This week, I have been completely blown away (once again!) by Tony Robbins at his Date With Destiny experience. By his own account, this event is his personal favorite, and three days into it I can see why. Tonight, I witnessed 12 people (out of over 2,500) stand up and self identify as suicidal. The first man was what any entrepreneur would consider "successful" when measuring from a business metric. But just like Robin Williams, who had economic and career success beyond what most people even dream of, this man was ready to end his life. "Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure," says Tony Robbins.
I have never witnessed anything more powerful in my life. From the incredible courage to stand up in front of thousands and admit that you are ready to end your life to the complete and utter transformation that resulted in thousands of people, myself included, crying tears of joy right along with this man who chose to end his own suffering, not through suicide, but through love and gratitude.
"I love you. Thank you."
After going through a process of clearly understanding his own value systems (i.e., what gave him pleasure and what caused him pain), this man was transformed by five words repeated over and over again: "I love you. Thank you." This was a shortened version of an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness known as Ho'oponopono. The original is, "I'm sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you."
While it would be an oversimplification to say that these five words alone ended this man's suffering and turned around his suicidal thoughts, they were the very words that ultimately led to the breakthrough he had. I was compelled to share this profound experience because far too many of my fellow entrepreneurs suffer needlessly. While pain is inevitable, suffering is not. And if the approach Tony Robbins shared can help a dozen people who were suicidal, I am certain that it can help the millions of entrepreneurs who struggle to grow and/or turn around their companies. But more importantly, by choosing to end suffering, this approach will also lead to fulfillment, which is the ultimate success.
The Three Ways We Suffer in Business
"When you get in your head, you're dead," says Tony Robbins. In business, it's our story of limiting belief that causes us and our businesses to suffer. This story usually comes in one of three flavors: 1) Loss, 2) Less, or 3) Never.
The story often begins with a significant loss. This could be a major client, for example, who decides to take her business elsewhere. In business, we win and we lose, but it's the meaning we give the event that causes positive or negative feelings about it. Feelings of failure and rejection are normal, but when we begin to obsess about ourselves, we move from the pain of the loss to the suffering around it. A question such as, "Why did this happen to me?" can be healthy if the purpose is to make the company better. But if this leads to a process of self-doubt, judgment, and continued negative feelings, it stops being about improvement and begins to chip away at your generally positive outlook.
Getting less of something can also cause additional suffering. When you expect one revenue target and end up with something less, this can trigger the same negative feelings. While it's fantastic to hold yourself and your company to a high standard, it's important to understand when that standard has become an unrealistic ideal that you can never meet. While a standard is something you grow towards, an ideal tends to be a vision of perfection that is not realistic. When you are less than the ideal you've set for yourself or your company, you will feel like a failure and needlessly suffer.
"Loss" and "Less" usually lead to the third feeling that "The business will never be ______ enough," and this begins the downward cycle we'd prefer to stamp out.
The Three Ways to End Suffering
The good news is that it's relatively easy to destroy your story of limiting belief. You can:
Appreciate and Enjoy
Learn and Grow
Love, Give, and Be Grateful
This is why the Ho'oponopono is so powerful. The statements, "I'm sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you," lead to all three ways to end suffering. The core idea being a belief that everything happens for a reason, and that even the most terrible events usually offer an opportunity. Rather than focusing on our own suffering, we have an opportunity to learn from what just happened and grow because of it. The love, gratitude, and appreciation all reinforce the positive feelings we want to maintain, even when faced with incredibly difficult challenges.
The next time you feel yourself getting stressed out or frustrated with a co-worker, take a deep breath and say "I love you. Thank you." You don't even have to say it out loud or to the other person, as long as you mean it when you say it. Know that the frustration you're feeling is usually an opportunity to learn and grow. That's why you're thanking the very person you are frustrated with.
Date With Destiny and Business Mastery
I am in no way doing justice to the first 40 hours of the Date With Destiny experience I've just had. But when I experience something incredible, I want to share it with as many people as I can. If you're struggling with your business or sense of purpose in life, then I strongly urge you to check out Tony Robbins's Date with Destiny (for personal growth) and Business Mastery (for corporate growth).
Maybe when The Beatles wrote, "Love is all you need," they were right in its application to business as well.