Why I Believe In The Rule Of Ten
I live in an empirical state of mind.
I’ve been in the real-world game of fitness long enough to have seen many brilliant, talented, and dedicated coaches come, excel fantastically, and then go fail miserably.
The one denominator with the failures – the over-arching commonality – was ALWAYS impatience.
Now, impatience isn’t necessarily a death-wish.
In the right amount and at the right time I think it can serve as a catalyst for the creative process. But if left unchecked it turns into a furiously flustering frustration that consumes the person from the inside out.
This impatience in newbie coaches (less than 10 years’ experience) results in them not understanding:
– why their clients won’t stay with them for more than a month (why clients quit)
– why their clients won’t follow the diet as prescribed (why clients cheat)
– why their clients are always late to the session (why they are un-dedicated)
– why their clients won’t push hard in the gym (why they are un-motivated)
– why their clients are slow learners of exercise technique and form (why they don’t pay attention)
^ The new coach, no matter how smart, simply doesn’t understand any of the above phenomena^
He can’t make heads or tails of it.
The second order consequence (of the above) just makes things worse.
I’ll use what has happened in my personal training business(es) as an example.
So once the problems above begin to manifest – and they WILL for EVERY SINGLE COACH EVER, they then cause a cascade of responses from the boss or head of the gym.
– fining the coach for losing a client (in my business the coach must have skin in the game)
– giving them a less than stellar performance review (they must be reviewed honestly)
– meeting to tell them they need to improve such and such (this utterly shatters every coach – since their limited success in the past with a mere handful of client/friends – before working for me – has bloated their own assessment of their skills)
Most coaches go into denial mode rather than introspection or reflection.
The younger males absolutely cannot believe that a decline in their session output, results, or client satisfaction has anything at all to do with them.
And where there is denial, there is blame.
Where there is blame, there is argumentation.
When there is argumentation, someone gets fired.
These sorts of situations happen to coaches EVEN IF they work only for themselves. Because there is a “path dependence” to mastery, and that path is made of failures.
The usual response from an inexperienced coach is to assign perfect blame to the client in that situation.
Plus, to get things off their chest, a negative review posted on social media about how “the industry” (of fitness) is the problem, not them.
That one always makes me giggle like a little girl.
All of this is just part of the process to maturation and mastery, but a process that takes a long time to understand, comprehend, and tackle.
A long time means 10 years
10 years (give or take a couple) is the time frame required by most newbie fitness professionals to see enough patterns of success AND failure that they can develop a strategy for pre-empting and preventing problems from emerging as often as possible, more often than not.
By the time they have worked with a few hundred clients they have developed their instantaneous subconscious pattern perception and recognition. Created a conscious and unconscious radar; a detection system that becomes more finely tuned over time. Like good wine and whiskey.
With enough time put in the game, and on the floor, they know what to ignore and what to pay attention to, and they know where to start and how it will most likely end.
Lateral Rant: Experience teaches the brilliant ones to perform miracles of comprehension. It’s like they make the explicit into the tacit, and the tacit into the explicit. Or they develop into either one of what Weinstein calls, epistemic experts and/or performative experts. Most of the best coaches are masters of one, and some others are a hybrid of both. They see the same old things in brand new ways.
And on that note, Ill end with something on mastery I wrote recently:
Mastery = Time x Repetition
Time pruning and slicing the un-essential.
And time cultivating and curating the essential.