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newstasis :: a blog about improving wellness » 2015 » February

Archive for February, 2015

Let People Talk And They Reveal Why They Are A Danger To Themselves

As fitness coaches and personal trainers, we can sometimes believe that we can help people simply by getting them to change their behavior. We set out to create custom movement and nutrition programs that will fix the clients life, body, outlook, basically everything. This occurs after an enrollment conversation that has us, on one side of a table, ask directed questions about their life and goals, leading the client say all of the things that are needed to prove that we have the solution. Then we get them to agree to buy time with us, shake hands and part ways. They feel great about the future you are going to help them create, we feel great about getting a new client and about the prospects of helping someone create that new future.

I have had many of these conversations and learned to quickly identify the moment when the conversation could end because they were going to train with me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was lying to myself and to them.

Most trainers and coaches tell the same lies. The reason they do is because they don’t shut their mouths and listen. They have a sales system that emotionally massages the right pieces to get the desired outcome. Trainers and coaches have a huge conflict of interest that they are unwilling to accept or even consider will taint their view of the truth. The conflict of interest could be financial, it could have something to do with a persons need to be liked, their need to contribute to the development of others, it could be a desire to spend time with the client for some reason, it could be any number of things that taint judgment. But the outcome is always the same, the coach / trainer has the solution to the problem they directed the client to reveal.

Oh how very convenient and utterly unremarkable.

The thing is this, if you let someone talk long enough about their problems in the world,  they will reveal the very reason why they are the cause of these problems. But if you don’t let them talk, or when you sit there waiting for your turn to talk, this information will never reveal itself. And lets be completely honest, people with a conflict of interest have a lot to gain by letting this information remain undiscovered or else they wouldn’t have a conflict of interest.

Consider what is at stake for a coach / trainer or inversely what they have to gain from directing the conversation in a particular way. $60 an hour, 3 hours per week, for 6 months. That’s about $5000. You don’t need to have many conversations like that to create a good income. On the flip side, how many more conversations does that trainer need to have if they unpack the truth about the client, their identity and how their actions and behavior maintain this identity? The number is much larger.

Strangers on airplanes, bar tenders, new acquaintances and other single serving friends will usually pull out more information about who we are, why we are that way and how we have perfectly created ourselves and our life than those who stand to gain from a longer duration relationship simply because they don’t immediately have anything to gain from the relationship lasting. There are no consequences to you for telling them how it is and there is nothing to be lost by them telling it like it is.

What does this all mean and how do we use this to more effectively move forward?

It means don’t trust anyone who doesn’t help you see how you have masterfully created the life you are currently living. It means work with people who accept and admit that they have a conflict of interest in getting you to buy their services. Ask someone directly what is in it for them because if they don’t know this, or won’t tell you this, they know even less about themselves than you do. It means knowing what YOU are hungry for so you can quickly identify when that part of YOU is massaged. It means accepting the you are the architect and master builder of the life you live and the future you want to create.

It means, fundamentally, that if you do not leave the conversation with a huge amount of new information about you, that you have revealed or that the coach / trainer has helped you reveal, you have participated in an enrollment conversation that serves the needs of the trainer. And that conversation revealed why THEY are a danger to their brand and career.

Three Deaths - Considering Legacy

There’s a saying, a version of which is attributed to David Eagleman, that details three death points for humans. The first is when the body dies. The second is when the last person who knew you dies. The third is when your name is spoken for the last time.

When I consider this as it applies to my dad, I wonder what he would have thought about it or if he had considered it, what exactly his thoughts were.

My dad was humble, modest and kind. I loved the heck out of him, respected him enough to disagree with his point of view and admired his tendency / passion / compulsion for learning. I tended to view myself as very different from him because there were things about him that I didn’t like. For example, he was always able to see the point of view of the less fortunate. Maybe I viewed that trait as a weakness, maybe I realized that those who roll over and crush people tend to acquire more things, maybe I really didn’t like this part of me. There were a number of things like this and over the last few years I’ve come to terms with the possibility that I just didn’t like that I had them too. I wanted, as my dad did for me, more than he had and to become many of the things that he didn’t, either through his circumstances or by his choice. It struck me that by becoming all the things he wasn’t it would be a good way to ensure that I didn’t live the same life.

Silly isn’t it? I wasn’t going to live the same life as him because he and my mom saw to it that I was given opportunities that he didn’t have. Moving to Canada, being raised as a socially tolerant liberal and getting the chance to attend university ensured that he and I would not live the same life. Plus, it was 30 years later and the world had changed enormously in the three decades between his birth and mine.

That is a big part of his legacy, his children may be like him, but they were not going to be the same as him. Whatever good we do, it is in large part due to his efforts to raise us and to lift our experiences into the realm of the things he never got to do.

Something that I hadn’t consider as being a possibility was the impact that my father had on people. During his wake, an event that I maintain he would have really enjoyed because all his friends were there, with lots of great food, drink and merriment, was a comment that an old neighbor made to me and my brother.

George lived across the street from my parents and was an unstoppable old Scot. A few heart attacks, a number of surgeries and various health issues associated for living fully couldn’t take him down. His doctors didn’t like that he just kept doing whatever it was he wanted but they were powerless to stop him. He didn’t play it safe, ever. 100%, all out, always was what he did. My dad liked him both because he was a decent and interesting man and also because he didn’t take short cuts and thrived on work hard.

