My indecision was killing me. And finally last week, I had a breakdown. Or a meltdown. Whatever — it felt bad.
Something I’d been indecisive about, something I didn’t act on, didn’t work out for me, and the pain I experienced had little to do with what I’d lost, and everything to do with what this flaw was costing me.
Ironically, I’d been considering attending the Tony Robbins Workshop: Unleash the Power Within but couldn’t decide if I should go.
My deep emotion around this most recent mess-up worked like a catapult. I signed up and booked a flight to West Palm Beach.
I knew there was a firewalk, and yes, a firewalk is what you think it is—a walk on fire, barefooted, on coals over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. But I had no intention of participating so I didn’t let it deter me from attending the event.
And yes, of course I’d come to that very clear, and absolute, decision not to walk on fire because I was afraid. Wasn’t everyone?
Turns out my son and daughter, who attended the workshop with me, weren’t. They said they probably wouldn’t do the walk. But it wasn’t because of fear; they simply didn’t want to wait on a long line late at night.
The day of the event we arrived at the convention center at 8:30 am. We’d decided in advance not to sit together. (Actually, they decided, I agreed.) We didn’t want to infringe on each other’s experience.
Tony Robbins addressed a crowd of over 9,000 people. He talked about embracing fear, and all day and into the night, he prepped us for the walk. He talked about how people need to push themselves beyond their comfort zone, and then when they succeed—they need to celebrate. According to him, acknowledging progress works. It makes people continue to achieve.
The event itself was uncomfortable. We sat on stiff, narrow chairs that were lined up right next to each other. And there were no breaks, as in none.
We were told to bring snacks: raw almonds, peanut butter, apples and bananas. Despite not having a real meal all day, at midnight, we still had an uncanny, supernatural amount of energy. That was Tony’s recipe: no sleep, little food.
About an hour before the walk, Tony guided us (all 9,000 of us) through a meditation. I was so out of it by then that the 45 minute trance felt like 10 minutes.
He was psyching us up, putting us into “state.”
But I wouldn’t bite. My fear held strong.
We worked with partners. We chanted, “You will walk, and I will too.” But when it was my turn, I said, “I’m not walking.”
“Oh, yes you are,” my partner said. We’d been sitting together for 16 hours at that point.
I hadn’t called or texted my kids all day, and they hadn’t called or texted me either. I know that sounds strange, but the whole day was super intense. There just wasn’t time.
“I’m going to check in with my kids,” I told this woman. “I don’t think they want to walk.”
“What! That’s why you’re here.” (Earlier in the day, while doing one of the exercises together, I’d confessed to her how my indecision in life was hurting me.) “Don’t let your kids decide if you’re going to walk. You decide.”
She got me there.
I needed to check in with my kids regardless so I texted both of them. You doing it?
I must admit—I hoped they’d be exhausted as I was, that they wouldn’t want to wait in a long line, that they’d want to go back to the hotel.
My son: Yes. Are you? My daughter: I’m going to join.
We were instructed to take off our shoes and leave our belongings on our chair. I panicked as 9,000 people walked like sheep, barefooted, through the convention center. Was everyone going to drink the Kool-Aid? I couldn’t get over it.
No one, and I mean no one—old, young, tall, short, female or male— seemed to be worried. Only me.
I couldn’t decide what to do. And for this kind of thing certainty is essential. Wishy-washy wasn’t going to work, as it hadn’t been working in my life. You must be in the right state of mind if you plan to walk on fire or you could really hurt yourself. There was absolutely no room for indecision.
I wanted to stay where I was, where I’d be safe. But there’s something else I didn’t mention. The room was highly air conditioned to 50 degrees throughout the weekend. We were told to bring layers along with our snacks. We wore sweatshirts and jackets and scarves. (I wore two!)
So in addition to my new friend insisting I go with her, I was happy to get outside into warm, fresh air and extremely curious to see hordes of people walk on coals.
I followed the crowd but wore my shoes and carried my belongings. This way I could bolt whenever I wanted.
I watched in disbelief as person after person accomplished this feat. I watched them celebrate, euphoric and high.
I guess the momentum and the energy got to me because in the end, I did it!! I walked on fire! (Even after they brought in a fresh wheelbarrow of hot coals just 3 people ahead of me.)
I’d like to say I did it on my own terms because I wanted to. But the truth is I kept thinking about Friday night dinner back at home with my entire family, telling the rest of our family the story of how my two kids walked, and I didn’t.
It doesn’t escape me that I didn’t make a distinct decision and that the woman next to me, and my kids (not to mention being hypnotized and influenced by the crowd) had something to do with my decision-making.
But still there was progress and eventually, days after the walk, I realized how important it was for me to celebrate the fact that I’d embraced a fear. There was still a lifetime ahead for me to concentrate on decision-making.
One flaw at a time.