Understanding perspective is a very powerful tool that I have come to learn to utilize, first as a personal trainer working with a general population clientele, and then further as a strength coach working with many athletes of various age groups. This has definitely helped me with networking, relationship building, along with selling any one on certain philosophies that I subscribe to.
I’ve had several conversations in the past few weeks about meeting a person where they are in order to fully understand and help them achieve change.
This understanding is especially evident when looking at learning from a student’s point of view…
A teacher has a certain lesson planned for the day, along with several great teaching tools. He plans his lesson in advance, reviewing each step of the way, along with thinking about the certain obstacles that the student may encounter. This teacher is relatively happy, so he sleeps well knowing that tomorrow will be relatively successful.
The time comes for his students to learn about a particular subject, and he begins his lesson. He begins teaching the lesson, and shows how prepared he is for this subject, and after the main points of the subject, he asks the class, “Any questions…?”
To his dismay, his students are not engaged, and he notices some students aren’t even paying attention.
“Where did I go wrong…?” the teacher asks himself. “And what can I do to help these students understand this fascinating subject?”
Unfortunately, the above scenario is not out of the ordinary in many traditional classroom settings. However, this is not a jab at the educational system, but more so in perspective and points of view.
Rather, the teacher may be frustrated because he cannot get his message across to this specific group. Perhaps, he thinks, he doesn’t like teaching this specific population of children.
In my specific industry, when a client or athlete determines they are ready to change in some manner, they usually understand the end goal. Most of the time it is fat loss or performance increases, and the method that I choose for them will depend on where they currently stand. That is, I find that I cannot prepare a plan for a person until I find out where they are coming from in regards to their physical (biomechanical and physiological) state, and mental and emotional state (are they ready to make a big change, or small incremental changes?).
DIGESTING A PARTICULAR METHOD
In the fitness industry, along with the strength & conditioning community, many people seek out a certain method that simply looks hard, and is something that is easily digestible in regards to understanding how that method works. This is perhaps why methods such as CrossFit and P90X are very popular household terms thrown around now – they embody hard work. You see YouTube clips of people using weight, sweating, and performing relatively complex exercises at a very fast pace. It is easily digestible, or rather, it is easy to understand what is going on from an outside looking in point of view.
Compare this to the forward and progressive manner that many very smart individuals are aligning themselves with in the fitness industry nowadays. This may come in the form of personal trainers trying to show off how smart they are, by exemplifying out the role of dynamic stabilizers of the scapula, or perhaps when a lack of ankle dorsiflexion is related to their patellar pain, which is inhibiting them from performing deep back squats, because you know, more weight on the bar equates to more calories burned right, which in turn points to why they cannot lose fat.
Honestly, who wants to learn how to inhibit this muscle, activate this one, and then perform a relatively uncomfortable exercise while a “personal trainer” (who may not even understand how the exercise works) gives tips from a few feet away? Perhaps now it is easier to see why people are easily turned off by such “intelligence” – it may be the teacher’s “lack of understanding” of how to portray a specific message that turns many people away.
In reality, if I just find out where this specific client is coming from nutritionally and suggest a few tweaks to their current eating habits, and you give them a few simple exercises to perform, such as a goblet squat to a box, they can begin their journey with less obstacles and frustration than before.
For the above teacher, perhaps a better scenario would be to assess where the students are currently in regards to understanding of a subject, see how they digest the big topics from an intellectual point of view, and then break it down from there. The pattern is there… the teacher just needs to match this to the student.
If you want to channel your inner Bruce Lee and become awesome at martial arts… well perhaps you need to go back in time and start training at a very young age.
Similarly, if a person has a relatively unhealthy relationship with food, and by unhealthy I mean they love eating processed foods, addicted to certain foods, and generally has cravings (although, meat platter cravings is alright in my book), then I wouldn’t recommend them to try a lifestyle change such as intermittent fasting, which has a notion for overeating within a certain timeframe.
On the opposite end of exercising, if someone is addicted to long, slow, distance running, and their specific goals include fat loss, along with reduction in hip and knee injuries, then I would begin to educate them on the physiological benefits of lifting weights, along with the biomechanical (disadvantages) of constantly running.
The interesting thing about change is that every person has the capacity to change – it is simply one thought away from becoming a real and physical behavior and action. After understanding this portion of perspective, the question then becomes, what path do I choose in order to achieve this change?
So cruising through life without mentors, teachers, or partners to help guide you along your fitness path is relatively tough. I, myself cannot continue to beat my body up the way I have been doing – so I look for guidance in the form of people to reign me in, in regards to form check along with exercise programming, along with nutritional help as well to aid in recovery of lifting and life as well.
I need help at times to see the forest for the trees, or to see the bigger picture.
So in all, learning how to view something from another person’s point of view is crucial not only to helping someone learn some methodology, but also in building relationships with people on both a professional and personal level!