George approached us at the wake and said “your father was a great man, he never said a bad thing about anyone.” I thanked him for saying that and muttered some other stuff that I cannot remember. The comment floored me because, while I had countless times heard my see the other side of everything and not just giving people the benefit of the doubt, but actually creating that doubt out of what I imagined was thin air, I had never considered that he was doing it because that was who he was. I always figured it was him being a good parent trying to instill in his children a rule of life that makes living with other people easier and more collaborative.

About a year ago I met another person who I did not know my dad had met. When she found out who I was, she told me that she had met my dad once and had really enjoyed it because he was kind and interesting, and that he had a great sense of humor, with a shameless roaring laugh. Hearing that made me happy, and I considered it a gift, one that I shared with my mom.

Now, as the time rolls on, it has been more than three years since he died, I’m starting to get a handle on what his legacy means to me. I am a lot like my dad, in many of the good ways and some of the ways I once believed were bad. I’m a little more passionate and a lot more dogmatic and single-minded at times. I enjoy learning and always have. I love laughing and can be enthusiastically joyful, a lot of the time.

But when I perceive a lack of fairness, it hurts me and I want to lash out and crush those who are slighting others. And I know this part isn’t working for me and has never. It isn’t helpful because it manufactures a sense that someone is wrong. My dad was able to identify that things were not right, but he was also able to understand that there was a good reason why someone would treat others unfairly. It wasn’t acceptable to do nothing about it, but crushing out of existence the perceived wrong doer wasn’t his way. And I have no problem admitting that I was wrong to view his approach as a weakness. It’s a strength to be able to allow people to be who they are and to try and work with them to change a situation from win:lose to win:win. He understood the important of other people and made the effort to get along with them.

This is a part of his legacy that I am going to try to genuinely emulate. Not just to keep my dads alive, but to keep alive the legacy piece of everyone who came before me who made this their way.

The Habit Of “No”

Human beings tend to keep doing what they have been doing for a number of reasons.

And the main reason why we continue things is because doing them before helped to keep us alive - IF someone is still alive, their behaviors and strategies are effective. But this raises a question, “did the behavior actually contribute to survival?” Put differently, “what role did an individual behavior or action play in ensuring survival?”

After some consideration it usually becomes clear that the survival assumption constitutes false evidence or a false justification as the behavior played no impact on survival. This isn’t to say that there is not a valid reason for doing something it just says that there physical survival was never a factor in the decision to do something or to not do it. It was the thing that we did before and it worked, so we do it again, and again.

The impact of the survival hypothesis is that we don’t spend much time considering why we make a decision because doing so requires energy and time. It is imaginable that at some point in human history taking too long to act would have meant death. These deaths would have removed most of the considerers from the gene pool. Those who remain might act more quickly. They’ll be able to find reasons to justify their actions. They’ll  - keeping things exactly as they are. This evidence collection is automatic and requires little conscious effort, so we go along with it believing everything we think. When we get used to doing this, we become increasingly inclined to continue doing it. When this becomes our habit, our immediate reply to a request is to say no simply because doing what we are doing is keeping us safe. The outcome is that we close-off to new experiences for no valid reason. We just got lazy with our thinking.

Imagine there is a moment of time right between when you think no and say no. In this moment you’ll be able to notice the direction and intention of your thinking. Does it know exactly why you want to say no and is that reason compelling enough to say no? It probably isn’t a habit when there is a good reason. But if your mind is searching for reasons to justify saying no it could be that the habit of no is presenting itself. The difference between these two ways of thinking is that the first knows why and says no while the second says no and hunts for why.

Habits hunt for reasons for their existence when your mind is in a non-critical state. Until logic and higher level thinking are applied to a thought stream, the habit will find its justification quickly and consistently. But it doesn’t have to. When you pay attention to your automatic / initial thoughts you’ll notice that you become more aware of them as they unfold. You can then take as much time as you want before you say anything. It is going to take some mental energy to make this happen, but it is energy well spent for the boost your self awareness and control.

Is saying “no” one of your habits? In some cases it is. It’s really easy to say no because it allows you to continue to do what you are currently doing; which by virtue of the fact that you are alive and doing it, is safe. Because what you are presently doing is safe is rarely a good reason to avoid doing other things. Unless there is a real reason to not do something, maybe you should be trying other things out. Remember, there was a time when you could do practically nothing and you’ve come a long way from that point.

“Systems” - A Dangerous Buzz Word In The Fitness Field

Systems are sales tools and things used by business owners to maximize profit. There is nothing innately wrong with them or with how they are used but we should be upfront about what they are and why they are being created.

Sales people need to be confident that what they sell will be what is delivered to the customer. The creation and implementation of a system gives them the certainty that their promises will be honored. In this area, they are a tool used to eliminate doubt thus freeing-up those resources to focus on making the deal.

Business owners love them because they ensure a baseline level of service that allows them to hire almost anyone to perform a role within a company thus lowering the cost of labour. The benefit to profit from hiring less skilled and less talented staff is huge given that highly skilled talent demands fair compensation.

“Systems” is a buzz word that triggers an automatic response within people. Using it will effectively lower resistance in potential customers and instills a sense of confidence in what they are buying.

Many of the big automakers focused on systems. This allowed them to sell millions of cars and trucks that had defects some of which ended up killing and injuring people. It allowed them to remain unresponsible for the outcome because their system had a flaw. What some would consider negligence can be perceived as a growing pain. Regardless of what it is called, it was for profit taking and it allows for inferior cars and services to be delivered.

In a service industry that calls itself personal training, systems have very little place because they are impersonal and ensure that the cookie cutter approach is upheld while the talent gets a smaller cut of the profits and the customer gets only what the system dictates.

Again, nothing wrong with this so long as seller, business owner and customer are aware of their role and what is happening.


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