Humans do things for a reason.
You can’t improve a person’s health until you change his or her behavior. This includes your clients, your coaches and yourself.
The process I’m about to teach you is the result of all the current research on behavioral change. It’s the sum of two decades’ worth of study in changing behavior and making people healthy. It’s so important that I co-founded Two-Brain Coaching to help coaches learn the things that really change lives.
Everyone teaches cues and corrections; no one teaches how to change behavior—until now. It’s a fundamental part of our courses at Two-Brain Coaching.
8 Steps to Behavior Change
As I’ve said earlier in this series, behavioral change has to come before motivation, before adoption of a new fitness program and before adherence. Retention—keeping a client long term—is the result of mastering behavioral change. It’s a lagging metric, not a leading metric.
Here’s how to do it, step by step:
1. Start with a clear picture of success. No one joins a gym for the sake of joining. Ask every client—in a sit-down, 1:1 conversation—what his or her goals are.
2. After you get a clear goal, ask “Why?” until you get to the root motivation. You need to know what the elephant likes to eat, so to speak. In this analogy, the elephant is the client’s emotional mind, and the rider atop the elephant is the client’s rational mind.
3. Show the client your plan to get him or her to the goal. We call this the “prescriptive model.” If you read the previous post in this series, you can call it “informing the rider” atop the elephant.
4. Provide a 20 percent bonus. Show the client what he or she is already doing right. It’s easier to modify an existing behavior than to start a new one. I wrote about “head starts” in “Two-Brain Business” and “Help First.” It’s important to show people they’re already a little bit successful.
5. Find Bright Spots. Motivation requires success, not the other way around. Highlight wins early. Celebrate them. Make this a priority for your coaches.
6. Put clients on podiums. A podium is a victory over a previous best. It’s also a chance to step up and move to a higher degree of challenge. And it’s the best marketing you can do. Make your clients famous. Tell their stories.
7. Ask for the next goal. This is the step most coaches miss.
The fitness industry is changing. Selling the same thing to everyone means selling a commodity. But no one can compete with personalized delivery. Even if your gym sells only group programming, your program must be delivered in an individual way.
Gym owners in our Incubator program build out their Client Journey step by step. They plan every interaction with their clients in advance. They keep clients longer. They don’t sell memberships; they sell change. And they can make this righteous claim because they understand behavior.
In the next installment in this series, I’ll talk with Ty Krueger of Behavior Change Collective and Packerland CrossFit on Two-Brain Radio. He’ll give you some real-world examples of behavior change in action.
Other Media in This Series
How to Change Your Clients’ Lives
Changing Behavior: The Elephant and the Rider
Behavior Change: How to Turn New Year’s Resolutions Into Long-Term Success
What’s Holding You Back?
A mentor helps you build a plan and stick to it.
Entrepreneurship is cool now. Guys like Gary Vaynerchuk and Elon Musk make the dream accessible to the common person.
That means there’s more information, more help, more ideas than ever before. Every single day, an entrepreneur can choose between 1,000 new podcast episodes 2,000 blog posts or hundreds of new videos on YouTube. Access to information is no longer the problem. Everyone has enough good ideas.
The new problem is overwhelm. We fail to take action because we’re paralyzed by too many opportunities.
We don’t see how each idea or tactic or habit fits into a larger plan, so we take a shotgun approach to improving our business.
And we don’t have filters for the sources of our information, so we trust that everything on the internet is true even when we know it’s not. We want to believe.
A mentor’s role is to help you sort ideas—your own or the great ones you found elsewhere—and build them into your plan. Then a mentor’s role is to help you stick to your plan or shift it to match your strengths.
If you’re trying to build a plan without a mentor, this might help: a hierarchy of business knowledge and actions:
Examining the Hierarchy
Let’s start at the bottom: the lowest value use of your time and attention.
We all love motivational memes about business, but unless they clearly say “Do this one thing right now,” they’re useless. And even if they do say, “Take this specific action,” invest your time in something more valuable if there isn’t a clear path to increased revenue.
Don’t read rants. They’re just texturbation.
The next layer (ideas, tips, tactics and episodes) has value but also carries a huge potential for overwhelm. At Two-Brain, we publish every day. Every single blog post, podcast episode and video carries an actionable idea. Every idea has been tested and proven to work. But no one can implement them all. A mentor’s job is to help you identify where you’re strong and keep you focused on those tactics. A mentor who simply throws ideas at you isn’t helping (and is probably slowing you down).
