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Tony Robbins on Fear, Failure and Changing Your Life for the Better

Aired July 30, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Tony Robbins wants to help you break through. He'll motivate, inspire and encourage you to overcome life's problems, no matter how tough they get.

UNIDENTIFIED: It was just putting the train back on the rails.

KING: See how he's helped others with simple tools and common sense.

FRANK ALIOTO: He really helped fast track the process to make us feel independent and strong again.

KING: Tony Robbins, a life-changing hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Tony Robbins, old friend, life coach, motivational speaker, best-selling author and host of "Breakthrough With Tony Robbins," which airs Tuesdays, 8:00 PM Eastern on NBC. I saw the first show, which aired this past Tuesday night, and it is terrific. How'd you get into doing this television thing?

TONY ROBBINS, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: Well, you know, I've had 15 years of people approaching me, and I've never been a reality TV fan, but I do infomercials. Seems kind of silly, but...

KING: But you're seen everywhere.

ROBBINS: I'm seen everywhere, and that was helpful (INAUDIBLE) one show. But I didn't like the idea of rooting (ph) people off islands and voting them off. I wanted to do something that was inspirational. And every time I went to do a show, it kind of went down to some form of humiliation. And then I found partners who did "Biggest Loser," Reveille (ph), and also "Extreme Home Makeover" with Tom Forman (ph). And those are two shows I really liked. They were inspirational.

So we sat down and said, How can we do this in a way that's authentic? And then I didn't have time, so NBC said, We'll do specials. Will you do six specials? So I got very excited about showing people what's possible, especially in the economic environment we're in right now.

KING: We're going to meet two of the couples that you helped on the show tonight. How did you come to find the people? ROBBINS: Well, I didn't want people that wanted to be on television, you know, to become famous. I wanted people that would be nominated by people who knew they were going through a tough time. My whole thought was, Get people that really are good people that you want to root for, but they've gotten a raw deal. Life has kind of crushed them. And let's give them a second chance.

So, you know, I sit and I watch a video of this young boy, tears in his eyes, saying, Come help my dad. I watched my mom get killed in front of me in a drive-by shooting, and my dad and I live in the Salvation Army. Come help me. I mean, that'll move you. So what moved me is what I selected.

And then I had to come up with a plan. And how do you help someone, you know, move from being trapped in their house, a quadriplegic, to really regaining their life back in 30 days? And I had to come up with something that would also be something you'd want to watch on primetime television, inspiring you. And based on the feedback from our first night, it seems to have gone extremely well, gone over the top (INAUDIBLE)

KING: There are how many shows in all?

ROBBINS: Six specials.

KING: Is that it, just specials? Is there a possibility of this being a regular show?

ROBBINS: I don't have the time to do a regular show. I might do some more specials if people really like it. But you know, this is the next six Tuesdays during the summer here, get a chance to look at it. And It's 8:00 PM, so it's a great timeslot, where normally "Biggest Loser" would be, during the hiatus.

KING: A lot of editing involved? I mean, this -- first of all, you spent money on this.

ROBBINS: Oh, of course we did. I didn't do it for business reasons, obviously. It was really a mission for me, so I poured everything into it. I -- NBC didn't have all the budget. I poured more into it because I wanted to see people get this result and this impact.

But I think if you watch the show, you can't help but move away saying, My God, I have no problems. We're living, Larry, in a time where more Americans -- first time in 100 years where most Americans believe the future for me and my children is going to be worse than the past. And that's a scary thought.

So I thought if I could create a show where you could take things -- where people are in situations much worse than you are, like losing a job looks really bad until you lose your legs. Then you have a different problem. Losing your seems really bad until you have terminal cancer. So if you can show people facing huge odds, turning around and showing people how, I thought it would inspire people and show them kind of a pathway to change their own life. KING: Been a long time since you've been on. How did you get to do what you do? You're not a psychologist, right?


KING: Not a doctor.

ROBBINS: No, none of the above. I just love people. When I was a kid, I was obsessed to know answers. I was a little kid. I was short and fat. I was 5-1 in high school. And I think I wanted to help people. I wanted to connect with people, and I wasn't popular. So I read books, 700 books over seven years, human development, psychology, physiology. But I tried to apply it. So I lost weight. My friends wanted to know how, and I taught them. And by the time I was in high school, I was Mr. Solution. If you had a problem, I had the solution -- especially if you were a girl because I was extra- motivated!


KING: How did it start? What was your first thing you did?

ROBBINS: The very first...


ROBBINS: First thing -- you mean -- for myself, it was losing weight and helping my friends.

KING: No, helping people, where Tony Robbins is Tony Robbins.

ROBBINS: What put me on the map, I think, was I was up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and I was doing a radio show, one of my very first. And...

KING: A talk show?

ROBBINS: A little talk show. I was being interviewed. And I was saying, I can help anybody. I've learned these new tools. I don't care if you have lifetime phobias. I don't care if you've been in therapy for years. (INAUDIBLE) one hour. I am the one-stop therapist.

