“Nobody wants our job. But everyone thinks they do.”
These are the words Two-Brain Mentor Jay Williams texted me on Friday night. After a rough week in which even my podcast interview didn’t happen on schedule, I reflected on how well I handle stress NOW than I did five years ago. I recalled those dashboard-punching, angry-email-sending days, and thought, “I bet these lessons can help someone else get through it.”
This episode is dedicated to the martyr; to the workhorse; to the owner who thinks, “I’ll just outwork everyone else, and things will be okay.” It’s not going to happen, and you’re hurting everyone (including yourself) in the meantime. You need to do something different. But that’s stressful. Here’s how to deal with it. Other times, things are going to go wrong. Sometimes they’ll all go wrong at once. When they do, here are the tools to get you through.
In this episode, I briefly mention my own books, but the stuff going on BEHIND the scenes – even as those books were written – are revealed more fully. Stress is part of entrepreneurship, and – unfortunately – it will never go away. But you can train yourself to deal with it.
I also mention:
Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius (the link includes a free version, or you can find one through Google)
Bright Spots, which came from “Made To Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath.
You can find my books and the others listed in the Two-Brain Bookstore.
Recorded on October 3, 2016.
5:26 – Working on problems and making mistakes.
8:34 – Dealing with stress.
11:17 – Treat problems like math: Break them down.
14:16 – Look at mistakes through the Growth Mindset.
19:31 – Business is cyclical.
21:32 – Practicing positivity.
28:22 – Stoicism and the worst-case scenario.
34:43 – Identify problems in advance.
39:29 – Respond, don’t react.
Greg: 00:00 – On this episode, we are going to pull one of the Two-Brain Radio greats out of its vault and let you guys listen to it again. This is Episode 48: “What To Do When It All Goes Wrong,” originally published on October 3rd, 2016 by Chris Cooper. Let us know what you guys think. We’re going to pull some of these oldies but goodies back out so that you guys can be reminded of things like what to do when everything goes wrong. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at twobrainbusiness.com
Greg: 00:56 – We would like to thank another one of our amazing sponsors, UpLaunch. Over the amount of time that you’ve had your business, how many people have come through your doors and never signed up for a membership? When I first opened, I remember getting everybody’s name and emails because that’s what I was told was the best way to start the conversation with potential new members. The big problem was I never knew what to say. Over many years, I spent countless hours developing plenty of emails to send to these new members or people that were thinking about signing up for a membership. This took a lot of time, probably way too long, and could have been spent on more productive things. If you’re in the same situation I was, don’t waste any more time and book a free session with UpLaunch. UpLaunch has over a hundred pre-built emails to convert new leads into members and when your members decide to take a break, they have a whole campaign to get them back through the doors. You have the ability to text message members right from the app, and with integrations like Google Calendar, Facebook, and over a hundred more via Zapier, UpLaunch has you covered. UpLaunch was created by gym owners for gym owners. Head over to www.uplaunch.com today to get the conversation started with your future and past clients.
Chris: 02:07 – In 1972, President Richard Nixon visited China with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They met Chairman Mao and they also met the premier of China Zhao Enlai. The most famous quotes that come from that historic meeting came from Enlai, not from Mao. When Kissinger asked Enlai what he thought about the French Revolution, because Enlai was a history buff, the response that became famous was it’s too early to tell. For those of us who aren’t history buffs, the French revolution happened in 1789 and Enlai’s response was taken to mean that history had not lived itself out. This week, it was a rough one for me. For those who don’t know, I own a couple of gyms and I have since 2005. I’ve been in the fitness game since 1996, that’s 20 years of coaching and I still have rough weeks. I’ll be thinking about this story for a while and I might not be sharing it for a few years until history plays itself out, but I thought the greatest value that I could give on this week when even my podcast interview didn’t make it was how I deal with the tough stuff.
