I Was A 15 Year-Old Runaway. Here's How I Became Tony Robbins's Go-To Girl
Tony Robbins often said to me, “In your moments of decision your destiny is shaped.”
At age 15, I made a decision that changed my life.
I embarked on a quest for freedom and enlightenment — except, back then, I called it “running away from home.” I jumped on the back of a boyfriend’s motorcycle, not sure where I was going or what I would do. I just knew something had to change. I was in a rebellious phase, resisting my parents and opposing the strict religious school I was forced to attend. So I scribbled a runaway note and disappeared into the night.
What brought me to that point?
I felt like I didn’t belong.
I was raised in a conservative Catholic household. I frequented confession and sold doughnuts at Sunday service. I was told what was right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral. Often my intuition would lead me in a different direction than the rules, but I wasn’t allowed to follow it.
When I was 12, a major event shook my family — my parents changed religions (from Catholic to Pentecostal). Then radically changed the rules. Suddenly we stopped celebrating holidays and started going to church three times a week. They put me in a new school that didn’t allow popular music or dancing. I remember sneaking Bon Jovi cassettes and paying the consequences in detention (i.e., writing countless definitions, a “punishment” that gave me glimpses into the power of words).
Feeling frustrated and controlled, I wondered, how did I get on this planet? I was craving answers to major questions: Who am I? What is my purpose? I was yearning to know myself, to understand my place in the world, in the cosmos. I was longing to know “God,” to understand the truth about that force or person.
I plotted my escape. Several times I packed my school bag only to chicken out. Eventually pain outweighed fear. I could no longer follow rules and traditions without understanding their source or reason.
I felt like a volcano on the brink of eruption. Angst manifested in my body as bizarre ailments doctors couldn’t diagnose, including an engorged lip and a stiff neck that caused me to hunch to one side like a girly version of the Elephant Man.
I had nothing to look forward to, but right then, “nothing” sounded better than the “something” I was experiencing.
So, I left.
With sheer determination, I acted older to get jobs. I sold gym memberships and hawked knives door-to-door. I worked at a boutique called “Ouch” (which sounded like I felt) for $4 an hour and stayed at the owner’s house in exchange for cleaning it. I ate budget meals like 33¢-a-box macaroni and cheese. Eventually I saved enough to rent a room and buy a futon.
By 16, I’d dropped out of school, my best friend had died, and I’d been raped. Feeling lost, alone, and abandoned in a world I didn’t understand, I went home.
My dad was relieved I was okay. But soon home life grew disharmonious. One day I left after an argument. When I returned, my stuff was on the porch. My heart sank. I went to the airport and watched the planes take off, pretending I was journeying to a far, exotic land.
I didn’t realize it then, but watching those planes soar into the sky sparked the quest for who I would become.
I began visualizing myself living purposefully and powerfully. I vividly saw myself traveling the world and making a difference. I saw myself riding camels by the Great Pyramids and swimming with wild dolphins. Feeling a surge of energy I declared, “I will find a way to create a life I love!”
All of a sudden, my soul cracked open, unleashing a fierce resolve. In the midst of chaos, I had a silent knowing: My life had purpose — I was destined for more. I realized something had to change, and I was the only one who could change it.
My resolve created a sense of power and direction. Yet I had no idea what to do next.
I recited a mantra, from the Bible of all places: Ask and you shall receive. I spoke these words passionately, believing an answer would come. Then a thought flashed: Go to school; study business. I followed this inner guidance.
The desire for something better was so intense that I severed ties with my former life and dove into new environments — ones demanding more of me than I ever believed I had.
I began making conscious choices, aiming beyond the standards of my past, reminding myself, Whatever you feed grows; whatever you starve dies.
Investing in books became more important than buying food or clothes. I practiced what I learned in these books — The Bhagavad Gita, The Celestine Prophecy, and How to Win Friends and Influence People. Soon my parents and I were having meaningful conversations.
My life became a laboratory. I stopped talking about what was “wrong.” I opened my heart, pictured what I desired, and spoke as if it were happening now. After my decision to create a life I love, I took consistent, focused, purposeful action.
My first few semesters in college, I earned straight A’s, got a scholarship, won awards, and even became student body president of the largest community college in the U.S.!
I shifted my physiology so I was standing taller, breathing deeper, and feeling confident. I was seeing myself from a new perspective, one of love and appreciation.
A few months before finishing college, I answered a business opportunity ad. The interview was in a hotel. I walked in and saw something peculiar:
About 1,000 people had shown up to my “interview."
There was a woman onstage with a big smile, wearing a white suit and jewels. Captivated by her presence, I fell hook, line, and sinker for a Ponzi scheme. I thought I saw the success I wanted so badly, and I invested all my energy and savings. The company shut down. By 18, I was shuffling $40,000 in credit card debt.
This challenge introduced me to Law of Success — a book by Napoleon Hill. “In every adversity lies the seed of equal or greater opportunity,” Hill said.
Committed to freedom and financial stability, I wrote myself a “Definite Chief Aim,” as described in Hill’s book. It was: Earn $100,000-plus per year.
I searched for opportunities. My search led me to a string of failed jobs in the personal development field, including working for one promoter who went bankrupt without paying me.
Feeling beaten but resolved, I took focused action daily.
This was a time of gestation. Like a diamond forged under pressure, I was integrating new skills as I learned to navigate these challenges through keen study, trial, and error. Deep within my psyche I was developing strength, clarity, and unique talents, which would soon make way for me.
Inspired by a vision and fueled by a rising confidence, I sent a video of myself to the Tony Robbins Company on a mission to land a job working directly with the world-renowned motivational guru himself. I wanted a mentor and didn’t have one. So I figured I’d find one and make myself indispensable.
By age 20, I achieved my Definite Chief Aim, and was working as the top corporate trainer for Tony Robbins. By 24, I was traveling the world, making a difference, riding camels by the Great Pyramids, and swimming with wild dolphins in the Red Sea, just as I had imagined many years before at the airport.
I had proof my external reality would shift when my internal and external communication and actions shifted. I was evolving, doing what I loved, and being free. I call this Supreme Influence.
Supreme refers to one’s essential nature — the spirit and creative life force animating all existence.
Influence, as I define it, is inward fluency. It’s when your thoughts, words, and actions align with your authentic self and true purpose.
Supreme Influence is living in the awareness of one’s essential nature and consciously creating from this empowered understanding. It’s a way of being and communicating in alignment with your higher self.
Supreme Influence embodies what the great spiritual teachers have said for centuries. The sages of ancient India have said, “Aham Brahmasmi,” meaning "All that exists, exists within me." In other words, all the power that ever was and ever will be is within you now.
So, what story of transformation are you inspired to consciously create? Here are a few steps to help you on your journey.
- Observe “what is” with courage and without attachment.
- Call forth an empowered state of being through movement and mantra.
- Choose what you intend to create; make it a study.
- Have awareness and courage to graciously cut out what isn’t working.
- Focus on a new possibility. Vividly visualize the essence of your desired outcome as if it’s manifest now; see, hear, and feel the result accomplished in your mind’s eye.
- Listen. Trust your inner voice. Make a decision. Declare it with authority and know it is done.
- Find a mentor, model success, and create a milestone.
- Take action without lust for result.
- Be ready and alert.
- Allow life to unfold.
If you are inspired to go deeper, master these steps, and learn more, I invite you to join us for one of our live courses.