Archive for the 'Personal Training In The 21st Century' Category

An Example Of A Supplement That Takes Advantage Of The Regression To The Mean

The following is a summary of the directions from an immune boosting supplement:

Take two tablets every two hours for 12 hours, then take one tablet three times daily between meals for five days.

From the best I can tell, you start taking it once you feel a cold coming on or you believe that you are getting sick. This is probably going to be late on day one or on day two.

Let’s do the math:

There are 30 tablets in the bottle. One the first day you begin taking that tablets, you consume 12 to 14 tables depending upon how you interpret the directions. Every day there after, you consume 3 tablets per day for 5 days, that is 15 tables. You’ll have 1-3 remaining and will consume tablets for 6 days.

There is a big range in the length of time a cold will last - some as short as 3 days, others as long as three weeks. There is a reported average of 7 days.

What does this mean? Well, I don’t know. If two people get a cold on the same day, the one who takes the tablets will take the last tablet on the same day as the last day of the other persons cold.

It is entirely possible that the person who takes the supplement would have recovered by day 7 anyway; assuming that they are an average person, given that the regression to the mean.

If only there was a way to test the effectiveness of the supplement…. oh, wait, there is. In fact, it would be fairly easy to create an experiment to test the effect of the supplement vs. a placebo and, given the proprietary nature of the supplement, it would serve the company well to perform a high quality study. If they submitted it to a peer reviewed journal and the study was published, the results would provide evidence that their product worked. After that there would be more test and if the findings were repeated, we would have a real treatment for the cold.

To the best of my knowledge, that study has not been performed, or if it has, it hasn’t been published. Either way, that is revealing because colds cost billions of dollars a year and while not worlds biggest health problem, they do impact a lot of people in the western world where most of the wealth is. There is a lot of money to be made from creating something that actually works.

And sadly, there’s a lot of money being made through selling things that claim to work yet do absolutely nothing.

Regression To The Mean - How to Sell BullShit

A few years ago I was getting a cold, or at least I had some of the symptoms that I thought were indicative of getting a cold. And it was a reasonable conclusion because I hadn’t been sleeping very well and was working a lot. I mentioned that I though I was getting sick to a peer and he asked “do you have a cold now or do you think you might be getting one?”

I replied with “I think I might be getting one.”

“Okay, take this” and he handed me a small bottle of pills, 15 of them with the instructions take 2 now and 2 every 2 hours until they are gone. I wondered why there was an odd number of pills but did as he instructed. And they worked. I never got a cold. This was amazing, I didn’t get sick and it only cost me $16 - I got the friend price, other people were buying the cold prevent for $26.

The next day I asked him what he would have recommended had a cold already taken hold and he showed me a different pill bottle. It was the same size and had the same instructions but a different name. This was a cold cure.

You can imagine just how grateful I was, a month later, when I started to feel sick again, that he was willing to sell me more. This time the cold took hold in-spite of me consuming another bottle of the cold prevent. So I bought a bottle of the cold cure, it was more expensive but I got the friend price. I remained sick. The $16 prevent and the $20 cure didn’t do anything.

So what had happened, why did it work the first time and nothing worked the second time?

The explanation is very interesting and it reveals as much about human psychology and as it does about the tricks charlatans use to take your money.

Three things were at play. First off, I trusted my friend. We had been friends for more than 10 years and I believed that he knew things. Even though I know better, I valued his opinion and believed that he wouldn’t take advantage of our friendship to help sell supplements. Next, I saw a pattern between taking the cold prevent pills and getting better. Human beings evolved to notice patterns and well find them even when they do not exist. Considering that I did other things on the same day that I took the first bottle of cold prevent pills that may have impacted my internal environment - ate more vegetables, ate more fruit, went to bed earlier, watched some funny cat videos on youtube, etc…. - I made a conscious decision to link the pills with the outcome. Finally, maybe I wasn’t getting a cold in the first place. Maybe I was having an allergic reaction to something in the air, maybe I ate some food that caused cold like symptoms. Or maybe my body was able to fight off the cold on its own and I wasn’t ever going to get sick.

It’s the final thing that is most important here. The human body is an amazing thing and it is fantastic at fighting off infections, illness and the things that cause disease. We’ve evolved to be self healers and our immune system just does its job, without us asking it to do so and without much outside influence. In most cases and with most people, the body fights off illness / sickness and disease and returns to normal. The further away your state happens to be from your normal state, the more likely it is to return to its normal state in the near and immediate future.