Chris: 03:17 – Imagine it’s 2008. Eight years ago and I’ve just had the park-bench moment that I’ve written about in “Two-Brain Business” and “Help First” and “Two-Brain 2.0.” And I finally realized that things are not going to get better on their own. That I’m not going to out-survive bad business practices; that I’m not going to naturally get better, that people won’t just find their way to me, that I won’t just raise prices, clients won’t just show up offering to throw me money—and that it was my fault. Before that point, there had been years of dashboard punching, coffee-drinking, swearing-at-9:00-PM-while-I’m-mopping days. There had been a lot of those. I’ve got kind of a reputation for getting up early, 4:00 AM, but that practice was honed not by writers craft, that practice was honed through my gym, because that’s when I would have to get up to drive to the city to open my gym before 6:00 AM. And I would do it every single day for years, but this fatigue and the stress and the lack of money led to crazy depression, anxiety. It led to a lot of anger, frankly, and it took me a long time to learn how to deal with those things. Even when things started to get better and money started to come and the business was stable and profitable and I knew that I’d still be working there in six months or a year, I still had to learn how to deal with stress. Today, you’re going to read an article by Jay Williams on our site called “Bigger problems,” and Jay talks a lot about focusing on bigger problems and how in my case, after owning a gym for three years, I was still focusing on mopping the floor when I should’ve been focusing on how do I make this a full time career for somebody else. I should have been looking ahead focusing on bigger problems instead of just maintaining what I had. And finally in my own park-bench moment when I realized that I really had nothing to lose but time, which was the most important thing of all, I realized that I had to seek bigger problems.
Chris: 05:26 – Working on problems means that you’re going to make mistakes. Making mistakes causes a lot of anxiety. If you’re overworked and underpaid, those anxieties are going to cause you a lot of grief. I was drinking too much coffee. I was developing an ulcer at 35 years of age. My hair was turning gray, my fitness was flushed away. Frankly, I wasn’t strong like I used to be. I was getting old really quickly. My posture was going downhill, so was every relationship in my life. The story of how I turned my gym around is well documented. I talk about it every day so I’m not going to talk about it here, but I thought the biggest value that I can give people right now is learning how to deal with stress, because that’s what I had to do. Another thing Jay Williams, mentor at Two-Brain Business, told me this week was nobody wants our job, but everybody thinks they do, and this creates a lot of stress.
Chris: 06:21 – When you move to level-four thinking, entrepreneurial problems, you start to tie your identity into the success of your business. Your business has a lot of moving parts, and I’m not saying it’s not your fault. I’m not saying it’s not your responsibility to fix and optimize those parts so that you’re profitable, but I am saying that a lot of people, once they get here, would like to go back. My name is Chris Cooper. I’m the author of “Two-Brain Business,” “Two-Brain 2.0,” “Help First” and “Enrichment Through Exercise,” and this week I’m going to talk about what to do when it all goes wrong. Enjoy.
Chris: 07:06 – There are a lot of self-help books on the market aren’t there? I haven’t written any, but I’ve read dozens and most of them don’t help at all. It’s hard to put the author’s words into perspective. It’s hard to internalize a Facebook meme or an Instagram post that you hear from somebody who is inspirational. It’s also hard to take inspiration and hang onto it and stay inspired and driven. When you open a box, you’re probably young. Most people do when they’re less than 30 years old, you’ve got energy. You can stay up all night and you can get up early the next day, but eventually you stop bouncing. You’re going to need more rest. You’re going to need to exercise, you’re going to need to eat well and you’re going to need to get over it. Here are the steps that we can take to reduce stress in your own life or maybe just get through one little acute problem. The first thing I’m going to say, and I’m only going to say this once because this podcast is never a sales pitch, is get a mentor. Get somebody else who will say, “I will take partial responsibility for your success. I will answer the phone when you call, I will be available to you and I will share my experience.” That’s a mentor. That’s not a system. That’s not a challenge. It’s not a recipe. It’s a mentor. You need to get one.
