Many people believe that certain values they hold are important to them, but when we look under the hood, and investigate how that person spends their time throughout the day, we just don’t see the evidence.
While we could summarize this message under the category of prioritization, it’s really about how important you are… to yourself. How seriously do you take yourself? Do your values, goals, and ambitions really matter as much as you think they do?
To make this a little more relatable, I’m going to tell you about Noah, my first client in Hong Kong. You can also bypass the abridged version below and view the video here:
Noah wasn’t an athlete, though by the time I left Hong Kong he looked like one. His job didn’t involve or require his commitment to that level of self-care, and from the outside looking in, his lifestyle bore the markings of someone far too busy to make space for training.
He was an executive with one of the big banks and had enough stresses and pressures for two jobs. He had an active social life. And despite his successes, he wasn’t done climbing that ladder.
Noah craved that edge. Hiring me was an act of committing to far more than fitness. Those who have never been extremely fit may not be able to appreciate the confidence, the purpose, the mental edge that comes along with it. Those who have been, have a hard time forgetting.
Lions don’t need to talk themselves into the hunt. They hunt. And in that commitment to purpose they know they’re kings.
Noah was my first client in Hong Kong back in 2009, and he was with me to my last day there. In one year, three to four sessions at 6am or earlier, he didn’t miss a one.
Nor was he ever late.
When I asked him, at the end of our journey together, why someone in his shoes prioritized our time together the way he did, he replied,
“If you don’t do this first… nothing else works.”
…That… and I knew you’d be here.”
I’ve heard excuses from friends, acquaintances, and even trainees over the years, that absolved them of the responsibility to do that hard work.
“I’m too busy at present.”
“I’ve got too much stress right now.”
“Things are shaky with work. When things settle down, I can make more time.”
“I just need to give myself more acceptance / less pressure.”
“My arm hurts. My back hurts. My brain hurts… etc.”
But you can’t negotiate with your DNA. You either do the work that allows the fullest expression of that DNA, or life is unnecessarily more challenging.
We’ve all got to take some form of poison, but we’re damn lucky we get to choose which form, at least if we do so early enough.
Noah realized three critical insights in his response:
1) You’ve got to put your mind-body health first, for it determines how you perform in every facet in life. Personal prioritization has nothing to do with feelings, and everything to do with scheduling. It’s a habit. Feeling (embracing the work) is a byproduct. There will be many days you just don’t feel like showing up. You have to structure the day to design the version of you you wish to be, and not the version of you you might be on any one day – good or bad, tough or lazy, focused or fatigued.
Discretion is the goal killer.
2) You don’t have to put yourself first… but there are consequences to not doing so. If we’re unwilling to make that small, thirty minute to an hour sacrifice, three days a week, to maintain peak, then we might be sacrificing so much more in terms of personal ambition, career success, and personal relationships if mind-body begin to deteriorate.
We have to choose our compromise.
3) Coaching isn’t a service, it’s a relationship.
If that relationship is respected and honored, it’ll payoff in multiples of effort made. In the video I mention how Noah began showing up earlier because I was always early. And when I adjusted to account for his earlier arrivals, he adjusted yet again. A mutual respect was born that became a deeper friendship.
If this is a topic that resonates, I highly recommend the 8-minute investment in today’s video. I go into greater detail about Noah, and include a few tactics for coaches to help clients manage prioritization.
Without personal values being expressed through effective scheduling, all the knowledge and the best of intentions fail to deliver.
-What are your top three priorities?
-Have you allocated sufficient time/space for them - averaged over the course of a week?
-Is that time/space sacred (blocked out), or does it rely on your immediate excitement or desire to consistently execute?
Number one and three are yours to own fully. Number two can be owned fully, or one can defer to an authority in the subject matter of that priority. Let’s never underestimate the value of true experts sparing us years of blind mistakes.
There's always a cost to progress. And as in Noah’s case, we get to choose whether that cost comes up front, or on the back end.