“Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.” Attitude is everything when it comes to success, especially with goals and behavior.
Throughout our daughters’ upbringing, especially during the difficult middle-school years, my husband would often remind them of the difference between a reason and an excuse. As an example, when a teacher/parent inquires why homework didn’t get completed, the response might be one of the two:
- House burned to the ground (reason)
- There was a party with all the popular kids (excuse)
By the time the girls left the nest for college, they had gotten the message. Today, at 33 and 26, we gratefully acknowledge their professional successes, in vastly different fields. I truly believe my husband gave them a solid foundation from which they could springboard into responsible adults.
Dealing With Client Excuses
Personal trainers regularly field myriad reasons/excuses for clients’ behaviors, usually as they relate to lack of performance, accountability, or neglectful nutrition. A resistant client, for instance, may assure us that she knows what to eat, she just doesn’t (or chooses not to!) follow through. She realizes she should sneak some cardio into her day, but for some reason, brunch with the girls holds more appeal. Such are the clients who have chosen to live their lives as an explanation.
As trainers, we can only affect so much change. A client must come to us equipped with the proper motivation and drive – and this varies among individuals – in order to make progress. In the absence thereof, we begin to see how explanations most likely dominate and govern these folks’ lives, even outside of the fitness realm.
Encouraging the Exclamation
In stark comparison, we see the clients who cannot wait for their training sessions, arriving with a 3-day log of healthy meals to show us, and rejoice at continuing progress. Even if manageable weight loads fall short of this type of client’s goals for the morning’s workout, he isn’t easily discouraged; he’ll make it happen next time, and undaunted. Celebrating even incremental milestones along with the client, we observe him living an exclamation.
We might not witness anything huge or overtly demonstrative in nature; a smile, a hug, or a “thanks so much for today” conveys his conviction in himself of an hour well spent. Sometimes, though, it does come in the form of a loud whooping, “YES!!! I did it!!!!” when he hits a new 1 rep max or PR. We applaud that too!
Have you ever observed both types of individuals as they leave the gym? Notice their posture, their faces, even their mode of speaking about what other activities they will do for the rest of their day. Tuning into such things provides us with a glimpse into such clients’ psyches: will s/he explain or exclaim every other occurrence or endeavor before the day’s end? Such insight can help us map out the most ideal approach for future training sessions.
Gentle Guidance Invokes Change
We often read and talk about building self-esteem in our clients. Some resist our attempts; a life built upon relentless self-defeat tends to feed upon itself, until only an explanation remains for each and every action. Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Physics remind us how every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The same holds true for those with a more upbeat attitude. Or taking a more cosmic perspective, the Law of Attraction dictates that we manifest what we think about it.
I do not mean to imply that every moment of one’s day must exude joyous exhilaration. Perhaps understanding and gentle guidance on our part can foster self-worth over time; and in the process, we may have transitioned a client or two from explanation to exclamation.
What a wonderful way to live!