I’ve noticed a disturbing trend online lately.
It probably started a few years ago, but it seems to becoming more and more prevalent as the weeks and months roll on.
Here’s what I see happening:
Too often, people are trying to replace experience with knowledge.
What’s the difference, you might think?
It’s a big difference. HUGE in fact. But let me begin with a story.
This past weekend, I was watching a documentary called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” It’s a fascinating documentary that Carolina Panthers strength coach Joe Kenn recommended to me, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The entire documentary is about an 85-year-old sushi guru, who has spent his entire life working to become the best sushi master that he possibly can.
That’s 70+ years of experience, tweaking and refining his craft to make the best sushi possible.
As a result, he’s been given elite status by Michelin (3 stars). You also have to make reservations at least a month in advance to get a seat at his restaurant, and you’re going to spend a minimum of $300 per person to eat there.
That is experience.
That is mastery.
On the other hand, imagine if he just sat around and read books or blogs about how to make sushi. Do you think it would be anywhere near as good?
We are living in the information age. The sheer amount of information that we have access to is ridiculous, and now anyone with an internet connection and above-average writing skills can develop an audience via a blog.
That blog can obviously lead to bigger and better things. Maybe they start a podcast, or a YouTube channel where others can “learn” from them.
If they’re really good, they may get an offer to write for major online websites such as Bodybuilding.com or T-Nation.
The scary thing is, just because they have KNOWLEDGE doesn’t mean they have real-world EXPERIENCE.
When I think of experience, I immediately think of coaches like Dan John, Joe Kenn, or Al Vermeil. Guys that have been in the industry 20, 30, or even 40+ years.
Guys that have talked the talk and walked the walk.
Think about it like this:
Do you want to learn business from a stuffy professor in a classroom?
Or do you want to learn it from someone like Donald Trump who has made billions of dollars?
On the other hand, what we’re seeing more and more of now are people that can recite articles and research from Pubmed like nobodies business, but I have serious doubts as to their abilities as a trainer or coach.
Perhaps one of the most gratifying things about doing this for over 15 years is that I have a much better idea of who really knows their stuff.
There’s a huge gap between being able to theorize and pontificate about training-related topics, and being able to get results for a client or athlete.
In our little niche of the universe, keep this in mind – just because someone can write a catchy blog, or has a bazillion articles up across the Internet doesn’t mean they can actually get people results!
When you step back and think about it, how messed up is that?
As information consumers, how often do we let someone who has minimal training background sway our training thoughts and ideals because they’re a persuasive writer?
This has been reinforced to me over and over again when attending conferences and seminars the past couple of years.
If I hang out for even a few minutes and talk shop, you realize very quickly who knows their stuff and get results.
What I’m about to say could sound heretical, and I’m 100% okay with that.
But I want you to think about this for a moment before you say that Mike has finally lost his marbles.
I want you to stop reading fitness related blogs for an entire week, including my own! If you must read something, start stripping down your RSS reader to the top 3 or 4 blogs.
At the end of the day, blogs are instant gratification. They give you the warm and fuzzy feeling that you’re learning something, but unfortunately all it does is play into our ADD lifestyle.
Instead, I want you to go out and either buy a book, watch a video, or attend a seminar.
If possible, try and make sure this person has been around for a while and is really doing what they claim to be doing.
In other words, take back your time and attention and focus on learning something of quality and/or depth.
The next goal is to get out there and actually train someone. I’m all for quality over quantity, but there’s something to be said for someone who has flat-out trained a ton of clients and athletes
I’ve seen Robert “Dos” Rememdios train 100 football players with only an intern for assistance over the course of a “typical” morning.
I know Eric Cressey can see 50, 60 or more baseball players on a Saturday morning.
How good would you be if you simply made it a goal to train a ton of people?
To really dial yourself in and focus on becoming a great coach?
It’s amazing what you learn when you stop try to accumulate knowledge, and try to fill in the gaps with real-world experience.
Maybe you don’t even have a job yet, but you want to work in the field. Volunteer your services at a health club, gym, or athletic performance center. Try and land an internship at a facility that does things the right way.
So the goal of this blog is simple – to motivate you to become better. The easiest way to do that is to follow these two easy steps:
1 – Learn from qualified and reputable sources. Don’t ask for the readers digest version; get the real scoop by watching DVD’s, reading books, research articles, etc. Start to take back your own time and focus on QUALITY learning versus QUANTITY.
2 – Get out and train a ton of people. If you’re new, give away your services for free. If you’re established, don’t just train other clients, but mentor young up-and-coming coaches. Continue to hone and refine your skills. Focus on getting better every single day.
It’s up to YOU to make this industry better; to take it to the next level.
It starts with YOU, TODAY – good luck!
(Lead photo courtesy of Joi Ito)