And people called in, Can you do this? Can you do that? Of course, I said, Yes, yes, yes, because I just knew I could. I'd only done four therapies at that point, probably. And then a psychologist called up and just attacked me viciously, said I was liar and a charlatan and it was impossible, you don't cure phobias like that, it can take four or five years.

And I said, Sir, are you a scientist? He said, Of course. I'm a physician. I said, Well, you're making some assumptions here. I said, Why don't you do a little test? I said, I'm at the Holiday Inn tomorrow night. I'm doing a free guest event. I'm going to demonstrate this stuff really works. Bring me one of your own patients. Bring me somebody that you've never been able to cure. I said, I'm sure you have plenty of those, you know, and there was a little -- you want to play hardball? I can play hardball.

And long story short, Larry, he brought this woman he'd worked on for seven years, who had a snake phobia, where the snake would come and bite her on the face in her dream, such an intense dream, the adrenaline would come in her body. She'd wake up. And you know, four to seven times a week he was treating her.

And I said, Bring her down. That should take me 10 or 15 minutes. And you know, I was a young, punk kid. But I pulled it off. And I wrapped a snake around her at the end, and that became my signature.

So then I had to define what I did. And I've never been a motivator. I believe in energy. But I thought, I'm a coach. I've always had great athletic coaches. They're not better than me. They showed me the way. And so that's (INAUDIBLE)

KING: How'd you get famous?

ROBBINS: That, and then that led to me taking on bigger challenges. I went to the United States Army and said, I can take any training program you do, cut the training time in half and increase the results. They said, You're crazy. I said, I'm expensive. We negotiated. And I did it.

I took a pistol shooting program that they'd worked on for, you know, 30 years, cut the training time in half. And then gradually, I got, you know, turning around athletes. Andre Agassi you know, when he was -- dropped to number 31, I helped him get to number one. And he gave me enormous credit, tremendous credit, maybe more than I deserved, but he gave me a lot of credit. And then it grew to President Clinton and Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela...

KING: What makes a good therapist?

ROBBINS: I'm not a therapist, so I wouldn't comment on that. But I think a good...

KING: Well, what makes...

ROBBINS: ... catalyst...

KING: The kind of person who does what you do, who's well suited to do that?

ROBBINS: Somebody who really cares because the only rewards you're going to get, real rewards, is seeing people change. And you have to be able to step into somebody, not just into their head but into their heart. Otherwise, what you're doing is just cognitive and it doesn't last.

KING: Can't fake it?

ROBBINS: Well, lots of people can fake it. But I think most human beings...

KING: You can't be successful for a long period of time?

ROBBINS: No. Human beings have such large BS meters today, in the world we live in today. They can see it. They can feel it. And no one's going to be moved by somebody who's just trying to get you to do something.

KING: When you try to help someone that doesn't work...


KING: ... you examine -- a lot of people say the best examinations are from failures.

ROBBINS: Without a doubt. Without a doubt.

KING: Do you -- are you very self-critical?

ROBBINS: My staff would say to you I don't ever leave a meeting, you know, with a big audience or create something new where after I'm done -- could be 2:00 o'clock in the morning -- I take out the tape recorder and go, Here's what worked. And we look at what works first. And then, Here's what could be done better. And I've been doing that for 33 years in 100 countries. So that's part of how you get a little better.

KING: He's amazing, and so's this TV show. And we'll meet some incredible couples that Tony is helping on his new show. One of them faced unbelievable challenges. Next.



KRISTEN ALIOTO, CARES FOR PARALYZED HUSBAND: The happiest day of my life turned into my worst nightmare. I was married to my husband, Frank Alioto. And at the end of our reception, there was tragedy.

FRANK ALIOTO, PARALYZED ON HIS WEDDING DAY: The party was starting to wind down, and Kristen and her bridesmaids were in a little part of the pool where you can kind of dance around. And I said, Well, I'm going to go be with my wife. I jumped in the pool, and then I started floating. I just remember I couldn't move and thinking to myself I was really in trouble.


KING: Joining us are Frank Alioto, a quadriplegic, paralyzed after jumping into a pool on his wedding day, and Kristen Alioto, Frank's wife. Should have been the happiest day of Frank and Kristen's life, turned into tragedy when he broke his neck in two places. And now, one year since the accident, Frank is confined to a wheelchair, reluctant to even leave his house, while Kristen is his full-time caregiver.

Take us back to that day. FRANK ALIOTO: It should have been a wonderful day. We were -- we invited our family and friends down to Port Vallarta, Mexico. We had 150, 170 people, this quaint little, beautiful hotel on the beach. We had the ceremony overlooking the ocean. And Kristen and I were actually so tired from celebrating all week, we were drinking water when we did all our toasts. You know, we were -- we were over it. We had so much fun...

KING: And how did you come to jump into a pool?

FRANK ALIOTO: The girls were all dancing. And I saw Kristen, and there was a shallow area of the pool, maybe like an inch deep, where she was dancing. I was at the bar. And I said to my dad, I'm going to go jump in and dance with my...

KING: With your clothes on and everything?

