You’re holding back your thoughts and ideas. Your desire to create is stifled because you’re lying to yourself. These lies protect you from being vulnerable. You think they protect you from the judgement and criticism you fear if you put your work on display for the world to tear down. You’re also safe from being loved, shared, and from positively affecting someone’s life. Share for the people who support you and those who haven’t yet discovered you. Share to enrich more lives, start more people on a wellness journey, and support more people through their struggles. It’s time to expose these lies so you begin to share your ideas.
Lie #1: You Think It’s All Been Said Before
You worry you don’t have original ideas. Original ideas are overrated. Humans love familiar patterns wrapped up in new dressing.
Have you watched the movie where a young cop goes undercover into an extreme subculture to expose a group of criminals who engage in high stakes heists? The cop falls under the sway of the charismatic ringleader of a group and romances a young woman tied to the leader. During the investigation a rival group is suspected of the robberies and raided only to discover it was the original group and leader all along. Ensue a botched final heist, the cop getting exposed, and an intense chase down at the end, only to see the cop choose loyalty to the ringleader and allow him to escape.
I just described the 1991 action classic Point Break(please ignore the misguided and unnecessary 2015 remake), where a young Keanu Reeves faces off against Patrick Swayze. Replace Keanu with Paul Walker, Swayze with Vin Diesel, and surfing with street racing and you were probably thinking The Fast and The Furious. Though entirely unoriginal, The Fast and The Furious has gone on to spawn 7 sequels, an 8th in production, and a spinoff, combining for a worldwide box office gross over $5 billion. It’s made international superstars of its diverse cast and thrust car culture into the mainstream.
And while we’re at it, Harry Potter, The Lord of The Rings, and the original Star Wars Trilogy are all the same ‘hero’s journey’ story with the same character archetypes. I mean Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Dumbledore right?
The underlying ideas may not be wholly original, but your interpretation and delivery of them may be. You may even repeat the same message in slightly altered forms across time. Even if the message feels simple and unoriginal to you, a follower may be just starting a fitness journey and need that very message today. A brand new follower will see for the very first time or a long time follower may be struggling and the message provides a hit of strength and motivation when needed. People don’t need paradigm shifting revelations as much as they need reliable and accessible truths.
Some of the most successful and reputable fitness industry leaders you follow consistently share basic concepts. Marci Nevin (@marcinevin) and Kurt Rawlins (@kurtrawlinsfitness) use their instagram accounts not to rewrite the rules of fitness and nutrition, but to hammer basic and consistent concepts home to their impressive followings. They understand there’s always new people finding our message, in need of the most basic concepts packaged neatly and accessibly. You have every bit the same right as they do to share what you know and help more people.
Lie #2: Your Following Is Too Small
Following size is an unreliable metric of information quality at best, while often downright misleading. Though many in our industry have grown huge followings through years of brand and content development, far more of our best live in virtual obscurity.
Kevin Mullins (@kevinmullinsfitness) and Josh Hillis (@joshuahillis) are respected authorities among trainers, each having published a book, done earth shattering volumes of coaching real people, and never set about to grow massive followings. Their ideas are as valuable as anyone with 100x their combined 5000 IG followers.
A smaller following starts with a handful of advantages. As you’re starting out you have fewer eyes on you. If you’re worried you’re terrible, now is the best time to get your reps in. Practice writing, your media style, your videos, or whatever skill and content you seek to develop. Every seemingly polished writer, podcaster, YouTuber, and social media content creator sucked when they began. With a little time they sucked less. With practice their confidence and style emerged as their followings grew.
Social media mogul, Gary Vaynerchuk, highlights how bad his initial Wine Library YouTube videos were. He’s one of the most respected authorities on social media and marketing. He got uncomfortable and put in the reps early when not a lot of people were watching. And he got good, then great, then masterful at creating and sharing his media. He now teaches the world how.
Even a smaller following contains devoted supporters. By failing to share your ideas, you’re denying your engaged followers the knowledge and motivation they seek to progress on their fitness journey. You are someone’s go to person for fitness and they love everything you do. Focus on serving them with kindness and consistency. They will share your work, driving more people to your door.
Lie #3: People Will Criticize You
Have you ever felt like everyone can read your thoughts? Ever feel like your every vulnerability is exposed to the world? It’s called the spotlight effect and tricks you into thinking people are far more focused on you than they really are. People are usually far too concerned with their own issues to be worried about every little thing you think or do, or to bother criticizing you. If you train your mind to recognize this, you deflect caring about the rare times when someone is focused on you. Or think about it this way: isn’t it powerfully egocentric to think everyone is fixated on you?
Now that we’ve cleared this up, we can create and share without feeling scrutinized by the world. Your goal should be to attract more eyes and attention. As the quality and consistency of your output improves, more supporters will arrive at your door.
Even if you gain the attention of trolls and face criticism, capitulating to people who don’t support you only serves to rob your real supporters of your work. You should seek to disappoint your detractors at every turn. If anyone is hell bent on watching you fail, disappoint them by tirelessly pursuing success. Far more likely, your detractors are figments of your insecurities and ghosts living in your mind, only to stop you from being vulnerable. Far easier to hide your work from potential and imaginary criticism.