This tendency for things to return to normal is called regression to the mean, when paired with our tendency to see patterns that don’t exist, contributes to the formation of erroneous connection between two unrelated things. The cure my friend sold me was worthless. I was going to feel better the following day anyway. I could have taken sugar pills or nothing at all and the impact would have been the same. I know this because the cure didn’t work the second time and in the months that followed, many of the other people who were sold the cold prevent got sick.

Just because two things happen around the same time does not mean that they are connected in any way whatsoever. The people were going to get better anyway, that is the nature of a regression towards the mean. And it is why anecdotal reports are not considered evidence.

Fixing The Symptom, As If It Will Help

Someone asked me why I tend not to gain body fat, even when I eat way too much food and take time off from working out. I don’t know why, it’s a complicated question. I have a fast metabolic rate, my body temperature tends to stay stable although I get colder in the winter than many of my peers and my blood levels tend to be in the nominal range. These are observations, not reasons. They are symptoms of something that may be the reason why, but they are NOT the reason why.

This is a silly example of a major challenge in health, wellness, medicine, any field that relies of research to prove that things work or don’t.

Let’s unpack some more. IF someone was to look at my blood levels and make the assumption that all people who have levels similar to mine will get the same results I get, they may progress this line of thinking and make the call that lowering LDL and raising HDH cholesterol will create an internal environment that makes one resistant to fat gain. It’s an easy leap to make because human beings have evolved to see patterns even when a pattern doesn’t exist. It also feels like it could correct and when we look at the cholesterol levels of lean or skinny people, and obese people, there is a trend for the levels to fall within a range for the lean / skinny people and outside of that range for obese people. And the obesity problem has been solved! If we’re able to get an obese persons cholesterol levels into the nominal range they will become lean / skinny.

Except it is bullsh!t. Changing ones cholesterol levels through medication does nothing to their level of body fat and it may not do much of anything other than lower their cholesterol level. This example is simply used as an illustration and I am not implying that taking medication to lower cholesterol will directly impact body fat levels.

The problem with using a change in a biological marker as an indication that something will have a real world outcome (other than just a change in the biological marker) is that is relies on correlation vs. causation. There are 1000’s of things that cause changes in biological markers but have no impact on the thing they are trying to impact. Imagine, for example, the notion that insulin sensitivity is inversely correlated to increases in fat storage. While it may be true that some people who are obese have lower insulin sensitivity than people who are not obese, any intervention that improves insulin sensitivity will not necessarily lower ones body fat level. Adding body fat and losing body fat are a lot more complicated than just altering insulin sensitivity and altering levels of body fat is, for most people, very challenging in one direction or the other.

I have a tough time gaining body fat and little difficulty dropping it. But I also don’t really enjoy eating a lot of the things that help people gain fat. I don’t feel very good when I eat a lot of sugar and I am prone to chest pains when I overeat in general. All you can eat restaurants are no longer the source of gluttonous joy that they were when I was younger.

The opposite is true as well. I have worked with many people who have no difficulty gaining body fat because they have no trouble eating large amounts of the foods that promote fat storage. They don’t experience the negative side effects of eating too much of these foods that I do.

I have little doubt however that if I was to spend a year not moving much while force feeding myself, or they were to spend a year eating and doing the things that have been shown to burn off extra body fat, we would switch places.

So what am I getting at and what should you take our of this post?

Biological markers or surrogate endpoints are useful in researching things that you cannot ethically control for. It would be unethical and immoral to perform a study that used death as the measure of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of an intervention. In these cases, biological markers / surrogate endpoints are used when strong correlations have been demonstrated between the marker and the real world outcome that is being investigated. Imagine creating a double blind randomized placebo control group designed study to measure the effects of alcohol and driving deaths. While the study would be very simple to design and could yield high quality data, it wouldn’t be ethical, moral or legal to get people drunk and let them drive their cars around. In this case, the surrogate endpoint that is used is reaction time in a task that is performed while sitting down given the correlation between slowed reaction time and car accidents. This way no one is put at unnecessary or unreasonable risk.

Biological markers have a place in research and are not necessarily bad or indicative of a poorly designed or performed study. BUT if they are unnecessary, if the real life outcome can be measured without undo harm and a surrogate endpoint was used, be weary of the conclusions that are drawn. More importantly, be cautions of how these studies are used as evidence that product / compound / molecule X is effective at causing an impact on something. A good example is antioxidant supplementation as a way reduce cancer risk. It is true that people who have a diet that is high in vegetables tend to have lower incidents of cancer and that vegetables are high in antioxidants. But the studies testing the effectiveness of antioxidant pills indicate that they are not helpful and in some instances increase the incidences of cancer.

