In lots of places all over the internet, you’ll find it. A video of some “entrepreneur” shouting down an iPhone at you to follow your passion. It makes sense I suppose. You only live once. Why join the rat race when you could make a living playing vintage Nintendo games on YouTube, or running dog yoga classes.
You’ve got big biceps and abs. You’ve helped some people get in shape before and have experience. Why not be an online fitness coach or nutritionist?
It’s a good question. And one that in my experience, actual coaches can’t often answer.
Why do what you do?
Here’s my why.
I’m not very motivated by external rewards. Getting great exam results, winning a trophy, or someone telling you how great you are. I don’t have an issue with any of things, but they’re not why I do what I do. My motivation comes from an internal place, by living based on my values.
I’ve always valued expertise. I’m a natural geek, it’s who I am. When I truly love something, there are no lengths I won’t go to to learn everything about it.
I value helping and teaching others. When combined with my love for expertise and geekery, it’s pretty much me in a nutshell. If I know something you don’t and think the information I have can help you, try and stop me from telling you about it. This is the reason I’ll pay a higher price for something at a specialist shop, rather than saving money and buying it online. This is the reason I signed up to learn from Martin MacDonald at MNU. This is the reason I’ll ask the sommelier to help me with my wine choice rather than pick the third cheapest one at the top of the menu. The expert is passionate about something, he knows more than me, and he wants me to love it too. I’ll pay for that. Over and over again.
A little-known fact about me is that I’m a qualified fly fishing instructor. Yes, such a thing exists. I grew up with fly fishing, and it’s deeply embedded in my life. Because I love it I got good at it. If you love it, I want you to be good at it too, and I’m willing to teach you how.
I’ve dragged myself out of bed on a day off to teach someone how to cast to bonefish in a frozen field in January. Several times in fact. My band were pretty successful at the time. I am in no way against earning money, but financial reward clearly isn’t a major contributor to what I do.
Experience vs empathy
Wanting to help and having a certain amount of expertise might not be enough. You have to try to understand someone’s frustrations at that point in their life. If you want to be able to coach someone well, this is the reality. Some very young people can have an almost magical ability for empathy, but I learn best through experience.
When I was a child, I was overweight. I remember all too clearly how it feels to not understand why. Why is this happening when you don’t seem to be doing anything different to anyone else? I know how it feels to compare yourself to people and to be compared to others.
When I was sick with Crohn’s disease and weighed 45kg, I didn’t want to talk about it. I know how it feels to hide constant pain because you don’t want to be a burden to others.
After I’d got better, I managed to gain about 15kg of weight by applying what I knew about nutrition. That and training my arse off. That was a long time ago. I now know how it feels for progress to slow to a standstill and to still not be quite happy with how you look.
The fact that I know how you feel, and that I felt the same until I found how to use nutrition to help me, shapes how I work. That, coupled with an indifference to anything that doesn’t align with my values is why I do what I do.
You don’t have to have experienced something to be able to coach someone. People very often understand what you do, and in most of my blog posts, I try to describe how I do it. But if I didn’t have a clear “why” then this might as well be Nintendo or dog yoga.
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