FRANK ALIOTO: Yes. I'm going to go jump in with my wife. I was wearing a pair of shorts. It was very casual. And I jumped in the pool, and next thing I know, I'm floating. And I knew I was in trouble. I had no real recollection of being able to move. I just knew I was in trouble and that I couldn't get myself out of the pool.

KING: Do you know what you hit? What happened?

FRANK ALIOTO: I really don't know what I hit.

KING: Did you see it happen, Kristen?


KING: Where were you?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I was under water at the time from jumping in, as well. And when I came up, they were already had turned him over and were taking him to the side.

KING: So triumph turned to tragedy in a second.


KING: It shows you about life. Living in a wheelchair. Frank and Kristen have to deal with a lot of emotional pain. Let's look at their first meeting with Tony, hoping to break through on "Breakthrough," which aired this past Tuesday. Watch.


ROBBINS: What is it you really want to do with your life at this state?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: Today we are trying to get back to life, as Frank calls it, our new reality. And it's just really difficult.

FRANK ALIOTO: I get up in the morning to eat a meal so I can take pills, so I can sit there and wait for the next meal and more pills. It's, like, that's not living.


KRISTEN ALIOTO: I think I that started grieving the life we were supposed to have. I tried to go back to work and manage the house and help Frank and to grieve.

ROBBINS: How would you do all of that at once?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I cry a lot.


KING: Now, Tony, you fly them to Fiji -- I saw this, and it's a tremendous episode -- and you give them challenges. Why challenges?

ROBBINS: I wanted to rewrite the story. You know, we all have a story of our life and it affects us because the meaning of something -- Is this the end or is this the beginning? And for them at that point, it was obviously the end. They were in their home and Kristen (INAUDIBLE) saying I don't have a future, trying to take care of her man. And he's feeling guilty, thinking, If I just would have stepped somewhere else. And so I thought, you know, they're trapped in this house. Let's get them to rewrite the story, fly to a beautiful place, take a leap of faith and rewrite their life.

So the first stage was getting Frank to know that this chair didn't stop him, that he could get through to his lady. She was crying, he could, boom -- he could make that shift with her in a few seconds, which he did. And that changes the dynamic. And then the first task we did was sky diving because I wanted her to see this man is not fragile. He can not only get out of the house, he can travel the world.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) skydiving?

ROBBINS: I've done it. It's one of the most intense things you could possibly do, and I knew it...

KING: In a wheelchair?

ROBBINS: Well, I've not done it in a wheelchair, clearly. But I knew a man who, unfortunately, didn't make it into the cut of the show. His name is Dan. There were 19 men went up in a skydiving accident, biggest in history. Only three survived. When they landed -- when they took off, they crashed. The three that survived -- Dan was one of them, had a punctured lung. He had a crushed skull. He had a hemorrhaged brain. He woke up after three weeks of being in a coma, and they said he'd never walk again. He had an O-ring (ph). He was paralyzed and a quadriplegic.

Three years later, he won the gold medal in, to give you an idea, in skydiving. So that's why I had them teach them skydiving, to show them what was really possible.

KING: When -- let's take the second toss. Tony's big on taking action, getting us all to face our fears. Let's look at this setup. Watch.


ROBBINS: You see this man and woman, they're in such pain. So I want them to create a greater sense of freedom. And that freedom's only going to come if Kristen can see Frank as strong mentally, emotionally and physically, and if Frank can realize that life can be rich regardless of what's happened to us on the outside.


FRANK ALIOTO: Yes, we're good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, buddy.

FRANK ALIOTO: Now I'm nervous.

ROBBINS: That's our man! It's OK to feel that. Hey, guys, I'll see you in a few minutes on the ground. Just remember what this is, a brand-new life, a jump into the new life. We'll celebrate you with on the ground, all right? God bless.

Here we go! Be free, Frank!

FRANK ALIOTO: I'm strapped to another man, who's loosely strapped to the helicopter. My foot is mere inches from the open doorway. This is not where I want to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Frank, we're about ready. Anything you want to say?


KING: Why did you do it, Frank?

FRANK ALIOTO: You know, I put my faith in Tony and the people at the studio. And I was really reluctant. I was very nervous about it.


FRANK ALIOTO: I was very nervous about it. But you know, they brought me halfway around the world, you've got to try what they're saying.

KING: What did you think, Kristen?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I thought it was amazing. And it was the first time in a long time that I was more concerned for myself than for Frank because I was terrified...

KING: You were scared, too.

KRISTEN ALIOTO: ... to be in that helicopter and to do that sky dive.

KING: Why did it work, Tony? ROBBINS: Because I wanted to create a dynamic where...

KING: But it doesn't make him walk and it doesn't make her not have to take care of him.

ROBBINS: No, it doesn't, but it changes the dynamic where this man knows he's not fragile, and she does, too. And what I hoped is what happened. He's shifted to taking care of her. He was reassuring her. Although there was an interesting moment. I was listening after I walked away, and Frank's saying, It'll be OK, honey. It'll be OK, honey. She's freaking out. He's being the strong one instead of being the one taken care of. And then at one moment, he said, I hope this thing is going to be done tandem.


