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Mental Aspects of Success

We are usually directed to focus on the "Physical" aspects of interaction with our clients since "exercise" is the foundation of our careers. There is, however, another element to "exercise" that involves mental conditioning and with a concern for balance between the physical and mental states of your clients, your ability to manifest dramatic results is powerfully magnified. The Following article is a direct excerpt from my new book, "Personal Training Profits and A Secure Fitness Future".

Let me share some ideas for keeping your own motivation high and using that motivation to move you consistently toward greater levels of success and achievement. I'll teach you how powerful decision making can be. Sometimes the simplest things are capable of stimulating the most impressive changes.

I shared the following information with some of my consulting clients in January of 2000 and within weeks I was receiving positive feedback that even I found surprising in its dimension. One individual told me he doubled his weekly income in only two weeks! Another told me that by applying the information I shared she found herself being retained as the "fitness consultant" for the local news program. I hope to hear similar reports from you! The rest of this chapter will involve some very simple exercises. Not physical exercises, but stimulus for improvement just the same. Here goes . . .

Take a moment and think about anything you're proud of. Anything you've done or achieved that contributes to a sense of pride when you describe or think about it. Go ahead. Take that moment now.

You shouldn't be reading any further until you've done at least a minute's worth of thinking. It's amazing, but many people that I've met with find that in itself a chore. Directed thinking for a minute!

Now, I'm going to ask you to think just a bit more. Think about what prompted you to take the actions necessary to accomplish the goal, command the performance, or achieve the achievement that makes you proud. If you think hard enough, you'll find it started with a decision!

My contact with you started with a decision, whether it was a decision to speak at a convention, promote a seminar, or to write a new book. The fact that you opened a health club, started a business, or became certified as a Personal Trainer began with a decision to do so. Far too often people condemn the need to make decisions.

You've heard similar comments, and if you listen to enough people, you'll think that decisions are worse than the bubonic plague! That's why it's important that you stop letting negative people affect any influence over your life. Welcome decisions! The more you are faced with, the greater your potential to live your dreams! Decisions are not only powerful in directing outcomes, but they are an essential prerequisite of virtually anything worth achieving.

In my Professional consulting projects, I found that many fitness professionals are asking me to make decisions for them. In those cases I answer their questions with questions. Perhaps that 's rude in the outside world, but in my consulting arena it's an act of invaluable benefit. The questions I offer are not as much questions from me to the Professional as they are questions the Professional can ask him or herself. Why? Because asking me to make other people's decisions involves totally giving up their power! I don't want to take power, but rather to enhance it!

I'll offer advice, assistance, and insight, but if you are going to find more of those pride moments in your life, you're going to have to make firm decisions. Even bad decisions are better than no decision at all. Please don't misunderstand. I don't want to discourage you from asking "decision based" questions. Quite the opposite. I want to encourage you, but I also want to prepare you for my answers. If you ask me a question that begins with, "Phil, should I . . . ," only you have the ability to provide the answer that will best serve you. I see it as my role to facilitate that answer; thus I'll provide you with tools for making the decision. Those tools are usually Questions. Questions that you can ask yourself to facilitate the best decisions possible.

Questions are powerful. They stimulate your mind to decide. Sure, you should ask questions of others, but never neglect the brainpower that can be generated by intentionally asking questions of yourself. Why do I say "intentionally?" Well, because whether you choose to or not, you are asking questions. Many of us just do it subconsciously. What is thinking? It's actually a series of questions, answers, and decisions. "Which brand of cereal should I buy?" "Should I turn right or left here?" "Should I get up now or hit the snooze button and sleep another ten minutes?" Questions. Taking control of those questions can be very powerful in helping you to direct the way you think, to facilitate decisions, and to bring about more of those envied moments that we play back in our minds with pride.

Believe it or not, when I meet with top achievers, professional athletes or exceptional business people, they aren't any different than you are. They often simply ask better questions. In the case of a professional athlete, "Should I go to the gym?" is replaced by "what time should I go to the gym," or "what can I do to make my workout fun and effective today?" They may not ask these questions out loud, and unless you're a mind reader or a very inquisitive interviewer (as yours truly), you might never have known that great achievers ask great questions.

Among achievers, questions that facilitate empowering responses are common. When I meet with people who are frustrated, knowing they can achieve more, but somehow incessantly "stuck," they are almost always asking failure-oriented questions prior to developing the awareness. "Why does this always happen to me?" If you ask that question, your brain will find an answer, and it probably won't be pretty. Your brain might tell you you're not deserving of success, or you're not smart enough, strong enough, or rich enough. That doesn't mean you have a bad brain. It just means you're feeding your hungry brain the wrong brain food.

When faced with an unexpected disaster, a top achiever would usually ask, not "why does this always happen to me," but "how can I benefit from this experience," or, "how can I prevent this from happening in the future?" I know, on a surface level it appears simplistic, but put into action, asking BETTER QUESTIONS will absolutely bring about more powerful decisions. Once you decide, you've set a goal in motion. Whether or not you'll follow through is governed greatly by . . . you guessed it . . . the questions you ask. "What can I do right now to bring me one step closer to my goal" is the sort of question achievers ask themselves.

