Tony Robbins has taught this productivity trick to clients ranging from Bill Clinton to Serena Williams
Courtesy of Tony Robbins
He's sold millions of books, videos, and audio recordings, as well as millions of tickets to his seminars. He's personally coached everyone from former President Bill Clinton to tennis icon Serena Williams to revered hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones.
Although every coaching session is personalized, we asked Robbins for the top productivity trick he teaches clients.
He explained that "most people mistake movement for achievement," thinking that writing up a long to-do list at the start of the day is the first step to success. "I teach people to become obsessed with outcomes instead of activities," he said. He's developed a simple process called the Rapid Planning Method (RPM) that anyone can use.
It consists of asking yourself the following three questions:
What do I want?
You're setting yourself up for failure if you start with a step-by-step plan of action, Robbins said. You need to first determine what you're setting out to achieve.
He illustrated his point with the example of his consultation with Clinton, who he first coached in 1993, when Clinton was about to be impeached in late 1998.
Robbins said Clinton told him his impeachment was going to happen, and he wanted advice on how to conduct himself. Robbins said he replied by saying "What should I do?" was the wrong question.
He said he told the President, "The question is, 'What do you want?' What is your outcome? Is your outcome to stay in office? Is your outcome to have a political legacy? Is your outcome to inspire people with what's real? ... What's the result you're after?"
Determine your objective before getting "bogged down in all the to-dos," he said.
Why do I want it?
The next step is finding the reason why you want what you do.
"You can have all these things that you want, but if you don't want them equally and you don't have strong enough reasons, you're just going to have these targets," Robbins said. "Then you're going to have no fuel to get there."
Wealth-X estimates Robbins' net worth to be about $440 million, but he grew up poor in downtown Los Angeles. He's frequently said that the time his family received a donated Thanksgiving meal when he was a child was a pivotal moment in his life that showed him the positive impact an individual could have on other people.
He explained that when he decided as a young man that he wanted to become wealthy, the idea of the novelty of being rich would never have been a sufficient motivator. Instead, he defined his reasons for wanting the power of money, such as wanting to buy his mother a nice house, donate millions of meals to families who were in the situation he was once in, and enjoy a life where he didn't need to worry about the last $20 in his pocket.
"I always tell people purpose is more powerful than the object," he said.
What's my massive action plan?
Only after determining the "what" and "why" can you move onto the "how," which Robbins calls setting a "massive action plan."
Robbins recommends creating a list of things to accomplish, and then editing it down to a point where it's as tight as possible. He follows the Pareto principle, which states that 20% of actions are responsible for 80% of a plan's effects. Creating a massive action plan entails cutting any minor benchmarks or instructions in your initial plan that will only hamper your progress moving forward.
Robbins said that the RPM process isn't just for long-term planning, but rather becomes a way of approaching your work. It becomes especially clear when a myriad of distractions pull your attention in every direction on a daily basis.
"We're just drowning in information; we're starving for wisdom," he said. "And the wisdom comes when you start getting clear about what you want and why you want it."
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