Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins (NLP) — Book Summary

Tony Robbins is undoubtedly one of the, if not the biggest authority in personal development today. Awaken The Giant Within is a game changer for those who are looking to develop mastery and take control of their mental, emotional, physical and financial destiny. Much of this book stems from NLP (neurolinguistic programming) that uses psychology, neurology and behavioural science to help us understand what influences human behaviour and how we can use this knowledge to help us condition ourselves for success.

Many of us are in a reactive state by default and in doing so, we are often unaware that we are leaving our destiny to external influences. To have control over our destiny through mastering the process of achievement and not being fixated on the outcome, Tony Robbins invites us to develop awareness that we can in fact condition ourselves using protocols he mentions.

Much of our actions are driven from our belief systems and so if we are able to master our belief system that governs our behaviour, we are able to be in a more proactive state rather than a reactive state.

There are several exercises that you can perform to really help you identify what exactly is driving your decisions that have caused you to be exactly where you are today.

To summarise, here are some of the main points from the book:

Decisions create our destiny, not our circumstances

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the external circumstances that control our destiny, it’s our decisions.

“Three decisions that we all control every moment of our lives: what we focus on, what things mean, and what we do in spite of the challenges that may appear to limit us”.

In any given situation, we have the ability to choose what to focus on. If we focus on what’s good, we feel good, if we focus on what’s negative, we will feel negative too. For example, in any situation, is it the end or is it the beginning of something else?

The meaning we associate things ultimately dictate how we feel. Viktor Frankl expresses this best in his book Man’s Search For Meaning. Frankl was a prisoner during the Holocaust, and despite facing torture and death, he was able to observe that suffering can be transcended through cultivating an empowering meaning, no matter what external circumstances are presented to us and as tragic of an incident one may appear to be faced with.

Due to this, he was able to survive the toughest of conditions by simply changing his attitude and acknowledging that everything can be taken away from us, but one freedom that can never be taken away from us is our attitude towards how we feel about these circumstances.

In the face of adversity, it is natural to react a certain way, to feel pain, frustration and anger. However, Tony Robbins shows us that we have the ability to control our interpretations of these events.

Beliefs, values, rules, references and emotional states determine the decisions we make

Belief of events shape our lives, not the events themselves. Beliefs are when we have certainty about something. Most beliefs come from our past experiences based on pain and pleasure.

In order to change beliefs we must link pain to the old belief and pleasure to the new one. For example, many people that are smokers find it hard to quit for years because of the story they repeatedly tell themselves based on the identity that they have for themselves.

Of course, there is such thing as a chemical addiction that makes it difficult for smokers to quit, but ultimately we are what we repeatedly do and so many smokers have identified themselves as always being a smoker and so they have developed a conviction that they will always be a smoker.

It is not external things and events that make us happy but it is the meaning that we associate to these events. For example, physically having possession of money doesn’t instantly make us happy — many people have a lot of money but are unhappy, and different people will be happier with different amounts.

Therefore, the value of money is highly subjective and the actual money itself does not cause us to be happy. It’s the meaning we attach to having it that causes us to feel a certain way. This shows us that happiness is determined by the meaning we attach to ideas and material things and this is something that can be controlled and changed if we choose to.

We have the ability to master our state using NLP in an instant

We have the ability to change our mind’s state by changing our physiology. We can change this through our breathing, smiling and even by changing our posture. Studies have shown that these change our body’s biochemistry which can radically change our mood.

When we are sad, our body language reflects this — we may look down, speak slowly and quietly, our body may be closed and rounded. Similarly, we can shift our body’s physiology to replicate that of happiness or excitement in order to feel this way.

Our core values determine the quality of our decisions

If we struggle with making decisions it is because we are unclear about our values. Tony Robbins tells us about his daughter who was extremely happy to have been given the opportunity to work at Disneyland. However, this inevitably meant significantly reduced time with spending with her family and friends.

