Tony Robbins: An Awakened Giant Within… Life & Lessons

tony-robbinsTony Robbins is the world’s most recognised, successful and influential peak-state life coach. He’s released several self-help books, audiotapes and hosted many inspirational peak-state coaching seminars around the world.

During his life, Robbins has taken an exceptional route from a usual city boy childhood to a phenomenal self-help guru and through his programs has reached over 4 million people around the world. Anthony Robbins not only talks, teaches and inspires success, but also has developed his own success at phenomenal rate to.

In this post, we’ll see how Tony developed his life success and we’ll learn from through his own words and theories, just some of the ways we could help ourselves do it to.

Biography: The Life of Tony Robbins

On the 29th February 1960, a leap year, Anthony John Mohorovic was born to his parents John and Nikki Mohorovic in North Hollywood, California. His mother took a leading role in his life from the start as she talked to him, told him who she was, where she’d come from and took almost full responsibility for his well being.

Tony Robbins young AgeTony learned to speak at an early age and became a huge questioner of the world. His family remember the way he was always questioning what was around him and how his mother became his first teacher, answering all of his questions of the world by looking them up in the family encyclopaedia.

A tight bond was kept between Tony and his mother during his early childhood, while his father was a quiet and content man who refrained from the level of responsibility and influence on Tony which his mother took.

However, although still tight after the families move to Azusa and the arrival of a new brother, Marcus and sister, Tara the special bond between the two was soon to be tested on one day in 1967.

Tony’s mother and father sat him down that day and announced their upcoming divorce. Not only was Tony broke at the thought of the divorce but he was then asked to choose between his parents. With no answer but tears, his mother assumed he wanted to stay with his father.

Robbins has since said that he actually wanted to live with his Mother, but didn’t want to hurt either of their feelings. His mother and siblings moved out soon after and he was left to be brought up by his father.

He tried his best to cope, but missed his brother and sister and began to spend his time reading alone. However, 2 years later and Tony’s mother married again to Art Williams. Tony was now 9 and Nikki wanted him back, they spoke and John agreed to let him leave.

ShowImageHe joined the new family in their home in Glendora, California where it’s said he stayed on his best behaviour, did as he was told and did well in school to please his mother.

But Nikki’s relationship was on a rocky road and after two years, it broke up. But in 1973 she remarried again, this time to Jim Robbins. Robbins was a former minor league baseball player but was at the time, a struggling sale man instead.

The family had little money and struggled on the run up to that year’s Thanks Giving. They we’re looking towards to a poor holiday, however a package of food and gifts was left on their door just a few days before and the family got the Thanks Giving they wanted.

Tony was just thirteen at the time, but he says he was so stunned by the anonymous act of kindness that he made a promise to himself that day that he would one day be successful enough to repeat the help which they had received to others around the world. It was a promise he’d one day meet, two decades later.

Tony Robbins Childhood FamilyThis was the first time Tony had felt part of a real family and with it he changed his last name to Robbins to fit. Tony has since spoke about Jim Robbins, stating he was major influence during his childhood, even more so than his father.

Tony and Jim bonded over their common love for sports and Tony dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. Tony’s uncle later told A&E Biography that even though he lost most of his games, he still gained huge amounts of physical confidence from his step father Jim.

But by 9th Grade Tony realised he wasn’t going to make it as a baseball star and so aimed instead at what he thought was the next best thing to playing sports – writing about them.

He started upon this new dream by approaching a teacher. He approached Willis Osborne, a teacher and yearbook advisor at his school and told him about a ‘special project’ he’d like to work on in sports writing and asked the teacher if he could help, to which Willis replied ‘sure’.

Tony didn’t want to cover the local school teams like most young sports writers but instead, he wanted to start right at the very top. So he scoured the local papers and found out where various sports celebrities of the time where appearing, then he got his good looking mom to help in getting them to co-operate.

