Everyone involved in walking hot coals knows that (just like in life) in order to get rewarded, you have to take some risk. A few blisters on your feet which clear up in a few days is a minor risk well-worth taking when you consider the reward of the colossal life lesson that is getting us to take action in the face of our fears. You are choosing to take a risk because there is an opportunity for a remarkable return on your investment. Consider that there's virtually no risk of permanent injury in hot coals, but certainly the reward of your mind's permanent transformation is surely possible.
Yeah, I'd do it again.
What happened in Dallas was not unlike any of the other fire walks that Robbins has been doing for the last 35 years, but I understand why people who have never had the experience get excited about it.
The first day of my journalism class in college, I asked my professor why there wasn't more "good news". His response was that age old adage, "If it bleeds, it leads." He went on to explain that sensationalism sells newspapers and drives television tune-in preying on human fears and anxiety, while good deeds and incredible feats of humanity tend to get pushed toward the end of the broadcast or deeper into the newspaper. Another way of saying it is, headline news is not designed to inform you, it's designed to startle you. That's how they get your eyeballs, that's how they get your attention in a world where you've got a computer on your wrist, in your pocket, on your dashboard, and in your ear. In today's hot-paced-24-hour-news-cycle, being more sensational than the next seems to be key attracting our culture's scrolling thumbs with clickbait catnip.
Case in point, today, there were a few articles about Tony Robbins believers get burned during fire walk in Dallas and that the media is surprised that Robbins Seminar Continues Despite Dozens Burned At Fire-Walking Event. If you've never been to a Unleash the Power Within (UPW) event, then these titles might be cause for false alarm, but here's why I'm blowing the whistle.
What Happened at the Dallas UPW Event
According to Jennifer Connelly, a spokesperson for the Robbins organization, "At an Unleash the Power Within seminar in Dallas, seven thousand attendees successfully participated in a fire walk which has been a celebrated part of this event for 35 years. It is always the goal to have no guests with any discomfort afterwards but it's not uncommon to have fewer than 1% of participants experience "hot spots" which is similar to a sunburn which can be treated with aloe. As always there were trained medical and event staff at the fire walk specifically to offer quick and easy remedies for any soreness.
Someone unfamiliar with the process of the fire walk called 911 reporting the need for emergency services vehicles to be dispatched. While there was no need for emergency personnel we are grateful to the quick and robust response from Dallas emergency services, only 5 of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site. We are pleased to have completed another successful fire walk for 7,000 guests and look forward to the remainder of an outstanding weekend with them."
So a seminar with an outcome no different than any other in 35 years gets advertised around the world as a catastrophe to be afraid of? As if we don't already have enough of those. It turns out, after clarifying with Ms. Connelly, no one from the Tony Robbins seminar was actually hospitalized. Five individuals were reviewed and released. There were no serious injuries.
Why Walk On Fire At All?
One of the most exhilarating and spectacular elements of Tony Robbin's Unleash the Power Within event is the moment when you realize that you can do anything you want badly enough. The vast majority of people would say "you're crazy" when given the opportunity to walk on burning hot coals. But therein lies the entire point: It's mind over matter. This whole game is mind over matter.
Is walking over burning hot coals safe? I would submit that the answer is "yes, if you do it correctly." I would also ask, "Is jogging down the street safe? How about driving a car? You will never get hurt, right?"
Having walked over hot coals more than once at separate UPW events, I know what it feels like and also know what you should and shouldn't do while walking over hot coals. Stopping to take a selfie, for example, is not a wise decision when you're crossing several feet of hot coals. And yet, in this day and age people do it because they are more interested in recording their accomplishment than staying in the moment while accomplishing the task at hand.
So why do it at all? First, no one is forced to walk on hot coals. You are encouraged, to be sure, but that's not the same thing. You signed up for this. You are presented with something that, logically, most people would never do. We are programmed to say "no" because something like this really stretches us far outside our comfort zone. You could just as easily plunge into freezing cold water or bungee jump. The act is not as important as your ability to truly take control of your mind and get your body to do something that is outside your comfort zone. Accomplishing this builds the emotional muscle that flexes by saying when my brain says we're gonna do something, it means it! We're doing this, body. This is an exercise in over-riding the fight-or-flight software humans are conditioned with and saying, I have the gift of free will and I'm walking on hot coals to prove who's boss.
And, when you DO walk across hot coals, or plunge into ice cold water, or bungee jump, you realize that you can do so much more than you currently ask of yourself. And if you can get yourself to accomplish this, then what else can you accomplish? That's why Tony Robbins has the fire walk on the very first night of a 4-day event. It's sets you up for an immediate breakthrough and resets your mental framework so that you are open to seeing through new eyes the reality of your life and changing the things you came to the event to address--from finally losing those pounds you know you need to drop, to getting real about a relationship, to building the ultimate business and creating an extraordinary quality of life for yourself.
Does that really happen? Well, you can read all about my own personal adventures as I publicly chronicled my transformation in this article: The Tony Robbins Experience: Life Will Never Be the Same Again. Or better yet, go to Netflix in about two weeks' time (July 15th) and experience another one of Tony Robbins events yourself in Joe Berlinger's latest hit documentary: Tony Robbins: I'm Not Your Guru.
Tony Robbins' only intent is to call people to breakthrough their mind's limitations and become more of themselves. He's transformed the lives of 50 million people in over 100 countries around the world. He's a true master of the human psyche and it would be a shame to allow a few to-be-expected incidents to overshadow the incredible work he continues to do in unifying the human spirit. I wish him all the best as the local media makes hay over this sensational non-story.