LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – For three decades, personal-development coach Anthony Robbins has had a presence on TV via his late-night infomercials.
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On July 27, he’ll launch his first primetime series, “Breakthrough with Tony Robbins,” on NBC, where the multi-millionaire author and speaker will use his techniques on people seeking to improve their lives.
Here, Robbins recounts how tossing a quadriplegic out of an airplane made NBC nervous.
A REALITY TV SHOW ON A MAJOR NETWORK IS A LONG-ODDS
BUSINESS, AND WHEN THINGS DON’T WORK OUT IT’S VERY PUBLIC. IF
THIS SHOW DOESN’T WORK, IS THAT GOING TO BOTHER YOU?
Robbins: It already has worked out because my outcomes for the show are simple. I knew it was a huge risk, but it was worth it because I wanted to do something that was different and unique and would inspire people. NBC sees it as a series, I see as six specials — that’s all I agreed to do. So I’m not committing to do this going forward, I’m committed to take on these six families’ lives and transform them.
For example, a couple went to Mexico to get married. It’s supposed to be the happiest day of their life, and they decided to jump in the swimming pool. They all jump in except the husband hits a step and becomes a quadriplegic. His wife is now his caretaker, she’s changing his catheter every few hours. They used to be world travelers, they live in a little tiny house she can’t leave the room for fear that if he falls over he’ll stop breathing. She’s in a place where she has no compelling future, family is not possible, intimacy is not possible, everything she dreamed of is gone. So she lives in a place of such anger and sadness, and her husband is a beautiful soul who now feels totally guilty because he’s ruined their life.
I look at this and my thought was, “I could help these people, but how do I also make that an inspiring 44 minutes of primetime television?” I took these people who hadn’t left their house in a year and I flew them to my home in Fiji and started a 30-day process, experiences of doing things they never dreamed they could do in their entire life. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh.
All along the way NBC was saying, “You’re crazy, you can’t take a quadriplegic and throw him out of an airplane and have him skydive, you can’t possibly take this guy who right now cant move 20 feet and convince him that he’s going to play murderball.” Several times NBC and the insurance companies are saying “no.” The process we did has really had a measurable impact on these peoples lives and we are really proud and grateful to be able to participate.
YOU WROTE TWO BEST-SELLING BOOKS IN THE 1990S AND THEN
STOPPED. DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO EVER PUBLISH AGAIN?
Robbins: For years I’ve had three book contracts with publishers to write other books, but with all that I do with my life, writing is my least favorite thing. Fewer and fewer people spend time reading, and where I love to work is live with real people. Am I going to sit down and write? Or am I going to go and do a dozen events with 5-10,000 thousand people? So will I write again? Probably, in the next couple of years, but for me it’s more audio, video and live events. It’s not to say books aren’t valuable, it’s just my least favorite thing to do and I have found more impact using the other venues of audio and video.
DO YOU STILL READ EVERY SELF-IMPROVEMENT TITLE THAT COMES
OUT AND ARE THERE ANY YOU HAVE BEEN IMPRESSED BY OVER THE PAST
DECADE OR SO?
Robbins: Obviously (“Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” author) Stephen Covey is a very dear friend of mine. I’ve always loved his work. I’m more interested in sociology. I’m more interested in the patterns of what happens, psychologically and culturally, around the world. I’ve read books all along the way that I thought gave me a sense of the season we are in. The season of the economy is clearly winter right now. People are saying, “Oh it’s getting better.” I think it’d be ridiculous to think it’s suddenly going to get better with the amount of debt and challenges we have. We are in for some tough times ahead so we’ve got to figure out a way to use stress and not let stress use us. There is a whole generation of people who were born in 1910 who by the time they were 19, it was 1929 when the stock market crashed, they were 29 it was 1939 and it was World War II. We call them the greatest generation, that group of people went through some experiences that made them incredibly strong. We’re having our time now to get strong. That’s the stuff that grabs me the most at this stage of my life.