Why you don't need to worry about being intelligentJul 21, 2021
Without intelligence we wouldn’t have the technology and science we have today. Without Tony Stark’s immense intelligence, there would be no Ironman and the world would have been destroyed by Thanos. Without intelligence we might well still be living in caves and cooking dead rats on spits.
Luckily the world has evolved and Thanos was defeated. Intelligence won the day. But intelligence doesn't work alone. Intelligence needs problem solvers.
So, what has this got to do with you? I’m pleased you asked, because as a personal trainer/coach I’d really like you to hear this.
First let me give you a quick story to set the scene so you can understand where I’m coming from.
£30K+ of student debts. That is roughly what I clocked up after I signed up for my all “life changing” degree. My intelligence was holding me back, it was the reason I couldn’t move forward in life.
Or so I told myself.
“If only I hadn’t failed my GCSE’s”
“If only I had gone to college after school and got an education”
“If only I was more interested in my future than weekend partying”
Blah! Blah! Blah!
There’s a million and one excuses, and they all pointed to my intelligence. I couldn’t even pass my PT exam. I failed it 4 times and give up on it.
Uni did change my life. I won’t deny it was a big part of my development. It taught me to think differently and pulled me out from my funk. It gifted me the wakeup call I needed. But it wasn’t necessary (I just didn’t know this at the time)
Thing is, I didn’t fail my PT exam because of my intelligence. I subconsciously sabotage it because I was afraid. I knew once I passed, I had to go into the unknown and become someone else.
I only realise this now on looking back. If I could go back 15 years my advice would be very different.
But let’s not look at what, could have – should have, been. Because our own unique stories are what makes us the people we are today. Everything that’s happened has been for a reason, I truly believe that.
Anyway, back to intelligence.
In my 13 years of experiences and observations I have noticed something quite remarkable within the fitness industry. There are those who are meant to be scientists/researchers and those who were meant to coach.
The research scientist is super smart and intelligent. They know research inside and out and they dedicate their life to understanding more about the science. They dish out facts and information for others to use. The research scientist generally (not always) isn't designed for coaching.
The coach is super good at solving problems. They use the research the super smart scientists have figured out to help solve someone else’s problem. The coach is creative and understands people. The coach generally (not always) isn't designed to be a scientist.
This happens across all industries btw, and in life in general but I’m keeping it specific to you, the coach.
Here’s what happens, immediately when you jump into this new world of health/fitness and coaching, you look up. You instantly direct your attention to those above you and create a comparison,
“Man, they are so intelligent. I’ll never be as smart as that”
This is normal but it’s also demoralising and destructive if you don’t use these people as mentors instead of a metric to measure yourself by.
This is what I done. I looked at those above me a measured myself against their intelligence. And guess what? I came out short.
“These guys are leagues above me, and it is all to do with their intelligence, I need to be smarter”
So that’s what I did. At every given opportunity I was reading and learning. I was obsessed with nutrition, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics you name it I was all over it. Devouring it all like a hungry Lion not knowing where his next meal was coming from.
This went on for quite some time. It was amazing. I was learning new things and I was becoming smarter. This was going to put me above the crowd. I was going to stand out and become like the hero’s I was measuring myself against.
Only that never happened.
Instead, I could see people switching off. Their eyes would glaze over when I spoke. My posts and blogs would go unread by my clients. I didn’t understand it. Why were they not lapping up this priceless information?
And then one day it hit me like a freight train.
I was talking to one of my clients one day and she said she’d read one of my blogs. Interested (and wanting an ego boost) I probed her further. Her response shocked me.
“Well, I like your writing style, but…. I didn’t really get it”
“What do you mean”? I asked her.
“There was a lot of facts and science jargon, but I didn’t understand it. I’m not sure why I needed to know it and I don’t know what to with it”
Boom! There it was. My answer.
I wasn’t solving her problem. I was trying to be smart, intelligent like all the people I was looking at above me. That’s not what she wanted.
She wanted me to talk to her like a normal person and to help her with her problem. She wasn’t interested in reading about mitochondria and satellite cells.
She didn’t really care about the dynamics of pelvic movement and the difference between muscle fibre types and their contribution to muscle growth and strength.
All she wanted was for me to listen to her problem and to help her solve it. She wanted me to talk to her in a way she could relate to. Not bombarded her with facts and science jargon she didn’t need or even want to understand.
All she wanted was to lose weight and get strong. That was it. Yet here I was looking at learning everything because I thought I needed to be smart. I was spending so much time on ‘learning’ I was missing out on my biggest learning – understanding what my clients wanted.
What came to realised was the hero’s I was measuring myself against were talking to a completely different audience. They weren’t talking to my client, they were talking to me, the coach, the personal trainer.
Only I was focused on learning EVERYTHING. I thought that was what I had to do. Most of what I learned had no relevance or practical application to the people I was working with.
Thing is if you want to be a scientist then working on your intelligence and IQ is a smart (pun intended lol) thing to do. But let’s just think about that for a second….
These guys are highly intelligent in their specific field of interest. Whether that’s physiology, psychology, biomechanics, nutrition, neuroscience, endocrinology…. Or whatever area they specialise in.
They remain in their own lane and become the best at what they do.
As a coach/trainer you are looking to solve your client’s problem. Use the research from the scientists to understand and solve your client’s problem. And then talk to them about it in a non-douchebag way.
Basically, do what I didn’t do.
There’s a lot of online personal training educational platforms and they are all overloaded with information. Most of the information there even the most intelligent scientist would struggle to retain. Personally, I think this is unnecessary and one of the reason PT’s are so overwhelmed and anxious.
Look, I’m a huge advocate for learning and development. It’s not only essential, but it’s necessary, but, let me challenge you now….
Do you ever think to yourself, “where the hell do I start?”
The truth is you start with your client. And what they need now to get them out of pain.
Think of it this way….
Most people want to lose weight, right. Yet everyone has different circumstances and ways of thinking. For example,
A 24 year old women wanting to look smoking hot in a bikini is going to be thinking very differently to a 55 year old menopausal women desperate to manage her symptoms and lose weight.
A sedentary shift worker wanting help with getting his lifestyle habits on track will have completely different lifestyle barriers and problems than an active retiree wanting to get into amazing shape.
A clinically obese, anxious single parent will have completely different challenges compared to a single, responsibility free 18 year old wanting to shift some body fat to enhance their body confidence.
Yet you try to solve all the problems. Thinking you need to know and learn everything.
The commonality is they all want (and probably need) to lose weight in some respect. The difference is what’s holding them back? What do they first and now to help them?. This is where you, the expert coach, comes into it.
What you’ll find is, by understanding your client’s problem will send you in the right direction for your research. For example, the 55 year old women we spoke about earlier, struggling with menopause, you’ll have to learn about hormones and menopause.
Imagine then you have 20-30 clients all with completely different problems are you realistically going to be the best to solve all these problems?
My advice is to learn everything you can about your client and their problem. What is the one thing you can help them with now? Go learn and do that. More problems will arise, and you simply rinse and repeat. Learn how to listen and become a great coach.
Your intelligence does not define you.
Your ability to solve a problem, however, will make you.
I hope this article was helpful, if it was, please share it with someone else you think will benefit from reading it.
Don’t be afraid to think differently & Never give up on your dreams.
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