My friend and mentor Dan John is famous for a quote that should be a required tattoo in the health and wellness professions.

The goal is to keep the goal the goal. > >

Years ago I realized that my clients often have absolutely no idea where they wanna go (yet), and often just wanna get the hell away from where they are at now. That realization has only made me even more goal oriented in the way that I communicate with clients. In the 7 years I have spent learning to be a better coach, this quote has rattled around in my head and given me great focus in my communication with clients and other coaches.

So when Facebook exploded last week into a series of discussions about the pros and cons of certain training tools and the way we communicate the process of improvement to our clients, I was thrilled. Because, for what seemed like the first time, the discussion was not just about the tools or what they do, but about the impact the tools have on our clients’ motivation.

For me, every tool I use and every communication I have with a client has to have a point. The impact of a tool being used in a vacuum might be obvious, but thinking through the impact a tool has on clients across the spectrum of populations and the way we talk to those clients takes some work, and more importantly good discussions between coaches like the ones we had last week.

As for my take, as usual it comes from my education in psychology and my work with general population clients who are coming to me with no background in health and fitness. In counseling skills classes, before we say anything we learn to ask ourselves, “what’s the goal of what I’m about to say to my client?” The default should be listening and every time we stop listening to talk should be justifiable as being _for the client’s benefit. _And you know what? It takes a lot of practice. But here’s a great place to start that is relevant to the conversations that were all over Facebook last week. It’s an old therapist joke that I think is completely relevant to coaching:

What’s the goal of the first session with a client?

A second session.