KING: More with Kristen...

ROBBINS: (INAUDIBLE) does think I'm crazy!

KING: You gave them other challenges too. It's an amazing piece. More with Kristen, Frank and Tony Robbins after the break.


KING: The show is "Breakthrough," Tony Robbins, airs Tuesday nights on NBC. With us, Frank Alioto and Kristen Alioto.

He gave you other things to do, Frank. Like?

FRANK ALIOTO: He gave us a bunch of challenges. He -- he proved to me that I could drive a truck again, that I could still, you know, build things in my garage with my friends. He made me play murder ball, which was unbelievable.

KING: Rugby in a wheelchair.

FRANK ALIOTO: Quad rugby, yes. And it was -- it was an unbelievable experience. I spent the week, basically, with, you know, some very experienced quadriplegics. They showed me around San Diego. They led me places. They took me places. And they kind of showed me that, you know, it's not as bad as you would think.

KING: And Kristen, they send you on a holiday to Del Coronado (ph), a spa, right? You get the whole work (ph). You come. You have no idea he's going to play this, right?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: Yes. I had no idea what he was doing for the time I was away. We weren't allowed to speak or have any communication.

KING: What did you think when you saw him in that chair playing that game?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I had imagined quite a few things that they were possibly doing with him, and that was the last thing I had imagined. (LAUGHTER)

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I actually never even imagined that.

KING: And he also drives the truck and Tony in the truck and -- and then he has a stage performance?

ROBBINS: (INAUDIBLE) drive a truck. He drives the damn thing 100 miles an hour (INAUDIBLE)

KING: And you redo the vows.

ROBBINS: Yes (INAUDIBLE) surprised him.

KING: What's the point of that?

ROBBINS: Well, because I wanted to finish rewriting their story. Here they were now became world travelers again. He was now -- they were both sky divers. They were both -- you know, he was a murder ball player. The last piece after driving his truck was rewriting the wedding. It was the only negative memory. So everyone was there that had been at the original wedding...

KING: No pool.

ROBBINS: No pool!


ROBBINS: Thanks, Larry.

KING: How is your life since? Because I know you had a tragic thing happen. We'll ask about it. Basically, how different are you as a couple now?

FRANK ALIOTO: We're not afraid now. We are -- this year, we made plans to finally go on our honeymoon. It involved taking a plane overseas. And we're just going to do it. I mean...

KING: Where are you going?

FRANK ALIOTO: We're going to Hawaii. And we're not -- I'm not afraid to get on the plane. I'm not afraid to, you know, go travel.

KING: That's great. That's just great.

ROBBINS: They called me in January and said, Guess what we're dining? I said, What? They said, We're camping.


ROBBINS: I said, This is amazing!

KING: But you had a trauma happen?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I did. KING: What happened?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I had a benign brain tumor discovered in February. And after two surgeries, I am tumor-free, back at work full-time. And I have a great appreciation for everything we learned through Tony because I don't think we would have made it through me being hospitalized without it.

KING: If it was benign, why did they have to do surgery?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: They think it had been growing for about 10 to 15 years, and it was dangerously close to my brain stem.

KING: So didn't matter whether benign or malignant.


KING: They had to get it out.

ROBBINS: She understates so much. Size of a grapefruit. And the first eight-hour surgery, they couldn't get it all. But this character over here went from, You take care of me, to he took charge. And then when they -- the doctor couldn't get it done, he made sure they got to San Diego and found another doctor who said, You know what? That doctor is great, but I do all these all the time. And he got the entire piece out. That was only three weeks ago, and look at her now. Look at these (INAUDIBLE)

KING: What joy you must feel, Tony.

ROBBINS: The joy I feel is to see these two people have their life back and also because I know the reason we did this, and I know why they did it, too, besides their own life, is so many people sit at home and think their life is over because something outside their control hit them. We all get hit, but these people are proof that you can turn around in less than 30 days.

And here's the other piece. Some of the people in the press said, Well, will it last? A year later, she says to me -- I asked you the other day. I said, What was it like? She goes, Because my man was with me like that, it was like a blip. It was like -- you know, having cancer was like a blip. You know, two brain surgeries, like a blip? I mean, she's a pretty strong lady to say the least. They both are incredible people.

KING: What are you doing for living, Frank?

FRANK ALIOTO: I'm not working right now. I was a mechanical engineer. I'm actually kind of in negotiations right now to start a new job doing some consulting in engineering.

KING: Do you work, Kristen?


KING: You're supporting, then? KRISTEN ALIOTO: I am. I work full-time at a studio. And I didn't want to be the sole support, but we're making it work.

KING: What did Tony Robbins mean to you, Frank?

FRANK ALIOTO: It just -- Tony really gave me hope. I didn't have a lot of hope before the show. Not to say we wouldn't conquer our fears in years, but he really helped fast track the process to make us feel independent and strong again.

KING: But you still have to take care of him, right, Kristen?

KRISTEN ALIOTO: I do, but I have a better attitude about it. I'm letting someone help me. We have a caregiver five days a week now. So I'm letting other people help when I know I can't do it all.

