Coaching Principle: ‘Keep True to Your Word’

‘Your brand are the promises you keep’ – Seth Godin

Our emotional bank account, as Stephen Covey refers to it in 7 habits of highly effective people, is made up of the sum total of trust that is built between you and someone else. This could be a family member, friend or one of our clients. Trust is a delicate balance between keeping our promises and making realistic deliverables on those promises.

We have perhaps all heard the adage: ‘Under promise and over deliver’. It is an absolute cracker and is something I strive for in my personal and professional life. When we fall short of keeping our promises we withdraw from our emotional bank account we have worked so hard to build up. By taking our word lightly we diminish our integrity in the face of those who we have made promises to. When our politicians stand in front of the people to deliver their inauguration speeches, they tend to make lofty promises that are more often than not broken. I call this the party of broken promises.

Breaking promises is something we must avoid at all costs. For those of you reading this who are fitness professionals or coaches, can you recall a time when you promised so much and could not deliver on each point? It is not necessarily a case where we consciously deceive a client. It often is wanting to help them so much that we promise to do everything for them, including taking out the rubbish for them. Ok that may be too far, but you get my drift here. The first thing we need to do is create a needs analysis for our clients. What is it that they need particular help with over the next 4 weeks; 3 months; 6 months and so on…This also ties into principle 5 ‘Systems over randomness’. IF we have no structure in how we treat the process of training our clients, then we are more inclined to make promises we cannot deliver on; whether we forget or cannot be bothered. Both of these imposters are easy to avoid should we set up a needs analysis; proper client assessments and being mindful as a coach not to promise what we cannot deliver on.

What are some ways in which we can ensure we stay true to our word?

  • Practice mindfulness

There cannot be enough said about the power of being present to every moment. This is not an airy-fairy thing but is validated by science. It continues to be a growing field of new discovery and breakthrough not only for the sake of science but more importantly for the sake of humanity at large. Every time we make a promise we need to weigh up first a set of solutions instead we can provide our client with. If you promise to write up a ‘travel program’ for your client, set up a realistic time frame for the deliverable of this. To know more about mindfulness, check out Professor Richard J Davidson’s great resource centre:

  • Design a ‘Needs analysis’ for your client

This is as simple as designing something around the client’s immediate versus long term needs. If your client is asking for this and that, then you need to sit down and have that coach to client time to come up with realistic goals as aforementioned. Furthermore, we can employ the ‘time chunking principle’ we will discuss in a later chapter. Essentially, this breaks down the needs analysis from immediate and long term needs. First 4 weeks; next 3 months and so on.What is it that you must prepare for to ensure those needs are met?

  • Be aware of the language you use

This again requires us to be mindful and additionally, to re-frame the way we say things. For example, if you say to someone ‘Yes I will get to that’ and the other person replies ‘you always say that’, then you have an issue at hand. Rescripting our language and the way we say things is one of the most important practices we can do.

The more we are aware of the promises we make the greater our capacity to deliver on those promises and ensure we continue to build and keep trust with our clients.

Keep Reaching

Coach Tarek



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