July 23, 2012

The Tony Robbins fire-walkers who got burned must have slowed down and stopped.

Just keep moving and you won't get hurt. Don't blame Tony Robbins. Blame those losers who didn't do it right.
Thousands participated in the walk, which stretched down 24 lanes, each around eight feet long.
The linked NYT article — "A Self-Improvement Quest That Led to Burned Feet" — doesn't mention the number of people who "reported second- or third-degree burns" until the very end. (The number is: 20 (out of 6,000).) The article stresses the positive:
“It transformed people’s lives in a single night,” said Carolynn Graves, 50, a real estate agent from Toronto, who crossed the coals without injury. “It’s a metaphor for facing your fears and accomplishing your goals.”

Ms. Graves suggested that the people who burned their feet “were out of state,” a term that participants said meant having the proper mental attitude.
Out of state? Great phrase. In my line of work, it's what we say about people who will have to pay much more tuition. The state you need to be in to not get burned is Wisconsin. In this self-confidence cult business, the "state" you need to be in is — what? — really believing that you won't get burned?

The sister of one of the burn victims "said Mr. Robbins had 'worked all night to prepare people' before the walk. If some people were injured, she said, 'it’s not his fault.'" Now, now, let's think about this. People are responsible for themselves. If you got a poor outcome, it's because you didn't do it right. You were given an education, and then it was up to you. Think about the people who did walk across the coals without getting burned. Are you going to say it wasn't really them? It was their teacher that did that? It was Tony Robbins? They didn't walk across those coals? Tony Robbins gets credit for that?

29 comments:

Brent said...

We didn't start the fire
Though we tried to fight it
But did not ignite it.
We didn't start the fire
It was always burnin'
Since the world's been turnin'

damikesc said...

They're right, though. Coal is a terrible conductor of heat and if you don't stop, you won't get burned. Walking across hot coals isn't a huge accomplishment.

traditionalguy said...

The apologists do believe Robbins imparts a mind over matter power. Why else would they pay that much money to be transformed?

Robbins is the classic Con Man, which means a man that dares you to believe in a falsehood to prove your courage. He calls you out and says, "Where's your confidence?" And with that alone he can tempts many folks to take up his challenge.

ricpic said...

What's the night before education, "Walk fast?"

Tarzan said...

It's a fair model for a successful life, in my opinion. Plenty of areas in life where you can do well if you keep your eyes on the goal and keep moving. Stop, doubt yourself, hesitate...OUCH!

edutcher said...

Supposedly there is a trick to it, but the fakirs of India practice a long time to get it right.

Tarzan said...

They're right, though. Coal is a terrible conductor of heat and if you don't stop, you won't get burned. Walking across hot coals isn't a huge accomplishment.

What matters isn't whether it's really dangerous or not, but rather how dangerous people *think* it is as they approach to do the walk.

It's a largely dramatic but nonetheless powerful exercise in overcoming your own expectations of what you think you're capable of.

BarrySanders20 said...

"Out of state? Great phrase. In my line of work, it's what we say about people who will have to pay much more tuition. The state you need to be in to not get burned is Wisconsin. In this self-confidence cult business, the "state" you need to be in is — what? — really believing that you won't get burned?"

Ha! I like the connection between the con man and the modern university. Sucking in all that tuition money with a promise of transformation -- all it takes is a high-schooler's belief that he won't get burned even if he enrolls in gender studies. Or, in Althouse's employer's case, tuition dollars in exchange for the promise of a prestige and wealth as a member of a noble profession.

Come on! Walk across those hot coals and your reward is at the end. Where's your confidence?

Some students won't get burned, some will. Just like Tony's cult followers.

Is Althouse confessing something here?

Althouse as cult leader.

Which makes her dear readers . . .

bagoh20 said...

20 out of 6,000. I bet you couldn't walk 6,000 people through a restroom without twice that many injuries. This fire walking must be the safest activity since lying to congress.

viator said...

Those 5,980 people didn't walk across those coals. The road they came on walked across those coals.

Mitch H. said...

Was there traffic congestion over the coals? An excess of skin oils from previous walkers that changed the composition of the fire - turned it, in places, into a grease fire instead of hot coals for those that walked at the wrong time? All sorts of bad outcomes when you try to walk thousands over hot coals in a single mass ritual.

Clyde said...

She's from Toronto -- shouldn't it have been "out of province" instead of "out of state"?

victoria said...

Tony Robbins makes me gag and those idiots who got their feet burned are nuts to actually pay money to see this guy. If i were them i would demand my money back.

Vicki from Pasadena

jr565 said...

What matters isn't whether it's really dangerous or not, but rather how dangerous people *think* it is as they approach to do the walk.

It's a largely dramatic but nonetheless powerful exercise in overcoming your own expectations of what you think you're capable of.


