It’s Not Always Them…Sometimes It’s Your Fault

Is it the barbell’s fault?  Is it the barbell’s fault that you cannot lift it?  I am being serious, who is to blame for the simple fact that there are some loads that you or I cannot lift.  Is it the barbells fault that it is heavy, annoying, frustrating?

We don’t blame the barbell for being heavy, we don’t blame the barbell for failing to lift it…it is what it is.  It is a bar with some weights on it.  We have a choice when it comes to adjusting those weights, but we cannot change what it is at its core.  It will always be the same.  And for most of us, we will always like it heavy and challenging.

But the people in our lives do not get that same consideration.  The people in our lives are just that, people.  More than likely they will not change over time, but somehow we allow them to cause frustration and chaos in our lives.  Maybe, just maybe the problem is within us.  Maybe we should know ourselves a little bit better.  (***DISCLAIMER – some people are jerks…cut those people out of your life and move on…back to the lesson)

hardest battle

I learned this the hard way this week.  I was sitting in my office working on a project…focused…charging along…breaking through barriers and making progress.  Then it happened.  That magical moment when my phone starting blowing up. Texts, phone calls, emails, messages…everythhing.  And every person that was trying to get a hold of me, I felt myself getting angry with.  I wanted to scream…you know I am at work…can’t you just save this for a time you know I am free and not working.  Don’t you know that I work too…just because you finally have time to ask these questions…you want me to drop everything and respond.  *DANGER* *DANGER* *DANGER*

Then I started driving home…angry, upset, day ruined!  But then I took a couple deep breathes and looked inward for a moment and replayed that moment in my day.  I realized one simple truth.  I am not a multi-tasker and in fact multi-taskers can annoy me (because I am not one and it is not my style).  I am a focus on one task, complete it, then move on and those interruptions pulled me from that.  The person calling, texting, messaging did not intentionally interrupt me (and if they did…well, I will give you the benefit of the doubt).  They were not trying to upset me with the questions and requests.

We all need to take these moments in life and look and answer the question “who am I?” We have to be able to answer about what makes us tick and who are we really.  We all get frustrated when others try and change us, but we expect people to change for us.  If we step back and accept who we are and how we operate then we can make the allowances and changes that we need to in our own lives to be successful and have healthy relationships.

Just like we cannot change the barbell, we cannot change people.  BUT we all control the effort we put into bettering ourselves.  We can train to get stronger, leaner, smarter, better writers, better readers, better artists, have better relationships and someday we will move that barbell.  Why?  Because we changed and became the person that we needed to be in order to succeed…not because the barbell changed!

The Problem With Titles…

Or Why Managers Aren’t Leaders!

I recently spent six weeks going through a program that was devoted to being a leader and developing leadership strategies.  The goal was to teach each of us that were participating that we are, in fact, leaders.  The goal was to help us all see that we have roadblocks in our minds that keep us from accepting the truth that by simply showing up and accepting our nomination to this program we are indeed leaders.  We simply have to get out of our own way and accept it.

It has been a few weeks and I have slowly been processing my way through all the information that was taken in.  I have been weeding through the parts that resonate with me and fighting with those parts that do not.  Today, I want to share with you a small piece that I have learned.  In order to follow me down this particular rabbit hole, you will have to accept the following statement:

Leadership is a quality that can be developed and job titles (aka management) are simply places on an org chart.

For most that is not a hard thing to accept, but many people also have an expectation that managers are leaders.  Until we have to work for them.  Until we are their employees.  Then we discover that they are not leaders, but merely someone holding a title that is above you.  In the best case scenario, you find that your manager is, in fact, a leader.  How does one find this unicorn?  What qualities does this mythical manager possess?

While, I think that there are several small pieces that play into the answer to that question, the biggest piece, in my opinion, is that leaders pay absolutely no attention to their title or the titles of others.  And here is a little exercise to hammer that point home.

As part of my time at this particular leadership training, we spent a day out at a ropes challenge course.  It was our second week of training and so we really did not know a whole lot about the people we were there with, outside of what we could remember from the week before.  No one had distinguished themselves as being a “big cheese” or of higher stature than anyone else.  The president of our company was not walking amongst us and my boss was not in attendance.  We were simply people there to learn about being better leaders.

