Tony Blauer Q&A
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
Thats a tough one.
The classic, eternal answer is of course my family. My children. I love them more than they know.
If we’re talking external then thats easy. It’s the holistic personal defense system I created. I abhor violence and I hate the feeling of fear. When I think of people being scared it really has a visceral affect on me. It’s why study this so much and am continually researching and teaching.
When I was twenty years old a successful businessman in my home town of Montreal asked me what I wanted to do in life. I paused and looked him in the eye and said “I want to make the world safer.” And thats all Ive thought about for 4 decades.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
There have been many big ones. Where to start…
In 2010 I had grown my business to 12M with 10 employees and a full training team, including a 21,000 foot training center. I opened an email from my partner’s lawyer to discover they had done a deal with my COO behind my back and I was about to get screwed out of my life’s work. Everything came apart. Fast.
The enormous betrayal by my former partner inspired some of my staff to open copy-cat training and even a full copy of my equipment. They contacted old clients of mine trying to steal contracts. It was mind-boggling. I’m an incredibly loyal person and this hit me vey hard. Between the lawyers, the fear, the doubt, chaos and stress, it almost cost me everything from marriage to career.
It took me 5-years to re-invent, rebuild and restore. It was a dark time, but the biggest impact it had on me was personal growth, the realization that I didn’t want to live with a negative filter with my guard up because a bunch of greedy people. It took years to arrive at that and that was cathartic. The irony of course is that that betrayal in 2010 set me up fo the life and success I experience now. Everything happens for a reason if you approach it from a ‘Stoic’ POV, and look for the lesson.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
I do. But I love what I do that I often spend time on the business (my art) when I should be chilling. But I do my best to block out days off for calling and family and personal interests. I love movies. I love to read. I love traveling. Those are my big three. But honestly, when it’s your company and you love it it’s a challenge.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
This might be a weird answer but the answer is the most magical place I’ve discovered is the flow state when I’m so focused on something, could be writing, or training or teaching and I’m in the zone and time stands still and its like I am watching myself and there is no thinking. That’s as close to a magical as I’ve gotten. After that it’s the 4 Seasons Hotel in LA on a weekend with my wife.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Yes but not in the traditional sense. We donate scholarships and cover tuitions for people to get qualified in our system so they can bring it back to their organization. We aren’t big enough yet to simply donate money. And honestly, I’m also a little leery about that. I’d be donating to victims of violence and groups like that but I think I can help more by mentoring their staff who are in the field in direct contact with people.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PAST?
That’s an interesting question. Present or past you mean deceased or alive? I love music, art, sports, books… so my ideal dinner would include the greats. I love being a fly on the wall and would probably just sit their and watch them talk to other people. I know thats vague and sounds like I’m deflecting but I don’t know what I’d say to Ali, or Shakespeare or Marcus Aurelius. I’d probably stare at them like a stalker and get ejected from my own party 😂. But seriously, I think I would have a small dinner with Robert Conrad, Bruce Lee, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Sylvester Stallone. Their stories and presence through movies and television inspired me while I was a kid and teen. And what’s crazy is that I’ve managed to have genuine personal contact with all of them, with exception of Bruce Lee who passed when I was 13, but I did become good friends with his son Brandon. I often think about thematic and serendipity or this. But I would love to have them to dinner and thank them all and tell them how they influenced me.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
There are so many truths to share. Most have been said in more eloquent ways than I could write. No one needs to reread things like ‘find your purpose’, ‘do what you love’, ‘trust your heart’… we all know that but what makes it challenging, hard or impossible for some is that they are afraid. It’s as simple as that. If you didn’t fear fear what would you say or do? So the most important thing I would share is to really reply try to understand the psychological impact fear has on our lives and relationships. Thats the next big focus for me and my mission.
So here is my message:
There’s no situation where managing fear is more important than when you’re in real physical danger. But that’s rare for most. IMO, fear does more damage to us in day-to-day life. It stymies personal growth, it dampens the enjoyment of life, like fear of public speaking, starting a relationship or ending a bad one, same for careers and so on. I know people who will kick open a door, put their hands on a bad-guy but are afraid to ask for help. To tame it we must reframe it.
GET TO KNOW FEAR
Many years ago I wrote NO FEAR on a whiteboard & asked the class if they believed this was attainable.
All said, ‘yes’. I let them fantasize, then said: “I don’t believe it exists. There’s always a scenario outside our comfort-zone that’ll induce a moment of doubt. That’s when our relationship with fear goes one of two ways, a fear-spike makes us doubt ourselves.” Then on the white board I added the letters K & W to NO FEAR transforming it to KNOW FEAR.
Change your relationship with fear and you change your life.
When you truly look at fear as your teacher, guide, you change its power over you. Fear is either the enemy or ally, a destructive force or cathartic fuel.
If you want to grow, you’ll want to KNOW FEAR.