In August of 2020 I wrote a blog that outlines my coaching philosophy and the 3 keys I keep in mind with every coaching exchange. Honestly it was one of, if not my favorite piece I authored of all time. I share that blog with every client and the feedback is always incredibly positive. If you would like to read that blog in its entirety, you can do so here. However, since this blog expands on the 2nd key of my coaching philosophy, I will summarize it for you.
Care about your client’s goals and acknowledge what moves them toward or away from the goal.
Whether or not you believe the client’s goal is achievable, good or bad for the client, what you think their goals should be, or ultimately what the goal and the plan eventually looks like per number 1 above, at least a bit of emotional attachment on your part to the client and their goals is important. You might think you need to be unbiased, and objective (and you do), but you are also human. You need motivation and commitment to your clients to be effective, and you also need to be supportive. Without that attachment, your client will only get a halfhearted attempt of your coaching. Whether it comes through during time spent communicating, setting up spreadsheets, outlining instructions, or even the mental creativity or necessary time researching strategies, half-heartedness will show through, and to the detriment of your client.
Essentially, you don’t want to look up and find yourself only going through the motions. I always keep close to my heart how connected I am to my goals and what I would endure to achieve them and that helps me have empathy for the goals of those I am coaching. Doing so gives me the drive to go the extra mile for them.
When your clients make big strides toward their goals or accomplish important parts of the plan, it is important to acknowledge that and congratulate them appropriately. Likewise, poor execution should be acknowledged as well. But remember, this isn’t for punitive purposes (that’s not your role, again, they aren’t your goals).
I like to lovingly make mention of poor execution or steps away from the goal. At such times offer help for how you can facilitate better execution of the plan or ask questions on what barriers exist, and how to rectify them (per number 1, this might be an indication that the goal should change).
Importantly, steps away from a goal will always happen, and many times, it’s due to nothing more than life. It is important to not dwell on or make a big deal of these steps away, which again, are quite normal. I like to simply acknowledge such instances and invite the client with questions to consider why they occurred and remind them I’m here to help and leave it at that.
When you come to Team 3DMJ telling us your goals, hopes and desires, that is something that we not only take seriously, but genuinely gets us excited. During the initial consultation and program setup, time will seem to almost stand still for 90 minutes to 2 hours as I rack my brain pulling every ounce of wisdom and knowledge I have to come up with a plan to help you achieve your goals. It may sound overly dramatic, but believe me when I say it’s true. We create the plan together with a give and take between what is optimal and what is adherable to set the client up for success. Oftentimes when most of the work is done, a follow-up call will be requested and scheduled before we sign off. Then, once I complete the actual video consultation, I spend the next 30 minutes or so putting the finishing touches on the plan, all formatted on our custom Team 3DMJ Google sheet. The finished product fills me with pride and I cannot wait for the follow-up call. I complete the plan with a note and word of encouragement indicating we will meet on this date: “Go get it, I can’t wait to hear how it goes!”
Now that you know this, and know how much emotional and intellectual effort we put into the plan for you to attain your goals, it begs the question: How serious are you about attaining your goals? Nearly everyone I go to work for expresses genuine excitement to have a plan; a plan tailor made, professionally for them with all the possible context that can be ascertained from our short call together. However, once that plan is complete and ready to be executed, I would venture to say maybe 60% of you indicate by action that you truly want those goals and are ready to put the work in to attain them. How can I say this, you ask? The proof is in the hundreds, possibly thousands of plans I have created over the last decade or so. Maybe 30 or 40% of those plans are barely executed for more than a month and I would guess 60% of follow up calls that are scheduled are actually attended. I can only imagine that the prior excitement shifted to burden. Whatever the reason, on my end, after having invested so much emotion, energy and time, when the scheduled follow up doesn’t happen, the disappointment is notable.
Speaking of those follow-up calls, on the flip side, my eagerness to see the result of putting our plan into action causes genuine excitement. I often open up the protocol 15 to 20 minutes before our scheduled meeting to start reviewing my notes, the data and physique photos showing the progress of putting the plan into action. The feeling I get when there are noticeable improvements, and seeing my projections met or exceeded is comparable to the pride I get as a dad when my son succeeds. It is a great feeling and increases my excitement for the follow-up call.
When data is sparse and either no progress has been made, or worse yet there was actual backsliding from the goals, I know I’ve got my work cut out for me. The initial feeling of sorrow while natural is not productive. When this occurs, my plan is to open the call with a lot of listening to the client as they almost always have a lot to say. Accompanied with a lot of questions. As I mentioned initially in the 1st blog, communication is the key to bridging the gap between where we are and where we want to go.
While it’s important to recognize the natural disappointment that comes when follow up calls are a no show or canceled on short notice, it’s hard to write about. Try to be understanding and have a short memory. It’s impossible to know what’s happening on your client’s side.
To my fellow coaches, I can’t help but ask if you feel the same way I do? Do you take pride in the plan that you created for someone? Does the 90 minutes, 2 hours, or more time you spent with your client feel so enjoyable that time seems to stand still? Are you truly exuberant to meet with your clients on follow-up calls and genuinely have an almost parental pride when they succeed? If so, I am truly happy for you. I know how great this feels and to be honest, I’m almost addicted to that feeling. Keep up the good work! However if you are a coach and you don’t get these kinds of feelings from your work it is my hope that you are able to experience it soon and tweak your systems to make it happen. Coaching is an incredibly rewarding experience to undertake. The ups make you feel like you are doing real work and making the world a better place. The downs, while difficult, can help you grow. Importantly, these experiences make for better coaches, more coachable athletes, and most critically, better humans.