The next layer of value for your time and attention is peer support. Online groups, masterminds, chambers of commerce and business mixers all have value. The best groups are curated for quality people and moderated for quality discussion. But it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between opinion and advice, and it’s definitely impossible to spot outright lies.
No one posts burned dinner on Facebook, and no one shares business failings, either. We actually tell our Incubator clients to take a short Facebook fast and only invite them to our private Facebook group in Growth phase, where peer support is more important. Any entrepreneurs group, online or in person, is only as good as its filters.
More valuable than peer support is actual education. Presumably, lectures and books and seminars are created by people who have actually been successful and are willing to share their tactics. This layer is more valuable because of the higher-level filters: editors, publishers and “stages,” like TED Talks. Presumably, someone who knows something is filtering out the bad ideas and noise.
But many good business books would make a great blog post (there’s not much past the first chapter), and the filters are lower than ever. My advice is to read (or watch) until the expert becomes repetitive and then move on. Even in a one-way educational monologue, you still have the choice to close the book or leave the auditorium.
The next layer is a two-way education: a dialogue. These are courses, seminars and workshops in which the hosts help the attendees apply the content to their specific challenges.
I no longer run two-day seminars where I get up and lecture because they don’t help. Instead, we run action-based Summits, where a speaker introduces a topic and then attendees apply it to their businesses on the spot. One of the best tactics I learned last year was to leave a seminar as soon as you learn one good thing and spend the rest of the weekend in your hotel room working on that thing. That’s far more valuable than amassing ideas and then taking action on none.
Filter and Focus
Now, all these things, put together, form a plan. To make an effective plan, you need some distance from your current situation. You need an objective eye. That’s where a mentor comes in. A mentor is there to identify what you really need and help you identify the best tactics, to provide the best support, and to supply the right amount of accountability.
For example, many new Two-Brain clients say, “I need more clients.” Then they’ll cite an Instagram tactic they saw in a Facebook group. But then they’ll say, “I don’t have time to do it.”
So the mentor guides them through the work that will get them more time first. That’s part of the Incubator.
Then the mentor says, “Let’s determine how we’re going to spend your time.” That’s part of building an annual plan, which comes at the start of Growth Phase. If the Instagram tactic will actually generate more clients, the mentor builds it into the plan.
From there, the mentor’s role is to help the entrepreneur fill time with the best courses, support and tactics for him or her at that moment.
Do you see?
You can try to do All The Things. Or you can invest your time and budget wisely—doing the right things at the right time to the exclusion of all the noise and overwhelm.
You can spend 2019 the same way you spent 2018: making guesses, trying to do everything and feeling overwhelmed. Or you can get a mentor. This is what I realized in 2008, when I found my first mentor. And it’s why I have a mentor today. As you become more successful, the choices just get bigger.
Click here to talk with one of our team members for free. We don’t invite everyone into our mentorship practice, but there’s only one way to find out if you’re a perfect fit.
Compromise is commonly taught as a virtue.
Sometimes, we get ahead by going along. We avoid confrontation. We cave in instead of standing up for ourselves. We fail to speak up. We “go along to get along.”
Sometimes compromise means that everyone loses.
Chris Voss is an ex-FBI hostage negotiator. His book “Never Split the Difference” was an exciting read. But more importantly, it was directive: We took away several specific scripts to use in hard conversations.
When you’re having a tough conversation (for example, you’re about to raise prices on your monthly membership), you have to remove emotion from the discussion first.
So sit down with the person affected by the rate increase.
Imagine his or her emotions are a big balloon between the two of you. Neither can see the other clearly through the balloon. You need to empty the balloon. So you pop it with a pointed question:
“So, you’re upset about the rate increase?”
Then you have to let the air out. Let the person vent. Let him or her talk for 10 minutes straight.
And then you have to do it again. You have to make sure the emotion is gone. So you ask another pointed question:
“You’re worried that your family won’t be able to afford the extra $20 per month?”
And you let the person vent again.
If necessary, poke the balloon a third time. Only when all of the emotion has been let out can you approach the problem logically.
The next step is to lay out the problem you’re trying to solve.
“Well, here’s where we are. I don’t think I have a choice. Do you?”
You’ll have to consider the next step in the conversation because many clients have opinions about business without any context or true knowledge. Like, “If you cut your rate in half, you’ll get twice as many people in here!” But they only have the consumer’s perspective. You don’t want to get into an argument. So you should tell them:
“Here’s the problem I’m facing. This is the only solution that will work. Can I count on your support?”