Chris: 08:34 – OK. I’ve said my piece, on to how do you deal with stress? How do you get through anxiety and problems? The first step is to take the problem and break it down into its component parts. Years ago, if a coach had said, “Chris, the members are complaining about the programming,” I would have panicked. I would’ve said, “Oh my God, I got to change something.” And I would immediately have thought about how I could change and what I should change to. But now I know better. Now I know to break the problem down. So my follow-up question is going to be how many people, what are their names and what exactly did they say? What you’ll find a lot of the time is that your coaches, other members, other people in your life will overdramatize problems.
Chris: 09:27 – And it’s not that they’re evil, they’re not trying to cause you stress. They think you probably don’t have any stress. What they are trying to do is remain relevant to you by being the bearer of bad news. They are being the Messenger. They are staying important in your eyes and so what they’ll do is amplify bad news. When you are given a subjective problem, “everyone is complaining about the programming.” What you need to do is objectify it before you can make a solution. You need to turn it into a math problem. How many people, what are their names? What exactly did they say? I’m going to bet that a lot of time you’re going to find that this puts things in perspective. Oh yeah. This one guy said that, we didn’t squat enough and maybe that client only comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and you squat on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
Chris: 10:21 – There’s an easy solution, and you can reach out to the client directly and say, Mr. Bill, I’d really like you to come and squat once a week. Or maybe if you listen to the podcast episode about the prescriptive model, that’s going to come up in the three-month goal review with the client. But the first thing that you can do is to break the problem down into its component parts. I’ll give you a bigger example. You’re not making enough money. Let’s say that you’ve figured out the math that we go through with Two-Brain mentoring clients on your own and you know that to net $100,000 next year, you’re going to have to gross say $300,000. I’m choosing arbitrary numbers here to make the math easy. But you know that you’re not going to make $300,000 unless you’ve got enough clients, and if your prices are wrong, you’re going to need a lot more clients to get to $300,000 gross.
Chris: 11:17 – It’s easy to get stuck to say, “Man, I am never going to make $300,000 at this,” or to say, “What is the silver bullet marketing strategy that you can do for me that’s going to give me $300,000 gross next year?” It’s easy to say, “How can I make this somebody else’s problem? Who else has the solution for me?” Instead, what I want you to do is break the problem down, turn it into a math problem. So if I need $300,000 gross next year, that means I’m need 150 members who are going to pay $2,000 per year. And then if I know that 20% of my members are going to pay twice as much as everyone else because they availed themselves to personal training or nutrition, that means that the 80% of my clients who are left can actually be paying a bit less and still get me to my goal.
Chris: 12:10 – Once you’ve got the wood chopped into those two pieces, how much a client pays and how many of them I need, the problem becomes easier. If we look at the how much do people pay side, the answer might be simple. Raise rates, which of course is not easy, but it is simple and once you’ve made that decision, the next steps can be broken down even further. They can become an equation of their own on the other side. How do I get more people? There are answers out there for that now too, and so we can plan out in advance. In September, you’re going to gain 10, last year you gained six. How will we gain four more? We’re going to use the affinity marketing model. In December this year we want to gain nine. Last year we didn’t gain any in December, so we’re going to run a six-week challenge and here’s how we’re going to promote it.
Chris: 13:04 – Or maybe we need a sports team. Which teams are in season in January? Downhill skiers. When should we approach them? October. And working backward from problems like that makes it infinitely more solvable. I’m going to prove it to you. If you had to get one new client this month, could you do it? If I gave you 12 hours and said Jim, go out in the streets and get one client this month or shut your doors, could you do it? I bet you could. Given 12 hours, I know you could. One of the best things Seth Godin said at the Archangel Summit last week was, don’t come to me and say, “How can I get 200 clients?” Come to me and say, “Here’s a list of 200 people that I’ve had a conversation with about my business.” Again, turn it into a math problem, break things down. This is where experience really helps. So if you’ve worked with an experienced box owner who’s gone through this exact problem, or even better, 150 box owners who have gone through this exact problem, you can follow their template, follow what they’ve done right, and learn from the mistakes that they’ve already made.
