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I’m Not the Expert…I Just Care! Keys to Success

One of the things that you see all over the place as you explore how to be a success in any field is the idea that you have to insert yourself as being the expert in the field.  I work with IT for a large university, mentor small businesses, and in the fitness field as a personal trainer.  I am constantly growing and learning in all areas of relevance so that I can be the best that I can be.

If you are looking to grow your name at a break-neck pace, then inserting yourself as “the expert” might be the way to go.  But you might also be proven to be just another person claiming to know more than they actually do.

One of the things that I emphasize is to provide the most value and knowledge to the people that trust you.  I encourage people to approach their business how they would want to be treated by the companies they choose to work for.  Don’t be like the cable companies and telephone companies setting up deals to get people to switch to you.  Take care of the people that have been with you and reward longevity.

The same holds true with being an expert.  Focus on becoming an expert in your one-on-one relationships.  Focus on providing the value to the people who already have chosen you.  Constantly grow in the areas that they need to develop.  Most of the people that you work with are going to have very specific needs to reach their goals.  Increase your value to them, by focusing your talents and efforts on making sure they know that their areas of concern are the very issues that you are devoting yourself to growing.

Let them know that your goal is to stay on top of the latest trends that will help them with their specific needs.  For example, if someone is looking for a coach or trainer.  I like to sit down with them and ask about what their goals are.  From there, I will talk to them about setting up a basic program for their general health and well-being.  From there, I take pre-existing knowledge and incorporate it into their training to meet their specific goals and explain exactly why I am introducing and training them the way that I do.  The next step is to grow my knowledge base in the areas of helping them and sharing that knowledge with them.

I am not the expert in my space, but I am the expert of my people.  If you want to be successful, you have to give people a reason to stay with you.  That generally comes not from how much you know, but in how you develop your knowledge and make it personal to them.

I see too many people that want to be the expert and expect to have huge client basis just because they have inserted themselves as an expert.  For me, that is not the best path.  If you only have one client, be an expert on their business and their needs.  Give them a reason to talk about you and refer you to others.  Your business will grow if you devote your time to the needs of your clients first and foremost.  They are telling you what is and is not important to know about.  Focus on them, they are the one’s that need your services…and they need it now!

 

Start with a Clean Slate…Goals in the New Year

I write something about goals every year.  Like most people, I see the start of the new year as one of those rare chances to have a clean slate.  That is to say, when the year ticks over to read 2016, I can safely say…

I haven’t messed up this year

And it’s not a lie.  It is not a false statement but rather a challenge to see how long I can maintain that status.  I have learned over the past year one big thing, and that is, that in order to have a strong and successful 2016, I need to prepare for it starting now.  I actually need to start cleaning the slate now.

So how are you going to get prepared for the changes that you want to make in the new year?

First and foremost, I recommend that you go out and buy a journal that is devoted specifically to your goals and the process you are taking to achieve them.  In fact, I recommend you buy a nice journal for this purpose, think of it as investing in your own success.

New journal = New Opportunities.

The second thing that I will recommend is to take a little time getting to know how you tick.  What motivates you, what leads you on a path to success and what doesn’t?  If you are someone like me, then you are going to need to figure out how to build accountability into your goals.  Based on the work of Gretchen Rubin, I am probably a pretty solid “Obliger”.  That simply means that I am more likely to succeed when someone else is counting on me.  I work best with deadlines and clear expectations. If you want to know more about her Four Tendencies, take the quiz or buy the book. (I bought the book on iTunes and listened to it.)

For example, knowing that I am an Obliger, I now post my workouts to my followers in the morning with a statement that I will post my results after I complete it.  I have created a system when I am accountable to them.  If I did not do this, I probably would not work out or I am more prone to allow someone else’s problem cause me to push back my workout.  You can get this same accountability simply by joining a gym with a friend and committing to meet there at the same time.

The biggest thing though is to start taking a little time to know what will most likely make you successful.  Once you know a little bit about how you tick and how you react in situations, you can move into the next phase of breaking the goals down.

I recommend that you take the time to break your goals down into short term, medium term and long term goals. It is a simple method to measure success and accept that changes and accept that success does not happen overnight.  That is a really good start to your goal writing process.  There are several more steps that I recommend, but I will save those until tomorrow.  For now…take the time to:

  • Buy a new Journal
  • Figure out how you tick (what do you need to make successful habits)
  • Write out your goals
  • Break them down into three categories (short-term, medium-term, long-term)

And if you need help…ask!

When Letting Go is Good…Business Basic

It has been a while since I wrote something that is 100% solely focused on running a business.  This tidbit of advice is like many things, powerful, simple but not easy.  It is my attempt to pull in the advice of several of my mentors, Zach Even-Esh, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Bob Burg and John David Mann.  

This piece of advice is simple.

If you want to succeed you have to help people find the right product, even if it is not yours!

The first part of that is pretty straight forward.  And most people would stand up and say…I do that.  I help people find the right product.  Most people chase customers and try to find new and creative ways to get them into their doors.  But most of us tend to live in the delusion that our product is the best and that it meets the needs of all people.  That if we can “sell” them on us, then we are good to go.  We live in the world that a sale is a sale is a sale and we need lots of sales.  But do we really?

All of the people listed above will talk about things such as finding your niche, finding your tribe, building your brand and identity, and providing more value to your customers experience and they all fit together into a nice, neat package that includes being willing to direct your customer to someone else.

Why would anyone say no to a sale?

That is the ultimate question, right?  We all have bills to pay, employees to pay and lights to keep on.  Why in the world would I want to turn someone away?  The answer is that by simply selling to them, you are not selling your true product and they are not getting what they are looking for.  As Seth Godin would say, you are trying to pull someone from another tribe into yours.  This will not end well for you.

