I didn't know much about Tony Robbins, the self-help guru, when I was asked to review his new book on personal finance.

And to be honest, I still don't.

But among all his ideas for saving and investing, he had one really long aside about how you can improve your life dramatically. From what I can tell, it is a standard part of the seminars he puts on.

I have found myself thinking about his "three steps to a breakthrough" a lot, long after I finished the review.

Let me share with you his basic argument. It boils down to this. To create a breakthrough, he says, "change your strategy; change your story; change your state."

The "change your strategy" part is easy to understand. If you are looking to create a breakthrough--to alter the direction of your business, or "simply" to lose weight--it means something if your current approach isn't working for you. (If it were, you would have achieved what you wanted.)

So you need to change your approach. What strategy should you follow? Robbins argues you should find people who have already solved your problem (or something close to it) and do what they did.

"If you follow their strategies--if you'll sow the same seeds--then you'll reap the same rewards."

"Change your story" is equally straightforward ... if psychology can be straightforward.

When someone has the right strategy in front of them, and he still doesn't succeed, then he has created a set of beliefs, what Robbins calls a story "about why it won't work, why it can't work, why it works only for other people."

In other words, instead of embracing the proven strategy, they put roadblocks in their own way. You see that all the time. Change is both difficult and scary and people will do anything--including inventing reasons that don't make sense--not to do it.

Obviously, you need to escape your own preconceptions and embrace--or at least try--the proven strategy.

The last step is probably one I would have put first. Here's the way Robbins puts it: "It's hard to change your story when you're in a lousy state. If you feel like hell, you don't think to yourself, 'Life is beautiful.'"

Robbins argues, correctly, that "your mental and emotional state colors your perception and experience of everything in your life."

If you feel good, and are in a positive frame of mind, you are more likely to try new things that could lead to creating a breakthrough.

I am not sure where I come out on this. But I am intrigued enough to try his approach. I will report back on what happens.