As a business owner and a coach, I’ve come to understand that one of the most important things I can do for my family, my team at Woodshed, and for our community at large is to invest in my own development as a leader and a person. And to me, there is no better investment than a coach or mentor. I have two right now, one I work with primarily on business and one I work with primarily on personal. Of course both of these areas intersect liberally, so I talk with my coaches several times a week at no small expense–I know that the investment and sweat equity I put in will come back in manifold.
Coming out of the winter and into the light of baseball, increased outdoor time, and delicious Kimball’s ice cream, I thought it might be useful to unpack just what coaching has done for me; at Woodshed, especially in our new space, the opportunities for growth and achievement are huge, and our coaches are the best in the business and ready to show you the way. But first you have to understand what coaching is, what it isn’t, and how you can best use these wonderful professionals at your service.
The first, and probably the most important thing that coaching has done for me is clarify my values. As a business owner, of course I’d like to be consistently profitable. No one gets into business to lose money, after all, but ‘being profitable’ is a dry two word phrase without an animating ‘why’ underneath. It’s very easy in the morass of payables and issues and literal trash to be taken out to lose sight of what you’re really getting after. For me, running a profitable business means that I’ve built something which provides me income, agency over my schedule, pride in my accomplishment, and showing my boys those things is incredibly important to me as a person and a father. It also means having built something that provides meaningful, fun, dependable employment and agency for professionals who I care about deeply. And finally it means being able to reinvest in space, equipment, additional coaching, and knowledge so that we are able to provide an experience that the community we love and serve can take pride in.
None of that is possible without a profitable business, or at least not for long, but what my own mentors helped me understand is that a profitable business itself isn’t viable without connection to my values. In that vein, my first coaching challenge to you guys is this: use your coaches at Woodshed to help you clarify and address your whys! Sometimes just unpacking your goals in a 30 minute session can give you the keys to the kingdom: you want pullups so you can do Fran and, later, Murph as Rx’d; you want to improve your pulling strength because doing obstacles in a Spartan is something you want to show your kids, and so forth. Our job as coaches is to ask you questions that make you dig deeper and help you make tangible, durable connections to your whys.
The second thing coaching has done for me is helped focus on my own strengths by keeping me out of the comparison game. When you start a business, especially in a growing industry, it’s incredibly easy to spend every day in a whirr of self-righteousness and differentiation: oh this gym posted that garbage workout, oh that coach across town is doing weird shit with her members, oh that gym makes their kids squat way too heavy and high, I would nevaaaaah do that!!!! These things may in and of themselves be true, but fixating on others’ weak points or playing internet gotcha is a surefire way to keep you far away from your own strengths and generally just kinda…sour. No bueno.
When I started really zeroing in on Woodshed’s unique value proposition with the help of my mentors (something along the lines of “sustainable strength for busy people, enacted by kind, calm professionals”), I became much better at zoning out the noise so I could talk with folks about what we do in a measured, reasonable way. I simply lay out what we do, how we do it, why our coaching staff is the absolute best at delivering our service, and gosh, it’s so incredibly liberating to just put that on the table and leave it out in the sun. My coaching challenge to you guys: use your coaches at Woodshed to help you orient towards the bigger picture and away from gotchas, fear of missing out, and what others are doing. I know it can be tempting, like super tempting, to look at what the competitor online is doing, or to wonder if there’s a more complicated way to do a simple workout, or even to try to catch your coach with some gotchas. But ultimately when we focus our attention on that stuff, we are doing ourselves the disservice of looking beyond the very good of our current experience and strengths towards the imagined perfect on the other side of the fence. Our coaches at Woodshed are tasked with making every group class inclusive, effective, and safe–and we do that by focusing on broad movements, fun ancillaries for a little spice, and orienting towards strengths. There’s nothing wrong with wanting better or more, of course, but sustained individual focus and exploration almost always requires the individual attention of a 1-1 setting. If that’s truly your jam, then let’s hook it up–but let’s make sure this isn’t really FOMO in disguise.
Finally, coaching has helped me be better at doing the hard, humbling shit. For me, this can pretty much be summed up in one sentence: “how to say no” My first few years in business? Sure I can do 5 AM, sure we can discount you 50%, sure you don’t have to learn how to spot because I’ll do it for you, etc. etc. Never saying no feels like you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of being the guy everyone thinks is really chill and cool, but nothing could be further from the truth. What you’re actually doing is avoiding the hard, necessary work of establishing a standard and holding to it, and folks will smell that like blood in the water. My mentors know all my tricks by now; they know when I’m avoiding a hard conversation or a “no” in service of talking about this really great squat cycle we ran or the ways our coaches stepped up this quarter, and they know the best thing they can do for me is to hold my feet to the fire. Doing the hard work of saying no when it’s appropriate opens up the doors to so many incredible opportunities to say Yes!, but you have to do that grunt work first.
My challenge to you guys? Ask your coaches this question: “what’s the one thing I need to do in here?” to have a better experience, get better results, do the things I want to do. And then listen, without interruption or judgement. For some it will be stretching, for some it will be slowing down, for others it will be speeding up, and for others still it will be listening some more. But it’s almost always going to be a little bit hard, and a little bit humbling. I promise you though: the reward on the other side is real, and it’s awesome. Part of that reward is all of the sudden having a coach who is incredibly honored that you asked them that question and were prepared to listen. Nothing puts someone in your corner faster than trusting them to help you and being ready to act on their care.
This was long, I know, so I want to close with a little treat. One of the most compelling reasons for a business owner to use a coach is to have someone objective keeping score and taking stock of our successes. We fixate on our mistakes and the things we do wrong and there aren’t many people in our lives who have context enough to look at the box score and say “whoa, nice work on that one.” Coaching mentors have walked our paths and been in our shoes; when they say “yep, you nailed it,” you can bet it’s coming from a place of honesty, and it feels like a million bucks and makes you want to do it again.
Our coaches at Woodshed have all been in group classes, have trained hard and have overcome doubts, injuries, sticking points, and fears. We have walked your paths. So here’s my last little challenge: ask us what you’re already doing right! You’d be surprised at how hard it will be to get us to shut up!