Monday, 27 June 2016

Firewalking: Fun or Empowerment?

Firewalking as a metaphor for overcoming your fears has really been done to death. Tony Robbins in the news again because people got burnt at one of his events again.

I can't believe that people still use firewalking as part of their program.

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.

1997 Cable London
Sales Seminar Boardbreak
Over the next couple of years I worked with him, then we split and I went off to get further into NLP and Hypnosis and then he contacted me again in 2003 and asked me to work with him.

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 it's 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!!).

Pine is the wood of choice. This is a great generator of heat but not a conductor of heat. Imagine a cake in an oven. After its been in there for a time and you open the oven door you will get a blast of hot air (not unusual in this industry). If you put your hand in and touch the cake: no problem. Touch the oven walls: no hand left. Basically, what you are walking on during a firewalk is like walking on a 20ft long cake. Generating heat but not a conductor.

Lasting benefits...absolutely NONE!

I asked a group of car salesmen once what they considered were the benefits of walking on fire. They all told me the same thing.

"We are gonna sell a ton of cars now!"
"Great," I said...."How?"

Each one of them got a glazed look on their faces and stayed that way. Then they spent ages justifying how Firewalking will help them shift those old rust buckets and sleds that had been on the forecourt for ages. They couldn't justify it. I gave them motivational, attitudinal, influence, inner game and Sales Training. THAT worked!!!

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 and, to quote Tom Jones: it's not unusual. If you ask a group of 40 people about it, at least 30 of them will have heard of it and 10 or 12 will have done it.

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

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 - It's the shortest sponsored walk in the world...

Glasswalking is the same. It sounds scary, it sounds terrifying but shouldn't. Again, physics and common sense come into play.

If you want to lie on a bed of nails you can. If you want to lie on a bed of ONE nail, then that would be very foolish. Same with Glasswalking. If you tread on a piece of broken glass while barefoot you will cut your foot. A Glasswalk on the other hand is performed on a bed of a thousand or so broken bottles.

Yes they are very sharp shards of broken glass but it's a glass bed at least two inches deep so anything under your foot compresses into whats below and around it. No problem. It sounds great when the glass breaks and cracks under your feet but it also cushions your feet. If you feel anything under your foot that you don't like the feel of...lift your foot and put it somewhere else.

When you are involved in the fire and glass walking industry for as long as I was you believe it is the cure for everything and the best motivator. When you have worked outside of the firewalk and glasswalk industry for as long as I have, you realise how far behind the times these events really.are...and they should stay there...
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