Saturday, 25 June 2011

Firewalking Exposé

Firewalking as a metaphor for overcoming your fears has really been done to death.

Back in 1997 I was running sales training workshops that culminated in a board break.  I learnt that at Speakers International. I was working as the National Sales Trainer for Telewest.  

Then in 2000 I wanted a new metaphor for breakthrough.  I looked around and found a couple of companies that provided Firewalking events.  I rang them and one of them called me back.  It was a call from a guy called Martin Sterling.  He called me around five times to tell me that his company could provide the service we needed.  In the end it didnt happen.  In fact, Speakers International ran the firewalk in Basildon.

He kept in touch with me and one day, when I told him I was in Sheffield, asked me to drop into the office on the way to London.  After a long chat he asked me to work with him.

Over the next couple of years I worked with him, then we split and I went off to do something else and then he contacted me again in 2003 and asked me to work with him and Cliff Mann again.

Firewalking and Glasswalking were the main areas of business.  It always struck me as a waste of time. It was fun but what was the concept?  Walking over 'red hot coals' as a way of fearbusting!  How?

Its all to do with state of mind and physics.

Its important to have the right state of mind and the training session prior to the walk builds towards you believing that you can walk on fire.  The exercises and messages are very standard NLP and persuasion exercises and can be found in numerous seminars not linked with Firewalking.  In fact you can pick up most NLP books and see the exercises.  You are actually walking on burnt wood, not coals. Its Pine. The optimum heat is around 1300 degrees but most companies have people walking on ash, especially if 40 other people have walked on it prior to you.  Usually a line of fire either side of the 'firebed' gives the impression that its hotter than it is.

Its also about contact time.  If you have taken a jacket potato out of the oven and switched it from hand to hand then you wont burn yourself.  Same with firewalking.  Your contact time with the 'firebed' is so minimal that you cannot be burnt.  If you walk at a steady speed, six steps is enough to get you over and you will have done it(with some companies you only need three - check youtube, I have seen firebeds of 6ft!!).

Lasting benefits...absolutely NONE! 

In the old days, in the 80s/90s, it was new and unusual.  Tolly Burkan and Anthony Robbins made it well known and then everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  Now its old but not unusual.  If you ask a group of 40 people about it, at least 30 of them will have heard of it and 5 will have done it.

Its mystery has gone.  A simple search on the internet will explain the mechanics of it. 

If you are interested in doing a firewalk I recommend Time4Change or http://www.mib-unlimited.co.uk/.  Its very simple to organise and I have the Tolly Burkan certification to train it and the Insurance cover so you could ask me if you wanted to but I havent wanted to organise or train a firewalk for years...

So would I do it if I was in your position and looking for a way of Breaking Through or Empowering myself? No.  Its all a bit of fun.  You can raise money for charity doing it - both the above companies are the leaders in that...

When you have worked outside of the firewalk industry for as long as I have, you realise how far behind the times firewalking really is....and it should stay there...
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