Why do we do what we do?

When I was growing up and asked my mom “why?” her immediate response for everything was to t ell me that Y is a crooked letter.  That was usually followed by, “Look it up,” which was then followed by, “OK go ask _____”  Sure, teachers would try cleverly to get me to answer the question myself, and I’d try, but I always wanted the easy way out, for someone to just answer the question.

Years later I found myself asking “why?” yet again, but this time of myself.  I’m not naturally given to navel gazing and it made me quite uncomfortable at first. 

I’d left a career I believed in and gave my all, but felt burned out.  Why?

I didn’t know what to do next.  Why? 

I found myself thinking about personal training again after putting that thought to rest 20 years earlier.  Why?

What did I really believe in?  Why was it so dang hard to answer these questions?  I wished it was simple enough to be able to tell myself it would all be OK.  Y is still a crooked letter, after all.

Whatever my answers at the time, I began a new life as a fitness coach, added on injury prevention, and then nutrition coaching as well.  It became painfully clear to me that I was not alone in maybe, possibly, sometimes wanting to avoid the need to dig deep or search harder for answers.  Like coach, like client…we are in this together.

I would my clients to tell me their goals and they would almost always answer, “To lose x number of pounds.”  And then I’d ask them why they wanted to lose that weight.  What did the number represent to them?  How would achieving this goal make them feel or change their life?  Why was it important to them?  Digging deeper, it was fascinating to see all the directions people would take that original goal.

The deep and meaningful goal is never about the weight, the number on a scale.  Thought you could fool me, huh?  It’s about what losing the weight symbolizes: feeling younger and able to take on the world, feeling sexy and attractive as they got older, regaining control over a life that was temporarily on hold during a period of parenting/illness/grieving or other major life changes, ensuring their own health so they can keep up with the grandkids.

Why is it important to dig deep?  More relevant, why would the person you came to for fitness coaching take you through a sticky, tricky, and possibly messy, emotional exercise with you?  Because knowing your why is the key to your success. 

A coach can tell you how to lose weight, and even spend a few hours with you each week to get you moving and talking, but what about all the other hours in a week?  What makes you want to listen and do the work?  Really.  Do you love going to the gym or would you rather sleep in?  Will you take time to plan your meals and grocery shopping, or rely on take out?  When it comes to the full array of things we find we might rather not do, many times it is the work of our own self-care that gets dropped.  Why?

The problem with just wanting to lose pounds is that you really can’t control the outcome.  Bodies sometimes react to changes in health, diet and exercise in unpredictable ways.  Our minds sometimes work to sabotage our best efforts.  The best laid plans get upended by…you name it.  So understanding your deep, deep, DEEP reason for seeking out a coach helps you stick with the plan when the going gets tough, the coach goes on vacation, you go on vacation, or life otherwise interferes.  It helps you identify the behaviors and habits that  will help you reach your goals and identify the obstacles that could get in your way.  The big why is a tool that keeps your actions and thoughts aligned with your values and identity.  This is the really Important Stuff in your life.

So it happened last spring when I was presented with an opportunity to develop my own coaching skills I joined a master’s level coaching program through Precision Nutrition.  One of the unanticipated benefits of the program was that we had to dig deep ourselves in order to understand the work we ask of our clients.  Guess what?  One of the first exercises we did was called the Five Why’s.  It started with the question “Why do you want to be a coach?” And every one of the 100+ students in the program answered with some variation on “So I can help people.”  But then we all had to answer the question five more times. Why were we in this coaching program?  And every single coach had different answers.  It was fascinating.  Now, for your reading pleasure, and to kick off this new blog for True North Training, I will share with you my answers to that exercise and why I am committed to becoming the best coach I can be for you. 

  • Why am I taking this coaching program?  So I can improve my coaching skills
  • Why do I want to improve my coaching skills?  So I can help my clients reach their goals and achieve the changes they are seeking to make
  • Why do I want my clients to get better results?  So we all feel successful
  • Why is being successful important?  Because I know if people move better and feel better they will be happier with themselves, their families, their colleagues, and me.
  • Why do I care if people are happy?  People who are happy radiate well-being. They make the world a happier and more peaceful place and it has taken me decades to realize that through coaching I can honestly and genuinely do my part to make the world a better place for all of us to inhabit.

I now challenge you to dig deep, find your why, and then…tell me what your real goals are.  Share in the comments below if you’d like, or schedule a time to talk it out. I’m here for your success.