Throughout the day, we were presented with different challenges to solve.  Some were physical in nature, others were mental.  We solved them one by one and progressed through the day.  All the while never once looking to someone to manage the situation.  We never stopped and said, “Who is going to be the boss on this problem?”  We simply all looked at the problem, presented solution and LISTENED to each other.  Where we sat on an org chart was irrelevant.  What our salary was, mattered nothing.  Our team did not have a hierarchy and so we were able to speak to one another as equals.

So how do you and your team solve problems?  Do you solve them like that?  Or do they look more like what happened once I returned to life in the “real” office?  Something like this.

There is a problem, we hold a meeting with everyone sitting around a table.  The problem is thrown out onto the table and one of the following situations plays out:

  • Option A – The “boss” asks for feedback and most people are too afraid to speak up.  If someone does speak up, the idea is shot down for whatever reason or maybe it is heard out, but there is little support because the “boss” did not give his or her stamp of approval.  The person brave enough to speak feels left out there dangling and contemplates not speaking up again.
  • Option B – The “boss” simply tells everyone how they are going to solve it and what each person is going to do.  No one bothers to think or correct him or her as they know that everything they say will simply be shot down and the “boss” is going to get his or her way.  End of discussion.

Those are the most common situations that seem to come up unless you have that unicorn of a supervisor or manager or team leader.

So what gives?  What makes solving challenges out at the ropes course happen so effortlessly and then the problems back in the office so impossible.

It is the notion or belief that org chart hierarchy is the same as increased knowledge and leadership ability.  There is a notion that as you move up the org chart, you gain and possess all the knowledge of those beneath you and that is a myth.  The title and position give you nothing and that is why, as I digest all the information from my training, it is my hope to not concern myself with titles and concern myself with inputs.

I need the inputs of all those parties involved and all parties affected by the problem we are trying to address.  The best thing that could happen in your job is the removal of this idea that someone is the boss and an acceptance that we are all part of a team.  Then the leader will make sure that the team will stay on task, focused, and working towards a goal, but not be set in their ways on a path to that goal.  They just keep the goal in focus.

Promotions…Who Should You Reward?

I recently saw the following information pop into my social media stream:

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As someone who has run a business, I hate these kinds of promotions and ads.  I want your opinion on this as well.  I will lay out my thoughts, and then welcome your comments back, if you are so inclined.

First, I understand full well that as a business you always need to be looking to bring in more clients and more business.  I get that, I just don’t think that this is the way that you should do it.  Let me explain my thought process:

  1. The primary reason that I do not like this style is that you alienate your current customer.  You treat them poorly and demonstrate that since you are already a customer, you have no value to us as a business.  These are the people that have already committed to you and your service.  They should be who you are taking care of first and foremost.  By always offering things to people who switch teams, you are sending a clear message of neglecting those that have been with you for a prolonged period of time.  I would rather see a company find a way to constantly reward longevity…not newness.
  2. The second reason, I don’t like this, is a direct result of reason 1.  When you do something like this, your competitor will probably do something similar and now you lose a large portion of those customers that you neglected.  That one is pretty simple.
  3. Reason number 3…I agree with Seth Godin when he talked about people being highly unlikely to switch tribes.  That is to say, if someone likes the way Gym A operates, it will be hard to convince them that Gym B’s way is better.  People do not generally switch tribes.  So don’t go after getting people to switch just because, give your current tribes more reasons to stay.  Let them talk to the people of other tribes and help make your argument.

So there you have my rant for the day in a nutshell.  Instead of spending your time, energy and resources on converting people, help them take notice of how much you reward those people who stick with you.  If you are a telecommunications company offer a 5% discount every year that they remain with you.  If you are a gym owner, give them a free private session for every year they have been with you or a discount on their rate.  Get them talking about how well they are taken care of.  The more they talk, the more others will listen and want to be treated that way…then your tribe might just be a little more appealing.

Own Your Successes!

I recently wrapped up a 6 week program on leadership.  It was an intense time of paradigms being broken and minds being expanded.  As we reached the conclusion of the training there was a graduation and chance to invite a couple people to celebrate.

I did not want to invite anyone.  I shy away from praise, spotlight, and more importantly success.  I feel guilty when I accomplish something.  I constantly feel like I need to hide the fact that I am growing, making progress and being successful.  Somehow, I feel like celebrating my success diminishes or limits someone else’s.

This happens in many areas of life as well as in the gym.  It happens.  It seems like when you make progress or get better, we can pull ourselves into a shell of silence or downplay the growth out of fear that someone else will feel inferior.  We downplay that we have lost 5 pounds because someone else might be struggling in that area.  We downplay a new personal best in our lifts because they are not as good as someone else’s or because we do not want to make someone else feel bad.