Voss wasn’t the only author to release a negotiation book in the last couple of years. He wasn’t even the only former hostage negotiator to release one! But Voss’ book is infinitely valuable because it’s directive. And that’s why I love it.
It’s also the reason Chris Voss will be our keynote speaker at the 2020 Two-Brain Summit in June.
Voss will arrive on Friday night and come with me to a meet-and-greet for entrepreneurs in our Tinker mastermind.
On Saturday, he’ll deliver the keynote to the 400+ attendees at the Summit. And after the keynote, Chris and I will do a live Q+A with the audience. Bring your questions!
Other Articles in This Series
Best Lessons of 2019: The Alter Ego Effect
Best Lessons of 2019: The Power of Nice
Best Lessons of 2019: The Queen Bee Role
In the previous article in this series, I told you How to Build an Unstoppable Business. I used Jim Collins’ “flywheel” concept to illustrate.
I told you how to identify the six handles you can use to roll your business forward. We teach you how to remove obstacles, push on the six handles and get your flywheel turning in the Incubator.
In the Founder Phase, you’re really going to be pushing your flywheel yourself. But if you’ve made a smooth wheel and haven’t placed any speed bumps in your own path (like underpricing), you can still get the wheel turning pretty well.
In the Farmer Phase, you can get other people to help you turn the flywheel. You turn specific handles over to them one at a time. Gradually, your job becomes leadership: getting everyone to push together in the same direction.
And, finally, your job is to have someone else take over the leadership role so that you can work on your own flywheel.
The Six F’s
One gym is enough to make a living. But entrepreneurs often want more in their lives: They want another business or a bigger stage. They want a wealth platform. I call this the Tinker Phase, and Tinkers build personal flywheels.
The handles on your personal flywheel are:
Fitness—This is your physical and emotional capacity to meet your challenges. Are you ready? Can you manage your stress, your physical output demands—and your response to both? Can you last long enough to finish the race?
Finances—Do you have the capital necessary to invest in your big goals, and are you prepared for the increased financial risk at this stage?
Freedom—Do you have enough wealth to create choice? Are you free to spend your time and money in constructive ways? Do you have enough positive constraints to keep you focused?
Family—This is the sum of all of your relationships. Are you surrounded by the right people? Do your relationships make you happy or angry or sad? Who surrounds you, and where are they taking you? Where are you taking them?
Faith—This handle represents the belief that order exists among chaos, that we are not helplessly falling, that we have control over our destiny, that happiness is attainable.
Future—Do you have a goal? Do you have a clear vision of what you’d like to achieve next? Do you have a plan to get there? Are you focused?
Where’s the flywheel rolling to? Happiness.
One of my most controversial articles this year was called “Fat People on Mars.” In that post, I wrote that the ultimate goal of all of this—business, fitness and money—was to achieve happiness. But happiness isn’t a static state: You don’t simply cross the border into heaven, find a seat and sit down for eternity.
Happiness is an active process. To be happy, you have to keep the flywheel moving. That means a balance of challenge and triumph, of focus and creativity, of finances and time. People are happiest when they’re moving.
Other Articles in This Series
How to Build an Unstoppable Business
Removing Speed Bumps
The Flywheel Turns on Trust
The “flip” mentality is everywhere.
If you watch television, you’ll see homes being bought, repaired and “flipped” as a business model.
If you’re on Instagram, you’ll see software entrepreneurs talking about their “exits”—the sale of their company to a larger one.
Even in the fitness industry, I often see posts from gym owners who are trying to sell their business so they can “work on other projects.”
But here’s the truth: If the gym is successful, it doesn’t need the owner’s attention or oversight. Profitable gyms don’t require an “exit” to create wealth for the owner.
What If Holding Generated Profit?
I learned the “buy and hold” strategy from Robert Kiyosaki in his book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” The idea is so powerful—and so counter-culture—that I keep 20 copies of the book in my office at all times and hand them out to visitors. Here’s the idea, in a nutshell:
Buy a building.
Rent it out.
Simple, right? But look at the math:
If you buy a house for $200,000, spend $40,000 on renovations to clean it up and sell it at the top of the market for $275,000, you can earn $35,000.
For a ton of effort and risk. What if you don’t sell? What if the renovation costs are higher than expected? What if you actually lose on the deal? It would take at least three successful flips to cover the downside of one bad flip.
Conversely, Kiyosaki’s method goes like this:
Buy a house for $200,000.
Break the mortgage down into the smallest monthly payments possible.
