The best coaches and personal trainers have their own coaches and mentors. I’d go so far as to say that you can’t reach your full business potential without getting business coaching of your own.
Hear me out: our own business depends on making other people hire us as their training coach to improve their fitness and health. You help personal training clients focus on their habits and bring out what they didn’t think they could achieve before.
If we follow this reasoning, shouldn’t we hire a coach for ourselves either to improve our own business or health?
We all stand on the shoulders of giants, as my good friend John Romaniello is fond of pointing out. He was quoting Sir Isaac Newton, who said:
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Truer words have never been spoken: none of us achieves success alone. And there’s also an intellectual honesty issue.
If you don’t use coaching yourself, how can you preach its virtues to clients?
The value of another training coach from a coach’s perspective.
I know first-hand just how helpful hiring my own coach can be. A few months back, I hit a wall. Not in my business, but with my workouts (of all things). For the first time in over a decade, I was at a loss with my own training because I invested so much energy and time into helping my clients and building Bach Performance that I’d neglected my own training.
I just winged it.
My diet was all over the board. Worst of all, I lacked accountability. How ironic that I preached consistency and nailing the basics to my clients, yet I myself wasn’t living true to my values.
I was aware of the problem and saw the solution: I hired my good friend, Joey Percia, to take over my training and nutrition programming. The simple act of letting go and putting the plan in the hands of an expert I trusted was liberating. As a result, I crushed my training and focused better on my diet. And it was all because I had invested, financially and emotionally, in another expert–another coach.
This experience opened my eyes to other ways of training and more ways of doing business. It really got me thinking more deeply about the nature of coaching and mentoring.
Around that time, I found my current mentor Daniel Freedman, whom I met through a previous business coach. As a former consultant for Precision Nutrition and The PTDC, Daniel had the experience building up companies in the online fitness business, which fit my goals.
He’s fond of quoting the old adage:
“Any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
Freedman highlights that it’s common for professionals to seek other professionals: therapists have therapists to counsel them, most doctors are wise enough not to self-diagnose, and many accountants don’t do their own taxes.
In essence, they all realize they need objective advice from people whose experience and expertise complement their own.
The qualities of a good coach.
When you look for a coach, it could be solely for growing your business, your own training and nutrition, or something of similar nature. But there are a few qualities to look for.
With a business coach, your ideal coach would have a worldview that’s been borne from having worked with half-dozen or more experts, coaches, or clients of his own. This means you also benefit from the influence of those people who’ve helped him succeed. Using this vast experience, your coach would accelerate your learning curve to be more successful, faster by helping you focus on what’s called a “zone of genius,” or simply what you do best.
He’d have a good attitude and be able to “see the big picture.” He has patience, but is also very determined and persistent. But most of all, he needs to be accessible, transparent, and willing to freely share his knowledge. It sounds obvious, but many “bad coaches” may make promises to tell you the “secrets to success” if you’d just pay up to be a part of his secret club. If you get the feeling that he might be “holding something back,” that’s a sign of trust and transparency issues.
And finally, a good coach must be able to keep you accountable. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons clients hire us, too? Sometimes even we need to have someone hold us to our words and goals.
Your network becomes your net worth.
More importantly, your coach should have a well-connected network. A coach who’s been in the game for a long time will have built valuable, longstanding relationships with key individuals in the industry. This way you, too, can gain access to those people and build quality relationships yourself.
In his recent book, Viralnomics, Jon Goodman cites “the strength of weak ties“, a concept he attributes to Stanford professor and sociologist Mark Granovetter. The argument goes that your peripheral contacts are more important to your success than even your close friends.
I find this to be an important point, as I am always floored by the connections I make when I’m at a fitness event with one of my coaches. These connections extend beyond fitness, expanding to copy writing, business development, and even entertainment.
Every event opens the door to meet hundreds of influencers. Building and maintaining these ties to a network of influencers and potential buyers are crucial to business success. But a quick note on networking:
Don’t be that guy.
When you meet new, influential folks at a seminar or party, don’t be obnoxious about it or seem desperate to just “network.” The normal rules of human conduct should also apply to business and professional relationships: always try to give more than you get. Be nice to everyone, ask questions, build a relationship, and stay in touch with those you meet. For example, if you see a group of people talking and you don’t know them, go up to them and offer to buy a round of drinks in exchange for letting you join and learn.
Essentially, focus on cultivating the relationship, and good things might happen.
Finding your first coach.
The best coaches I’ve met and worked with have all sought extreme mentorship early in their careers. And most of my coaches still have coaches of their own.
Finding quality ones isn’t easy, and they can be costly. But investing in a coach doesn’t have to mean dropping 10 grand in the vague hope something good might happen. First, some questions to ask yourself:
- What is it specifically that you hope a coach will help you accomplish? It can’t be everything.
- What have they done or accomplished that appeals to you? Your coach must obviously walk the walk.
- What kind of coaching would suit you best? Tough love? Constant motivation?
- How many services does this person provide? It’s better to specialize than to try to offer your dreams on a silver platter. Those who offer “everything” should be viewed with more skepticism.
If you have someone you look up to in particular, you can start by simply reaching out to this person to see if they are open to taking on a mentee. Try offering your time and energy, joyfully termed “sweat equity” in return for the coach’s expertise. I wasn’t thrilled about working for free during a 500-hour internship at a sports performance gym, or volunteering as a collegiate strength coach. In the end, they gave me valuable experience and insight into what each entails. Sure, it sucks working for free, but the value I got from my mentors in return isn’t something money can easily buy.
Based on my own indispensable experience with mentors, I always encourage people to find a mentor who does what they’re looking for.
If your goal is to become a better online trainer, seek a mentor and offer to help with their emails or nutrition plans. If you want to become a better writer, offer your assistance to a mentor with finding research or editing. Or, to become a better in-person trainer, seek mentorship from a great coach in your area by offering to shadow their sessions and aiding in setting up equipment.
If you’re looking for a high-end business coach, then reach out to the top coaches in the industry via their website or social media and ask them who helped them reach that high-level of success in their career. Attend conferences and research the presenters–do they have a coaching program? If so, inquire for more information.
That means if you want to build an online business, find a coach who’s helped great online coaches build their business. If you’re looking to become a strength coach, find the industry leaders and seek mentorship weekends.
When shopping around, be sure to ask your prospective coaches how much time they have for you, how closely they’ll work with you, their schedule and accessibility, how they plan to keep you accountable and reach your goals, and if they’re actually willing to open up their network to you. These are some of the more important points that need to be made clear from the beginning.
In any case, remember extreme mentorship and taking action breed extreme results.
To truly help more people and build a long-term sustainable business, coaches need coaches. Once you have one locked down, take action, put in the work, and level up your business.
Other trainers found these articles helpful:
- 10 Skills Any True Coach Must Balance By Dan John
- Personal Trainers Need to Know Learning Style Theory By Jonathan Goodman
- 8 Coaching Techniques to Help Your Clients Succeed By Travis Pollen
Photo Credit: Mentor image by Wikimedia