Tony Robbins – Give

Tony Robbins tells a story about struggling financially but still staying optimistic and believing in generosity despite his difficult circumstances.


I was so broke that I had, I don’t know, 21, 22 dollars whatever it was to my name. I’m living in a 400 square foot bachelor apartment. I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m watching Luke and Laura on General Hospital, I mean, I was a mess. I was a total mess. I realized, I’m not paying my rent and I’m out of money. I don’t have any prospects for some new cash in the short term.

While I was sitting there, there was this little boy that came in. He opened the door, and he was wearing this little vest, this little suit. I don’t know, probably nine years old something like that, you know, eight, nine, 10. He held the door open, and in behind him walks this beautiful woman who was clearly his mother. So, I definitely took it in.

Then he sat down, he pulled out the chair for her. He was just so attentive to his mother. I mean, he was just so with her, that honestly I was moved. So, I finished my meal, and then I got up, then I paid the bill. It was like, six dollars in those days, you know, for all you could eat salad bar, whatever it was. So, I had whatever’s left, 17, 18, 19 dollars. I walked over to this little boy before I left and I said, “Hi.” I introduced myself, I said, “I’m tony.” He told me his name was Paul or whatever it was, I don’t even remember his name, this little boy.

I said, “Paul,” I said, “You are a class act.” I said, “I saw you held the door open for your woman. I saw you pull out the chair for her.” I said, “Taking her out lunch like that, that is really cool.” He goes, “She’s my mom.”

I said, “That’s even more cool.” I said, “Taking her to lunch.” He goes, “Well I didn’t take her to lunch,” he goes, “You know I think he said was eight, or nine. “I’m nine years old, I don’t have a job yet.”

I said, “Yes you are taking her to lunch.” I reached in my pocket, I took all the money I had left. Whatever it was, 17, 18, 19 dollars. I dropped it in front of him. I had no plan to this, it wasn’t like manufactured. I wasn’t trying to impress this woman. He looked up at me, like, shocked and goes, “I can’t take that.” I said, “Sure you can.” He said, “How come?” I said, “Cause I’m bigger than you are.” Right? He laughed like crazy, I didn’t even say another word. I just walked out the door.

I gotta tell you, it was the most powerful experience of my life because I had no fear, I had no scarcity, and I got home and I realized what I’d done. I was like, I have no money now. I have like, no money, nothing. The next day I got the old snail mail, and it came in around Noon. I pull out this letter, and there was a young that I had loaned $1,200 to, he had not paid me back. I was desperate for cash, I probably called him 10 times trying to track him down. Not a single response. I was so hurt at this. Here’s the letter from this guy saying, “I’m really sorry. I know you’ve been trying to reach me. I’ve been avoiding you. Here’s the money I owe, and I’m going to give you some interest as well.” At that point that was like more money than anything.

So, once again, I’m sitting there tears going down my face. I’m an emotional character. I chose to believe, I don’t know if it’s true, but I chose to believe that it’s because I let go of just trying to take care of myself. I did what was right. Life’s not about me, it’s about we. That’s also why, when people are suffering it’s always ‘cause you’re obsessing about yourself. You’re obsessing that something happened, and now you have less. You think you have less. Or, something happened and you’ve lost something. Lost love, lost money, lost significance, lost attention, lost something.

When you get an all suffering, this obsession with self, you can snap out of it. All you have to do is stop expecting and start appreciating. If you’re going to wait till you think you’re going to have something, you’re never going to have something of any size or scope. There’s something inside the human psyche that when you do what’s right and you get out of yourself there’s something that’ll click for you. So it’s a long way of saying, when you have nothing is when you need to get something.