes on to quantify the needs of humans, and like all psychology it seems, if we think about it carefully enough we can come up with what he says as well. It all revolves around a need to feel as if you belong. Everything a human does is to make itself feel welcome in the community and valued. And, although we think that it is just a superficial thing it is much more complex than we thing.

It is possible to feel alone when you are surrounded.

When a person feels as though they don’t belong to a special group then even if they are surrounded by the people they do not feel as if they are in the right place. The ability to make someone feel as if they belong is an invaluable skill. It allows you to make that person trust you more than anyone else. In Othello, Iago utilizes this idea to such a high extent that we can actually feel him do it. Iago utilizes everything that we are talking about here in the opposite light. This exposure of human nature will be used in a rather unfortunate way and there is nothing we can do about it. But as Mr. Robbins explains, we can only hope that the people who give outweigh the ones who take. And because fulfillment is delivered through selfless acts and because emotion is the driving force of life, we can say that this talk tells you exactly how to have the life you want.

Thanks Mr. Robbins, for putting my life back into my own hands.

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