If you promise a product that does X, Y, and Z and cannot deliver, guess what your reviews will look like?  What do you think that customer is going to tell their friends about your product or services?  How many people will you lose because you tried to fit that square peg into your round hole?

And from the other angle?

Let’s say you direct that customer to a product that is exactly what they are looking for, how are you viewed?  If you asked that customer for a simple review, don’t you think that they would give you glowing praise because you cared?  What do you think happens when their friends ask them about your business?

Their response, hopefully, transitions from one of, “they told me they did this; but lied” to one of “they were honest with me that their product wasn’t the best for my needs, but cared enough to help me out.  They might be a good fit for you.”  You are still getting positive feedback in spite of not making a sale.  The image and perception of your business is one of caring and not one of making the sell at any cost.

It is hard, though.  It is hard to not get caught up in the quest to make the sell because we all see the looming bills and challenges, but I challenge you to make sure you are growing your tribe the right way.  I encourage you to be willing to say no and help people find the best product for their needs.  I encourage you not to change your standards in order to make a sell.

Care about the customer and sometimes, that means letting the sale go.

#WatchThis

I am a fan of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and goal setting.  I have recently been taking the time to teach the 7 Habits informally to some friends and am willing to do it to anyone that is interested in it.  One of the habits that they talk about is defining a personal mission statement.  As I was discussing this with my group, one of them put me on the spot and asked if I would share mine.

Out of a knee-jerk, quick-witted response, I said:

Watch This!

That was it.  Two words, but then I stepped back and realized that it was actually a fairly, short, sweet, honest and true statement.  For me, that is my personal mission statement for the upcoming year.  It will be simple and follow me around.  #WatchThis.

It is not a statement out of arrogance, but rather one that says, I am not afraid to put my life out there for others to see and ultimately to judge.  I am going to be me, and I am going to welcome people into my life and let them see it.

I am a person that responds to accountability to others and tends to put personal wants on a backburner, so I am creating accountability.  I am taking everyone on this journey and holding myself accountable to al of you.

Watch this means, that I am not going to hide who I am or be afraid to develop things that are 100% me.  I am not going to make someone else’s dream happen while mine sit on the back burner.  I am going to do both!  I am going to help others and myself.  It is time to take that step.

Write a book…#watchThis

Start a business…#watchThis

Complete the Spartan Trifecta…#watchThis

Get Stronger….#WatchThis

Eat Better…#WatchThis

Share my Struggles…#WatchThis

That journey is about to begin…all you have to do is sit back and #WatchThis

yoda...there is no try

You Just Don’t Know…Until You Do!

I have worked with hundreds of athletes.  I have watched tens of thousands of lifts, successful and unsuccessful.  I have helped people trudge through their personal struggles and fears and have loved every minute of it.

I have watched as people have stared at me with that look in their eyes, telling me that they are going to fail and they are right.  They fail because they have told themselves that they will.  They do not believe that they can accomplish the lift, the task, or conquer the problem.

They look at it and say that it is just too much.

And I ask them, constantly, why are you afraid?

“Because I might fail.”

And there is that word.  That word that I am growing to hate more and more each day…might.  Might is five-letter word that defeats all of us far too often.

I might fail…but I might not.

And so we accept it.  We accept the failing, we accept the missed lift, the lost opportunity and the not so perfect day…all because of what might have happened.

Cue the Yoda memes and the Batman slapping Robin meme backup.  Might is not a result.  For my fellow Yoda fans, try is not a result.

I tried…is a cop out.  If you say you tried, you are probably really saying, I didn’t succeed.  The bigger question is not about success and failure, but did you stop?  Did you learn?  Did you grow?  Are you willing to fail again?  Is failure what is really holding you back?

What if success really has that grip of terror on you?  What if when I asked why are you afraid you answered me honestly…Because I might succeed.  Then the expectations go up.  Then people want to see me do it again.  If I get a PR, then the next time, I better at least match it.  I got a pull-up, a muscle-up, a handstand walk for 30 feet, a best selling book, a platinum record, start and sell a multi-million dollar company…and what happens that next time you try?

Will people expect more of you?  Want to see you fall from grace?  Will you let it get to you?  Will you get out of your own head and give yourself the right to succeed again?

So I ask again, “Why are you afraid?”

You’ll never know until you…do!

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.

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.

Why?

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!

Control What You Can! -Repost

I just got back from vacation.  It was a much needed break from everything.  As I was driving back, my mind wandered…9.5 hours in a car will do that to you.  I thought about many things, but one of the prevailing themes on the return drive was that:

We do not control success…all we control is our preparation.  But in 99% of cases we do control failure!

As coaches and as a training facility, we cannot guarantee you anything outside of our best.  We will take all of our skills and talents and tools and put them to use for you.  We will provide advice on technique, nutrition, sleep, and anything under the sun.  But we cannot control you and what you do.

You can take the advice, you can discard the advice.  Either way, it does not guarantee success.  On any given day when you walk into the gym, you might be successful…you might not.  You cannot control the outcome.  You can control your effort, your preparation and your mindset.  That is all.

You cannot guarantee yourself a sub-five minute mile time on any given day, but you can train to have one.  And continue to work towards and then maybe one day, you have it.  Any coach cannot guarantee that you will be able to deadlift 500 pounds, but they can give you the tools and programs to help you achieve it.  But ultimately the outcome is a matter of not giving up.

Success as an outcome is a process of smaller steps.  The only guarantee that we have in life is that there will always be another step to take.  We control ourselves and that is it.  We control how we react to a great day of lifting and how we react to a terrible day in the gym.  We control what happens between our ears and in our hearts, but that is about it.  We control when we give up and when we continue to fight.

Control what you can…let the chips fall where they fall and move on.  Take the next step, your journey starts now!