Just as your body becomes conditioned to handle squats, leg curls, and overhead presses, with directed practice your brain becomes conditioned to ask better questions. I've learned from many individuals who became quite adept at mental conditioning. I've since taught great numbers of people to better themselves by modifying their thought patterns. I want to give you the same gift. Don't get caught up in believing that because it's simple it's silly. All I ask is that you try what I'm about to suggest and you follow through for three weeks. At the end of a month, I absolutely guarantee you will have some new and exciting positive things happening in your career, your relationships, and your life.

Here's my simple suggestion and a simple three-week plan. Keep a notebook or pad next to your bed. For the first week, on the left side of a page keep track of the questions you catch yourself silently asking. You're going to have to "tune in" to your internal voice, that voice which psychologists refer to as your self-talk. Once you've identified a few of the questions your brain faces itself with, on the right side of the page write how you can modify those questions to make them more encouraging, more empowering, more action driven, more motivating. After a week you can whittle away at your list until you've identified ONLY three very motivating questions. I'd then suggest writing those three questions on their own page, and asking them, silently, or perhaps vocally, to yourself, every morning during the second week immediately upon waking. As you progress through week 2, write down some questions that might be similar, or different, that would serve to put you in a positive frame of mind before going to bed.


Remember, these are only suggestions to facilitate your decision making power. Don't use my questions. Come up with yours. I'm anxious to hear from you regarding the results that manifest only one month from today!

You guessed it. In Week #3 you're going to perform the morning question exercise and the evening question exercise. Every day.

I'm going to suggest you wait a month before you start passing this information or these simple exercises along to your clients. The reason is, just as you enthusiastically promote the virtues of a fitness lifestyle because you've had the experience of that lifestyle bringing benefit, once you benefit from this mental exercise your enthusiasm for mental conditioning will take off like a rocket! Your appreciation of the need and ability to make decisions will be at its peak.

Why do your clients need this? Think about it!!!! (yes, I'm asking you to think yet again, prompting you with . . . that's right . . . a question) You thought you needed motivational ideas. You thought you needed to reprimand them when they missed workouts. Now . . . you realize . . . you just need to help them make an adjustment in the way they think. You want them to ask better questions!

When I met Dave he told me he was a recovering cocaine addict, a bad example for his kids, and was very fat. One night (ready for this?) he went into the bathroom in the middle of the night to do a line of cocaine and looked in the mirror. He saw a skull staring back at him! Ask him and he'll swear it's the truth. Whether it was his Creator warning him, or the grim reaper coming to get him, it scared the daylights out of him. He flushed his cocaine down the toilet vowing never to do it again. Two weeks later he was pounding down beers and doing lines of cocaine watching a Monday night football game.

Before I tell you the happy ending, let's explore the questions . . . and the decisions . . . Dave was faced with. He would ask himself, "How long can I go without coke?" He would ask himself, "How long can I stand being around my friends without indulging?" Those questions led to decisions. Decisions to do that which he was so frightened by he sent it all down his plumbing. Dave didn't see himself as a man who had been through and overcome a cocaine problem. He saw himself as a cocaine addict! And where did that vision come from? That's right! The questions he asked.

Dave retained me as his trainer somewhere between the skull and the football game. As I came to know him he became more open with me. I realized that as long as he saw himself as "fat," his internal questions would be questions directed at a fat guy. Sure, he went through the workouts with me, but he had a very difficult time sticking to the nutritional regimen we discussed, minimizing alcohol intake, and staying away from his favorite food . . . french fries from McDonalds! I'll admit Dave wasn't typical. He was a tough case. I realized he had an addictive personality (I didn't have to be a detective for that one). I knew if we could make some shifts between his ears, he could become obsessed with a fitness lifestyle.

We spent weeks working on his self-talk. I insisted that he no longer think of himself as fat, but as a guy who, during a struggle in his life, had more fat on his body than he ultimately would. I know what the conventional wisdom teaches drug addicts. One day at a time. You're always in recovery. Screw that. It wasn't working for Dave. I had him change his self-talk to reflect that he wasn't a recovering drug addict, but rather a strong confident man in complete control of his life.

I taught Dave to identify his self-talk, and to modify it. Rather than "How long can I go without coke?" he began to ask himself, "What will make this day special leading to increased health, vitality, and love of life?" Rather than "How long can I stand being around my friends without indulging?" he began to ask himself, "Who do I choose to be with and how will they empower me to grow?" Three months later Dave's wife called me and insisted that I speak with her after Dave's next workout. She took me into the living room while Dave showered and confronted me. "I can't believe you'd put my husband on steroids!"

"Steroids?" That's the last thing in the world you'd ever find me recommending to a client . . . especially to one who had faced a drug challenge. "Why in the world do you think he's on steroids?"

"Because I've seen him for 15 years, trying to work out, and all of a sudden, in three months, he's grown more muscular than he was when we met!"

I was initially offended, but soon reinterpreted the comment to one that should be received as flattery. I of course assured her Dave was not using steroids and the very next week Dave's wife signed up for sessions with one of my trainers.

It's just one story of hundreds I've experienced where the shift came not from external motivation, but from an internal shift in . . . yes . . . questions. Ask the right questions and you make better decisions. Make better decisions and prepare to enjoy life at a higher level than you've ever even imagined!

I'm not asking you to become an expert psychologist. I'm just asking you to follow through on the simple exercise I gave you. I have a feeling every person you come in contact with on a professional level will soon benefit from you learning to ask better questions!