Chris: 14:16 – My second tip is the Growth Mindset. If you don’t know what the Growth Mindset is, I’ll post a link to it in the show notes. The Growth Mindset is basically viewing every new experience as practice, expecting never to get things perfectly right the first time. That it’s OK to screw up on this decision because I’m going to learn from it, but I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. And that is so true in business that I can’t iterate it strongly enough. So I’m going to link to it and we’ll call it the Growth Mindset link and you can click on that. You can learn all about it. There’s a ton of books about this, even the books called Grit talk mostly about the Growth Mindset, that everything is practice. If it’s your first year owning a box, that is a really tough philosophy to adopt because you think that everything has to go right, right now.
Chris: 15:07 – But I promise it doesn’t. That client that you just lost, that you thought was your best friend, there’s going to be more like them. There are some irreplaceable clients, but there’s no irreplaceable clientele, meaning you’re going to miss that person. You know, I’ve lost people that I missed five years later as clients, but that’s not going to stop you from getting other fantastic people later. Another great quote from Godin last week was don’t get sucked into sunk costs. He was talking about business decisions that you made early on, like your pricing that you’re scared to change because you’ve always done it that way. For example, a lot of box owners start a founders club and they tell everybody, you’re going to pay this rate for life. In 2016 that’s pretty rare. Very few people are still making that mistake, but some are still trying to solve that mistake.
Chris: 16:00 – In hindsight, it does seem like a real forehead slap or like, how could I say that? Did I really mean that 20 years from now this guy is going to be paying the 2016 rate? That’s crazy. Things are going to be completely different in 2016, this business will not be the same. That’s the only thing that I can predict. Why would I promise they’re going to maintain the same rate. The problem though is cognitive dissonance. We made that mistake. Our parents told us never to lie, and so we believe that if we break this promise that people will hate us, they will hate ourselves, that we won’t be able to sleep at night. But if you view things as a mistake with the Growth Mindset, you open yourself up to trying new things. For example, maybe back in 2012 you told a client that they would keep their rate forever if they signed up for unlimited CrossFit classes, but what if the definition of CrossFit classes change?
Chris: 17:01 – For example, back then maybe you gave them some open gym time for free and now you’re too busy to do that and maybe you threw in Olympic weightlifting on Thursday nights for free because you didn’t understand a stratified model and how you are taking things away from your CrossFitters by doing that. That’s fine. If you say to this client, you will still keep unlimited CrossFit classes, which is the promise I made to you back in 2012—and I can’t guarantee that I can live up to that promise forever—but I’m willing to extend another year. Maybe that’s OK. Some of you might say that’s splitting hairs, Chris. You’re still going back on your word, and I agree. Eventually you’re going to have to. So you can do this in a straight-up way and say, I was wrong, I screwed up. Or you can continue to sink yourself with sunk costs.
Chris: 17:53 – There’s a lot of forgiveness that goes into the Growth Mindset. The key is to give yourself permission to fail in advance. You are not going to be perfect at this and that’s OK. The third thing I want you to remember is that very few people will remember your mistakes. When I’m giving Two-Brain clients a strategy called the “30-Day Content Challenge,” I tell them to publish every day. I also tell them the first day is not going to be very good and that doesn’t matter because, in the world of content marketing, quantity unfortunately is still more important than quality. I’ll prove it. Go back to dontbuyads.com, the stuff that I was writing in 2008, 2009. Put it through the filter, read all of it. There’s 400 posts there, go ahead. Try and prove everyone right. They’re not. Definitely not. The filter of time has changed some of the answers. My lack of perspective as a single box owner didn’t give me the right lens that I needed to help everyone, so of course now that I’ve been mentoring people for four or five years and writing all these other books and meeting thousands of box owners and traveling for HQ and taking a thousand free phone calls, of course I have a better perspective now, but back then a lot of what I wrote was still relevant. Time has proven some of it wrong. Go ahead and find some, go ahead and read all that stuff. You’ll say, “I don’t think that’s right” and that’s OK because I know that I’ve grown since then and the stuff that I’m putting out now is a lot more right than the stuff that I ever did then, especially given the time change.