Sometimes, if you walk across coals, you burn your feet. Little lesson in cause and effect for those thnking about doing it. But most people who walked across the coals,didn't measurably burn themselves.

jr565 said...

Robbins is the classic Con Man, which means a man that dares you to believe in a falsehood to prove your courage. He calls you out and says, "Where's your confidence?" And with that alone he can tempts many folks to take up his challenge.


I don't see it being that much of a con. The danger is limited (or is a lot worse than it looks at any rate) and most people get through it with not much more than slightly burned feet. BUT it does become a question of whether you can overcome that fear and do it. I suppose he could also have his people sky dive, or bungie jump, but that is a bit more dangerous.
It's theater, but it actually does work towards people confronting their fear. At the very least the fear of walking on coals.

Also, he doesn't impart anything.
He tells you you have this mind over matter power. And you do, when it comes to any fear you have. If you ever got over a fear, you basically had to talk yourself through it, or summon the will to get past it. All he's doing is saying you have it within you to overcome most of those fears.

Eric said...

Ms. Graves suggested that the people who burned their feet “were out of state,” a term that participants said meant having the proper mental attitude.

These are the same people who roll their eyes when a faith healer says someone wasn't healed because his faith wasn't strong enough. Boy, those Christians sure are stupid.

Eric said...

On the plus side, Robbins isn't working with snakes yet.

jr565 said...

How is Tony Robbins any different than the Little Engine that Could? I think I can... I think I can.. I know I can.. I know I can.. mind over matter.
Tony Robbins just gives you a pep talk so you get to that realization for yourself. For those that need such pep talks he's good at it. Many don't, and might find such pep talks unnecessary.

paul a'barge said...

Where are the coals that Tony Robbins walked across? Let's see the YouTube.

Mark said...

I am really struck by the 20/6000 failure rate, or should I say 5980/6000 (99.66667%) success rate.

Mitch H hypothesized that the 5000+ before added some foot fat to the fire. Isn't it far more likely that the 20 gave into fear along the walk across the coals?

While I do not follow Tony Robbins and have not attended his seminars, I did read a couple of his books a few decades ago. I found the information useful motivating in my early career, and I probably am still shaped somewhat by this (and everything else).

A couple commenters liken what he does as a Con Man, scam, or faith healer. Would these same commenters say the same about a high school teacher or college prof who made a student feel and succeed beyond what they thought they could do.

I remember that Tony Robbins seemed to be really good at giving an approach to understand fears and other issues that people allow to hold themselves back.

A commenter said "most people don't need it." I think that is true somewhat. Most people do not NEED to lose 20 lbs, but would most people's lives be better if they did?

I would guess that many in the seminars are those in professions where the individual must maintain a lot of faith in their actions - especially in sales of all sorts. People in professions that are a warm cocoon have a tough time understanding the life of someone where their actions are often so separated from their rewards.

I remember a friend from a long time ago that did wholesale sales of high end fragrances. He told me that he would go to an Amway seminar about once a year because he would get revved up out of it, and it helped him in his sales efforts.

I think the lesson is in these 99%, not the 1%-ers that didn't succeed.

creeley23 said...

As I mentioned in the previous topic, I've done about ten firewalks at Robbins events and five times I was on the Fire Team -- the volunteers who clear the area of the firewalk, unroll the grass sod, burn the wood down to coals, shovel the coals onto lanes in the grass, supervise the participants into lines, prepare them to walk, protect them as they do so, and finally catch them at the end where we hose down their feet to remove any coals that might be clinging to to their feet.

It's hard but satisfying work. The firewalk is a wild, celebratory scene of surpassing intensity with the potential of changing lives.

Tony, his staff and the Fire Teams have been doing this for more than twenty-five years. There are always medical and fire professionals present. Hundreds of thousands of people have walked the fire successfully. Which is not to say that no one ever gets burned. Usually it's just a blister or two; occasionally it's worse. I once received second-degree burns that covered half of my left instep.

This is the first time I've heard of third-degree burns at a Tony event. That's serious and regrettable. I know that the Robbins organization and the Fire Team are looking into it and will improve their procedures to prevent a re-occurrence.

I wasn't there and couldn't say for sure, but it sounds like there were a few wheelbarrows of coals that hadn't burned down enough. The idea is to burn the wood down to small coals that are hot and glowing, but crumble under the walker's weight. If there is still a core of wood burning at the center of the coal, the wood will press hard and hot against the skin and more likely burn the walker.

The firewalk isn't as dangerous as it looks but there's no way for it to be risk-free. However, as Mark @3:14 notes, it was only 21 out of 6000 participants at this one event, or out of at least a quarter-million who have done firewalks at Tony Robbins events since 1983.

creeley23 said...

"Out of state."

This isn't weird or complicated.

Tony uses the word "state" as shorthand for the optimum physical, emotional, and mental state one needs to accomplish a task. Generally one wants to be alert, focused, determined, and confident to get things done.

