When Staff Screws Up

A banana peel sits on a dirty gym floor next to a set of rubber hex dumbbells.

The ref blew his whistle, and I skated slowly to the bench.

I was 8 years old, new to hockey, and I’d just been called offside for the third time in the same game.

My coach barked, “Go sit at the end of the bench until next period!”

I trudged down the bench, past the rest of the players, knowing I was probably done playing for the day. Worse, I knew I’d screwed up again but didn’t know how.

After a few minutes, the trainer came over and said, “Chris, do you even know what ‘offsides’ means?”

I said, “No.”

He pulled a dime and a penny from his pocket and scratched a line on the boards with his fingernail.

“OK, you’re the dime and the puck is this penny,” he said. “When you cross this line before the puck does, you’re offsides and the play stops. Then we all go back outside the line and start over.”

The lightbulb clicked on in my head. I was never offside again.

The first coach assumed that I knew what I was doing wrong and simply being careless (or, worse, choosing to break the rule). The second coach realized that I didn’t want to keep screwing up and that there was a deeper problem.

What’s this have to do with owning a gym? You’ve probably guessed: When staff members screw up, break rules or don’t meet our expectations, it’s almost always our fault.

I’ll give you another hint. If you’ve ever said:

  • “No one can do it like I do it!”
  • “Why can’t they figure this out? It’s common sense!”
  • “Why can’t these millennials just work harder?”


… then the problem is in your head. You’re literally expecting people to read your mind.

In this series, I’m going to tell you how to get the answers out of your head and teach people exactly how to do things (and hold them to your standard).

If you own a business, you need to be a boss. That doesn’t mean being a jerk (or feeling like one). It means providing clarity, direction and feedback to accomplish something. If I can learn, anyone can!


Other Media in This Series


“Process Problems and People Problems”
“The ‘Two-Brains’ Approach to Solving Problems”

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