Doesn’t it seem absurd you would halt pursuing your dreams over the fear a few people might disagree with you or not like what you’ve created? All the while denying far more people the benefit of your accumulated knowledge.
Lie #4: You Need To Learn More
Maybe you believe you haven’t yet learned enough to share knowledge with others. You think you haven’t yet earned the right to create work aimed at those in need. This won’t stop the truly unqualified, uncaring, and people seeking to hack the system for quick financial gain. Complaining about them doesn’t solve the problem so you best get to work competing for consumer attention by being better. You only get better by doing.
You’re stuck in the cycle of believing you need just one more course, one more book on nutrition, more podcasts and YouTube videos, or you need to read that 12th article on teaching a hip hinge or calculating macros. You’re hiding from what you need most, to sit down and begin creating. In the article, Content 101: Create More and Consume Less, I expose the comfort of endlessly consuming content, by revealing it for what it truly is: a way to procrastinate while soothing the discomfort of feeling unproductive. Having read another book feels like you’ve done something valuable. All you’ve really done is again fail to start writing articles, or start the podcast you’ve dreamed of launching.
You know enough to start and can’t possibly ever know everything in our field. Continual education should be the bedrock of your career. We should always build in time to learn more. We should always block time for learning. We should also time block for creating and guard against the allure of the easier alternative. Have you ever noticed how you hate doing household chores, but when it comes time to do taxes, you’re suddenly productive with routine house work? In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield exposed “the resistance”, an insidious force working against you at every turn to pull you away from the task of putting your vision into a consumable form. Recognize the pressure to know more as an excuse to avoid the hard work of sharing your ideas with the world.
Maybe you have limited experience and worry you’re not good enough. I assume you’ve gotten results for your clients and you’ve done well with the basics of strength training and nutrition with them? You’ve focused on learning from the best resources in the industry? Then there’s a good chance you have a starting point with basics you can share. If it’s already working for clients in front of you, it will speak to similar people with similar goals, the very people you should be serving with helpful information. When your clients have questions, make note before you forget. Keep pen and paper or a tablet to quickly capture those ideas. By getting this information in front of more eyes, you should see clientele growth and an acceleration of your learning curve as you gain experience faster. More experience means more ideas to draw from and share.
Lie #5: You Need Approval From Industry Leaders
Are you worried about writing something Dr. Mike Israetel would disagree with and call you on? Don’t. Mike is far too busy with his own career and training to scour social media to critique you on technical details. He’s also a world class nice guy who would be happy and impressed you’re making the effort to help people and grow a career brand and reach based on good information. If by some miracle he does find a mistake you’ve shared, he’s far more likely to aid you in a constructive fashion than attempt to humiliate you. Probably why he’s a leading educator in our field.
Similarly, Eric Cressey is too busy with Cressey Sports Performance, running the training and strength and conditioning departments for the New York Yankees, and spending time with family to see or approve your tweets and articles. These industry leaders aren’t focused on you and they’re not interested in tearing you down. They earn income educating other coaches and the overwhelming majority are positive, supportive people should you ever gain direct interaction with them.
Trying to write in complex technical language to impress the PhD tier of our universe is a classic mistake. You risk going over the heads of your true audience, the people who want basic, accessible, fun, relatable information. The people who might actually hire you to coach them. Hyper technical bio-mechanical or biochemical jargon only runs these people off. Meanwhile, the fitness influencers who frustrate you are fantastic at speaking the language of the consumer. You may protest the use of language like “toning” or “rapid fat loss” but this is the language consumers think in and respond to. Speak the language and do it with your integrity.
Industry leaders do not agree on all principles of training and nutrition. Some engage in debate with curious and honorable intentions. Others entrench in ideological camps and wage war on Twitter. If you’re waiting for the fitness universe to agree on everything before you dare take a position in your own work, you’ll wait an eternity. Take what you’ve learned from your best ability to study and gain practical experience, and then share. As you further your education and gain experience you’re allowed to change old beliefs and evolve as a coach. Evolution is a sign of a great fitness professional.
Many of the most successful and established coaches and business founders in fitness and nutrition are in those positions because they learned to use social media instead of letting social media use them. They share their work, strategically engage with their following, and don’t get caught in social media debates or endless scrolling. They interact with their friends and peers but know how to unplug and focus on deep work. The ability to step away from social media and content consumption is essential to having the time to do all the coaching and creating needed to build a brand and career, while allowing personal down time with family. Take a lesson and guard against being lured into this time and creativity sinkhole.
These 5 lies are comforting. They protect you from failure. If you don’t even try you can’t fail in the view of your peers. You can’t be exposed for being the imposter you worry you are. They’re anchors holding you down and keeping you from building the brand and career you dream about. Every successful person you look up to and have learned from faced these same fears head on, shed the excuses, and got to work. It was never quick, rarely easy, but always worth the effort.