Are you Answering the Wrong Question?
by Steven M. Ledbetter
2 minute read
You’re a really smart person. You know more than most people about at least a few things. You might even be an expert at some of them. And chances are, if you’re reading this, more than a few people look to you for advice (or even pay you for it). Maybe it’s about what to eat. Or what to do at the gym. So you tell them what to do (maybe they pay you), they do it, and they never come back again, right? Oh, wait. That’s never how it works, right?
Health-Minded Persons (HMP) always complain that people never take our advice, even when they pay us for it. Sometimes we get frustrated and jump on Facebook to complain to other HMPs about how lazy and stupid the non-HMPs are. But are they lazy and stupid, or are we just answering the wrong questions?
I break down client advising time into two basic parts. Time figuring out the “what do I need to do” and time figuring out the “how am I going actually do it and keep doing it?” And when I started working with clients, here is what advising time looked like:
That’s a lot time figuring out what to do. But ask yourself, “do they really need to know everything, or just the next thing?”
It’s a lot like getting directions. I tell the GPS navigation on my Volkswagen Touareg where I wanna go, and the heads up display on my dashboard tells the next turn I’m going to make. If it tried to tell me all the turns at once, I’d probably crash and never buy a Volkswagen again. When I started to think about fitness as a journey (and after reading Motivational Interviewing), the advising time with my clients looked like this:
That’s a huge difference, and it made a huge impact on my clients’ lives and on how full my schedule was.
When you’re an expert at something, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “what.” We spend a lot of time thinking about trying, optimizing, and mastering the “what.” But our clients aren’t experts. And even though they might use the word what a lot, (“tell me what to do!”) they probably just wanna know what to do next and how to actually do it.