ROBBINS: Plus, Frank went to the All-Star game the other day with a buddy of his. And they didn't have -- they couldn't, you know, get through all the parking there. You know what it was like.

KING: Oh, yes.

ROBBINS: And he said, You go out and go to the front. You can get us one of those passes. And he goes, What do you mean, get out? He goes, Get in your chair and go out and do it. And Frank took himself all out there and got the pass and came back and got them through. He gets himself on the bus to go to get physical therapy on his own. He has somebody meet him there, but he does it on his own now.

This guy's mobility -- when I knew him, he had a brace on his neck and was trying to barely creep across the side (ph). I said, Frank, you don't realize how incredibly loose and free you've gotten in so many ways.

KING: Frank, have you gotten over the "why me" factor?

FRANK ALIOTO: I really have gotten over the -- you know, the kind of self -- looking at yourself and going, you know, Woe is me. And you know, it happened, and we're moving past it and we're conquering it as best we can. You know, I spend a lot of time at local gym, Next Step Fitness, trying to get more and more independent because my goal is to make it so that she has to help me as little as possible.

KING: This episode of "Breakthrough" aired this past Tuesday. I'm sure NBC in its wisdom will run it again because (INAUDIBLE)

ROBBINS: You can actually go to and there's a link so you can watch...

KING: Oh, that's right. You want to watch it, go to Breakthroughinsider -- all one word, right?


KING: Watch it on your Web site. You can do it -- don't do it immediately. Wait until the show's over, OK?


KING: An affair takes its toll on a young couple, threatens to destroy a lifelong dream. How Tony helped next.


KING: We're back. Melissa Lawson is the winner of "Nashville Star," the TV singing contest. She learned that her husband, Rick, was having an affair while she was on tour. It might have something to do with the fact that he spent those three months running a business and taking care of a family. We welcome the Lawsons to LARRY KING LIVE. They will be the subject of "Breakthrough With Tony Robbins" next Tuesday night, right? OK, Melissa, what happened?

MELISSA LAWSON, WINNER, "NASHVILLE STAR": Well, I went to audition for "Nashville Star".

KING: How many children do you have?

M. LAWSON: I have five boys.

KING: Together, the two of you?

M. LAWSON: Together, yes, they're all ours.

KING: So you win on "Nashville Star" and --

M. LAWSON: I went through that process. It was an amazing process. Thought it was finally, you know, 20 years of effort coming true. The fans voted. Thanks to them, we won the show. I say we because I had the support of everyone around me.

KING: You went to the Beijing Olympics, right? You toured for three months. You weren't home.

M. LAWSON: It was on and off. I would be home a few days, on the road a few days, kind of here and there. Toward the end of that period, things started kind of going south. Rick was very focused into Facebook and other social media type of things. I just noticed that he was gone. And I wasn't really paying attention to my own responsibility. And I was very focused on what he was doing.

KING: What were you doing, Rick?

M. LAWSON: I discovered in an e-mail.

RICK LAWSON, HUSBAND OF MELISSA LAWSON: I discovered what I was doing was really kind of escaping. Facebook and the Internet, all that stuff for me was just a way to get away from stress and some of the distance that I felt between Melissa and I that had developed. And just this kind of stresses and struggles of running a business and being a parent of five boys.

KING: So you had an affair? R. LAWSON: It was an emotional affair. Yes, it was a big mistake. It was just a part of the symptom of all the stuff going on at that point.

KING: How long did it last?

R. LAWSON: It was -- it actually got nipped in the bud pretty quick. It lasted about two or three weeks and then we got found out.

KING: How did you find out?

M. LAWSON: I found an inbox message in Facebook. When you log in, it's kind of automatic. I thought it was my own page. It was Rick's page. Inbox from this person. Of course, I know her.

KING: You knew her?

M. LAWSON: Yes. We went to church together. I just thought it was, you know -- I thought, OK, this is a message to me. I open it up. It essentially says, hey, I don't have any kids tomorrow. You want to meet between 9:00 and 2:00? I'm like, what is this? So I confronted Rick about it. Of course, he said I don't know what you're talking about. There had been a few little things. I think when you're a woman you just know.

KING: Why didn't a divorce occur?

M. LAWSON: You know, I asked Rick to stop the behavior. It was kind of chaotic at the time. I think at the time there were many things going on that stopped the divorce. Obviously five children is a huge reason. So it gives you pause. And then not to mention just everything else going on around us. I felt at the time that I needed him. I don't want to say co-dependent is a huge word.

KING: How do you come into this, Tony?

ROBBINS: It's so easy to judge. When I heard about it -- I heard about it because they were nominated by some people that knew him. You first want to rattle his chain and say what the hell is the matter with you. No matter how thin you slice it, there's always two sides. So what I try to do is -- you can't help somebody when you're judging. I kind of dug underneath and then I found out that according to the structure of the show, she wasn't allowed to talk to her kids or husband for two months, three months.

M. LAWSON: Three months.

KING: That was the show's rules?


