Unleash the Pain Within?

Unleash the Pain Within?

It should be an axiom of standard business practice to do no harm to your customer. Most people would agree that killing or injuring your customer base will damage your long term prospects.

Unleash the Pain Within
Unleash the Pain Within

This weekend, thirty individuals suffered burns at a Tony Robbins seminar entitled “Unleash the Power Within.” According to press reports, there were some 7,000 participants so proportionally the casualty rates are fairly low. Nevertheless, I have been to various seminars over the course of my life and the burn injury rate has been very low.

There have been accusations that those who were burned were not in the proper frame of mind or lacked focus. I’m very sorry but being burned is a matter of science not faith. If you are exposed to a certain amount of heat over a long enough period, you will be burned. Most fire walking experiences involve brief exposure by walking quickly over a short distance on coals that have been allowed to cool.

Apparently, there is an idea that if you can do the “impossible” task of fire walking, you can shatter the mental barriers keeping you from success. Of course, if you are going to revolutionize your life in a three day seminar, probably some kind of dramatic activity is necessary. Three days out of your entire life is a pretty tight, small chunk of time. I tend to think that while you can change rapidly that it is better to focus on long term change such as mastering skills and new ways of thinking. Every day is a part of the process of change if you are thinking and learning.

What about expert advice and fire walking? Here’s a comment from a medical professional on the subject from the Dallas Morning News –


But a burn expert at Parkland Memorial Hospital says it’s no wonder five people were hospitalized and dozens more were treated at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center after the fire-walking session.

“Just don’t do it,” said Stephanie Campbell, the hospital’s burn program manager. “Coal-walking is not an activity that we would ever recommend. We don’t believe there is any safe way to do it.”

And from further down in the same article:

Campbell, however, said feet are no match for burning coals, no matter how focused the participant might be.

“The skin is our body’s major barrier against bacteria and fluid loss,” she said. “When it comes into contact with a heat source that is high enough to cause damage to the skin, it disrupts this barrier. … Full burns can actually require surgery with skin-grafting.”

Maybe we shouldn’t focus on short term revolutionary ways of changing? Maybe change is something we have to do to cope with changing circumstances and that change done with awareness over time may be healthier and more effective than the short term and dramatic? Maybe.

Whatever your feelings about change and the speed and drama of change, I think we can agree that all of us should avoid harming our customers.

James Pilant