Last week I attended Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within event. It was my 11th time at this event, my 10th time that I attended as part of the Crew — the volunteer event team that staffs the event. The event ended on Sunday night, and since Monday, I’ve been immersed in my post-event processing.
Post-event processing is one of my most important rituals after every event. Whether it’s a Robbins event or another conference or retreat, I always schedule at least one extra day at the site after the event, and clear the first couple of days after my return, both to process and restore.
Following the Rhythms of Nature
I’ve written before about living within the rhythms of nature, and this is part of that process. Immersion events are summer energy: intense, high-energy, a lot of action. Pausing to process my thoughts is fall energy: harvesting the wisdom and lessons that help me move forward with intention.
I used to feel tension from taking this time, but as I realized what it returned to me in value I saw how important it is. Now I treat this post-event time as part of the event itself. I block off the time in my calendar after the event so that I have space to engage in my process.
What vs Why
People often ask me what I do in this process.
We always want to know what other people do. We rarely ask why or what they get from it.
I can tell you what I do, and I can tell you that it’s worth doing, but if you don’t see a compelling reason for doing it, you won’t try to create space to do it yourself.
It will be information, something nice to know.
Perhaps by sharing my reasons for engaging in this process, and what I get from it, it will help you see the benefits of creating space in your life for this type of reflection.
Here are five reasons why I create space for processing after an event, and what it gives me back.
(1) Develop Mastery in My Skills
People often ask me why I would go to the event and work for free. Also, I typically work at the products booth, which is a position outside the main room. At every event, participants ask me why I would come to the event and work outside the room. Don’t I want to hear Tony?
What I tell them is this:
If I wanted to sit in the room and listen to Tony, I would buy a ticket and participate.
The point of serving on Crew is to implement the skills and tools that Tony teaches. We take what we’ve learned and deepen it through practice. This is how we develop mastery.
The only way to develop mastery is to implement and iterate. We do this through the process of CANI: Constant And Never-ending Improvement. The principle of CANI is embedded in the culture of the Tony Robbins community.
CANI is not something I do only at events; I’ve incorporated it into the culture of my life and my daily practices and rituals, on both a micro and macro level.
(2) Harvest the Lessons
Going back to the question of why I go to the event to serve on the Crew.
First, I’m there to serve. It’s rewarding to give back. It’s incredibly fulfilling to play a role in other people’s growth and transformation.
Second, I’m also there to push my growth edge and learn more.
Serving on the Tony Robbins Crew is like a program within a program. I have the privilege and opportunity to work with and learn from the best coaches and trainers in the personal development and transformational industry. In addition to the wide range of content and skills, I also learn about event production and management.
So many lessons emerge over the course of the weekend. And because the event is completely immersive and packed with a month’s worth of activities and content, we don’t have time to write them down.
Lessons emerge in three distinct areas:
There might be distinctions about the firewalk or another element of the event. Of course, distinctions that pertain to the firewalk are not just about the firewalk. These are life skills, taught in a different context.
Ideas and Insights.
I may step into the main room and hear Tony say something that I have heard a dozen times before, but this time it resonates in a new way, because I’m a different person this time. Or it may be something that a trainer says, or something I learn from a fellow crew member or a participant. Sometimes it’s a conversation with someone who isn’t even participating in the event. Every conversation is a learning opportunity, if we’re open to it.
Personal development isn’t about learning a concept once and then moving on. It’s about getting repeated exposure to ideas, understanding that each time we hear something we receive it in a new way because we are in a different place in our lives.
Finally, there are the lessons that arise from the experience itself. Situations and moments that had something to teach me, if I am open to learning from them.
There’s a lot to harvest. If I don’t create space for this process, I leave behind what I want to take with me into my next chapter.
(3) Find the Clues to What Gives Me Meaning and Fulfillment
People often say they don’t know what they want. This may feel true but it’s not. You know, because you likely experience it somewhere.
Every experience offers us clues to what brings us meaning and joy. It’s our task to find the clues and put them together.
The challenge is that where we experience meaning and fulfillment may feel unrelated to the place where we are suffering. Or we may not know how to bring it to that place.
For example, when I first started to serve on Crew, I would notice how happy and energized I felt even while working hard. But it didn’t seem to relate to anything in my “real life.” Then I realized that I could create these conditions in my “real life.”
You have to get outside it and look at the big picture of the elements.
Looking at the event as a whole, seeing what I was doing and how I showed up, and how I felt while doing it, has been crucial for me to see what changes I need to make in my life to bring that level of fulfillment and meaning to my daily activities.
As I wrote about previously, success leaves clues, so does fulfillment. It’s on us to gather the clues.
(4) Find Clues to my Calling: HOW am I being called to serve?
By looking at the themes that showed up repeatedly, I receive clues as to where I’m being called to serve and the gifts I bring to people.
At any event, I come in contact with thousands of people. I have conversations with hundreds, and deeper conversations with dozens.
I’ve learned that everyone who comes into our path does so for a reason. They are our students and our teachers.
If you accept that there are no coincidences, that you end up where you end up for a reason, that people who come to you come to you for a reason, then you know that each conversation you have happens for a reason and a purpose. It’s there to teach you something, or to open you to teach something to others.
Do you think these clues would be important to find if you want to design a life of meaning and purpose? I do.
(5) Harvest Insight About My Ideal Clients: WHO Am I Called to Serve?
I have no illusion that I’ll remember every single conversation from the weekend; it’s usually impossible to take notes, and I move from one to the next without much (or any) time between them.
The point isn’t to remember the conversations word-for-word, but to harvest the themes that arise. Each event seems to bring me different themes, although I see some trends emerge across the events and over the years. (This is where the magic of this process compounds on itself.)
What are the things that people come to me for help with? What do they say? What are their pain points? This gives me insight into who I’m being called to serve, and what they need most from me.
Do you think it would be helpful to know what your idea client says and needs? Or how you might be fit to serve them?
This is the Work
A common frame in productivity circles is to talk about the distinction between important work and urgent work. Looking at the five reasons why I create space for post-event processing, it’s hard to imagine what work might be more important than this.
This is the work that’s not on the to-do list because it defines the to-do list.
It sets my direction for the coming weeks and months. It gives me perspective on where I’m headed and allows me to course-correct.
The information we are seeking about how to live our most fulfilling lives is available to us in every experience and interaction. But the only way that this information can guide us is if we take time to pull it out of our experiences.
Yes, it takes an investment of time to do this. Yes, other work piles up. But maybe that other work isn’t work you should even be doing.
The return on this investment is the road map for creating a life that excites me and fulfills me. The payment I receive from this process is a life worth living.
Do you create space for post-event processing? Or does your intention to do so get lost in the flood of “to-dos” that greet you when you return home after an event? Please share in the comments.