ROBBINS: I said, it was my kids. I would break the show's rules. You don't have to tell what happened. You have to talk to your children. So there's a reason why her five boys wouldn't talk to her. There's a reason why he was that -- he's totally responsible for what he did. Instead of having this judgment, the thing was to bring them together and say can we turn this around, because at the time you have a family that these boys deserve their parents to be together. They're completely being neglected.

They're acting crazy because they don't have any attention. They're losing their home. They're losing their career. I said, if a reality show did this, maybe a reality show can be the trigger to finding something real to help them.

KING: You give them challenges, too?


KING: Part of moving past the problem is facing it head on. Here is Melissa letting her feelings out and letting Rick know exactly what she thinks.


ROBBINS: There needs to be a different way to get through. So I want you to close your eyes. I want you to think of a time when you're frustrated with him. Now here is what I want you to do. She's going to go at you. The more she comes at you, I just want you to think inside your mind one thing: I love you, I worship you, I own you forever. Open your eyes and go at it.

M. LAWSON: I want you to quit acting like a child. I want you to start putting all of yourself into me and the children, instead of all about yourself all the time. I want you to -- I just want you to be with me.

R. LAWSON: It's OK, baby.


KING: Why did that work?

ROBBINS: One of the challenges was she was getting more rewards from the audience than she was at home. We all move to where that love is, where that attention is. We live in a culture where she knows she has a god given gift. She has an extraordinary gift. She also has a god given gift called five boys and a husband. And she had kind of forgotten that piece. What I had to do was get both of them to grow and come together. What she was really dying for was for his presence, for him to not be focused on himself, to give her that attention.

Meanwhile, he's wanting her to give him presence. So it's two people crying for help. It looked pretty ugly. When they came together, they were able to start supporting each other and turn things around.

KING: One of the things you challenged her was to write a song about this?

ROBBINS: I did. We did a lot of changes. In the end, after they had gone through a process of decoupling from the Internet, being with the kids back in an 1830s style ranch, where literally they had to do everything on their own -- they both found that what mattered most to them, besides each other, were their children. It changed everything.

I told her she couldn't write music for money. She had to take care of her kids first for the next 18 months. Then I called her and said, but you can write music. And you have to write a song in two days and perform it in front of a couple thousand people. You have to write it together. That was quite a process for these two.

KING: What we're going to do is as we go to break, you're going to hear Melissa Lawson singing that song. That song is "United We Stand."

We'll be right back.


KING: You will see Melissa Lawson and Rick Lawson next Tuesday night at 8:00 on NBC, when "Breakthrough's" second occurrence occurs. And Tony Robbins will host it, of course. If you want to get a lot more information, see them, as well as the earlier couple,, all one word, on your website. You're still singing, right? Still touring?

M. LAWSON: Not yet. But it's in the works.

KING: Are you worried about touring again?

M. LAWSON: No. My family is my number one priority. If I can't do touring with -- I have to put my family first. It's a prerequisite.

R. LAWSON: If I could say, Larry, the other thing that I discovered is that my passion is my family, too. And focusing on being really present for them and for Melissa, it is where I need to be. And -- because the way we're talking to each other and communicating now, it's a whole different level.

KING: What challenge was the toughest for you?

R. LAWSON: Wow. Well, the toughest challenge for me was -- you'll see it on Tuesday night. It was the family challenge, because I had discovered -- I never attached my kids' behavior to my lack of being a really great dad. I love my kids, you know, emotionally connected to them all the time. But I wasn't being -- I wasn't handling the discipline side. I wasn't being a leader in my family. I wasn't taking care of my family like I should, as a man should.

And Tony really helped me to see that. The experience that we went through, it was tough because I was basically having to do something that I hadn't been doing ever in about 17 years with this woman.

ROBBINS: To give you a context, she was so not present as a mom, even though she's got a big heart -- everything was the career, so the kids weren't there. He was not present, because he was focused on what he thought was important and then distracting himself from dealing with their relationship -- wasn't great.

So you had these five boys that looked like they're the most bratty kids in the world. They're not bratty kids. They just don't have anybody present and loving. Most people raise their kids on the Internet. They raise them with DVDs, with Disney Movies. That was them.

We took them away from all that and said you're going to live as a family. You're going to go out and make the food. You're going to provide. You're not going to be a celebrity mother. You're going to be a mother.

The process they went through in the beginning was kind of ugly. The man who owned the ranch called me and said, Tony, it isn't working. He said, I'm telling you, these people failed. He said, they're miserable. He said, he's selfish, she's selfish. He was not very nice. They're dear friends now.

I said, here's what we're going to do: they're not leaving this place without the lesson. So we got this ox cart like they used in the days of the Mormons. And I said they're going to put all their things in here and they're going travel. Their life is going to change. They're going to have to get themselves home, miles for this thing, all the kids and boys together.

He said Tony, they'll never make it up that hill. I said is it possible or not? He goes it's impossible. I said is it physically impossible or impossible for them. He goes, with a gun to their head, maybe. I said, well, guess what? They're not going home without this change. All the crew is saying, Tony, we can't film this. I said, we are going to do this. They're going to get their breakthrough.

