I recently made a change to how I conceptualize and order my consultations with clients.
First of all, I should explain that I do consultations, and what consultations are. In my coaching business, clients pay a monthly subscription fee and in return receive a package of services:
- Program Design
- Program Delivery
- Ongoing Coaching
Consultation is the backbone of this service. It’s basically a conversation. Our initial consultation is where we get to know each other; get to know one another’s style; and I learn about their background, goals, and priorities. After that, monthly consultations are an opportunity for coaching around behaviors and habits, as well as discussing program improvements.
So, what did I change?
I used to organize the consultation into 3 parts:
- A conversation about compliance to the workout plan, progress within the workouts, and changes to future workouts
- A conversation about nutrition, focused on things like nutrient quantities, eating habits, and meal prep
- A conversation about lifestyle, specifically about balance, energy, purpose, and rhythm
But recently, my mindset around this changed. I have been blogging, and posting more in social media, and reflecting on true priorities within this coaching business (my personal priorities, the priorities within the service, and the priorities of my clients). I also heard the challenge from James Fitzgerald on a recent OPEX coaches education call for coaches to be more, “trustworthy, authentic, vulnerable, and empathetic.” All this led me to conclude that the way I conduct my consultations–and communicate expectations about them to my clients–needed to change.
Now I organize the consultation like this:
- Discussion of lifestyle & behaviors
- Discussion of nutrition & fueling
- Discussion of workouts & physical activity
And I include a little note there, both for their benefit and mine, that states the purpose of the consult as, “Discussing behaviors, exercise, and nutrition. Revisiting goals. Continuing to build the relationship.”
It’s not a big change to how I actually practice consultation, but a small change to how I think about it and communicate about it. Now, if the entire conversation centers around something going on in my client’s life, we both have permission to stay at part 1 for the entire call. We don’t need to get to parts 2 and 3 because 1 is always the priority.
I want my people to be real with me first, and I want to provide genuine caring and help. In my view, that’s what it means to be clean-hearted or clean-spirited or to have a clean conscience. If we avoided some real deep concerns that we both knew were there, or if we spent all our time talking about surface-level, less-important things, then we would have wasted our time.
We’ll get a lot more useful work done by talking about our true priorities and the habits and rhythms we create to put those priorities into action. That’s why better coaching starts with lifestyle & behaviors, not just talking about squats (though those are important too).
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