Have you ever gone on a cross-country road trip? Just you, a bag of clothes, and a car?

Have you ever spent extended time alone? On purpose?

A few years ago, I got in my car and started driving west. I’m a creature of comfort. My family is easy to be around. My friends and I have great discussion. I was coaching in a gym that meant so much to me and was a HUGE piece of my development… both as a human, and a coach.

But I needed to break the cycle. I needed to get more UNcomfortable. If I didn’t, I would never grow… at least as much as I expected from myself.

I drove out to Denver, CO from Indy in two days. I stayed at a sketchy hotel on the way out there (there was a sign that said, “Best Western is not responsible if your things are stolen”). I met some Airbnb people and finally saw what mountains look like (this just in: they’re gorgeous). I even went HIKING.

Now that trip… THAT was an experience.

Red Rocks Ampitheater in Denver, Colorado.
Red Rocks Ampitheater in Denver, Colorado.

Everyone Works with People

Who do you work with? If you’re a reader of my stuff, you’re probably a trainer. You probably really like science in general.

But even if you aren’t, you surely work with people in some form or fashion. I’ve got some Google engineers and designers now. How are those meetings going?

Everyone works with people.

So you better know how to work with people.

Selling Isn’t That Bad

Describe the last time you influenced someone. Leave it in the comments below so we can all see and reflect.

How did you feel about it? Did you feel dirty? Tricky? Deceitful?

What was the outcome? Did they listen to you? Did good things happen? Did everything crash and burn? We’ve all had both.

Why did you feel compelled to influence this person? Were you trying to sell your coaching? A weird exercise? A new direction for your work project? Was it important to you? To your career? To your boss?

We all have to sell ourselves. That’s just part of our culture. As more and more information pollutes the airwaves, our readers, followers, and students become more and more skeptical about what they hear.

This used to be a huge problem for me. I just do what I know is best. Why can’t people just accept that and how I operate?

That would be kind of nice in the sense that coaching and running my business would be wayyyy simpler, but do you REALLY want that? Do you really want blind followers? I’ve found it way more rewarding to have followers who actually BELIEVE what I’m saying. It gives me reason to believe that what I’m saying is actually true, whatever that means.

You’re going to have to sell yourself and your ideas. If you can’t, you’re not working on something important to the world and to you.

If you don’t know how to sell yourself, that’s okay. Start learning.

Sell Your Experience

Coaching isn’t just about teaching someone how to squat and deadlift. That’s too mechanistic and if that’s all that drives you, you’ll quickly be frustrated by the fitness industry.

Coaching fitness is more like teaching students than like fixing a car.

You don’t have knee valgus and spinal extension that needs to be addressed. You have a human who needs an experience. Why don’t you want them to arch their back when they deadlift? That’s what they’ve been told before. Now you’re offering a competing opinion and your opinion needs to be SOLD. Give them an experience instead of simply a prescription.

How do you offer an experience?

What will you absolutely NOT do?

The Lance Experience

I’m an introvert. I find deep, one-on-one conversation very stimulating, but large group discussion boring and unproductive. I find writing to be one of the highest forms of thought. I find most loud things (expect metal) to be irritating.

I find forced conversation to be possible, but exhausting. So you know what? I won’t force conversation if I don’t have to. If I’m with one of my clients, I will SURELY let them talk however much they feel comfortable talking. You won’t, however, find me talking about many TV shows, though, because I don’t know a thing about them. So I will play to my strengths and avoid my weaknesses. I WILL listen because I find that rewarding and important. But I will NOT pretend to know something about a show that I don’t watch.

I have to sell the Lance experience. I can’t just be a generic trainer because it takes too much WORK. Again, it’s exhausting. I don’t like talking about myself or my training too extensively, so I won’t do it. I do like explaining the intricacies of what we’re doing and what they have to do with the person in front of me. I like to teach. So I teach.

Things I like to do
  • Explain why I’ve written a program the way I have.
  • Explain why I’ve given someone a cue.
  • Explain what will happen if they follow those instructions.
  • Explain why I’ve decided to change a program.
  • Ask about someone’s family.
  • Ask how someone is feeling.
  • Ask where someone wants to travel to next.
  • Ask someone about awkward times in their past.
  • Discuss the intricacies of communication.
  • Discuss the previous training someone has had.
  • Discuss what someone has done to alleviate their pain.
  • Discuss my favorite office supplies (thanks again for the pen, Dave!)
Things I avoid doing
  • “Small talk”
  • Discussing superficial things
  • Smiling when inappropriate
  • Not laughing
  • Cleaning up after someone
  • Yelling to motivate
  • Standing and looking awkward

Tailoring Your Experience

Make your own list. What do you like to do? What do you avoid doing? What should you avoid doing?

Is there anything you really don’t like to do that you force yourself to do? Do you have to do it this way? How could you change how you operate?

Jot your thoughts in the comments below if you need a scratch pad. Or just get some good ol’ pen and paper.

Rethink and break the mold.

And take care of yourself!

Special thanks to Analisa Naldi for the inspiration.