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Becky Robbins: Unleashing the Power Within

by Courtney Caldwell

"Courage, determination, perseverance and faith all have a place in our lives, whether it's for adventure, in business, our personal lives or parenting," says Becky Robbins, vice president of San Diego-based Robbins Research, Inc.

But ask Robbins if those same qualities existed in her life 15 years ago, and the answer would be somewhat different. "The identity that I used to have about myself when it came to adventurous activities was sort of a wimp," she admits, "and that needed to change."

Having grown up in an academic environment, Robbins' family focused on education, music and literature. "I wasn't raised to be a courageous person as far as athletic endeavors," she recalls. "But I've always admired people who were athletic and good at sports. A lot has to do with what you're exposed to when you're a young girl."

It wasn't long ago when young girls were still raised to believe that athletics were reserved for boys, as were mathematics, science and medicine. Girls, especially those from academic backgrounds, were taught manners and etiquette, how to walk and talk properly, which fork to use with the salad, when to keep your mouth shut, and of course, never to speak loudly. Most of all, they were taught how unacceptable it was for a "lady" to get dirty. And like most young ladies of that time, Robbins obeyed the rules.

Married at 18, Robbins' journey began in pursuit of a lifestyle that was traditionally inherent of young women then. Her first born, Tyler, was of course, a boy. The next, a girl. And the last, another boy. And while Robbins relished her role as a mother, there was a part of her that felt empty, aimless and unfocused. She reflects quietly upon a quote by famed author Henry David Thoreau to analogize the direction of her life: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Working evenings in direct sales so she could spend days with her children, Robbins wove in and out of each day, just going through the motions, but knowing there must be more to life. She felt herself going nowhere fast. Then, being that there were really no coincidences in life, a friend told Robbins about the "Rocking Chair" test that, simply put, meant not finding herself sitting in a rocking chair at 85, looking back with regret at all the things she should've done.

"I didn't want to look back with regret," she recalls. "I wanted to add to the identity I already held for myself, which was my intelligence."

Although, by her own admission, Robbins found herself using that intelligence as well as her feminity as an excuse to get herself out of doing things that were scary. "I'm too smart to do that. Only crazy people race cars or sky dive. That stuff is for jocks, not me."

"The most important thing I came to realize is that the personal identity you have for yourself is so pervasive for the rest of your life," says Robbins.

Not wanting to be what she considered an intelligent wimp forever, Robbins realized that she wanted to add to the fabric of her life by doing more, by adding adventure and excitement. She wanted not only to learn new things, but she also knew she needed to face her fears so that she could enjoy her new adventures, whatever they may be and wherever they may take her.

The first step took Robbins to a Tony Robbins "Unleashing the Power Within" seminar. It was then and there that life as Robbins knew it would change forever. The three-day seminar taught her the communication skills required to provide her with the tools she needed to discover how abundant her own strength really was. What Robbins learned, as do all of Tony's students, was how to change her limiting belief system from the "I can'ts,"
"I shouldn'ts," "I mustn'ts," to a belief system that allowed her to achieve anything she set out to do in her life. Learning to have faith and trust in her decisions led the way to a new and more exciting life of I can, I must, I will.

With Robbins sitting in the front row, Tony couldn't help but notice the crystal-blue-eyed beauty. The connection was instant and so began their date with destiny. The 6' '7"- speaker, who was already a great athlete himself, and completely fearless when it came to new adventures, helped guide 5' 2" Becky into unleashing her power within.

In the beginning, Robbins didn't want to do the things that Tony wanted to do. She didn't want to go skydiving. She didn't want to go bungee jumping. She didn't wan to learn to race cars. She didn't want to go whitewater river rafting. She didn't want to go four-wheeling off-road. She didn't want to ski down the expert slopes of Aspen. She didn't want to go scuba diving. "It scared me to all these things," she remembers, laughing. "But Tony patiently worked with me, helping me to understand and face my fears. One of the first fears I faced was my fear of injury."

No surprise there! Most people are afraid of getting hurt, which is exactly what prevents them from trying anything new or different. And, by 85, they're passing that old rocking chair test. Not Robbins. One of the first things she did was find people who would serve as good models. Her assistant Elizabeth, for example, claimed the thrill and excitement of the adrenaline rush was a great incentive every time she tried something new. She shared the feeling of exhilaration and sense of accomplishment her success and courage left her with each time. In essence, Elizabeth revealed what had been missing for Robbins -- new ways to create and add to the tapestry of who she was.