One of Tony’s first interviews was with Howard Cosell, a top sports journalist at the time. They talked about various things during the interview but most notably about the power and value of good communication – looking back, a well placed suggestion of what was to come for Tony Robbins.

Tony recorded his interview and it was later mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, a major breakthrough for Tony and something he was thrilled to have got. Following his mention in the paper, the local Glendora Press learned of Tony and hired him to write for their sports page and a few months later a TV station also offered Tony a reporting job.

Issues at Home

But all was not well and Tony’s success came as a surprise to his mother at home. She had begun to lose control over him and thought that his new found fame was too much for her son. She took him out of everything and Tony was forced to give up his dreams and become the man of the house – he would do anything to please his mother.

Tony Robbins Childhood

This lasted for quite some time, but at sixteen Tony grew ten inches in one year and reached six-foot seven-inches in height. It was a drastic change for Tony and he’s since said that “he liked the result, because people looked at me in a different way after that.” He didn’t realise it then but this small change, would go on to change the direction of his life forever.

Tony went on to run for Student Body President and although considered as the underdog, he used his newly found appearance and well-practiced speech to his advantage – he was elected president. He began to work on projects and activities for the body, but his newly found success once again lead to issues between himself and his mother at home.

“I started to now kind of develop my own identity and I was doing my own thing more,” says Tony, “I wasn’t home every minute and I wasn’t taking care of everything which she knew I was going to do, and I started talking about moving away to college, and then she started doing things which I felt we’re unfair.”

The conflict lead to loud screaming matches in the house and a lot of tension. Tony’s sister Tara said a few years later that “Tony did just need to leave the house, it was you know, spread your wings, he was ready to go, he was motivated.” and on Christmas Eve 1977, he did just that.

In a fit of anger he stormed from his mother’s house, determined to make it on his own. He moved in with a friend, called his uncle who ran a cleaning business and began working nights after school cleaning. He worked long, hard days and often didn’t get to sleep until 3am.

This went on for months but as it began to affect his school life, he was forced to share his situation with the student councillor for his school. The councillor suggested he left school to figure out how to support himself and while he didn’t want to, feeling that he was again being forced out of something he loved, it’s exactly what he did.

Stepping up from School

Tony went on to search for a way to support himself and saw an ad in the local news paper for a sales position which promised $500 a week, a huge amount of money for himself as a seventeen year old boy. He knew he could be persuasive, landed the job and moved on as a sales man, selling music club subscriptions door-to-door.

TonyRobbins3Just a few months after leaving high school and he’d earned enough to move into his own apartment and support himself. Around this time, he met Liz Acosta when she came to work at the music company; they hit it off straight away and began dating.

One day while making a sales pitch to a new potential customer, Tony’s direction began to change once more. The man was so impressed with Tony’s sales skills, he told Robbins, “you have so much talent, if you took this skill you could convince anyone, anything, you could change people’s lives,” planting a seed in Tony’s head, which would begin to redirect him for decades to come.

The Move Into Self-Help Sales

It was now the late 1970’s and California was being described as the ‘Mecca for the spiritual enlightenment and self-help movement’, something seen to have impacted the lives of several world renowned people’s lives, including Steve Jobs.

Tony gained in with this phenomenon when he was invited as a guest to a Jim Rohn speaker session one day. Rohn’s seminars we’re attracting thousands at the time and Tony was so inspired by Rohn, he approached him after the seminar and asked him for a job.

Tonys Robbins Meets Jim RohnRohn has since spoke about that day saying that “Tony was not the ordinary 17 year old, he was remarkable.” He gave him a job and Tony left his old one to begin selling Jim Rohns speaker sessions to businesses all over Los Angeles instead.

“He learned from many of those who where in leadership positions, management positions. It didn’t take him long to be one of the best.” said Jim Rohn.

It’s told that Tony was soon earning $3000 a month, but in June 1978 he returned to Glendora’s High School for his graduation. He was excited and proud of his accomplishments in school, but also nervous that his mother – who he had not seen since he left home 6 months earlier – was going to present.