Chris: 19:31 – The fourth tip is the knowledge that business is cyclical. That means there are going to be very high points in your career. You’re going to land that deal for $50,000 at that local school. There are also going to be points that are just as low or almost so, but what I want you to know is that if you’re doing it right and if you’re learning about business, you’ll always trend up. When I started fixing my business, I started going through this roller coaster. I’d get these crazy highs and crazy lows. It was like running a manic business. It was depressing and exhilarating sometimes all in the same day. I’d be excited, I’d be angry. Luckily it was enough because I was used to being just angry and tired all the time. So the highs were just enough to keep me going. We call these Bright Spots, and behavioral therapists know that the gap between these Bright Spots is where motivation lies. The closer together we can make these Bright Spots, the easier motivation comes. Motivation depends on success. Success doesn’t depend on motivation, but I digress, and I’ve written a ton about Bright Spots in the past, so I’m not going to go down that road. However, what I want you to do is celebrate. I want you to acknowledge the wins. I don’t want you to say, yeah, but here’s the next negative thing. Pessimism is a habit. Optimism is a habit. Neither of them happens by accident. Both happen because of practice. I was reading a book on behavioral science and I can’t even remember which book it was now, there’ve been so many, but I’m going to bet it was Dan Pink. What the author said was that when people are asked how often they smiled during the day, they’ll usually guess a lot higher. They might guess 10, they might pick an arbitrary number like 20, but when they actually stop and count, a lot of people will find that they smile less than five times per day.
Chris: 21:32 – This is why you don’t see a lot of depression in youth, at least not at the rates of adults, because adults don’t smile during the day. It’s the smiling that makes them happy. I’m going to prove it. Take a pencil, pen, whatever, stick it in your mouth lengthwise. OK, bite on it. Just hold it there for a few minutes. What you’re doing is engaging the smile muscles. Just by holding that pencil in your mouth, your mood will improve. I promise. Go ahead and try that out. Hit pause. If you’re driving right now, take out a pencil, hold it in your mouth. Your mood will improve because you’re activating the smile muscles. Where am I going with this? What I’m saying is that I want you to notice how often you’re thinking positive thoughts during the day and how often you’re thinking negative. When I did this exercise, it was 4:00 AM. It was pitch black. I was driving through snow and I said, holy crap. I think days go by when I don’t have a single positive thought at all. What do you think that does to your brain? If I can make you happier by telling you to bite a pencil, what do you think all those negative messages are doing to your brain all the time? There are a lot of other physiological cues you can use and I’m sure you’ve heard them before. You sit up straight, stand up, walk around, stretch, reach your arms above your heads. Practice diaphragmatic breathing. You’ve heard this stuff before and the reason you’ve heard it is because it works. You need to fix your mood before you can make good decisions, before you can deal with stress.
Chris: 23:07 – Now the business is cyclical. It doesn’t come from a business textbook. It comes from the Dalai Lama. Now before you think I’m into that foo-foo, you know Buddhist Zen stuff—just kidding, I am. I want you to read the autobiography of the Dalai Lama. I want you to think about how this man dealt with stress, and he said that he doesn’t avoid stress at all. He’s not in a Zen-like state all the time, but what he does is he practices putting himself in stressful situations so that he can rehearse getting back to a state of Zen. It doesn’t happen often, but what he does is practice, and he doesn’t get mad at himself for screwing up. He notices when he’s in a bad mood and how many negative thoughts he’s had in a day. This, my friends, is mindfulness. Mindfulness practice does not require Lululemon anything. It doesn’t require a burning candle. It doesn’t require a weird pose with your palms up. Mindfulness means paying attention to the way that you think.
Chris: 24:13 – So the Dalai Lama in his autobiography talked about cycles of life, and I don’t mean you know you, you’re a baby and then you’re an infant and then you’re old. What I mean is that it seems like you get on a roll with things. Think of a batter going up to the plate. If he gets one hit in four and he does that in four straight games, the announcers will say he’s on a hot streak, he’s on a roll. But that batter believing that he’s on a roll will keep them on the roll. Again, success is necessary for motivation, not the other way around. Think about your last hot streak. What started it? I bet you can’t even remember. I bet you didn’t win a lottery ticket and then think, all right, today’s the day that I’m going to raise my rates. Then I’m going to find three new clients and hire the best coach.