Consider the rituals of athletes use to get into "state" before they compete. Same thing.

For a firewalk, you want all those qualities in spades for your state. You want to stride briskly and purposefully forward to reach your goal at the end of the fire lane.

You do not want to go out of state and give in to fear. You do not want look down and pause. You really will be burned if you stop in the middle of a lane of hot coals.

The Crack Emcee said...

Wow - two threads on the same topic and the exact same losers (creely, jr) are here to rationalize the cult training for us. Whoda thunk it?

Here, boys, try some clear thinking for a change.

This new explanation does boil down to blame the victim, as all NewAge cons do:

They slowed down - WHEN THEY CAME TO THEIR SENSES AND REALIZED THEY WERE TALKED INTO SOMETHING AS DUMB AS WALKING ACROSS HOT COALS - and they weren't supposed to do that.

(They probably heard their Moms saying, "And if one idiot jumps off a bridge,...?")

Ahhh, cults and con men - what would life be without them? Hey, jr, want some herbal supplements?

Oh well.

Next week:

Spoon-bending with Uri Gellar to see how you can "reach your full potential"...

The Crack Emcee said...

creeley23,

"Out of state."

This isn't weird or complicated.


No, using a phrase few of us has ever heard of isn't weird or complicated.

Tony uses the word "state" as shorthand for the optimum physical, emotional, and mental state one needs to accomplish a task. Generally one wants to be alert, focused, determined, and confident to get things done.

See, "Tony" has his own language - a feature of all cults, like when Tom Cruise starts going off about "BTs" or "SPs"and laughing maniacally.

Consider the rituals of athletes use to get into "state" before they compete. Same thing.

Except athletes get "in the zone," you moron cult apologist. Nobody's EVER heard an athlete "get into 'state' before they compete." And BTW - is it in or out of "state" that "Tony" has taught you, Mr. I've-Done-Him-20-times?

As I said yesterday, you and jr will say anything.

Now shut the fuck up and go "volunteer" to walk on something hot (preferably frying bacon grease) or do the fucking E-Meter so you can either get in or "out of state" and off this blog.

Man, I hate idiots,...

Oh - speaking of idiots - somebody asked if Whole Foods is a cult. Hmmmm, I don't know:

I'll let you decide,...

jr565 said...

Crack Emcee wrote:

They slowed down - WHEN THEY CAME TO THEIR SENSES AND REALIZED THEY WERE TALKED INTO SOMETHING AS DUMB AS WALKING ACROSS HOT COALS - and they weren't supposed to

if you look at the video YOU supply most people walk across the hot coals and there is nothing to it. No one in the Penn & Teller video is badly burned. Meaning, you are buying into the rationale that it is a highly dangerous practice.
Tony Robbins doesn't argue that somehow your mind will allow you to not feel pain or prevent your feet from getting hot.
Rather, it's a controlled experiment of sorts, of putting something that looks scary in front of you and saying you can overcome that fear. But in fact nothing happens to 99.9999% of the people that do walk across the coals.

And for those that do get past it they can say they met a fearful situation and were able to get last their fear consciously and through action. It's a metaphor of overcoming fear in general. And has validity.

Some people might instead overcome their fear of heights by trying to go on a roller coaster, or overcome their fear of flying by flying. It's the same thing. Confront our fear and take action.
Now I've never done one, I'm just saying I understand the point behind doing one.

As to Whole Foods being a cult because it invites a homeopath. What of it? Can't you go to whole foods and just buy organic apples or some chicken and not even listen to the homeopath? It's offering homeopathic products for those who believe in such stuff, but for those that dont, they simply buy stuff that they want and aren't forced to buy homeopathic products. Whole Foods happens to have really good rotisserie chicken for those that want to get a good lunch.

jr565 said...

Except athletes get "in the zone," you moron cult apologist. Nobody's EVER heard an athlete "get into 'state' before they compete." And BTW - is it in or out of "state" that "Tony" has taught you, Mr. I've-Done-Him-20-times?


Zone, state, what's the difference. How do you know that Robbins isn't talking about the same thing just using a different word? Are athletes in the zone practicing cult behavior?

If an athlete talks about getting his second wind, it involves him engaging.in a bit of mind over matter, and id imagine he'd be using some of the very techniques that Robbins does to psych himself into thinking that he can succeed despite being exhausted.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

By the way, I mention chicken, because vegetarianism is often something practiced by people who are new age. But of course, whole food also has meat for those who need a bit of protein in their diet. So, you don't have to buy into vegetarianism to still get the benefit of whole foods. But considering that most doctors say you should eat a diet that has a lot of vegetables and frit, having a store that has good quality items come in handy.

jr565 said...

THat should say: By the way, I mention chicken, because vegetarianism is often something practiced by people who are new age M(and you most likely therefore have a problem with it).