By treating the symptom, low levels of antioxidant consumption, you achieve nothing. It may be the whole food that is helpful, it could be another lifestyle factor entirely, but most likely it is a complex combination of things that make the difference. Consume the science directly or with a more critical mind, and do not accept someone elses interpretation of the conclusions, particularly if they sell the solution.

Effective Progressives Are Not Iconoclasts

Not all progressives are iconoclasts, and maybe that’s why they are so effective at causing change.

I have two mentors who hold progressive views about the fitness industry, neither is an iconoclast. One owns a gym and works hard with his business partner to create the best gym around. The other doesn’t have anything to do with the fitness industry other than talk to me about what is going on, in an effort to help me unpack why working within the industry makes me feel so off course‎.

What is fantastic about both of them is their ability to see what is occurring without setting about fixing it. The gym owner works to make his piece how they know it should be. The other guy just states his observations and how these occurrences may be impacting me. The beauty about their approaches is that they come at the topic from a place that nothing is wrong, and this keeps free any resources that would have been directed toward ‎fixing that which is viewed as broken or wrong.

Complaining about something is an action that will keep you locked in the past, and it is very easy to point out all the things that are wrong with something; the human brain is amazing at finding information that confirms a point of view and it does this automatically, without effort or energy. Unfortunately, problem solving is NOT the opposite of problem finding. It requires creativity, analysis and thinking all of which require effort and tend not to be rewarding along the way, only at the end when the problem is solved. Given this fact, complaining is what comes naturally, doing something about it isn’t.

So give the following a try when you start to notice just how crappy something is:

  • Remove your judgment. Very little is right or wrong, so just assume that everything is as it should be.
  • Become curious as to why it is the way it is. This will open you up and after a few minutes you’ll begin to uncover a growing list of reasons why it could be as it is. Keep this list grow for as long as you can or as long as seems necessary. Doing this is a skill and it may be completely new to you. Too often we “know” why things are the way they are and this knowing keeps us from unpacking the truth.
  • Figure out how you want it to be. This, again, is a skill, one that we may have had taught out of us. Obedience and compliance have historically been more important for society than change and there is a good reason why those who are in positions of influence or power want things to remain as they are. But the skill to identify how things can be better is innate in most of us so put some effort towards reigniting it and once it is fired up, determine how you want things to be.
  • Share your idea with peers, friends, coworkers, whoever. Communicating with others about how things can improve if they are changed is the only way your are going to generate the collaboration needed to progress something into a new realm. It’s also the best way to get feedback and to get new perspectives. This synergistic interaction can add power and wisdom to an idea.
  • Never think that your ways is the best way or the only way. It’s great and necessary to believe in your ideas for progress, but you will continue to refine and grow them only if you remain open to the possibility that they can be refined or grown.
  • Accept and be grateful that you are able to play a small role in the collective wisdom that is human knowledge. You may not answer any of the big problems but your contribution to progress will help someone, and that is a worthwhile endeavor.

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.

“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.

“The Fog Of War” - Eleven Lessons Applied To Personal Training

Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense under JFK and LBJ during the escalation of the war in Vietnam. He had an interesting life with many jobs, but as he got older he opened-up a lot about Vietnam. He had no lust for war and had reservations about it while he was in a position of influence. When he left office in 1968 he had already suggested that the sunk cost of the Vietnam war was too high and that the US should transition their direct fighting role to the South Vietnamese. These suggestions were not accepted and the fighting continued.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 documentary film about Robert McNamara. What is interesting is that he admitted to his mistakes and expressed that he had done some very wrong things while Secretary Of Defense. He learned from his actions and tried to move forward applying these lessons.

From the movie, the 11 lessons are:

    1. Empathize with your enemy
    2. Rationality will not save us
    3. There’s something beyond one’s self
    4. Maximize efficiency
    5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
    6. Get the data
    7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
    8. Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
    9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
    10. Never say never
    11. You can’t change human nature

    When I read the list, I considered how these lessons would apply to personal training. This is possible if we regard war as a partnership between two countries / groups to fight; in a fashion similar to the partnership between client and trainer. Maybe it’s more of a thought exercise and that I have defined the players in a way that allows me to apply the lessons to something that they were never intended to cover. And that is fine, what matters is if something is useful, not that it is right.

    1) If a client wants to change, you’ll benefit from gaining an understanding about how they are suffering and what is motivating them to change their course. While you may not know what it is like to be in chronic pain or how unsatisfying seeing your reflection can be, a moment or two spend considering these things can soften the most dogmatic trainer enough to actually connect with a client to establish the trust needed to guide them towards a more fulfilling path.

