Coaching and Leadership- The Grass is Greener if you Water Your Lawn

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By: Doug Katona, CEO of American Barbell

You’re such a good coach.  You’ve got a following. People like you. You have grown the program and acquired more athletes (please stop saying clients).  Surely you are worth much more than what you make; time to move on to greener pastures right?!?.  Hold up, before you make any moves, ask yourself this, do you do the same thing in relationships?  If so, get ready for a vicious cycle of, as one of my favorite bands (Gogol Bordello) says, “Not all seekers will be finders.” There are so many transient coaches who never progress financially. They kill themselves to make the same amount of money. The effort wasted is the real tragedy. We’re mainly talking about group coaches here but this applies to those of you who coach one on one as well.

What’s my point?  When you plant a garden, you nurture it.  It grows over time, bears fruit, becomes full and brings happiness.  It’s not rewarding to plant then move on, plant then move on, etc.  You can always improve on your garden, add or replace plants – the soil has been prepared for stronger growth.  Get it?  There’s always opportunity, if, you’re a good coach with some business acumen.  And you can often do it right where you’re at.

The successful coaches, the ones who earn more over time (i.e. Nick Saban, Gregg Popovich, Bill Belichek, Pat Sumner, Gino Auriemma) build strong programs that reward them due to their hard work and ability to create culture.  It’s not about YOU!  It’s about your athletes. 

Here are a few tips, albeit, more on the business front but heck, Coaching is a business.  Loyalty matters.  Working with what you got (i.e. Fitness Truth) will pay off IF you pursue it.  Simple. 

  1. Develop a strategic plan. Just like a business.  Know what your 1-3-5-year plan is with coaching.  This includes what you want to accomplish and what that opportunity cost is both emotionally and financially.
  2. Look to leadership. Does your boss have vision?  Are they a leader?  Are they working with you to create your plan to grow?  I’ve recently seen a coach develop over the last two years who can inspire more athletes outside of their market – they don’t see it.  The leadership is conflicted and anxious because of challenging market conditions.  Instead of staying strong, working hard and cultivating, they pivot and re-do their model. A lack of leadership can stunt your growth. Communicate. If your boss is not being a leader, help them!  Sit down and organize a planning session for your growth and for the business!
  3. You decide what you earn. You are responsible for your earning potential.  Coaches that float around doing three or four jobs can’t focus on one. If you think you’ll make more money (as a trainer or coach) by floating from gym to gym, you’ll make less because you can’t prove you can build in any one spot. Plus, it gets exhausting. Case study two. This trainer/coach has been in the biz for many years. Over 40 years old. This coach trains/coaches at a few different gyms. They also have potential like our first case study.  This trainer has decided to work at three different gyms because “that’s where the clients are.” Clients of elite coaches/trainers will come to you and seek you out. Being in one place allows you to establish rhythm, be present and be seen. This is how you develop a sales pipeline (and save on gas and time too!).
  4. Prioritize and Balance. You have to actually work dude.  I’ve seen coaches spend more time training themselves rather than focusing on their craft and plan. You have to do it all, but remember what your priorities are. Walking around thinking you’re an elite athlete, bodybuilder, trainer or whatever, won’t allow you to retire comfortably.  Make time for yourself to train, learn and grow, but remember, we are in the business of inspiring, selling and serving.  If you’re not enthused about that, go back to school and learn another discipline.
  5. Hold yourself accountable. Write down your goals (financially, professionally, personally) build it into your business plan, and make forward progress. Strategize and plot out how you will execute. Then hold yourself accountable every week to meet your own Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

-Doug K.

There’s something wrong with your character if opportunity controls your loyalty. (Sean Simmons)

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