The Uncomfortable Conversation
Ownership is essential, as discussed in my most-recent article. Accepting you are in control is the most important component of any successful body recomposition journey.
You accept control, which allows you to take ownership. A subtle difference, but important nonetheless, because you have the power to implement new habits and enjoy the results that stem, knowing full well that you made this happen. It’s an incredible feeling and provides a positive feedback loop that facilitates ongoing motivation and results.
As a coach, helping establish this positive-feedback loop is my favourite aspect of helping people with the body recomposition goals. The business slogan ‘progression is motivation’ was driven by client's who are motivated to further action by their previous results. I now know that when people start seeing results from their hard work, they become motivated to achieve more.
Not only is it an inspiration to see, but it allows my clients to progress from the beginner-level to more advanced training and nutrition strategies. We can experiment to find exactly what strategies work best for them. This pushes my knowledge and experience and keeps the challenge high, but also ensures clients are getting value from what I can bring to them, because anyone could run them through a couple of sessions per week without the strategy component.
For most people, these benefits of ownership are often preceded by the uncomfortable realisation that you are also in control of your current body composition, and it is the result of your previous actions. 95% of the people who come through my door have taken ownership of this already. They have assessed their needs, and have decided to invest in a coach to help them design, implement, and refine a strategy for them.
I still ask them ownership-related questions, but it’s rarely a ‘difficult conversation’ where I need to help them take ownership. If anything, some are taking it too far, to the point of blaming themselves, which won't help anyone.
For the remaining 5% who are keen to commit but are showing signs of non-ownership, there is an uncomfortable conversation that needs to be had… and it’s not the one where I outline your new nutrition plan – which has a significant reduction in 3pm chocolate bars.
The Uncomfortable Conversation
This conversation occurs when someone comes through the door wanting help, but I am getting the idea that they haven't yet taken ownership. There is no set formula I follow here, but there are some clues about who is/isn't taking ownership based on communication and actions prior, and during, the consultation.
The goal is simple: make sure the potential client is willing to implement the strategy we put together. If they are not, I am doing us both a disservice by taking them on as a client. To be able to work with them effectively, we need to get them to a point where they are in control of their actions and I can use my knowledge and experience to make changes.
I find many who won't implement do a pretty good job of screening themselves out when I ask them to complete a seven-day Tracking Challenge and initial consultation form. It’s a bit of work, but it shows who is willing to put in some effort. About 55% people who sign up and drop off because they don't want to complete the Tracking Challenge.
These gatekeepers mean I only meet the people who are willing to give me some effort. This rules out a few people who might do well after if they had a consultation, but never get there because they don’t do the form. Whilst leaving a few people behind is unfortunately, I see my current role is to be the best coach for my clients, instead of trying to convince people I can help them.
Once the consultation begins, I pay particular attention to the language people are using. Here are some of the phrases that can prick my ears to potential lack of ownership:
Eating healthy is expensive. It can be more affordable than what you are doing now. Besides, having a trainer is a discretionary cost that I'd rather you direct towards buying food, if that's an issue (we can work together online).
Exercise doesn’t do anything for my body. It will, we just need to pair it with the right diet and balance.
I think my body is in starvation mode – I eat well and exercise but still gain weight. Negative – that doesn’t exist. We need to identify exactly where your energy balance lies, and then go about manipulating your training and nutrition strategy to best-suit your goals.
When people are dropping these phrases during a consultation, it doesn't concern me that they aren't taking ownership of their current results, it's that they won't take ownership of their future action.
The irony is that if they don’t take ownership, they will fail.
The Goal Is Empowerment, Not Blame
The purpose of taking ownership is to empower future choices, not wallow in previous failures or be lectured by me on how your current regime is no good. Getting to that point involves acknowledging responsibility for the current shape you are in, with the goal of future progress embedded in your mind.
Our consultation might be a bit uncomfortable for 5% of people, but if they leave having accepting control and ready to take ownership, it will be a game-changer for their body composition, health, and fitness.
Now that I have a wait list of clients and can be more selective of who I work with, it’s pretty easy to sit here and preach a tough conversation that might deter a potential client or two. But the point of this article isn’t to talk myself up, although I can do that. Instead, I want to unpack a lesson that I have learned by trial and considerable error, over the past three years.
Ownership must be demonstrated from the start if you want to get the best outcome from any body recomposition strategy.
If you are in the 5% and think you haven't taken ownership just yet, don’t worry about training and nutrition. Instead, focus on accepting responsibility for your current state and then you will be ready to take ownership for future results.
What I Did Wrong, And Why
I used to avoid the ownership conversation like the plague. I was confident that if I listened to the client sufficiently and tailored their program to their needs, we would be able to get a result. All without the need for an uncomfortable conversation.
Besides, if I was meeting a potential client, the last thing I wanted was for them to not hire me because they felt uncomfortable during our chat.
The end result was a few clients who would either pay but never turn up, or turn up and just go through the motions. Either way, we would be stuck on the same training program for months. Despite these clients being in the minority, they are over-represented for not making progress.
It’s not their fault. If I let them into the system without ensuring ownership, because I didn’t want to have a tough conversation that might make someone uncomfortable. That's on me!
At the time, I was thinking that 'they are just busy - it will get better next week' and I was stuck in the week-to-week grind. Ideally, I would have detached and noticed they weren't making progress and something needs to change. Whether the change was letting them go or reaffirming their commitment to their goal, it was necessary to intervene and make a decision either way.
But the positive is that I can learn from my mistakes and share those learning with my client's, The Integrated Insider, and anyone who stumbles across this article and is looking to change their body composition.
So if you take one thing away from this article, let it be that ownership needs to be taken before implementing on any body recomposition journey, and there are times when it will be uncomfortable to do so.
Hoping that it will 'just happen' is naive and will only make it harder in the long run. So embrace the uncomfortable conversation or realisation, because it will only help you in the future!