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Struggling, Embracing The Mess, Quoting Carl Sagan And Other Ways To Become A Better Coach

Today, I am a better coach than I was a year ago. Today, I am a better coach than I was a month ago. Today, I am a better coach than I was a week ago. Today, I am a better coach than I was yesterday.

Today, I have a goal. I want to be a better coach tomorrow. Yes, even better.

Four beautiful and strong women – myself and three former clients, now dear friends.Here are the strategies that made me a better coach, and continue to do so every day:

Move your body. Whether you run, lift or do yoga, have a daily movement practice. Make it sacred. And no, it doesn’t have to be the same every day. Your body can do so many different things. Do them all.

Read books. They expand your mind. They question your beliefs. (Here are some of my favorites). Read outside of the field of fitness, nutrition and coaching. I recommend travel, nature and business.

Help your “competitors”. There is no such thing as competition. You are all different. If you are playing a zero-sum game, you have already lost. Instead, create a trusted tribe of coaches and trainers. Work with people you like. When they are successful, so are you.

Be obsessed. Apart from few things in life (you know what they are), balance is overrated. If you are just out to make a living, you will never compare to those who live and breathe what they do. Give up now, and go find something that puts fire in your belly.

Follow the campsite rule. Have you ever dated someone “broken” by the previous relationship? It is difficult, frustrating and heart-breaking – all at the same time. That’s what it’s like to work with a client scarred by a bad coach. Leave them better than you found them.

Get a coach. Every coach needs a coach. It is possible to coach yourself, but if you are not coached by someone else, you are missing out. Nothing will put you in the headspace of a client (and, therefore, makes you a better coach) faster.

Struggle yourself. And be transparent about it. Perfect people are annoying. Mostly because they are imaginary. Remember imaginary numbers? Exactly. Annoying! Imperfection makes you a better coach.

But… be (or get yourself) in good working order. Figure your shit out. Chaos and all. It’s good to have your kinks, but you gotta pass the basic safety inspection to be on the road. Coaching someone else will bring up your shit to the surface. Pay attention to what issues or what clients piss you off the most. Then figure it out. It’s yours.

Ask. Don’t tell. Carl Sagan reminds us that we “make our world significant by the courage of our questions”. Ask good questions, and help clients to go deeper in their answers. Your clients already know everything they need to know. More information is not better. And the words coming out of THEIR mouths will always be more powerful to THEM.

Embrace the mess.

I am not talking about your desk. But that’s ok too. Human nature is messy. Unpredictable. It does not fit into neat little boxes (and sometimes I SO wish it did). So, enjoy it. Embrace the general chaos and messiness. Play in it, and with it – like a child playing with mashed potatoes – delighted at the warmth and squishiness of it all.

YOUR TURN: Think back to the best coach or teacher you’ve ever had – what made them amazing? What is the one thing someone can do to become a better coach?

Liked this post? Learn how to become even more awesome and check out the article on the secrets of elite coaches that I wrote for Precision Nutrition.

Consider this a public service announcement. For the love of Darwin… we need good coaches.

Hugs, Coach


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