Chris: 25:02 – Probably a bunch of little things happened and then you started to notice, “Hey, I’m on a bit of a roll here,” and that’s what carried you into the next wave. The upward swing, the upper arch of the circle. This mindset will also stop you from getting too high when things are great. I know a lot of affiliates, when they start our program, they get some success right away. Maybe they’re adding personal training for the first time and immediately, two months later they’re thinking, “Wow, I need 10,000 square feet. I’ve got to get a bigger budget. I’m going to borrow $100,000 here.” When that happens, my role changes. My role is to keep them level, to not let them get too low and to never get too high, because I’ll tell you what, as high as you get, that’s how low you might go next time. Be prepared. And the inverse is also true. If you’re going through something really rough right now, you’re going to benefit that much more from it. You’re going to get that much higher from it. In fact, what I like to think is that every tough thing that I deal with is preparing me for something even tougher ahead, that it’s practice. If a staff person quits after they’ve been with me for 10 years, I can say, well, this is preparing me for 10 years from now when another staff person quits after 20 years, and the lessons that I learned from this 10-year departure will better prepare me when that happens in another decade. Or maybe your cash flow is short this month and you’re a hundred bucks off the mark, you can’t pay your rent. What is this really preparing you for? Maybe it’s the month when you’re $1,000 short, maybe it’s the month when you go to buy your new building and then you can’t make payroll because you didn’t budget your cashflow appropriately.
Chris: 26:48 – Whatever that is, some stress that’s equal to or greater than what you’re going through right now can be avoided because of what you’re going through right now. You will learn from these little lessons right now that seem so big, and you’ll be able to completely avoid the big problems later. One of the things that I say over and over in my book is that I spent $170,000 on staff-training programs. That didn’t work. In fact, sometimes I say I wasted $170,000, but that’s not true. What I did was save $1.7 million by learning from those mistakes, by making those mistakes early and then surviving them. If you’ve ever tried the 4/9ths model, or if you pay your coaches 44% of gross for personal training, if you’ve ever run a specialty program because you heard it in my book, if you’ve ever thought about launching a nutrition program because you heard that in a podcast a few weeks ago, good. You are benefiting from my mistakes, and I’m glad even if I never hear from you. If you make a hundred thousand dollars selling personal training in the next three years, awesome. That’s not hard by the way, but it was hard for me to figure it out in the first place and hard for me to figure out that that’s what I should be doing. Even though I’d already been a personal trainer for 10 years, I thought I was just going to run group classes. Now I had to learn the hard way that clients want to mix and also what the client wants comes first.
Chris: 28:22 – So after that one you’re probably thinking “Oh, Cooper’s a Buddhist,” but I’ll tell you what I really am. I’m stoic. I believe in stoic philosophy. I believe a lot of Buddhism has been influenced by stoicism and vice versa, of course, because there’s so ancient. Who knows where the original idea came from. And I’m going to talk about stoicism because it’s going to tie up a lot of what I’ve already said. If you haven’t read “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, that might be the most important business book you can buy. Start there. “Meditations” is written as a series of letters to himself and it was only discovered long after he died. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor but also a stoic philosopher. Even though stoicism mostly came from Greece. He was on the battlefield a lot, but he stopped and wrote to himself almost every day. The reminders that he gives himself in meditations are things that we can learn from and apply to daily business. You learn from Seneca, you can learn from Epictetus, you can learn from any of the stoics, but there’s a lot of important stuff there including don’t let yourself get too high, don’t let yourself get too low. Break a problem into its component parts. When you see a problem recurring, solve it in advance. A lot of the stuff that I’ve already said, but here is what I think and what I’ve taken as the most important part of stoic wisdom, and that is imagine the worst case scenario. Now, hang on a minute. I know I already said don’t be a pessimist, practice optimism, count how many times a day you smile. What I’m saying now is that when you’re faced with a stress or a horrible option or a very difficult choice, I want you to imagine literally the worst case scenario and then ask yourself, can I deal with that? Most of the time the answer will be yes. Let’s say that you’re asking yourself, should I quit my job and start a business or should I quit my job and work at the gym full-time to really make this thing take off?
