During a “Time to Rise” session with Tony Robbins, an insightful analogy was shared that casts light on the cyclical nature about the history of the world and its implications for personal growth. This perspective, rooted in observing societal trends through the ages, delineates a four-stage cycle recurring throughout human history. Here is a brief exploration of each stage with historical examples to illustrate these cycles, which can guide one in avoiding this cycle in their own personal lives.
Stage 1: Good Times Create Weak People
In eras of prosperity, when technology and resources abound, challenges can appear insurmountable despite their relative triviality. Such periods of comfort lead to complacency, reminiscent of the Roman Republic's final days when opulence and prosperity resulted in a weakened commitment to civic duties and military responsibilities, ultimately paving the way for its gradual downfall.
Stage 2: Weak People Create Bad Times
This complacency breeds vulnerability, leading to a decline in societal resilience and the onset of challenging times. The dissolution of the Greek city-states is another portrayal of this phase, where societal complacency and fragmented leadership led to their susceptibility to conquest, culminating in the eventual dominance of Macedonian and later Roman powers over these culturally rich but divided entities.
Stage 3: Hard Times Create Strong People
Adversity is a powerful forge for strength and resilience. The ‘Greatest Generation’ in America, which endured the Great Depression and fought in World War II, exemplifies how challenging times can cultivate a generation characterised by tenacity and the will to overcome hardships, laying the groundwork for a resurgence of prosperity.
Stage 4: Strong People Create Great Times
The resilience and fortitude developed during tough times pave the way for periods of growth and abundance. The post-World War II era in America, marked by economic expansion and innovation, was driven by a generation that had faced and surmounted significant adversity. However, this prosperity plants the seeds for the cycle to begin anew, as ease and abundance may gradually diminish the resilience and strength of subsequent generations. Strong people create great times, then they create the great times that create weak people.
Breaking the cycle - from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I must’: immediate action and identity transformation
The aim is to be strong, emotionally fit. It’s not just about being intellectually fit; it’s about achieving a state of readiness. Training oneself into a state of readiness involves recognising that the reasons we often cite for not taking action are merely excuses. Phrases like “I don’t have the money,” “I don’t have the time,” “I can’t do it,” “you don’t understand,” etc., only serve to hold us back. How have these excuses contributed to your progress or made you stronger? In reality, they have only made you weaker.
Here is how you can change your life: adopt a philosophy of stretching beyond your current boundaries. The mantra “if I can’t, then I must” should become a guiding principle. When you catch yourself saying “I can’t,” immediately counter it with “I must” and take immediate action. This is the catalyst for transformation. Embracing this approach promises an incredible life, filled with growth and strength derived from tackling new and challenging experiences.
Your identity is the controlling force of your results
Changing your beliefs, especially those concerning your identity, is integral to this process. Engaging in activities you wouldn’t normally consider challenges your self-perception and pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. Your identity, what you are most certain about, is the driving force behind your outcomes. By redefining who you are through your actions, you open the door to unprecedented growth and success.
Understanding these historical cycles and applying their lessons to personal development offers a roadmap to breaking free from the constraints of past cycles. By cultivating resilience, readiness, and a willingness to stretch beyond our perceived limits, we can forge a path of continuous growth and ensure that we, and future generations, do not merely survive but thrive in the face of whatever challenges come our way. If you stop this cycle, you’ll have the most incredible life.
Robbins, T. (2024) Time to Rise: Day 2, Invitational Event. Tony Robbins, USA.