It’s time to stop!

We worked hard to be successful and we have a right to own that success and be proud of it.  We made decisions that allowed us to succeed and that might mean sacrifices were made (I’m looking at you cookie cake).  We deserve to be proud of ourselves and we should invite people into that moment.  Not because we are egotistical or gloating, but because we have accomplished something and we deserve to share that with people that want to celebrate us!

We are always told to learn from our failures and our faults.  It’s time to do the same thing from our successes.  Learn something, share what you learned and keep learning.  Share the sacrifices made to be successful and learn that you can continue on the path to success.  Learn how hard growth really is, and share the challenges with others, so they can know they are not alone.  Celebrate your success and share your success to others know that it is possible.

And once you have celebrated, file it away, set a new goal and repeat the process.  In the world, people want to be happy, they want to be asked to enter joyous moments just as much as they want to support you in the challenges and struggles.  Give them the opportunity and allow yourself to be happy with your own success…celebrate those moments…use them to motivate you for bigger and better things!


If You Aren’t Willing to Be First…

I was sitting at my desk today looking through emails, reading some training articles and seeing the same thing over and over again.  8 ways to guarantee six pack abs, 5 ways to lean up, 10 tips to better training, and the lists go on and on and on.  I don’t have a magic list that is the “Barbell Poet Miracle Success Plan”.

Sorry, doesn’t exist.  Why?  Because my training methods put a whole lot of emphasis on one thing and one thing only.  You leading You!  If you are not willing to put yourself first then don’t expect anyone to follow you!

This is one thing that is slowly growing on my pet peeve list.  People want to follow everyone else in this world and then wonder why no one wants to follow them or help them move up in the world.  You have got to be willing to be at the front of the line.  Take some risks, make some mistakes and learn about yourself and life.

If you train with me, you better have some goals.  You better at least know why you are walking in the front door of the gym.  If it is simply a matter of being healthy, then please work on having a definition of what healthy means to you.  If you cannot come in with the mentality that “I am in charge of how far I can go…” then I really cannot help you get anywhere at all.


Because you don’t want it.  You don’t know what you want!

You have to be willing to lead yourself to the goals that you want to achieve.  Then as you reach them others will want to follow you because you have a purpose and a passion for something.  You are not just one of the crowd, or one in a long line of followers.  People seldom say, I want to know what the guy who finished fifth did or even want to know what the guy who finished second did…they want to know what the guy or girl who finished first did.

Are you willing to be first and lead?  Are you willing to step outside of the comfort and conformity that is all those in the line?  Find a goal that you want to achieve and lead yourself there…you might be surprised at who comes along on the journey!

Patch Adams and Training

I am a big fan of the movie “Patch Adams”.  That is my go to, having a bad day movie.  It inspires me to think outside the box, to focus on a solution and to always focus on the person.

But there is something else that we all need to take away from this show.  That is the simple ability to break free from the molds.  We don’t, and shouldn’t look like every other coach out there.



I sit back and look at everyone trying to mimic or be just like someone else.  We watch as someone else has been successful or implemented some other program, and you think that the easiest path to success is to copy them.  And I am here to say, don’t.

I love Patch Adams because he was true to himself.  He desired to help people and thought that being a doctor was the best path.  He wasn’t afraid to tell the psychologist that he sucks at listening to people and helping them.

I’m not encouraging all of you strength coaches to go out into the world, telling other coaches that they suck, but rather…stay true to who you are as a person and as a coach!  Sometimes that means that you will be on the outside of the norm…who cares?

Are you getting results?  Are your athletes (clients) happy with their progress and development?  Are you able to look at yourself in the mirror and night and be proud of that person?  And more importantly:

Will you be able to be that person again tomorrow, and the next day?

I appreciate Patch Adams because he was himself, he would not change and eventually, in spite of it all, people ended up needing to learn from him and wanting to know his methods.

Be yourself…Learn the facts, learn other methods, but implement them your way and own it!

Asking Yourself the Right Question(s)…Retention

I follow some groups that are devoted to running a gym and a gym business.  At least once a week, the following question or some slightly different variation of it comes across the wire:

I have a coach that is now going to open their own gym, should I let them continue to coach with me or let them go now?

What follows that is usually a justification on how great a coach they are or fear that they are going to poach existing members and take them to this new gym.