Rent it out.
Keep collecting rent forever, even when the mortgage is long gone.
After reading Kiyosaki’s book, I immediately began planning to buy my first commercial building. Now my buildings pay me over $100,000 per year in rental income—and they’ll continue to do it forever. I don’t have to keep buying and flipping buildings.
That’s passive income. That’s a cash-flow asset. And it’s scalable. I’m not trading any time for that money: Someone else cuts the grass and clears the snow away.
When I understood the math for real estate, I asked myself: “Could someone do this for his or her business?”
And that began the quest to turn my first business into a cash-flow asset: Something that would operate with excellence and pay me even when I wasn’t there.
I couldn’t find a model to follow anywhere.
Every owner of a service business—both locally and online—appeared to have either bought himself or herself a job for life or to be building toward a sale—or both. I had to build the model, and it took me 10 years.
Then we had to prove the model could work in other gyms. That took us more years. It was hard, painful work. I lost staff and clients and even a few friends. But creating a sustainable business that would feed my family when I wasn’t there was worth it.
Now we teach other gym owners how to do it, sometimes in less than three years.
When your gym runs itself, we call you a Tinker. Then you have a choice: You can spend your time doing what makes you most happy. Is that working in your gym? Awesome. Is it starting your T-shirt company, opening a second gym or buying real estate? Also awesome.
All those things are great. But you should be able to go to zero time in your gym—and still get paid anyway.
Your Success Plan
The best time to think about your “exit” is before you open your business. If you plan to sell it, you’ll want to build a succession plan. But you don’t have to sell it: You can build a success plan instead.
And success means self-sustainability. It means continuity for your members, cash flow for life for you and careers for your coaches. And as I wrote yesterday, the real value of keeping your gym alive goes far beyond a one-time payout: Hundreds of thousands of dollars to you, lives saved, an ongoing legacy in your community.
How do you make those happen? Through mentorship.
The purpose of our mentorship program is to make you wealthy, your coaches happy and your community healthy.
Which stage of entrepreneurship are you in? Take our 20-question quiz to find out and get the exact steps you need to take your business to the next level.
You’re under a lot of pressure.
Sometimes that’s good. Maybe, like me, you’re at your best when your back’s to the wall.
But you’re also a fitness professional. So you know what happens to an organism under stress. Hans Selye said it first:
“An organism under stress is in decline. Remove the stress, and the organism super-compensates. But maintain the stress and the organism continues to decline until it dies.”
Relieve Stress—Your Way
Every entrepreneur needs a release valve.
Some drink. Some cheat on a spouse. Some have other bad habits.
And some exercise.
Maybe, as a gym owner, exercise is your release valve. But more and more gym owners admit that working out in their gyms adds to their stress instead of relieves it.
I want to tell you: It’s OK to work out somewhere else.
You can go to another gym. Your members won’t quit.
You can go ride a bike. Your members won’t quit your gym to ride bikes.
You can work out in your garage. Your members won’t immediately quit your gym to build garage gyms of their own.
Last May, I walked into my gym for the noon group. I love the people in my noon group but had been forcing myself to attend for a few months.
On my way into the gym, I saw a coach’s lunch garbage spread all over the front desk. I was pissed; and then the class started two minutes late, with 10 people waiting around while one person tied their shoes.
When the workout started, I felt unmotivated. I was distracted by the work sitting in my office next door. I didn’t like the workout, and I was bored by the warmup. I started to ask myself why I was even there. That night, I dug out my bike. And I haven’t worked out in my gym since.
But membership keeps growing. None of my members said, “Screw it! I’m gonna go ride bikes with Chris!”
Self-Improvement Produces Business Improvements
If you’ve been a gym owner for a while, your gym might not be your release valve anymore. And that’s OK: It exists to be their release valve. You need a different one. As our resident psychotherapist says:
“Therapists need therapy more than anyone else because they’re carrying everyone’s shit around!”
Did my members ask where I was? Absolutely.
Did I plan to return after a short break? Definitely. But I haven’t yet.
Do I hate CrossFit? No way. I love it. I just love cycling more right now. It’s a tremendous gift to be able to choose between two things that I love.
To be a better coach, better boss and better human, you need to release the pressure. Some of that pressure comes from self-doubt; some comes from lack of clarity; some comes from guilt.
Go exercise somewhere else. You have permission. Come back happier.
Do all the right things for all the right people.
Need more advice on common problems? Click here to book a free call with a certified Two-Brain Business mentor.