    2) Burning more calories than we consume is, for the most part, how people lower their body weight. That is a logical and rational thought. People know this yet it does not help them achieve their fat loss goals. Their choices are based on something less rational so the solution is likely going to flow out of uncovering or addressing the illogical something that is making life unfold as it is.

    3) Often, people will only change for other people. Having enough energy to be an fantastic mother is one of the biggest motivators for a women to begin to exercise and improve her cardiovascular health. Being told that you are 6 months away dying from a heart attack moves people to make the changes they need to in order to enjoy eventually seeing their children graduate, get married and start their own families.

    4) Busy people do not have ample time to do all the things that are needed to quickly achieve optimal health. If they are able to create 3 hours a week to dedicate to to improving it, these three hours need to pack in as much of the most effective movements as possible. Stretching, while important, is not going to improve strength or boost energy as much as lifting weights and increasing movement intensity to elevate heart rate. In this case, there is an enormous opportunity cost to stretching or low intensity exercise.

    5) If your goal represents a 5% change in your body / fitness, you need to dedicate a small amount of time to it. If the goal is a 50% change, proportionately more effort is needed. Both the client and the trainer will spend a lot more time and effort at the beginning that then will towards the end simply because there is less to achieve towards the end.

    6) Great trainers, like great people, make great decisions when they have all the information they need to make a great decision. Without the information to guide your decisions, your solutions will be incomplete and maybe even geared towards solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Listening without judgment is critical for collecting the highest quality data. You’ll remain open to what is actually occurring and this will shape your counsel.

    7) Cognitive biases impact our perceptions in such a way that we see what we believe we see and we find the evidence we need in order to support our beliefs.
    The things we see may not exist at all and the real world is likely somewhat different from how we perceive the real world. Effective personal trainers are always aware that they have the capacity to see things that aren’t there and to believe things that are not true. These keep the trainer open to the world and bring them closer to seeing the truth as it unfolds in front of them.

    8) Progress is a state of constant change and each change may impact the next action. Effective coaches re-examine their clients course regularly and select different actions when they are called for. They know the reason for doing particular things and will not continue coaching something if a better action exists.

    9) Doing good work for your clients is going to mean that you engage the worst parts of their behavior. You may not track in completely on their reason for over eating chips and under eating veggies, but to do the good work as a trainer, you are going to have to engage your clients evil and self destructive actions.

    10) Everything that is possible IS possible and will come to be with the correct strategy and enough hard work. If the possible remains impossible it is simply because the strategy is incorrect or the work has not been done. “Never” is something that is said at the end of life or in the event that someone quits working towards their goal.

    11) You cannot change human nature and as a personal trainer, you need to be aware of your clients nature. In some cases you can just tell someone to stop eating candy and they will stop eating candy - it’s not these peoples nature to eat candy. Regardless, you will need to work with a persons nature to help move them towards their goal. Someone who loves eating candy will probably always love to eat candy so they need to be allowed to eat candy every now and then because their nature will be expressed if repressed for too long, and these unplanned expressions tend to be over the top and extreme. You can work with their nature by asking them to eat good quality food 80% of the time, and have some candy once a week.

    It’s probably fair to say that any good lesson can be applied somewhat to any other area in life. The Fog Of War does present some lessons and growth opportunities for personal trainers.

Your Self-Talk Might Be Holding Them Back

Fitness professionals spend a lot of time talking - they give instructions, coaching, advice and wisdom. They listen to their gut and to their clients say out loud the solutions to the problems their intuition identifies. And it is not just fitness professionals who do this, it is a habit of almost all people. Assume something is wrong, identify what it is and come-up with a solution.

There are many areas in which problems do need to be solved quickly - areas of survival and imminent threat - but the fitness field is not one of these areas.

The fitness industry is an area of choice and not of survival. Those who engage in fitness activities are usually working towards improving the quality of their life, NOT just surviving it. Any work in the area of choice requires a different approach than the innate problem / solution automatic approach all humans exhibit.

When we, as fitness professionals, listen to our guts and point out the problems we perceive in our clients, we kick the achieving of their potential down the road even further. Problem / solution approaches require obedience and eliminate choice.

The better approach is to give the clients choices, many of them, and let them know the ones that will lead them to the life they want to have. Your knowledge comes into play when you educate them about the impact of each of these choices, along with knowing which choices there are to make. You’ll use your skills to coach them when they make a choice and to keep them on track. Your wisdom will be called upon when you frame their previous choices in terms of serving exactly what they were about at the time - they choose the exact amount of movement and to eat the exact amounts and types of foods that made their life exactly what they wanted, needed, and what it was. Your role is to contribute to their self-awareness that they have exactly the power they need to make real the life they need to live, to shine a light on the fact that they have been wielding this power for years and that they can use it whenever they want, to make different choices and to create a new experience. They are free to choose, not because there are right choices or wrong choices, but because there are only choices.