But from where I sit, I think that is completely the wrong question that you need to be asking as someone who owns or operates a gym.  The correct question that you need to be asking yourself is not about whether to continue allowing them to coach, but rather what is causing them to want to open their own gym (in the same town…if they are moving out of town that is a completely different story and you should be willing to help them be successful!)

But step back and think about it…

Something is happening that is causing this person to want to take on a huge burden and millions of challenges to do the same thing that they are doing now.  They will now have to deal with leases, employees, insurance, taxes, marketing, client retention, and the list goes on and on and on…

So what is going on that is causing someone to want to do this?

Are they doing it because they think that they can make more money that way?  Is that their motivation, then I ask what are you as an owner doing to give your coaches the opportunity to earn the money that they need to be successful and content.  Are they being given opportunities to make income through developing specialized classes, private training, weekend classes?  How does one earn bonuses or what incentives are there?

Do they just not like the way that the programming is and believe that they can do better?  How can this be addressed?  Do you as the lead programmer inform them as to what is going on and the goals of your cycles?  Are they being kept in the loop adequately?

What most of it will boil down to is what principles guide how things are done and how informed and included is your staff.

I am not here to tell you how to do things, unless you want me to…but to think differently.

Because you have to start to realize that retention of your coaches and the building of your team is just as valuable as retaining your clients.  Your coaches are going to know about the ins and outs of your clients and when they walk away, they don’t have to say a word about coming to the other gym…people will follow.  And that is because we are in the business of caring.  We are in the business of betterment of life, and we are in the business of making people want to trust us because we care.

That includes working with our coaches and anyone who works for us.  So, by that, I encourage anyone to look into and make sure that they are leading their team and not just managing it.  Don’t run your place based on fear, but rather by putting in the work and showing your team that they matter to you.  Give them the opportunities to excel and grow.

For a great place to start, search youTube for Simon Sinek, read his blog or order one of his books.  If you want to see yourself and your business be successful you have to invest in your people first and wait a little longer to see the rewards.  You have to be the patient one.  Build up your team, give them opportunities for growth and then see what happens!



Criticism…Actions Speak Louder than Words



The above screenshot on criticism is courtesy of Seth Godin.  It came into my inbox this morning and it actually came at a great time.  I am a part of several groups that deal with working in the fitness industry.  The biggest thing that I see, is there is a lot of ego in the industry.  There is a lot of criticism out there.  I am sure that this is true no matter what the field of study though.

I am sure that it happens in every business every day.  It will come down to the smallest level and probably happens around every water cooler there is.  We criticize and puff ourselves up to be better than whomever or whatever it is that we desire to criticize.

As athletes we critique everyone else’s form, we debate their time on a workout, whether they really lifted that weight or just put the score down.  And we do not even have to talk about or discuss the issue of rep shaving or miscounting.

Then we move beyond that.  We move into the realm of being a coach or running a business.  We form opinions of other coaches and other businesses.  We talk about how we are so much better because of x,y, and z.  Better equipment, more hours, more certifications…the list goes on and on and on.

I want to throw out a novel suggestion today.  Let your work ethic and the results you get be your criticism.  That’s it.  Let your life be what others see and not your words.  Don’t criticize everything you see around you just be better, daily.  If you don’t like a rep shaver, put in the work day in and day out.  Just get better.  If you want to go the extra mile, become someone who helps that other person get better.  Offer to count their reps, or lift with them so they know the score on the board is legit.  You don’t have to call the out and be the loudest voice, sometimes you have to be a small voice that just wants to see everyone get better.

Same for your business and those situations.  Run your business in a way that others take notice and want to emulate you and your success.  Don’t spend all your time talking down the others around you.  Step up and be an example.

It’s time to turn down or turn off all the useless noise that is complaining and pointing fingers.  If you are willing to help someone correct the problems they are facing then go for it.  It you just want to talk and spread the disease of criticism please keep moving.  I am focused on better things!

How To Be An Expert

As a coach and as someone who has worked as a manger of a business and several departments, there is this common notion that in order to be successful you have to make yourself an expert in your field.  That is to say that for me to be successful, I have to be an expert on training people to get the results they want from training and in the field of business or team management.

So how does one become an expert in their desired field?  How do you become the voice and the man or woman that people seek out.  It probably is not as difficult as you think.

First and foremost be yourself.  You can read all the books out there that deal with success.  You can read blogs like this one, but find a way to incorporate the ideas that resonate with you into your own unique voice.  You are not me, you are not Gary V, or Simon Sinek, but if you believe in their principles and philosophies learn how to give them your own voice.  Learn how to incorporate their principles into your overall process and goals.  No matter what else you do with the rest of the items put on this list, if you cannot be true to yourself, then you will be setting yourself up to fail.