Chris: 30:29 – Of course, you have to do the math. You have to have a plan to succeed. It’s not just going to happen to you, but if it comes down to the emotion and you have the plan, you’re just not pulling the trigger, what I want you to do is imagine the worst-case scenario. The business doesn’t do well and a year from now you’re broke, you’re destitute, you’ve lost everything. You sold your car, you sold your house. Can you survive that? If that happened, what would you do? Seneca, one day every month, used to dress in beggar’s clothes and eat from the dog’s dish because he wanted to remind himself that if this was the worst possible thing that could happen to him, he could deal with it and he’d already dealt with it. He’d lived that way and he said that because he knew that he could survive and do well in the worst possible scenario, eating with the dogs, dressing in beggar’s clothes, there was nothing that anybody could do to him that would be worse than that.
Chris: 31:29 – When I talk to gym owners about raising rates, it’s a stressful situation. The first thing we do is break the problem down, of course, and we come up with a logical solution. We reach the answer pretty quickly and it’s usually pretty obvious after we go through the math, but the next part, enacting the change is tough because we practice pessimism and we’re afraid of mistakes. We don’t have the growth mindset and we worry about how other people are going to feel because we project our feelings onto them. We become irrationally frightened because we’re irrational creatures. And so what I ask my mentoring clients to do is to think through the worst-case scenario, to identify who the worst offenders will be, to imagine those people quitting, offended, angry. What will that conversation be? What will they say to you and what will you say in return and can you live with that?
Chris: 32:31 – For example, let’s say that a gym decides they’re going to raise their rates by $10 per month, and we go through the client list and I say, well, you have a hundred members, so now we can afford to lose 10 people and still be making the same money and you’ll be able to give 10% more attention to the clients that you have. Sounds simple, right? It’s just math. 10 minus 10 plus 10, great, we net out the same, but the next step is the hard part. And that is to go through your client list, identify 10 people who will definitely quit over 10 bucks and stroke them off the list. And as you stroke them off the list, imagining the conversation of them quitting. Will they email you? Will they confront you? Will they make a big stink on your Facebook page? How will we deal with that? How will we solve those problems in advance? We identify the worst-case scenario. Sometimes we can stop that from happening, so in the example I just gave, oh, the client’s going to go bananas on my Facebook page and call me all kinds of bad stuff. We can stop that from happening by telling them, if you have a problem, come and talk to me personally, please. If we think that the coaches will react badly and hype up the members, we can solve that problem in advance too by saying, coaches, here’s what’s going to happen tomorrow and here’s why. Many choices will present several worst-case scenarios. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, but again, if we approach this mathematically and break down all those little things that could go wrong, walk through the scenario and you’re still going to be OK. Hey, I’ll live on my parents’ couch for a month until I can find another job. Hey, the call center’s always hiring. I can go there and cover most of my bills for a few months until I find something else. Hey, if this doesn’t work out, I’ve got a $10,000 home gym that I’ve got for the next 30 years and instead of taking 10 years to save up for it, I can be healthy for the next 10 years. If you have to make a tough choice and you can live with the worst possible outcome from that choice, you’re crazy not to take that choice. There’s more to it than me just telling you that because of course now you know that. This is where mentorship comes in, but again, I’m not going to go down that road.