She realised that she valued quality time with family and friends more than the pleasure of working at Disneyland. She realised that her top values in order of importance were love, health, growth and accomplishment. By going to Disneyland, her value of achievement and accomplishment superseded her top core values, which caused her to be unfulfilled.

To identify our values, we should write down our top pleasurable values in order of importance. For example, freedom, intimacy, significance. We should write down our top pain values that we try to avoid in a hierarchy. For example, humiliation, frustration, anger, guilt. By gaining clarity on what it is that we prioritise, we are able to clearly understand why we make certain decisions, and if we are left feeling pain in any area, we should refer back to these and try to align our actions with our values.

Expand your references

Our references are things our senses have experienced, from what we have heard, seen, felt, smelt and tasted for example. The more references we have the more it supports a belief. This is something that can be conditioned — if we want to believe something, we can create references by experiencing certain things to support this.

Make important decisions in resourceful states using NLP

Our emotional states have a significant impact on the decisions we make and ultimately the results we get.

One of the factors that determine our states is the language we use. The choice of words we use has a profound effect on the way we feel. Words are symbols that carry certain meanings. Tony Robbins talks about “transformational vocabulary” and how the change in vocabulary can radically change how we feel. For example, instead of saying “I’m terrible at this”, we can say “I’m learning to become better at this”. Just changing our vocabulary can create a paradigm shift and the way we feel.

Ask quality questions

By asking quality questions, we open our minds to opportunities. For example, one member of a prisoner in a concentration camp during WW2 who was facing death, asked “how can we escape?” Instead of accepting reality. His ability to ask empowering questions led him to eventually escape death by exploring opportunities to escape which eventually led to him being successful, even though the odds were stacked against him.

Others who were also in the concentration camp died as they accepted their fate without question. Of course, just asking questions does not necessarily change your fate but by doing so, we are able to at least explore opportunities and keep an open mind as opposed to shutting off options.

To change the quality of our lives, we must change our ability to ask empowering questions. This real life example inspires us to ask better quality questions to receive better quality answers that can potentially make a radical difference to our fate and quality of life.


By understanding and gaining clarity of our values, belief, references, emotional states and quality of questions, we are able to better understand what the driving force behind our decisions are.

Using our knowledge of NLP, neurolinguistic programming, we can better understand how to change certain conditions in order to help us closer to creating our desired destiny.

By having awareness of this, when we are making a decision, such as “shall I start a new business?” here are some example starting points we can look to help us:

  1. Check that you are making a decision in a resourceful state.
  2. Review your values. If, for example, starting a new business may mean that you will have to sacrifice time with family and this is one of your highest values, and accomplishment is significantly lower, then this may not be a sustainable option for you.
  3. What are your beliefs about your ability of starting a new business? If you have strong references that support your ability to start a business, then you may feel more confident in doing so.

The main principle of this book is the concept that everything we do, we are constantly operating on incentives to attracting more pleasure such as peace, happiness, passion, and avoiding pain such as guilt, anger and frustration.

If we want to make a particular change in our lives, we must be able to link enough pleasure to the new change and pain to not changing. For example, if you enjoy eating junk food, and find it difficult to stick to a healthy diet, by linking enormous pain to junk food by associating this to deterioration of health that could lead to heart attack and subsequently death which could means that you will not be able to see your children grow up.

Everyone’s pain and pleasure points are different and it’s about identifying exactly what they are for you. Not everyone is motivated by the fear of losing a life or a family member. Some people are driven by money and significance for example, others may be driven by avoiding humiliation at all costs.

Naturally, we are more inclined to avoiding pain than to attract pleasure. To influence change, it is far more powerful to pulled in a direction away from pain than it is to be pushed towards achieving pleasure.

For example, if there were two motivators that required us to lose weight, one being a million pounds as a prize and another as being painfully tortured, failure to do so, it is much more reasonable to expect that one would be more inclined to avoiding being painfully tortured than to become a millionaire, although debatable!