So, when you notice yourself feeling that one of your clients needs to do something different, stop yourself from speaking and consider what is going on for a moment; is your-self talk playing out the role of problem solving when there is no problem to solve or is something else occurring? If you have identified a problem, make sure you adjust your thinking so you voice the choices that exist and leverage the clients own power to make and follow though on the choice THEY make.

Fight the urge to believe that YOU know better and accept that the client knows what is right for them REGARDLESS of what your self-talk is claiming.

Dreams - Meaningless? Maybe, But Something Is Realigning

During my coaching conversations I ask about sleep and dreaming. The answer to these questions are import because they can indicate a lot about a persons level of stress, their readiness for change, and they uncover a lot about unfulfilled expectations. This is not an opinion that is supported by a lot of scientists so I accept that I’m flirting with pseudo-science here.

Sleep is important for recovery. 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is critical for most people to push reset on their brain and bodies, consolidate their daily memories and repair their muscles, joints and nervous systems from their daily activity. If there has been a change in sleeping patterns recently, or if someone isn’t getting sufficient amounts of uninterrupted sleep, we’ll try to unpack the reasons for it. Usually the things that wake someone up in the middle of the night tend to reflect some unresolved conflict or identity issue that needs to be resolved.

I have notices that during times of unrest / upheaval, someone may begin to dream a lot more. After my dad died, I experienced months of vivid clear and memorable dreams the likes of which I had never and have never again experienced. Again, the scientists cannot make any claim about the cause, but anecdotally there seems to be a connection to changes in dream patterns and life or transformational stress.

The key reason why I’ll ask people about there dreams though is to help build rapport and to give my clients the opportunity for some introspection. Last night I had a dream that I was one of the characters in the television show “The Walking Dead”. It felt real and I was filled with a sense of despair that one of the walkers was going to get me. Now I know that it is fiction and has no baring on my real life, so it was a random experience that brain cultivated, right? Well, maybe not. I have been spending a lot of time reading about the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. It is possible that my brain, in an attempt to consolidate some of what I have learned, integrated some of the Ebola information into a freaky dream about zombies and imminent death if they get you.

Since there is no universal mean of dreams, we are free to interpret them however seems most fitting. This is a great way to get people to talk about the things that are on their mind. When they interpret a dream, they tend to do so using the information that is immediate available to them at the time. Often times, they’ll attribute the dream to something that they didn’t speak about before, but that is having a big impact on their progress. Even if the scientists are correct and that dreams are meaningless, the conversation and insight that that the dream analysis can be valuable. Given that the goal of training is to move the client forward, I’ll use any ethical means available.

Cultivate Their Talent, Don’t Groom Leaders

The best leaders / managers I have ever had asked questions, listened to the answers and gave me the freedom to express my vision without judgment. They assumed that I was an expert of my own life and were at my service when I needed guidance, coaching or a chance to talk something out. I’m sure they would have groomed me for their job had I expressed an interest in it and the willingness to work hard to earn the opportunity, but they saw me as an individual with my own hopes and dreams and didn’t view me as future version of them.

I am grateful for this because it is the only fair way to engage staff. It might just be the height of arrogance to assume that other people should follow in your footsteps as opposed to blazing their own trail. Sure, if someone enrolls you in that, pull out all the stops to help them become a carbon copy of you, but it’s a mistake to move forward believing that YOUR way is THEIR way.

When you hire someone for a job, do so with the intention of helping them make the most of that opportunity. Be truthful about what the job entails, what your responsibilities are to them, how they will know that they are performing well and how you will coach them to gain the needed skills to excel at the role. Honoring these commitments is what leaders do. Too often people are hired into a company and left to fend for themselves under the guise that the best people will act like a leader and figure it out. The best people will act like a leader and figure it out, and they’ll leave very quickly. There is little to be gained working for someone who is unwilling to invest the time to figure out what you want or to listen to you tell them what you need. Cultivating talent is a skill and success is not being promoted into leadership or leaving the organization. Success is measured by how much they improve coupled with how well they perform the job they were hired to do.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with promoting someone into a leadership role, nor do I believe that creating a leadership training program is a bad idea. But these things should only occur when there is a leadership role for them to move into. Suggesting that something exists that doesn’t just to get someone to step-up or change their behavior clearly demonstrations a lack of leadership skills. If you can only motivate using dishonesty and false promises you will quickly find that your talent leaves and your business will suffer.