"By talking to different people, I decided I needed to explore and pursue that part of me, the part that had never been exposed, the part I had never grown into." And so she did.

With her sensory acuity heightened, Becky was now ready for one of her life's most exciting challenges, a three-day race car class at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, which, at that time, was located at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

"This made a huge difference in my life" she exudes. "It was a powerful experience."

However, it wasn't without havoc. On the way to their first class, Tony and Becky were rear-ended in their rental car, leaving them both with painful whiplash. Determined to take the course in spite of this minor obstacle, they both held their heads up high, with their hands, while riding in the back of the skid car.

"I got so much out of that course. Every day, I had butterflies in my stomach. I think I lost about 10 pounds from sheer sweat because I was so nervous. And although I was the only woman, not once was I treated any differently than the men," she notes.

And right she is, because Bondurant doesn't teach by gender, they teach driving skills according to ability. The skills that Robbins walked away with not only enhanced her defensive driving ability, but they also challenged and changed her life physically and psychologically. She reached new levels of confidence as a driver and as a woman.

"I suggest that every woman go through this class. It's absolutely great for women, especially for pushing them past their comfort zone," she adds.

Bondurant offers extremely safe and controlled conditions with trained professional at all times. If Becky had her way, everyone would attend. If you find yourself saying you can't, then ask yourself why not, and what would happen if you did?

One of the most outrageous and scariest experiences Robbins encountered was a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. "At the end of that trip, I felt so grateful because I became more."

Camping out each night, checking her sleeping bag for scorpions, no makeup, no showers for five days, and having one set of wet clothes and one set of dry clothes would no doubt strengthen the courage of even the wimpiest wimp.

"This is a great way for women to discover who they are without all the trappings like makeup and curling irons," she concludes.

Robbins' experiences in the world of adventure have done more than strengthen her inner resolve. They've enriched her spirit and inflamed her desire to share her path of perseverance with others, especially young girls and boys. Several years ago, after speaking to a fifth-grade class at Stovall Elementary, a school that educates underprivileged students in the outskirts of Houston, Texas, Becky and Tony fell in love with the little faces that expressed wide-eyed hope and innocence for the future.

As a result, the couple adopted the class, which consisted of about 100 students at the time, and offered them a challenge. The Robbins' offered to sponsor each child's college education if certain criteria were met. Each child must stay in school, maintaining a B average or better. Each must perform a minimum of 25 hours or more a year of community service so they understand the importance of giving back, and as they got older, must increase the time spent on community service. And, of course, none may have a criminal record, do drugs or alcohol or get pregnant. The results is $4,000 a year for each student for each year of college, or a $16,000 sponsorship. Each year the couple return to the school to provide encouragement and inspiration.

And while it's important to Robbins that all students get a fair chance, she's especially cognizant of the overwhelming need for young women to receive the support and encouragement they require to build their academic expectations and self-esteem. "It's so important to me that young women have balance in their lives; that they are more than their appearance, looks or being attractive to a guy," said Robbins. "It's such a focus at that age."

Teaching financial independence to girls and young women is another area important to Robbins. "Young women need to know that they can create their own money. Knowing that you can support yourself enhances a woman's confidence and sense of security."

Aware of the importance of this message early on while still struggling with her own enlightenment, Robbins made sure that her daughter Jolie learned the skills required to grow into a woman with confidence and independence. Today, Robbins exudes pride, beaming from ear to ear, when she speaks of Jolie's dancing and singing career, and the success she has found on Broadway.

Robbins becomes emphatic when she speaks about the need to focus our attention on the education of young girls and the importance of supporting them and understanding how resourceful they can and must be. "One of the most powerful things I've learned is how important being resourceful is. Resourceful to me means, 'you need to find a purple zipper in Timbuktu by 2 p.m. today.' No doubt Becky Robbins would find it.

There are also no doubts or confusion when it comes to Robbins' mission in life. She wants to help young girls become great women. Or at least help give them the opportunity to explore all the options available before they make any final decisions about their futures. And when you're resourceful, options are endless.

Will her adventures continue? You can count on that. Even though she and Tony divorced in 2000, she is still working at Robbins Research, and remains good friends with the giant motivational speaker. And she is destined to delve into the world of adventure for many years to come. "I now take educated, calculated risks. They add to my confidence and who I am. I love adventure. I love it!"

Courage, determination, perseverance and faith all have a place in our lives whether it's for adventure, in business, our personal lives or parenting. Just ask Becky Robbins.