by Maura Kelly (adapted from October Irish Echo article)

In the coaching industry they have a saying, “Where the focus goes – the energy flows.” I recently put this quote on my Facebook page and was not surprised when I received a string of thumbs up or “like” notices. Positive reinforcement is good. This phrase was stuck in my head ever since I heard it at the Irish Business Org (IBO) Tony Robbins’ seminar. Tony didn’t attend but Doug, a protégé did and enthusiastically pitched a mini Peak Performance: Unleash the Power Within seminar to a packed house.  

From the buzz in the room it was clear folks wanted to get a taste of the same strategies and communications skills used by the world’s top achievers to attain outstanding success and fulfillment.

Tony Robbins, a leading peak-performance coach has been active for over three decades helping millions of individuals and world leaders improve their lives. Now I know Tony Robbins is not everyone’s cup of tea and his self-help empire has its share of critics, but the IBO has an open mind and likes to hear different perspectives. Plus, if Bill Clinton turned to Robbins  for some guidance, something must be working.

Doug wasted little time in taking command of the room. Energetically jumping on a chair, he stretched his arms overhead and easily cajoled us into some participatory exercises. As he guided us a through a range of Robbins’ principles, he quoted his bosses words, “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity they can immediately command when they focus all of their resources on mastering a single area of their lives.” Learning to focus is a central theme. Doug went on, “It’s not the events in our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.  In life, lots of people know what to do. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” Overall, he stressed the key to designing your life plan is shifting your own mindset.

Sounds good to me.  But as I sat there I wondered if peak performance seminars really work. The industry is unregulated and full of self proclaimed experts. Just then, two IBO members admitted they had seen Tony in Vegas and yes, business and life were better. Later that week another colleague said the same. Also, there are many recognizable people on his Web site applauding his methods. Well, that’s all very interesting but I think I’ll keep my healthy skepticism.

We all want more out of life—more fulfillment, more ways to give, and more ways to grow. The reality is that people get crippled by old patterns and beliefs that act as invisible forces. These forces determine how they live. However, as Doug stated, real change won’t happen until we know what’s influencing and driving us. The takeaway for me — I believe there is a place for performance coaches to help individuals breakthrough barriers.   The successful ones have scientifically tested methods and resources people can use when they are ready and hungry for change.

Robbins’ volume of work is huge and his live seminars are expensive. The good news is that his website offers some free audio sessions, his books are in the library and there are lots of free materials from his contemporaries on the Internet. Ultimately, tapping into our potential is about being open to new perspectives, finding the right tools and being resourceful. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said: “Use the Force” and “The Force will be with you always.”

Another takeaway – “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”  Organizations like the IBO play an invaluable role so with that in mind, join us in November when we talk with leading entrepreneur, Dr. Hugh O’Connell, CEO of Kentz.  More info at

COMPETITIVE EDGE is a monthly column in the Irish Echo from and about members of the IBO. For over 35 years, the IRISH BUSINESS ORGANIZATION has been the premier network connecting entrepreneurs and professionals in the tri-state area. Notable leaders from President Mary Robinson and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Bill Cullen have headlined monthly forums and inspired audiences.

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