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Understanding Motivation – The Coaching Room

This article was based on Tony Robbins’s TED Talk, “Why We Do What We Do”:


Why we do what we do | Tony Robbins



Tony Robbins believes that the invisible force of internal drive, activated, is the reason behind why we do what we do. Emotion is at the heart of this force of life.  While we may act in our best interest sometimes, when emotion comes into play, our motivations change.

It is important to understand where you are today.  This understanding allows you to contribute more and appreciate others more.  By creating these connections, we can stop some of the challenges that we face. The goal is to create a view where everybody understands and appreciates each other.


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What Shapes Us?

Robbins wants to understand what it is that makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives and their performance. He looks to see what is shaping a person’s ability to contribute, to do something beyond themselves. This is what he calls taking the invisible and making it visible. Understanding these human needs makes it easier to implement change.

The question we have to ask ourselves is what shapes us? The mindset of today’s society is that we are our past and our biography is destiny. The past equals the future only if that is where you choose to live. We must remind ourselves that decision is the ultimate power.

The Ultimate Resource

When we look at what we have failed to achieve, people have a variety of answers. Maybe it was because they did not have the time, the money, or the technology. They claim to be missing resources, and they may be accurate. The defining factor is never resources; it’s resourcefulness. If you have emotion, you can get yourself to do anything. This is the ultimate resource.


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Decisions shape destiny, which can ultimately affect your resources. There are three decisions that determine destiny.

  1. You have to decide what you’re going to focus on either consciously or unconsciously.
  2. The minute you decide to focus, you must give it a meaning, and that meaning produces emotion.
  3. That emotion then creates your action.


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Invisible Forces

Through his research, Robbins has determined that there are two dominating factors that shape us. The first is our state. The second is our model of the world, not our ability, that shapes us. This model of the world acts as a filter, guiding our decisions.


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To influence people, we need to know what already influences them. First, you must identify your target and what you are after.  This is not about desires or goals; it is about needs. Second, once you know the target that is driving you, you reveal the belief systems that tell you how to fulfill those needs.

The Six Human Needs

Robins identifies the six human needs. The first four needs are needs of the personality that every human finds a way to meet. The last two are the needs of the spirit and involve fulfillment.

  1. Certainty – These are not goals or desires, these are universal. Everyone needs certainty to avoid pain and  be comfortable.
  2. Uncertainty – Paradoxically, even though we need certainty, we also need uncertainty. We need variety. We need surprise.
  3. Significance We all need to feel important, special, unique.
  4. Connection and Love –We can obtain this through intimacy, friendship, prayer, or even walking in nature.
  5. Growth – The reason we grow is so we have something of value to give.
  6. Contribution – We need to contribute beyond ourselves because the secret to living is giving.

Exploration Leads to Change

As humans, we all have the same six needs, but we have different drives. These drives lead us in different directions towards our destination or destiny. We each have a unique map that guides us on our journey.

It is important that you explore the needs, the beliefs, and the emotions that are controlling you.  This will help you to have more to give and will open you up for all there is for you to achieve. More importantly, this exploration of self will allow you to understand and appreciate what is driving other people. This is the only way our world is going to change.


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