Chris: 34:43 – The last bit of advice I have for solving problems and avoiding problems is to identify what the problems could be in advance. Now, experience of course, is going to help with this. If you’ve been through something before, you can share that experience with other people. You can also stop it from happening again next time because you’ll recognize the warning signs. So the advice that I give you now should be taken with a grain of caution. There are a lot of people, especially online, who will tell you how to solve a problem or tell you what the best course of outcome should be, but if they haven’t gone through that problem themselves, then they’re offering an opinion, not advice. I’ve written about this a lot before. I don’t want to belabor that point, so instead I’m going to tell you how to avoid possible mistakes in the future. Online, the best thing that you can take away from a Facebook group for CrossFit owners or gym owners or a LinkedIn for CrossFit, globo professionals or even the Two-Brain private Facebook group, the best thing that you can take away from those things is saving yourself stress, lifespan, sleepless nights and money by looking at the problems that other people are having and asking yourself, how would I solve that problem? Or even if it doesn’t look like that problem would ever happen in your gym, what do I need to put in place to make sure. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you read in a private Facebook forum the gym owner’s having a problem with a coach because she keeps sleeping with members over and over. She sleeps with these guys. They get mad, she breaks their heart and they quit your box. This happens more than you’d want to think. You’d say, that’s never happening in my box, but what I recommend, and the way to get the greatest value out of that group, is to make sure it doesn’t.
Chris: 36:32 – Look at the mistakes. Say, how would I solve this? So maybe what you write down is, hey, if you’re a coach, you don’t sleep with the members. Or maybe you say, hey, if you’re going to sleep with the members, you can’t coach them anymore. You have to put them into another group, or you have to step down as coach of that group. Whatever your policy is, make one. Solve the problem before it happens. When I opened my gym in 2005 I needed business mentors and they were partners. The names were Luke and Norm, and they taught me stuff every single day. Eventually we split, but I learned a ton of great stuff from them. One of the things I learned was to solve problems in advance. When Luke was interviewing new staff and you know he went through staff fairly often. He was always working on new projects. Every interview though, when he came to the hiring point, he would stand up behind his desk, look the candidate straight in the eye and say, you will not steal from me. Now that sounds like common sense. Why would Luke ever say that to somebody? Because he had to, because somebody had stolen from him in the past and there’s no such thing as common sense. The things that we’ve learned from our parents probably weren’t learned by everybody around us. We have to put those things into writing. We have to teach them to people. You might have to parent them into people. A lot of gym owners will know what I mean. But the key is if you’re part of an online Facebook group, and you probably are if you’re listening to this podcast, look at the mistakes that other people are doing as a treasure trove and then solve those problems in advance. As my friend Jay Williams said, nobody wants our job, but everybody thinks they do. Owning a business should not ruin your life. CrossFit Inc. Has given you a massive opportunity to do something that very few people in the world ever get to do, less than 1%, and of those 1%, less than 1% of those succeed at it.
Chris: 38:30 – And by success, I don’t mean they buy themselves a job. I mean they’ve created a cash-flow asset that’s worth more than they would make working. This is entrepreneurship. And if you ever reach a point as an entrepreneur, when you’re driving your truck at 4:00 AM and the road is icy and you’re tired and you don’t see a way out and you’re doing the math on what the value of your life-insurance policy is, I don’t want you to hesitate. I want you to give me a call, skip the gym check-up stuff that I make mandatory to filter people on my website. Send me an email message, send me a Facebook message. Whatever you need to do, because it’s going to get better. Remember, you’re doing this because you want to, not because you have to. You always have choices and the biggest choice you have in life is how you respond to things that stress you out.
Chris: 39:29 – I said respond because I don’t mean react. I mean plan for, train yourself for through stoicism and Buddhism and practice and the beginners mind and the growth mindset and experience and patience and self-forgiveness and gratitude. My last tip is to act with gratitude, not just to be grateful, but to practice on that feeling of gratefulness. How do you practice on gratefulness? How do you be more than just grateful? What is the action that is greater than the psychology? It’s service doing things for other people, not buying things for other people. Not even writing a thank-you card, but thanking other people, doing a service for them, helping them first. That is what gets you out of stress. The more stressed you are, the more anxiety that you have, the more depression that you find yourself tied up with, the more service you need to do. Have a great week.
Greg: 40:44 – As always, thank you so much for listening to this podcast. We greatly appreciate you and everyone that has subscribed to us. If you haven’t done that, please make sure you do. Drop a like to the episode. Share with a friend, and if you haven’t already, please write us a review and rate us on what you think. If you hated it, let us know. If you loved it, even better. See you guys later.