Here’s an editorial about the fitness business I wanted to put up here for a while, and there was an article on the cover of New York Post last month that reminded me all about it and summed it up perfectly. I’m sure it was a cover story in your town as well …
It was all about this construction worker who went to
fully armed in an attempt to catch Bin Laden by himself. Once I stopped laughing, I realized that this story illustrated a mistake I’ve made multiple times in my career, and I just wanted to give you a heads up about it as well. It’s a mistake a lot of personal trainers, bootcamp operators, and fitness entrepreneurs make, especially in the hyped up fitness marketing age we’re in today (which this site is a part of too, by the way).
It’s the difference between being brave, a risk taker, courageous, ambitious, and being FOOLHARDY.
What would you call this construction worker guy? Brave? Heroic? You know, you got to give him some credit. He put himself on the line to make something happen. He took action. But I woudn’t call him brave or courageous at all. What I’d call him is foolhardy.
A guy like this the definition of foolhardy. Let me explain. A lot of times in success literature, self help readings, sales, and business books, you’re going to hear people tell you to put good judgment and disbelief aside and take massive action; to burn your bridges, to do things outside of your comfort zone, to eliminate fear, and so on. This is in some ways good advice, because for the most part people take too little risks, aim way too low, and end up taking no action at all because of it.
But realize this risk taking must be met in equal or greater measure with learning, planning, and preparation. When you combine learning and preparation with action in the face of uncertainty, what you have is courage. But without the learning and preparation what you have is foolhardiness.
For example, I describe our soldiers, many of which are life-long career soldiers, and the rest of which have gone through some of the most rigorous training in the world, as what you would have to call courageous. They’ve gone through every measure possible to prepare; to not lose or die, but unfortunately many of them do get hurt and killed, despite all of their training.
Going in fully prepared, but still in harms way and not knowing what to expect is courageous. But going in untrained, unprepared and with the odds nowhere near your favor, is what you would have to call foolhardy. It’s vital that you understand the difference, because the cause you’ll find behind most business failure is action on the side of foolhardiness, no bravery.
If you fail while being courageous, and it’s not a life and death situation of course, you’ll always be better prepared and wiser to make more correct decisions in the future. This type of failure isn’t bad – in fact it’s very positive because it allows you to learn at a much faster pace than playing it safe.
But being foolhardy leaves you back at square one with little or nothing to show for it. Truly understanding the difference is something that takes time, comes through trial and error, and through periods of failure and success. Understanding that there’s a difference is vital before you go and do anything that’s too crazy, like quitting your gym job when you haven’t learned or studied a damn thing about how to become a personal trainer or fitness marketing.
But if you’ve done your homework, weighed the negatives, and are going in it with your head up, then you’ve set yourself to succeed no matter what. This goes for anything in this business. I’ve found that most studio owners go in grossly unprepared. Same with starting a bootcamp. As easy as any of these fitness business models sounds, starting one up without taking advantage of any of the valuable resources there are out there for you to do so is extremely foolhardy.
So the bottom line is there’s a balance. You can’t sit holed up in the planning process without taking action. This in fact is the mistake that I see most people making in the fitness business – they’re perpetual planners.
But if you’re a follower of this blog, understand the value in taking action, and are hell bent on making positive things happen, explode your income, and make a name for yourself in this industry, I’d just warn you about the other side; about being foolhardy. But hey, even if you screw the whole thing up, I doubt anyone will ever put you on the cover of the New York Post because of it.