Tony Robbins is a man who’s rich in both money and in spirit.
He goes by many titles — world-renowned bestselling author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, motivational speaker, life coach — and he’s the nation’s top business strategist who routinely coaches athletes, celebrities, and powerful CEOs.
But as an investor with a net worth of $440 million, Robbins doesn’t equate wealth with a dollar sign. Instead he sees wealth as freedom from fear, or the knowing that money does not dictate a man’s life.
The most popular question Robbins gets asked is, “How did you get to where you are today?” The answer lies within a single moment that took place early in his childhood.
Farnoosh Torabi featured Robbins on her podcast and asked him where it all started — the story he told was remarkable.
It all began on Robbin’s eleventh Thanksgiving when there was no food on the table. The Robbins family were upset with the day, with their financial situation, and with each other.
An argument erupted amongst the family, but just before they could rip into each other, a knock came from the front door, and a tall man was standing with a bag of food.
“I open the door and there’s a tall man there with all this food, saying, “Is your dad here?” It was mindboggling. It was a gift from God as far as I was concerned, and I went and grabbed my father. He didn’t respond too well to the idea of charity, even though we were starving … But my dad took the food and it changed my life.”
Robbins explained how his father and his family had always said, “Nobody gives a damn about anybody else.”
“There was so much evidence that people could be so selfish, mean, and harsh — especially when you’re struggling financially — oftentimes, that’s all you notice in the world. But I couldn’t deny that strangers cared … And so I thought, ‘If strangers care about me, I’m caring about strangers.’
“I decided that day, that someday — and I didn’t call it ‘pay it forward’ in those days — but someday I’m going to pay it back.”
Robbins never found out who the man was or where he came from, but wherever the man came from, it did not matter because it changed his financial perspective forever.
Six years after that thanksgiving Day, Robbins was a broke 17-year old kid, but he was still able to provide food for two families. He said on the podcast:
“I gave when I didn’t have anything, and it became natural for me.”
“People say, ‘When I’m rich, I’ll give.’ They’re lying. If you won’t give a dime out of a dollar, there’s no way you’re going to give a 100 million out of a billion. But if you can do it today, the biggest thing that giving does, is it teaches your brain there’s more than enough.”
Robbins became the man he is today by going through the grueling experience of having nothing, only to come out of it as a someone who truly sees wealth as assets from the heart, not from the pocket.