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A close second is stick with what you know.  This is especially true if you are a coach or a trainer.  If you know how to get someone the results they want using nothing but pushups, situps, and pullups.  Then focus on getting them those results using only those elements.  You can grow on your own and then implement those elements as you get better, but stick with what is getting the results your clients need.  The same holds true with running a business.  If you motivate your team by getting out there on the floor, rolling up your sleeves and putting in the work, then do that.  Don’t try to make yourself into someone people are afraid of, if that is not you.  If you are not a hard nosed, take no prisoner type, then do not try to make that your leadership style.  Stick with the style of leadership you know.

The third piece of advice ties in nicely with item number two and that is never stop learning.  Even as you grow into being an expert in your field, you had better never think that you know it all.  There is always someone who knows more or can shed some lights on the areas where you are weak.  When we stop moving and allow ourselves to become stagnant, others pass us by.  No matter what we do or what we are trying to be a expert in, there is always a need to better ourselves.  There is always a need to take time to focus on ourselves.  If we get better, than we are better able to lead and serve our clients or teams.  Through doing this, you also set the example for anyone who might be watching you on your team.  When you are constantly pushing, constantly getting better, then they know that you care!

Another critical piece of becoming an expert and admitting you make mistakes.  In this day and age of political correctness, please pardon the term, but if we desire to be known as the best and an expert then it is imperative that we “man up” to mistakes and then share the lessons we learned from them.  We cannot simply sit back and act like we have always been perfect.  Becoming an expert means embracing the good and the bad.  Telling the story about how one time, we pushed someone a little too hard and that caused us to watch closer.  Owning our mistakes means that we are concerned about growing and being better.  It means that we are in the game and not just a bystander on the sidelines.

The final piece of advice, I would give to anyone looking to be the expert in their area, is no matter what…have fun!  Enjoy what it is you are doing.  If you don’t care about training methodologies or helping people live healthier lives, then do not try to be that expert.  If you don’t care about helping others to be leaders, then get out of that space.  Find what it is that you enjoy and grow in that space.  When it stops being fun, give yourself a gut check before you quit though.  There are hard days, there are bad days, there are days where quitting is easy, but make sure that you are doing it because you have truly lost the desire to be there.  You can find your fun again.

These five pieces are just a starting point.  A bonus sixth, don’t be afraid to share your gifts and knowledge.  If you have such a passion about what you do that you cannot even think about keeping that information in, then you are probably on the right path.  Enjoy what you do, strive to always be better, and share your knowledge with the world.  You will get there in no time!



Don’t Be An Anorexic Hermit Crab!

I have been listening to another great book on mindset and learning.  It is written by the chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, yes the one that “Searching for Bobby Fisher” was based on.  I am only about 4 chapters in and it is great to listen to how he breaks down learning.  There have been several “aha!” moments in the book and many, “glad my parents raised me that way” moments.

art of learning

As I was driving today though, he made a statement that just sticks!  We all deal with it.  We are all afraid of growing and getting out of our comfort zones.  He simply stated that those people are:

anorexic hermit crabs!

I actually tuned out for a minute as I let that phrase sink in and what it really entails.  There are several problems with being an anorexic hermit crab.  The first and that we have a fear of growing and taking on new challenges.  We desire to stay comfortable.  We are not willing to seek out a new environment that we will in fact thrive in…so what do we do?

We HARM ourselves!  No one else gets hurt by us not pushing to a new home or by trying to find a new comfort zone.  Sure, it might take a little time to find the next perfect shell, but recognize that we are growing and need the space.  Recognize that the small shell that we used to call our comfort zone cannot hold what we are becoming.

We needed the added space and we are at a point where we can carry the new load on our shoulders.  This is true in life, in business and in lifting.  As a coach, mentor, husband, and father, I want to see you get better and grow.  I want you to have a passion to always be on the lookout for a bigger home because the current one is just getting too small.

Every challenge you accept is a new shell, a new home and a new opportunity for growth!  The current one you have might be comfortable for now, but what are you depriving yourself of to stay there?  What challenges are you shying away from just so that you can remain right where you are?  Why are you keeping yourself from achieving your true potential in EVERYTHING YOU DO?

Take a moment, look at yourself and the mirror and vow to never be an anorexic hermit crab!