“Can you talk to your clients about their poop?"
That was a question OPEX Founder James FitzGerald put to our cohort a couple weeks ago.
If your poop is generally on point, then your body is probably absorbing and digesting food optimally (or at least well). If you have daily constipation or diarrhea, on the other hand, something is not right.
As someone who prides myself on my ability to connect with my clients—on knowing the names of their children and being familiar with what's going on in their lives—this shook me a little bit, because the truth is, other than one client who seems to have take a giant dump every time he arrives at the gym, I have never talked to my clients about their poop (And in his case, it’s only to give him a hard time for stinking up the bathroom every time he gets to the gym).
But the aha moment actually had less to do with poop and more about a greater concept: It brought up the juxtaposition of giving your clients what they want versus giving them what they need.
As a coach, whether I was conscious of it or not, I realized in that moment that this has always been a struggle for me:
My approach in the past has been to try to do both: To give my clients some of what I think they need, but also to pander to what they say they want, hoping that I find a delicate balance.
The result has been not doing either very well.
Going back to the poop moment: I realized in that moment that the reason I have avoided talking about poop—or explaining to my client that a muscle-up probably isn’t on her agenda, or that a rigid meal plan isn’t going to give her long term success—is because of my own biases.
I assume if I have an honest conversation with Josephine about where she's at—her training age, her actual age (being 50 years old), her shoulder health, her current strength level etc—that she will get discouraged and quit. I assume that if I don't write a meal plan for my other weight loss client that she might be upset and go find a coach who will.
They're just assumptions, and they're not rooted in truth, explained FitzGerald. In my case, the assumptions have led me to a place where I shy away from digging deeper, and provide a less than ideal service as a result.
The bigger picture: One thing that has been reiterated through the CCP is the importance of building trust through authentic conversation: about digging into people's lives, into the way they think (and the way you think) to get to the bottom of something and discover the truth. And sometimes it might just start with a real, authentic conversation about poop.
As a coach, my job is about to get a whole lot easier!
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