My first meeting with The Big Man: A lifeline in my darkest days

Uncategorized May 15, 2022

 About two months into my transition, exiting my companies in 2019, I received an email about an event coming to Los Angeles. It was called “Unleash the Power Within” and there was a picture of a man named Tony Robbins, chest puffed, arms clinched by his sides, screaming to the heavens. I hardly had any knowledge of who Tony Robbins was, let alone why I was receiving this email. My friend gave me a quick debrief and encouraged me to watch the documentary “I Am Not Your Guru” on Netflix. 

Intriguingly fascinated by the intensity of this man, I crawled into my bed and found the documentary. Less than five minutes into the movie I was in tears just like the night in Brooklyn over my mozzarella sticks. I understood. I turned to my friend and just nodded my head. I knew exactly why I had received the email, it was a lifeline. 

This documentary was the first time that he let anyone film his live immersion events for the public and from the bottom of my heart I am infinitely grateful that he did. There was one scene where Tony speaks to the audience about suicide. He asks for anyone in the room who came to the event because they are suicidal to please stand. More than a handful of people stood from their seats. My friend had seen the intensity of the pain in me, just as Tony saw the intensity of pain in those who stood before him. As I watched his suicide intervention, I felt Tony’s words penetrate my soul. It was as if he was speaking directly to me. 

I registered for the event the moment the credits rolled from the film. I desperately needed help, and Tony was the lifeline that arrived. 

Having only the documentary and the very vague event email as my guide, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I arrived at the LA Convention Center, and felt mildly comfortable navigating the grounds because I had been there for a couple of events prior. I paid my dues in the parking garage and began to feel a buzz from all of the people walking back to their cars. It was just registration day, what were all these people so hyped up about? 

I followed the flow of people, and began to hear the bass bumping from the second floor as we passed through the lobby. As I climbed the stairs of the Convention Center, I was met with a sea of people wrapped down the hallway by the hundreds. Music was blaring, there were event staff members high-fiving everybody and pumping up the crowd. Was I getting ready to walk into a concert or something?!

The energy was infectious and I couldn’t help but feel my body begin to move. A smile even began to appear upon my face. I still had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was here for it! 

Here’s the thing about a Tony event, they don’t publish an end time because there is no set end time. We go throughout the day, all 40,000 of us, until we are done with the material for the day. While each night rolled into the wee-hours of the morning, you’d never know it. Of all the Tony events I have attended to date, I have never once thought “OMG will this ever end, I am so tired”. On the contrary, we are jumping up and down, full of energy like we are at a wild concert. Tony and his team ROCK OUT!

Tony makes one request from you on day one, and that is to play full out, and play full out I definitely did. I learned about why I am the way that I am, and why I think the thoughts that I think. I gave everything I had in that sea of magical humans, and at the end of each 14-18 hour day I had barely eaten, peed or had any other care in the world. Tony challenged me to push my body beyond the confines of my mind, and push my mind beyond the confines of my conditioned beliefs. I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I danced my freaking ass off and I WALKED ON FIRE!!!!! 

I had heard rumblings of this fire walk, and people around the event asking each other if they were going to walk. To my surprise, many people loved this event so much that they come back every year to freshen up on their Tony vibes. I met one man who had done the fire walk eight times. As the first day was nearing what I assumed to be the end, billowing flames took over all of the jumbo screens. The audience roared in cheers. I looked around and the entire room was on its feet again, a sea of screaming fans seemingly tuned in to something I was missing. 


In my logically processing brain, Tony would prepare us for this all weekend and the fire walk would be a graduation ceremony of sorts. NOPE! It was happening now. I had already made the commitment to play full out, so I was in before I had any time to freak out. Tony taught us about incantations: mantras or sayings that one repeats until it becomes a belief. He explained to us that absolutely no one was required to participate, and no one would be punished or penalized if they chose not to walk.

As those of us willing to do the walk cheered, live footage of the flaming coals right outside took over the jumbo screens. Holy shit, this was really real! This was not some pretend exercise, those were real event staff preparing for us to arrive right outside in the parking lot. As the live stream played above, Tony continued our training on how to not burn the shit out of our feet. 

When the Big Man said we were ready, he instructed us to all remove our shoes, roll up our pant legs and make our way to the side doors. The sea of people floated through the convention center, all chanting our incantations in unison. Crammed in tighter than sardines, the mob of chanting moved through the corridors, one slow step at a time.

