Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Awaken the Giant Within Book Cover


A book for anyone who wants to master their mind, body, emotions, and finances. You’ll learn about the motivating forces of pain and pleasure, the importance of the questions you ask, and the necessity of clarifying and living by your values. Read it slowly and do the exercises.

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Key Takeaways

Set your standards

“If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.”

Don’t settle or fall into the trap of failing to define your standards. If you do so, you’re likely to find yourself in a suboptimal reality.

Make a decision

“Making a true decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility.”

If you say that you want to lose weight or improve your finances, then make a firm decision and stick with it. Making a decision is about committing to your goal and not letting anything, including your own weaknesses or limiting beliefs, stop you from achieving it.

Profound knowledge

“profound knowledge is any simple distinction, strategy, belief, skill, or tool that, the minute we understand it, we can apply it to make immediate increases in the quality of our lives.”

In my own pursuit of truth, I constantly look for profound knowledge, which once identified, has the power to immediately transform your perception and the quality of your life.

Your decisions and perceptions determine your life

“Know that it’s your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny.”

“…it’s never the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events—how we interpret them—that shapes who we are today and who we’ll become tomorrow.”

If you are in a reality that you don’t enjoy, then you need to make the right decisions to improve your reality. No matter how horrible the circumstances you face might be, it’s up to you to find the pathways to improve those circumstances.

Pain and pleasure

“PAIN and PLEASURE! Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.”

“if we link massive pain to any behavior or emotional pattern, we will avoid indulging in it at all costs. We can use this understanding to harness the force of pain and pleasure to change virtually anything in our lives.”

“But if we fail to direct our own associations to pain and pleasure, we’re living no better than animals or machines, continually reacting to our environment, allowing whatever comes up next to determine the direction and quality of our lives.”

“The truth is that we can learn to condition our minds, bodies, and emotions to link pain or pleasure to whatever we choose. By changing what we link pain and pleasure to, we will instantly change our behaviors.”

Nearly everything we do stems from our desire to avoid pain and gain pleasure. When you recognize this fundamental principle of how you operate, you can make more sound decisions, better understand what drives you, and reshape what you associate pain and pleasure to.

Problems are not permanent

“Achievers rarely, if ever, see a problem as permanent, while those who fail see even the smallest problems as permanent.”

Successful people understand that problems are impermanent and can be solved through action. Instead of dwelling on the challenge they face, they accept it and find a way to move forward.

Happiness is borne in growth

“…in order to succeed and be happy, we’ve got to be constantly improving the quality of our lives, constantly growing and expanding.”

When we constantly learn, grow, and push ourselves, we are much more content. If we remain stagnant and stop growing, that’s when misery starts to find its way into our lives.

Reinforce good behaviors

“Any pattern of emotion or behavior that is continually reinforced will become an automatic and conditioned response. Anything we fail to reinforce will eventually dissipate.”

The patterns, emotions, and behaviors that we reinforce become the habits and beliefs that determine the quality of our lives. When you understand this, you can more intelligently design your life to reinforce empowering actions and remove disempowering ones.

Ask quality questions

“Quality questions create a quality life.”

The questions you ask yourself and others matter. If you constantly ask yourself, “why is this happening to me,” you’re bound to be miserable and feel that the world against you. If instead, you ask, “what can I do to improve my situation?,” you’ll find yourself solving the problems that you are facing and consistently improving your life.

How to handle your emotions

“The quickest, simplest, and most powerful way I know to handle any emotion is to remember a time when you felt a similar emotion and realize that you’ve successfully handled this emotion before.”

Whether you’re experiencing anger, sadness, disappointment, shock, or some other negative emotion, try to remember a time in the past where you experienced and overcame this emotion. Perhaps you did something that helped you move through it, or perhaps time mended the problem. If you can remember that you have overcome the same emotion in the past, you will be better prepared to handle the emotion you’re currently experiencing.

Set goals to become the person you want to be

“Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.”

Reaching your goals is not what drives your happiness. Rather, it’s the person you become and the challenges you conquer in the process of pursuing your goals that drives your fulfillment.

The security of the present

“All too often, the security of a mediocre present is more comfortable than the adventure of trying to be more in the future.”

People get stuck in their present circumstances, even when those circumstances are mediocre, because it’s more comfortable than taking the steps to become more in the future. If you find yourself in this situation, choose the adventure of becoming more. You’ll often learn things that you could have never expected, and your life will improve as a result of that learning.


“The only way for us to have long-term happiness is to live by our highest ideals, to consistently act in accordance with what we believe our life is truly about. But we can’t do this if we don’t clearly know what our values are! This is the biggest tragedy in most people’s lives: many people know what they want to have, but have no idea of who they want to be.”

“Anytime you have difficulty making an important decision, you can be sure that it’s the result of being unclear about your values.”

Instead of thinking about what you want, think about who you want to be. Think about the qualities of people you admire, and write those qualities down. Determine the qualities that are most important to you, and live by those values. When you face a difficult decision, you can turn to your values to make that decision easier.

Communicate your expectations

“So if you ever feel angry or upset with someone, remember, it’s your rules that are upsetting you, not their behavior.”

“Don’t expect people to live by your rules if you don’t clearly communicate what they are.”

“Remember, the most empowering rule is to enjoy yourself no matter what happens.”

Often, we get angry or upset with someone when they violate our expectations or rules about how we believe they should act. However, if we haven’t communicated our expectations to other people, we can’t expect people to live by those expectations. So if someone upsets or angers you, remember to first communicate your expectations.

Finally, design your rules to be empowering. If you have a rule that you will enjoy yourself no matter what happens, you’ll find yourself feeling less negative about the circumstances you face.

The difference between health and fitness

“Fitness is “the physical ability to perform athletic activity.” Health, however, is defined as “the state where all the systems of the body—nervous, muscular, skeletal, circulatory, digestive, lymphatic, hormonal, etc.—are working in an optimal way.”

You can be fit, but not healthy, and healthy, but not fit. Remembering to distinguish these two terms that are often incorrectly lumped together will allow you live a healthier, more balanced life.

The key to wealth

“The key to wealth is to be more valuable. If you have more skills, more ability, more intelligence, specialized knowledge, a capacity to do things few others can do, or if you just think creatively and contribute on a massive scale, you can earn more than you ever thought possible.”

When you provide more value, you will receive a larger financial reward. So if you find yourself not making the income that you want, find ways to become more valuable, whether that is through increasing your skills, your abilities, your knowledge, or your creative capacity.

Urgency vs. importance

“Have you ever worked your tail off, completed every single thing on your “to do” list, but at the end of the day still felt unfulfilled? That’s because you did everything that was urgent and demanded your attention in the moment, but you didn’t do what was important—the things that would make a difference long-term.”

Developing the ability to differentiate urgency from importance will directly impact your ability to be and feel successful in your personal and professional life. If you constantly focus on what’s urgent, instead of what’s important, you might end up working your ass off without feeling or getting the rewards you seek.

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