The ‘arrow break’ activity (based on an ancient Fijian ritual) is the practice of placing the point of a wooden archery arrow in the soft tissue area of the notch of your throat and the other end against a hard solid surface. The participant then needs to ‘get out of their own way’ enough in terms of their thoughts, beliefs and emotional responses to step or lean forward until they bend and then snap the arrow without injury.
For many people it is an extremely powerful experience for breaking through their own limiting beliefs. The real value is in the transferrable learning to people’s real personal and business breakthroughs out there in the world.
Many people keep their broken arrow and some even frame it and hang it on their wall as a reminder that they can achieve far more than they used to believe that they could.
“I booked Tony for our National Sales Training recently and gave him a specification of ‘breaking through barriers and overcoming challenges’. Tony was really accommodating and flexible with his time and made the activity bespoke to our requirements. The activity he presented the group with was arrow breaking, which although at first seemed impossible, proved that with 100% commitment and belief anything is possible. A perfect exercise for sales training, but also great for personal development and progression for your employees – the activity and Tony are highly recommended!”
Stephanie Kirkley, Business Development Manager, Wolverhampton Racecourse
The arrow break activity can include a number of great learnings:
The arrow serves as a ‘biofeedback device’ as to how you are doing in terms of your beliefs, thinking and emotional responses. Snapping the arrow can be ‘easy’ or it can be ‘difficult’ or it can be ‘impossible’. What makes it so is what you are doing on the inside in terms of beliefs, thinking and emotional responses. Everyone has the capability to snap the arrow easily (it is just a question as to whether their ‘inner stuff’ is ‘getting in the way’ or ‘smoothing the way’ to that desired outcome). If the person is finding it ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ then that is just feedback – all that it means is they are ‘getting in their own way’ and it is an opportunity to notice ‘how’ they are doing so and provides a chance for experimentation where they can ‘tweak’ their beliefs, thoughts and emotional responses until they ‘get out of their own way’ and the activity becomes ‘easy’. People ‘get in their own way’ in their beliefs, thinking and emotional responses out there in the world and so whatever a person notices in the arrow break activity prepares them well for making helpful ‘tweaks’ to their ‘inner stuff’ to ‘smooth the way’ to achieving their goals out in the world.
Slow motion video of a participant snapping an arrow
- Giving 100% commitment. The arrow break activity can be very ‘difficult’ and ‘uncomfortable’ if the person gives less than 100% and just ‘tries’ to break the arrow. 90% commitment just won’t do! The person needs to decide 100% that they ‘will’ break the arrow and they will do it right now! In life, one of the most uncomfortable places to be is in indecision, where part of the person wants an outcome and another part of them is ‘holding back’. Either choosing 100% that ‘I will do it’ or deciding 100% that ‘I won’t do it because it is not the right goal for me’ makes life easier immediately. Yet so many people hesitate and procrastinate and make life more stressful than it needs to be by doing ‘indecisive’ responses. The arrow break activity is an opportunity to practise giving 100% commitment to an outcome and noticing a remarkable result. This of course is a powerful metaphor to transfer to life.
- Tapping into your own greatness. Many people make the ‘arrow break’ activity happen by giving themselves a higher purpose for their mind to focus on. Some do this by thinking of a really important breakthrough that they want to have in their life and then writing it onto their arrow so that when it breaks it represents the breakthrough in their life (they can always break it over their knee if for any reason they do not break it on their throat). Others imagine that someone is stood by their side, someone who is looking to them for an example of human greatness (perhaps their child, a friend, a colleague, or a person who feels a need for more courage). When people step into ‘role model’ role it is amazing what extra resourcefulness and resolve they can allow to flow, which means that they achieve far more than they previously thought was possible when they assigned themselves a ‘lesser’ role. The message for life is to choose to live as a ‘role model’ each and every day so that they achieve more and inspire self and others on a daily basis.
- Top achievement can sometimes involve us stepping out of our comfort zone and taking a step forward even though we may be experiencing anxiety or discomfort. The ‘arrow break’ activity can show to a person that they can step out of comfort zone, make something remarkable happen and survive any discomfort or fear responses. In this way they also expand their comfort zone so that far more activities suddenly seem more possible. In life, it makes sense to stretch our comfort zones and dare to take sometimes ‘scary’ steps if we want to achieve at the highest level.
- In some circumstances, some people really ‘strongly sense’ inside that this activity is not for them (for a variety of reasons). If they can consider the activity and ‘get out of their own way’ so that they can make a genuinely empowered choice (rather than a fear-based choice) to say with confidence ‘this is not for me’ then that can be just as valid and as empowering an experience for that person as for the person who says ‘despite my fear, I’m going to go for it!’. An example would be for someone who believes that they have no need to do this activity and have no desire to take part in the activity and yet they feel some social pressure to just join in so as not to ‘stand out’. It may be that they usually just ‘go with the crowd’ even if doing so does not serve their needs. Here the ‘out of comfort zone’ experience for them would be to stand up and speak up and say ‘no’ even though most people are saying ‘yes’ to the arrow break activity. Knowing when to stand up and state what you want and what you don’t want is a powerful learning and the arrow break can allow the opportunity for that personal breakthrough. The important thing is that the person makes an empowered choice. They should go for the choice that gives them the biggest ‘stretch’ in terms of expanding their comfort zone. There is no ‘right or wrong’ about taking part or not taking part in breaking an arrow on your throat. The power of the ‘arrow break’ activity is in the transferable learnings and if ‘refusing’ to take part brings the most empowered learning experience for a person then that is what they should do.
In summary, the ‘arrow break’ activity has helped thousands of people to tap into their inner resources and feel empowered and the transferrable learnings can help people on an ongoing basis achieve more of the life and the results that they want out in the world. It is inspiring!
To discuss this activity in more detail, please feel happy to call Tony Burgess on +44(0)7989 469 570