book reviews, articles at the good, the true, the beautiful


My Main Page with Links to My Other Book Reviews


Unlimited Power

by Anthony Robbins


Anthony Robbins writes transformative knowledge is “in every bookstore, every video store, every library.” Maybe I’m blind, but I don’t remember—wait. Now I remember. Transformative knowledge was tucked between the UFO documentaries and Earnest Celebrates National Discolored Pinky Awareness Week videos. Damn, and all this time wasted looking elsewhere. Mr. Robbins argues a collective consciousness exists out there to help us. I, unfortunately, have been unable to tap into it. Is there a membership fee?


Robbins gives us the grand theory: Knowledge plus action equals power. Thanks. All this time I thought it was ignorance plus indolence. According to Robbins, producing is the most important thing, but interpretations matter more.


Robbins rhetorically defines ultimate power as the ability to get the results you want and provide for others along the way. This definition is too broad and looks semi-ethical. Much of the book is devoted to doing what you want whether it benefits you or others. Believe what you want to believe, combine it with action, and power will magically follow. He includes other definitions of power for sheer fun or perhaps mystical confusion: Power is communication. Power is acting. Power is.  Most readers probably do not care how many definitions of power Robbins uses. If they were interested in clear, consistent definitions, they would be reading some other book.


This work is tedious to read—common ideas packaged as revelations—so I imagined Tony Robbins in all his charismatic glory reading it to me. That did not help.


The following ideas are acceptable but nothing new:

·        We can act our way into moods.

·        We can think our way into moods.

·        Be relentless.

·        Your moods, beliefs, and attitudes matter.


The following ideas are false, harmful, and not new:

·        Anything anyone else can do you can do.

·        You can tell exact thoughts by looking at someone.

·        Modeling is enough.

·        You can be quickly excellent in anything.

·        “Programming” your brain with neurolinguistic programming (NLP) will produce what you want and get others to do what you want.


He claims “everything in this book is directed toward providing your brain with the most effective signals to empower you to take successful action.” I myself feel empowered to write a scathingly successful book review. He suggests seven fundamental triggering mechanisms that “ensure” success:

·        Passion! (As Camus put it much better, “In the midst of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer”—or perhaps a big fall.)

·        Belief!

·        Strategy!

·        Values clarity!

·        Energy!

·        Bonding power!

·        Communication mastery!

·        Exclamation points! (Oops, that’s eight.)


Much of Unlimited Power is unspecific despite his inclusion of “precisely” and “exactly,” there is not much useful stuff that could not be summarized in one page. Robbins, via the “Robbins Research Institute,” refers to research, yet this work is mostly anecdotes and inadequate expertise. I do not recall seeing any controlled studies of his methods. The evidence he uses to support claims is almost nonexistent. Does the zest and confidence one acquires from a walk on coals with low thermal conductivity—”fire walking”—transfer to other situations? My guess is individuals will be back to old habits within two days after their warm walk.


Here are some other "big" ideas from Robbins:

·        You can, like, “totally control your own state.” Fur-sure.

·        Quantum physics tells us how everyday thinking works.

·        If you know whether a person employs a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic “representational system,” you can easily manipulate them.

·        Changing moods is the key to changing behavior.

·        The “NLP community discovered mind/body correlations” before scientists.

·        The first three letters of the word diet do not spell glockenspiel. They spell something much more frightening.

·        The water in food is better for your health than the water in water.

·        Research with rats suggests that slashing calories is the best way to extend lives, therefore Robbins concludes: “Fruit is the most perfect food.” (Perhaps because food products that are mostly fructose and water have few calories and leave you feeling full for days.)


Rapport and congruency matter, writes Robbins. What is congruency? The ability to be self-confident, not expressing self-doubts, no matter how vile your behavior, projecting an image of strength, no matter how much destruction you cause others. Evil should not concern you because “nothing is good or bad in the world except in the way we present it to ourselves.” Having power or having the image of having character is more important than having character.


Unlimited Power is worse than a boring version of the movie Rocky. It gets some individuals fired up for a few days, but five years later they are not heavyweight champs of anything. See the movie instead. It's cheaper, more fun, and better written. After all, “all human behavior revolves around the urge to gain pleasure or avoid pain.” Not recommended.


book review article by J.T. Fournier, last updated June 13, 2009


My Main Page with Links to My Other Book Reviews