To their credit, they not only got up the hill, all the boys in line. But at the end, they're going like a bat out of you know what, running as hard as they can to the end of this thing. You watch this family come unified together. It was really, really a blast.

KING: The children are 19, nine, six, four, and two and a half.

M. LAWSON: Actually 10. Ten, nine, six, four and two and a half.

KING: How is it now, Rick?

R. LAWSON: I like to say, you know, life -- it's a work in progress for anyone. For us to come out and say our life is like -- we have no problems anymore and no challenges and that we just communicate perfectly well every time --

M. LAWSON: It's a dream.

R. LAWSON: That would just be a dream. But the fact is that we have tools in place. We have a strategy in place to deal with our relationship, our parenting, our finances, our business. The most amazing thing for me is just that in the amount of time that Tony gave us, it just -- it was just putting the train back on the rails. I like to call my wife a freight train. She was pulling hard and I was pulling hard in the wrong direction. Tony helped us get in the same direction.

KING: What did Tony do for you, Melissa?

M. LAWSON: I think he changed my life. I was relying and dependent upon acceptance from exterior motives. And to look inwardly -- and then when the affair happened, it was easy for me to say I blame you, I blame you. But to stop for a moment and take a look at yourself at the core of who you really are and find out who you really are is very painful. It's a struggle. But obviously I would encourage anybody to do it, because if you don't do it, you will be stuck and you will remain the same place that you were; and you will never get to where you want to be in life.

ROBBINS: The difference -- I look at the difference not by what people say, but by the way their feet move. A year later, her big conflict was -- I said you've got to put your kids first. Everybody is saying that. She had this struggle inside of her, like a demon, the ego that we all have. She not only conquered it, but she's been offered a couple of deals. One at Sony Red. They said to her, you've got to come do this contract, come on the road and be away from your family. She said, you know what? This is such a great offer. I want it for my career. But no, my kids are first. She's now partnering with a man who allows her to do what she does with her family. She's kept it first.

KING: What do you do, Rick?

R. LAWSON: I'm a contractor, primarily roofing.

KING: Where is home?

R. LAWSON: Home is the Dallas, Fort Worth area.

KING: You both ought be very, very thankful that there is a Tony Robbins.

M. LAWSON: No doubt in my mind God sent Tony.

ROBBINS: I want you to know they did the work. I could guide them and coach them all day long. People have to do the work themselves. You guys did. I'm really proud of you.

KING: The Lawson's episode airs Tuesday night on NBC. When we come back, Tony gives some advice on how you can break through next.


KING: We're back with Tony Robbins, life coach, motivational speaker, best selling author, and host of "Breakthrough With Tony Robbins," Tuesdays at 8:00 Eastern on NBC. The second segment featuring the Lawsons is what comes next. Well, a lot of people have a lot of problems now with the recession. Let's discuss fear. Roosevelt once said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Is that a truism?

ROBBINS: I think it's absolutely true. The only way to kill a fear -- you can try to do it cognitively all day long. You just have to face it and you have to do it. I tell people, beliefs are what controls us. Whether you believe you can do something or not affects whether you're at least going to try it. but the best way to deal with a belief is create an experience that violates it.

Frank had beliefs and he was living in this house where this is the place I live; I can't leave here. When you physically take him to Fiji -- by the way, along the way there, at the airport, what's their biggest fear? Something's going to happen. They dropped him. The people at the airlines -- one of the people there dropped him. I'm going crazy. They got him to Fiji and they dropped him again.

When he was flying to my island -- I've flown there since I was 20 years old. They built this resort 20 years ago. I've never not been able to land. The wind was so intense, the plane was turned sideways, and the doctor on board said we're going back. They took him back. They were ready to quit right then and there. This wasn't like a show that just came together. We had to react to whatever life gave us.

KING: What both of these episodes show and what the hardest thing is, is to change. Why is that so hard? Because we're prisoners of what we are?

ROBBINS: I don't know if we're prisoners of what we are. I just think that most of us meet our needs through our problems. We have a need in life for certainty. And to change requires a lot of uncertainty. We want uncertainty, too, because it creates surprise. If you ask people, do you like surprises? Yeah. No, you don't. You like the surprises you want. The surprises you don't want you call painful.

We have the need for having significance in our lives, something unique, something special. There's two ways to be special. One is take a risk, build the tallest building in town. The other is blow everybody else's building up. That's the reason you see all these people tearing down celebrities. We like them on the way up as we identify with them. They get there too long, we want to push them down so we feel a little bit higher.

We get addicted to our problems not because our problems are good for us but because they're like sugar. Sugar will make you feel good for the moment. Then you have to have more sugar. Most people have to keep having that problem.

The only way to get rid of a problem is you replace it with a more compelling life. That's what you've seen these people do. They have something new in their life. They're traveling around the world again now. They're having a chance now to inspire other people. He's looking to start his own business. That's a different universe that they're in because they've had new experiences, not just new conversations.

KING: When it fails -- and I'm sure you've dealt with people --


KING: How do you -- do you learn from it?

