Firewalking: an exercise to ignite the passion of your workforce

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Brian Moore explores firewalking. He argues that this alternative to traditional teambuilding events can ignite the passion of your workforce.

Why firewalking?

A firewalking seminar generates lasting enthusiasm and a deep sense that every player on the team can make a positive difference. Nothing accelerates personal empowerment and group bonding faster than this.

Can you imagine how great it would feel when you are able to overcome your self-limiting beliefs and turn them into power. Consider how much more successful would be you be? How much happier, and more productive would you be?

These are just a few of the benefits of attending a firewalking event. They also impact an organisation’s bottom line as performance and morale increase. All of this in an unforgettable seminar lasting just two hours.

The single most destructive force preventing people from achieving their goals and dreams is fear. Fear stands in the way of success, risk-taking and achievement. Through confronting, overcoming and transcending one of the fundamental human fears, you learn that your limitations are not intrinsic or inevitable. Instead they are the result of self-limiting beliefs and fears.

Firewalking is definitely one of the most powerful metaphors for individuals and teams. It demonstrates how to achieve the impossible in life and business, to be the best in your field, and to never miss another opportunity!

How I got introduced to firewalking

I was introduced to firewalking in London together with 8,000 other people. One of the most important lessons I learned that night was to take total responsibility for my actions and results.

To this day, I’ve never forgotten the euphoric feeling that I’d actually done it. I had actually walked barefoot over nearly 10 metres of burning coals measured at over 1100 degrees Fahrenheit (without burning my feet). Something I had thought was impossible turned out to be possible.

I applied what I learned in all areas of my life. As a result, I set up a company that specialises in assisting individuals and teams to get the most out of life and business using the latest in human potential technologies.

Corporate firewalking – where did it all begin?

Firewalking is not a new concept. It has been practiced as a tribal ritual in many countries around the world for centuries. However, in 1977, the father of modern firewalking, Tolly Burkan, created the Firewalking Institute of Research and Development (F. I. R. E). This later became a global benchmark for training standards and safety matters. Recent graduates of his school include Anthony Robbins and Andrew Weil.

What happens at a firewalking event?

Prior to any walk, all participants must go through a motivational seminar. This is designed to equip them with the resources to walk unharmed across 10 metres of wood embers burning at 750 degrees Celsius.

The training is based around proven motivational and psychological methods. It does not involve any element of hypnosis, spiritual training, chanting, brainwashing, voodoo or any similar methodologies. It is however, tremendous fun!

During this seminar, you do things that might, on first hearing about them, seem impossible. You break a solid 1”-thick wooden board with your hand, using energy not strength. Your break in half a 27-inch long wooden hunting arrow against the wall, after placing its point in the sternal notch of your throat. Eventually, you take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot across burning red-hot coals.

Some examples of how corporate firewalking is applied

Many organisations are bored and disillusioned with conventional team building events or conference formats. More and more are looking to firewalking to ignite the passion in their people. Learning West, a Mayo-based training network, organised a firewalk for their training companies as a networking event. The response was amazing. Over 120 people participated in the evening with all but a few who chose not to walk on the fire.

Network Ireland used firewalking to promote International Women’s Day. They also raised a significant sum of money for the Daisy Foundation and the Billy Riordan Fund.

The firewalk can be run as a stand alone event or as part of a conference. Some companies have even used the firewalk as a thank you night for staff and their families. Others have used the firewalk as a customer appreciation event.

Esporto surprised over 300 of their employees at their annual conference when they introduced a firewalk as part of the proceedings. To their delight, everyone completed the firewalk that night. You can just imagine the buzz and excitement at dinner that evening. Sales teams in particular seem to get really get fired up from the seminar and the results following the event go through the roof.

Here’s how participants describe firewalking

Crona Esler, a reporter with the Western People, described how “the training was more intense than I expected. Slowly the barriers were pulled down and our confidence grew. The first major hurdle to overcome was breaking an arrow pressed into the point of our throats. In truth this was the big hurdle for me. The fire walk itself was a great experience, but on one level no surprise. I knew from the moment the arrow snapped that I was going to march straight across the coals.

“When it came to walk time, the glowing red embers were hotter than any pizza oven. I stepped forward confidently (on the outside) but expecting to feel intense heat. I didn’t expect to be burnt, but I did expect to feel intense heat. The reality was a complete surprise. It was like walking on soft sand, warm and comfortable. No heat beyond that. It felt so good I could have stopped and looked around. That is why, on the second and third walk, I travelled more slowly, savouring the experience. I noticed others did the same.”

Anthony Galvin, President of Toastmasters in Ennis, commented: “My family thought I was crazy even to try something like this but, from the moment I learnt about the workshop, I knew this was a challenge that I needed for my own growth. The feeling of walking through fire was a feeling I find difficult to describe. At the end, I was so excited that I had overcome my fears.”

Brian Moore is the founder, keynote speaker and a trainer with Peak Potential.

Anne Sexton

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