There was one moment when the flow of traffic slowed and I started to feel my claustrophobia creeping in. I thought of all the fire marshalls I had met at previous events and how they’d be shitting their pants right about now. A man next to me wrapped his arm around me, and gestured to chant the incantations with him. An angel emerging from the flash mob I had found myself in. I looked into his eyes, we took a deep breath together and began to move our feet again. Mere steps later, the sea had shifted and he was gone.  

As I broke the seal of the convention center I was met with a brisk breeze on my face. It was the first time I’d really realized the time of day. It was after midnight, on a chilly March California weeknight. The pulse of the beating drums penetrated my chest as I stepped barefoot onto the asphalt. We were now in the back lot of the Convention Center, right under the freeway loop I knew all too well. 

As my mind began to wander again, my event brain started analyzing all the permits required to pull off a stunt like this. As the sound of 40,000 people chanting, music bumping, and tribal drums rippled through downtown LA, I knew we were hours past the local noise ordinance. I looked around and realized that this really is an impressive operation they have going on here. The logistics were definitely up there with a massive live event and top tier rock concert. Impressed in my mindings, I was bumped back to where my feet were. I must have been getting close, I thought. 

I could hear people cheering, but still couldn’t see anything beyond the solid mass of people surrounding me. I just kept walking and kept chanting. Chanting and walking. Walking and chanting. Then, as if the seas had parted before me, I could see smoldering red coals ahead. Holy shit it was almost my turn! As we grew closer, we entered into partitioned shoots forming our fire lanes. The line slowed. 

One by one, walkers were met by a Tony Trainer as they stepped up to the edge of the coals. The Trainer whispered in their ear and then stepped aside. One by one, I watched brave souls gliding over the burning coals safely to the other side. Holy shit, my heart was racing! Thousands of warriors had already gone before me and it was almost my turn. Three people left. I kept chanting. Two people left. I kept chanting. Only one person left. I chanted even deeper! As I watched the woman before me jump up and down on the other side, I knew there was no turning back.  

I caught the eye contact of the Tony Trainer in my line and he ushered me forward. He bent down, yelled the reminder instructions in my ear, and screamed “GOOOO!”

I lifted my head, clear to not look down, caught the eyes of the Trainer on the other side, blew out a solid breath and walked. I chanted my incantations and I did not stop moving my feet! One foot in front of the other, careful not to run, I walked across the coals. Before I knew it I felt the wet grass beneath my feet, a Trainer in my ear yelling how to move my feet as any pieces of coal were hosed off, and a sea of people facing me cheering their faces off for me. Before releasing my shoulder, the Trainer bent down but this time yelled, “YOU DID IT!” and cleared me to move forward. As I continued down the path of wet grass into the mob of cheering it hit me.. 


My arms thrown in the air I screamed, “I CAN DO ANYTHING!!!!!!!” and a group of total strangers jumped up and down hugging me. I knew with absolute certainty that my life would never be the same!

Those four days were unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Tony Robbins is a truly remarkable and beautiful human being. He is as intense as he is tall, but he delivers every message saturated with unconditional love that makes you feel safe to receive and grow. The personal experiences that he shares make him human in a room of 40,000 people. The lessons that he teaches are simple and direct. The vulnerability and courage radiating from every single person in that room was unfathomable!

I have met some of the most incredible humans, many of whom I still call my friends today, and am forever grateful for all the other speakers and trainers that I have had the immense privilege to work under throughout my Tony Robbins Mastery University journey. There is a bond and a deep respect for the other brave humans who attend a Tony event, celebrity and laymen folk alike. As I continue through life, I constantly come across Tony people everywhere I go, and just like in my 12-Step program, we always seem to be able to pick each other out in a crowd. 

37 months, 3 weeks, and 6 days later, I also still have an active practice of “Asstitude”, compliments of the great Joseph McClendon III. “Asstitude” is the sacred art of altering your stagnant physiology by shaking one’s ass. DM me on Instagram for official instructions

One could definitely say that I’ve drank the Kool-Aid, but I have a deep knowing and understanding that, as his documentary suggests, Tony Robbins is not my guru. He is a man who truly believes that “The Secret to Living is Giving” and he has helped millions and millions of people all around the world. Tony was the lifeline that I needed as I stared into the gates of hell, and the drop kick in the ass that I needed to reset my core values from Certainty and Significance to Love and Contribution. As the ole saying goes:


“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” - Lao Tzu


Heading back in now for the final afternoon (long ass night) of my current Tony event, Wealth Mastery. I love you. I see you. I honor you. 


yours in growth + healing, 

xo - M.  πŸ’šπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸŒˆπŸ¦₯✨


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Morgan Chonis

Sacred Sexuality Alchemist | Author | Spiritual Teacher

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