ROBBINS: You have to. Almost always, it's one of two things. Either there isn't real hunger there. The one thing I can't give somebody is hunger. Hunger is that drive, that desire, that force.

No, absolutely not, there has to be a hunger. Two, you have to have the right strategy. Everybody is different. So what works for you doesn't necessarily work for the next person. My skill set is to figure out what's going to work for you. As you'll see in each of these six episodes, they're radically different. Somebody who loses their family members, shot and killed nearby, somebody who is trapped inside their house, somebody who has the affair, somebody that, after 23 years, they lose their job. For every one of them, I come up with different strategies, whether it's going to literally be with Marines for 11 days and you're 50 years old, 80 pounds overweight, and I got to get you to climb the Trail of Tears, which the 18-year-olds can't do, or whether it's a couple that are so afraid of being homeless that I make them homeless for 12 days, down on Skid Row, and they find out what they're made of and come together.

KING: Here's a tough one. What advice would Tony give Lindsay Lohan or Mel Gibson? We'll find out next.


KING: We have two cases in the news. Both are obviously cases of addiction. It's obvious Mel Gibson has some sort of alcohol problem and anger problem. And Lindsay Lohan has an addiction problem. Is there advice you can give? Or do they have to get cured first or is there a cure?

ROBBINS: The only cure for addiction is a new addiction. You need to have a positive addiction, instead of a negative one. Right now, for Lindsay to change, it is going to be very hard because she needs to be around some different people. As long as she believes it's not my fault and her mom encourages that belief, and as long as when she's going into jail, she gets paid a million dollar deal for the story when she comes out -- and she makes more money having a problem than acting per minute, per hour -- she's not going to change.

Under Mel's case, you know, Mel has had an incredible history before this and none of this has shown up. Everybody has to be saying what is going on?

KING: Could it be new?

ROBBINS: It absolutely could be. When people's life matches how they think life should be, they're happy. But if you have a blueprint, a mind-set, this is where my life should be, and your life doesn't match, people get a little crazy. And some people drink. Some people get angry. There's something in Mel's world that doesn't match. I don't know what it is. It may have to do with aging. It may have something with his kids, his family or something with himself.

We all have inner conflicts. My job is to help you take those inner conflicts and realign them so you can move forward.

KING: It's also about never giving up. I never get personal on this show, but I have a stepson, Danny.


KING: Who has worked with you and been to your seminars. Danny is a quarterback intern with the Oakland Raiders. Anywhere along the line, he could have given up this desire for football and gone to something else.

ROBBINS: And should have, according to many people, right?

KING: Yeah. So what keeps -- what do you do for him or others that keeps someone going?

ROBBINS: I usually can give them a strategy for reigniting what's going on inside themselves, or I can give them a strategy on how to get the job done quicker.

I think life needs three things. You need to be totally focused and committed to something with every ounce of your soul. But then you also have to execute. If your goal is to see a sunset and your strategy is to run east, I don't care how positive you are, baby, it doesn't matter. So I'm not about positive thinking. I'm about strategy.

But if you know what you want and you're driven and you're focused, and you keep changing your approach, and you learn from other people, and you have a pathway that works, then the last part, frankly, is grace. There's a little grace in everything, you know.

KING: What do you do when it doesn't happen, when the goal isn't met?

ROBBINS: You change your approach or you find a way to use it. Sometimes, you have to deal with the cards you're dealt. Sometimes you're not meant to get something. But what you got to do is find an empowering meaning. You know, does this mean it's over? Does this mean something else is opening up for you that's even more important?

It's that capacity, not so much positive -- I don't like that positive thinking. People think I teach people to just get positive. I believe in being smart. I believe see the problem, deal with it right now, move forward. The things you can control, you have to attack. If it doesn't work, you just keep changing your approach until you do.

It's that simplistic. But if you know the strategy, you can save yourself a decade of time. I spent 30 years gathering strategies to help people do well in difficult financial times or emotional times.

KING: As a group -- speaking of financial times, as a group, what do people do when economics are bad?

ROBBINS: Well, most people --

KING: It's not their fault.

ROBBINS: Most people get to a point where they go into learned helplessness, where they to be helpless, where they learn they can do nothing. Then they just sit and wait for someone else to deal with something. The people down in the Gulf -- when Katrina happened, we went down -- really proud, my wife and I, we fed 100,000 people down there. I don't say that to promote what we're doing, just to try and promote other people to do things.

I haven't gone there yet because first you have to see, you know, these men and women that were part of three generations of fishermen, are those oysters dead for two years, five years or ten years? If you say I can't do anything else; we've done it forever; you're wrong. You might have to deal with BP, but you have to deal your life first. Instead of blaming somebody -- the blame will get dealt with. What are you going to do now to take care of your family?

You might have to retool. You might have to do something other than being a fisherman. You might have to move. That's the reality. We want to go down and help people once we can be clear about what the real results are.

KING: Thanks, Tony.

ROBBINS: Thanks for having us on.

KING: You'll see the episodes we discussed tonight Tuesday night. Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" is next. Anderson?