Tuesday, July 24, 2012


My wife and I had the most incredible experience recently. We attended a 4-day conference with Anthony Robbins called "Unleash the Power Within", in San Jose, CA. You could call it a seminar but that doesn't even describe it properly. It was sort of like being at a night club but without the drinks. There was a lot of learning, flashing lights, clapping and dancing. And, by-the-way, we walked on fire!

We had done our homework and were aware that the "seminar" included a walk on burning coals. After a full 15 hours of learning, dancing, etc, we walked 3 blocks to a park that had been prepared with lines of 10 foot charcoal fires. This was after midnight but believe me, we were very awake!

Tony gave us about 3 hours of instruction specifically about how to deal with the firewalk. All the other hours that first day were related to and culminating in the experience as well. His premise is that we can do anything if we get into the right "state". He promotes the use of physiology to re-align your mind. This includes clapping your hands and shouting "Yes!".

He says that most people function on a low level and rarely rise to the occasion in order to achieve. The firewalk is just an example of how being in a "peak state" can get you to do something that otherwise makes no sense at all. I really had no problem with the idea going into it because I learned ahead of time about the science of firewalking. Wood has insulating properties that makes it a lot different than walking on red hot molten steel. I was convinced that it was totally safe and that being in a peak state had little to do with it.

So, I got myself into state by chanting "Yes!" over and over again. There were 6,000 people in this thing and probably 95% followed through with the firewalk. You weren't forced. I't sounded pretty crazy with all those people yelling and screaming their chants. If you didn't know what was going on, you would swear that you were in some kind of Indana Jones movie about to jump into a fiery pit!

There were no real lines leading into the strips of fire -- just huge crowds moving forward. My wife and I took off our shoes and socks and started waddling forward like penguins! The "line" stopped suddenly and was delayed for a couple of minutes while they shoveled on some fresh coals. I didn't think that was a problem and because I was in a peak state, I gave it little thought. Tony warned us though and gave the disclaimer that we are dealing with real fire here.

Before I knew it, I was taking my first step onto the red hot, 2,000 degree coals! As you walk across the coals, you are supposed to say, "cool moss" over and over with each step. As I began, I broke from protocol after the first step. I went from a "peak state" to some other kind of "state". So, my chant went as follows over the 6 or 8 steps it took to get all the way through:


  1. Cool Moss!
  2. Oh crap!
  3. Oh crap!
  4. Oh crap!
  5. I'm burned!
  6. I'm burned!
  7. Oh crap!
  8. Oh crap!
Yes, both me and my wife both got burned to the level of second degree (blisters but not burned black).  Oddly though, only our right foot was burned. We talked to several others too who were burned only on their right foot. I have no idea why this is. We spent the night at the hotel with our feet in trash cans filled with ice water. We were so messed up, we had thoughts of taking the next plane home! This was 1 am and the seminar started back up at 9 am. In all it was somewhere around 50 hours long.

Too tired and sore to walk to a cab, we iced and went to sleep. The next day the burning feeling was gone and we were left with blisters that were well on their way to being healed. We continued into the next day learning, clapping and dancing (only now on blisters). Apparently, several were interviewed by the news. We saw reports on ABC as well as NBC's Today Show. Of course it was all over the internet as well.

From our perspective, it was a hard thing but people can do hard things! Incidentally, we signed a waiver before we even got our name tags. Waiver or not, there is a thing called personal responsibility. Looking back on many years in business, I realize that sometimes things happen that are seemingly out of your control. You can't stay focused on that. You have to keep your eye on the ultimate outcome. Get though it and keep going.

Now that the firewalk is over, I look back at all I learned in the remaining days of the seminar and can't believe I even thought of checking out. If I had given up so early on, I would have missed everything! After we returned home, we heard that Mike Broomhead of KFYI was having a segment on the firewalking "incident". Since Mike endorses our company, I sent him a text that we were at the event. We ended up calling in to the show and telling our story. We were happy to change the course of the conversation which was the true inside story.

So, here is the take-away: Business is like a firewalk and sometimes you get burned! Move on and get over it!

One more note: This was a transformational event for me. I wear my blisters like badges of honor!

21 Burned in Walk Over Hot Coals at Robbins Event

Tony Robbins Sets the Record Straight About Fire Walk 'Controversy'

UPDATE: My seminar notes can be found here.