They spoke that day, the family was reunited and she later spoke about it, saying “from that point on, the air was cleared and it was established that he’s on his own, there’s no threat, you know, moms not going to try and haul you back home.”

Tony kept up the enthusiasm for his new career with Jim Rohn and kept a journal, similar to the ones Jim Rohn kept throughout his life, in which Tony wrote down and documented his own personal development findings. He was offered a promotion to run his own office for Rohn in 1979, he took the offer and began working harder than ever, making $10’000 a month at just age nineteen.

Tony’s Ultimate Downfall

However, it wasn’t all good and with his greatly found success at such a young age, Tony lacked social time, his relationship with Liz Acosta fell apart and he began to realise all of the jealous friends he’d lost. An upset and lonely Tony fell into a depression, began to eat exponentially and started to spoil his own business.

Tony put on 38 pounds in just two and half months, was forced to move to a small flat near Venice Beach and began wasting his days watching soap operas alone. “He lost his direction” says his Uncle, “he was not the Tony I knew.”

But after several months of depression, Robbins knew he had to turn things around. He forced himself out and ran along the beach. He’d hit rock bottom and while starring at waves as they rolled in on to the seashore ahead of him, he thought deeply about everything he had done, gained and lost over the last few years. There and then he decided to take control of his life.

The New Beginning of the Giant Within

It was now 1982, just a year after he’d hit rock bottom and Tony had made a radical transformation in his life. He’d turned his life around and learnt many lessons along the way. It was now that Tony came to realise how he could package his story, his lessons and his inspirational speaking into a product which he could sell.

Tony Robbins 1980'sHe was inspired, motivated and determined, and he began working on creating his own speaker sessions and seminars like the ones of his early mentor Jim Rohn. He began to run the seminars and gained his own gimmick – fire walking – to differentiate his from the rest.

“This wasn’t positive thinking, this wasn’t just some mind over matter, it was tools to change your conditioning, change your conditioning of your beliefs, your behaviour, your emotions and that it worked.” says Robbins.

With some found success, he decided to take his seminars back to California, the home of the self-help and self-development movement where he soon found more success than he could ever have hoped for.

“What he taps into are just tried and true fundamentals that you would think would be common place in all of us,” says Sylvester Stallone, a friend of Tony’s, “but through the complication of life we tend to delude ourselves and look for some higher and higher, more complicated answer for our situations.”

As time went on, Tony’s seminars and speeches gained a bigger and bigger audience, became a bigger and bigger success and made Tony a very wealthy man.

Tony Robbins Seimar 1980sHe was gaining so much success with his seminars and there promotional infomercials that he’d become household name by the later 1980’s. Making the most of this fame, Tony knew he had to begin building on his range of products and he did.

Tony’s Product Diversification

As well as keeping his seminars going, Tony began to look to other ways of connecting with his audience including books, tapes and later in the era of the web, internet downloads.

Anthony Robbins Unlimited PowerRobbins published his very first book, Unlimited Power, in 1987 discussing a range of self-development topics including health and energy, persuasive communication and overcoming fears. The book became a best-selling book and was often regarded as ‘uplifting and idealistic’ by readers, including one reader who spoke of Robbins as “a persuasive communicator who spends more linage on step-by-step details of his recommendations than in self-boosterism.”

Four years later and in 1991, Tony released his second and to date, final best-selling book, Awaken the Giant Within. It included further details of his personal development techniques and strategies, which he calls ‘Neuro-Associative Conditioning’.


Tony Robbins has undoubtedly had an extraordinary life and whether you believe in his teachings or not, he’s undoubtedly changed the lives of millions around the world. Coming from a life no different to most young children, through his devotion, determination and many of his now life teachings, Tony has grown to become a man of success much greater than he could have ever hoped.


Robbins still hosts his seminars around the world, including his current seminar Date with Destiny and continues to deliver the timeless lessons of his life to millions around the world through his books, audio products and now the internet too.

