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What I Learned from Spending a Weekend with Tony Robbins, Mike Tyson and Other Leaders

One of the most important aspects of leadership is reflection. I came to this conclusion at various points during my entrepreneurial journey. At times, through necessity, when I needed to reflect to make a change. But also, through a common understanding that reflection is invaluable. The problem is that leaders often forgo reflection time for other menial tasks — spending five extra minutes on that slide deck, arriving ten minutes early to the office, etc.

A while ago, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend retreat at Tony Robbins’ home. This weekend was curated as a fun, welcoming space where guests were allowed to be their best selves.

I was given the opportunity to spend time learning among 40-plus executives and entrepreneurs from around the world (including Mike Tyson, Conor McGregor and Kevin Hart!), as we spent the weekend reflecting on, and learning from, our experiences and one anothers’. What an amazing weekend it was. And, of course, I’m going to share what I learned.

My Weekend at Tony’s: The Takeaways

Honestly, “takeaways” isn’t a powerful enough word to express what I felt and learned that weekend. I can’t even begin to spill all the insight I gained, or you’d be reading this in book form, not blog form.

If I could describe the experience in three words, I’d say it was fun, intense and reflective.

Here are the five main reflections that I will always remember from that weekend:

  1. We must each accept our humanity, and forgive others for theirs.
  2. “The best fighter is never angry.” — Lao Tzu
  3. Nothing will ever be 100% ready or 100% perfect.
  4. The Who matters. There are no solo wins.
  5. It’s not just what you do, but why you do it.

Now, I’ll break down what each of these reflections meant to me.

We must each accept our humanity, and forgive others for theirs.
Each of these men started from humble beginnings and with incredible challenges — parental abuse and abandonment, bullying, and just overall instability. Each man has also struggled with drama and personal demons. And for each, darkness was the co-pilot of their success. Their most regrettable mistakes became the energy they used to regenerate and reinvent themselves.

This narrative is not uncommon. Underdogs — those of us who weren’t handed our successes on a silver platter — are often the most successful and happy people. Why? Because we earn what we achieve. We fight and work and struggle until we get to exactly where we want to be, then we keep fighting for more. Many times, underdogs find success not through a desire to be the next creative genius, but through necessity. We innovate because we have to. I believe that these underdogs are actually Growth Warriors.

Candidly, it took me a while to write this. It was clear each man dealt with public struggles and had said or done things that had hurt people they love. But as I sat in their presence, battling a strong desire to judge, I saw their brokenness within me.

As I looked around at my peers, taking in the energy throughout the room, I realized we had all been there at one point. In one exceptionally poignant moment, Mike Tyson shared how much money, effort, time and youth he spent working to “earn” unconditional love. I think we all can see a bit of Mike in our own journeys.

“The best fighter is never angry.” — Lao Tzu

Anger inhibits our brain from thinking in its full capacity. As adrenaline and cortisol kick in, anger cuts off resources to areas of the body. When we allow this to happen and we act or function in a state of anger, and we damage ourselves more than anybody else.

Taking control of our emotions and learning to stay calm allows us to think clearly, strategize and move forward with the best action plan. Above all, we must master ourselves. This is when we will see the highest rate of success.

RELATED READING

The Way of the Growth Warrior: 7 Non-Negotiable Skills to Scale Your Business in Uncertain Times
Download a free chapter today.

Nothing will ever be 100% ready or 100% perfect.

We plan, create and finetune our business and concepts, trying to make them perfect so they will succeed. This can become a detriment, however, when taken too far. No idea or product, nor strategy or concept will ever be completely perfect.

In waiting for perfection, we may miss our opportunity. Whether you want to launch a business, step up a partnership, or release a product — there is a fine line between gathering your parachute, checking for holes and taking precautions, and knowing when it’s time to take the leap.

The Who matters. There are no solo wins.

Who we choose to work with and who is around us is so integral to our success, and frankly, to our happiness. It is commonly said that we are the product of the five people we spend the most time with. If that doesn’t sum up the importance of who we surround ourselves with, I don’t know what does!

We discussed this at length over the weekend. With respect to business, I can run 10 to 20 businesses because of my strong relationships. I know that I have people I can leverage and trust to make decisions autonomously that will benefit the greater good. I saw this message ring true throughout many of the others at the retreat. For example, Tony was working on incredible and massive projects, all through relationships.

The key here is the people — if you are trusting someone to make decisions and to do the right thing, they need to have integrity and they need to over-deliver. Ensure that the people you surround yourself with are trustworthy, prepared, exceptional at their craft and strive to go above and beyond expectations.

It’s not only what you do, but why you do it.

I had the opportunity to talk with Mike Tyson one-on-one and to learn a little more from him about his “why”.

Mike Tyson had a tough childhood — it included drugs, 40 arrests by the age of 12, loss of his mother and his daughter, and many other challenges. When he met Cus D-Amato, his life changed. He finally had someone who believed in him, and he became the heavyweight champion at just 19.

That wasn’t because he was good at battling in the arena (although he obviously was!) but because he was good at battling his demons and external factors. He knew inside himself that he could be more. Because of this drive, he would do what his competitors didn’t. He went for runs at 4 a.m. while his competition was sleeping, he worked on self-improvement and introspection into his life and career, and he focused on healing himself from his past.

Mike is a very insightful person and he is committed to self-growth, constantly working to improve as a person. He is the embodiment of gentle, yet powerful. He had every reason not to succeed, but he decided not to make excuses and to move past those obstacles, letting go of bitterness and resentment, to reach success. Hey, like we said — “The best fighter is never angry!”

I also believe this quote captures Mike’s drive: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it!” — Paulo Coelho

As you can see, my weekend at Tony Robbins’ home with this group of phoneomal leaders changed my life — for the better. I am extremely grateful to all my retreat counterparts, with an extra thank you to Mike and Tony. I am a firm believer in creating our own paths, but we always need a little help from the universe and the people around us.

Friends and Growth Warriors, take the time to reflect and to learn from yourself and from others. Whether you learn something new or just re-remember something you already knew, it’ll be worth the effort.

RELATED READING

The Way of the Growth Warrior: 7 Non-Negotiable Skills to Scale Your Business in Uncertain Times
Download a free chapter today.

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