People don’t want to build a foundation.
Everyone wants a ‘quick fix.’
How do I convince clients that there are no shortcuts?
They want to get in shape in no time.

At every Motivate Summit, we have had a discussion inspired by the question, "how do we sell reasonable?" It also comes up a lot in the Motivate Forum. And one of the things I have taken away from these discussions is there is no quick fix to the problem of convincing our clients there are no quick fixes. It takes patience, consistency, and persistence. And where have you heard that before?

But there are lots of little things that we can do to set the conditions in which clients will slowly learn that reasonableness is not only the better path, but the faster one in the long run. And the first one starts with knowing who they want to be.

One of the concepts I talk a lot about is, "desired outcome identity." The best version of themselves that your client has hired you to help them become. And I bet a lot of our clients would describe that "best version" of themselves with words like, "Strong. Disciplined. Tough. Courageous. Hard-working. Lean. Smart." To summarize a bunch of Social Psychology, they want to become the person that the people they care about would describe with those adjectives.

There’s a concept in education theory that, “you cannot teach someone something they think they already know.” Our clients know they want to be those adjectives. They want to be strong, not weak. Hard-working, not lazy. And motivated, not unmotivated. But what does reasonable training and diet look like to the non-professional eye?

Weak. Lazy. Like they don’t really want to get better.

So we need to reframe reasonableness. We need to connect reasonableness to the identity that our clients want to have by using the words they want to embody to describe the actions that will get them there.

“You need to have to courage to take it slow,” I overhead Dan John once tell a young coach in a perfect example.

  • “You need to be disciplined and not over do it on the cardio.”
  • “I love how motivated you are to build the foundation.”
  • “It was really smart doing the minimum. Doing any more will really set you back.”
  • “You’re really focused on mastering these steps.”

And we need to be careful how we describe what our clients and others are doing. They’re not stupid; they want to improve quickly so they can see they’re getting their effort’s worth. So if we tell them, “this is a regression of the squat” what we’ve really told them, “you’re behind. You’re further away from doing what the cool kids do which is squat.” Seth Munsey and Dave Dellanave don’t call these movements “regressions.” Instead, they’re “variations,” and they all have their purpose. If you want people to take the time to master the basics, make the basics fucking badass, not basic!

We can also take steps to use those adjectives to describe our reasonable plans. Georgie Fear’s book is not called habits that will eventually result in the slow reduction of body fat. It’s called, Lean Habits!

Our clients don’t want to fail. They don’t want to do too much, diet too hard, or skip steps. They just want to be that person that they’ve always wanted to be so badly that they’ll do anything that they think shows them that they’re getting closer. So meet them where they’re at and show them that the reasonable way is the sexy way. And if that seems like a lot of work, well I’m sorry, but there’s no quick fix. You’re just going to have to have the courage to be reasonable yourself.

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