Tony’s come along way since the promise he made to himself on that Thanks Giving, many years ago and now fulfils that promise he made through the Anthony Robbins Foundation and its yearly ‘Basket Bridges’ campaign. The foundation also works on other projects including its aim to empower students and prisoners through learning programs based on Tony’s teachings.

Following his break up with Liz Acosta at around age nineteen, the pair discovered she was pregnant with his child and 9 months later in 1984, they had a son named Jairek Robbins. At a seminar of his sometime later, Tony met Becky Jenkins, a lady with 3 children, who he went on to marry. However, the pair divorced in June 2001 and Tony went on to marry Bonnie Humphrey (now known as Sage Robbins) later that year.

Life Lessons from Tony Robbins

With such a lengthy and interesting life, full of twists and turns to his success, there are a whole range of lessons we can infer from the life of Tony Robbins. However, Tony has built the huge list of his own teachings based on his life experiences and so in this lessons section, instead of recovering our own lessons from his life, I’ll be discussing just a few of the lessons which he often speaks about gaining from it himself instead.

Focus is Key

One of the biggest lessons Tony Robbins teaches through his content is focus and the power of focus and energy. “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus,” says Tony, “we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”

Tony Robbins, Where focus goes energy flowsI’ve spoke about the power of focus on our blog a lot in the past. I’ve done this because of my strong belief that focus is the key to the successful completion of anything. Be it school work, a project, a blog post, a sale, it’s only through hard focus on your vision for that task that I believe you can ever succeed in completing the task successfully.

Tony commonly speaks about how focus directs our journeys forward. He believes focus is one of the most powerful forces we have as human beings, but also that as with all powerful forces, if it isn’t used correctly, it shouldn’t be used at all.

“You see if you focus on crashing into a pole, trying not to, the more you try not to, what you focus on, that’s where the energy goes, that’s where you go.” However, “You can’t just focus on it,” says Tony, “You’ve got to create a clear and compelling future in that area that will pull you towards it so you’re not trying to push yourself.”

Decision is Destiny

Decision is the ultimate power. Decisions shape destiny.

Another key lesson from Tony’s seminars is the importance of decision. He believes that decision if the initial and one of the most important factors of a person’s route to success, as a single decision can change a persons destiny forever.

“It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become.” Says Tony, but “rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”

Tony’s made a lot of decisions in his life, as we all do, but many of his including his decisions to go it alone and leave home, and to turn his life around after hitting rock bottom are the decisions which ultimately changed the directions of his life and lead him to his destiny of success.

It’s important to recognise the significance your decisions may have on your life, but also to realise that you can’t always predict their effects looking forwards either. You can only see the significance they’ve had looking back.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped,” says Tony.

Raise Your Standards

anthony-robbins-date-with-destiny“Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards.” Says Tony, “When people ask me what really changed my life eight years ago, I tell them that absolutely the most important thing was changing what I demanded of myself.”

We all have standards and at the simplest level of personal development, it’s the level of standards which we set for our own lives, for our own work, for our own personality and effort that reflects on our success. To up your game, to up your lives and your level of success, you must up your standards for yourself.

“I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things that I aspired to becoming.” Says Tony, “If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviours and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.”

Major in Major Things

You’re only on this earth for a limited number of years, yet many people waste many of theirs on minor and extraneous things. “Most people fail in life because they major in minor things” says Tony.

Use your time and attention only on the things which matter most. Don’t waste your time on the little things, but rather dedicate your life to the mastery of bigger things which actually have a significant impact on what really matters to you instead.

Tony thought big with his seminars, books and actually with his whole aim of accomplishing the self-development area in all. We should all learn to think big, to work big and to aim for the bigger things in life. Learn this from the life of Anthony Robbins and don’t let yourself down by chasing the minor and almost worthless things in life – but alternatively aim high and Major in Major things instead!

Wrote by Joe Brown  -  Follow Me  -  Part of the Life & Lessons Series