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Why we do what we do

Tony explains the invisible forces that shape our every thought, behavior and action

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Whatever emotion you’re after, whatever goal you pursue – whether it’s building a business, getting married, raising a family or traveling the world – there are six basic, universal needs that make us tick and drive all human behavior. Every single person in this world has these same six needs, but each of us value and prioritize these needs in different ways, and each of us have varied beliefs about what it means to satisfy those needs. This is what becomes the driving force behind why we do what we do, and determines the direction of our lives.

Tony introduced the 6 human needs over 10 years ago, back in 2006, at the famous TED conference in Monterey, California. That talk, which was called “Why we do the things we do,” was one of the first 6 TED talks ever, and is the eighth most viewed TED talk of all time. Why? Because not only is Tony a captivating speaker, but because every person on the planet wants to understand themselves a little better. Once you’re able to identify which human needs have been driving your decision-making, you can more accurately work to fulfill those needs.

In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, you will hear Tony delve deeper into the 6 human needs – certainty, significance, variety, love/connection, growth and contribution – and how each influences our thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions. It’s a taste of what you will experience at his signature event, Unleash the Power Within, an epic three-day seminar that challenges you to find your true purpose and pursue your goals. And it’s one of the most important skills that you ever acquire. Because by understanding the needs that shape your behavior, you will be able to take back control over your life, and even learn how to create new patterns that lead to lasting fulfillment. Ready to understand the driving forces in your life?


[00:30] Ana introduces the 6 human needs
[01:30] Tony first introduced the human needs at the TED conference
[02:10] Whatever people do they always have a reason
[02:28] There are underlying patterns for all emotions, behavior and actions
[03:00] The most important pattern to understand is why people do what they do
[03:20] Comes down to 6 reasons — the 6 human needs
[03:45] Once you know what drives somebody, you know how to meet their needs
[04:10] The need for certainty
[04:20] Avoiding pain and finding comfort
[04:50] Each person values different needs
[05:00] Certainty driven people do not respond well to change
[05:30] Which needs are your top two — this determines your direction and your destiny
[06:10] Two people can value the same needs, but differ in their beliefs about what that means
[06:30] We all need certainty, but where does it fall on your list, and what does certainty mean to you?
[07:00] You must know your needs and what your blueprint is
[07:20] You can meet your need for certainty in ways that are positive, neutral or negative
[07:45] Most people meet their needs in a way that works in the moment, but not long term
[09:35] Find the empowering ways of meeting your needs
[09:55] We keep our problems because they meets our needs
[10:10] Why do we stay in bad relationships?
[10:45] Eventually we reach our threshold
[11:45] People will give up their goals and dreams to meet their needs
[13:00] What if you had absolute certainty in every aspect of your life?
[13:30] The second human need — uncertainty
[14:25] Any time your mind perceives that doing, believing or feeling something meets at least three of your needs, then you will become addicted to that thought, feeling or action
[15:55] How do you get variety?
[16:40] The need for significance — feeling special, unique and important
[17:20] The relationship between violence and significance
[19:00] The fourth human need — love and connection
[20:25] Men will die for significance, women will die for love
[21:30] Finding significance in positive ways
[22:10] Most people find a way to feel significant by having a significant problem
[22:40] Problems are the safest way to connect and not be rejected
[24:30] The biggest addiction in our culture
[25:25] The final two needs are spiritual – growth and contribution
[26:00] Progress is happiness
[26:30] The purpose of a goal
[27:00] Contribution and stepping outside ourselves
[27:30] Growth and contribution are what fulfill us
[28:50] Tony’s personal story about uncovering someone’s real needs
[32:25] Instead of seeing people’s behaviors, see their attempts to meet their needs


Never-ending contribution – By giving in times of scarcity, when you feel “lack” and not abundance, you will be able to transcend financial boundaries to discover what true abundance really is.

People buy feelings, not things – Our purchasing decisions are merely driven by rational thought, they are motivated by our deepest needs and values.

Can you see your partner’s POV? – Can you understand your partner’s perspective? Learning to recognize and also appreciate their view can create a new level of intimacy in your relationship.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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