My name is Lance Breger and I was a hot mess. Not only was I a full-time fitness coach, but I was also running two startup wellness businesses simultaneously. I was working 7 days a week, sacrificing sleep for 6:00am clients, punishing myself in the gym, emailing late into the night, viewing meals as productivity speed bumps and existing in a chronic state of stress. It was only a matter of time before I crashed – hard.
In February 2008, I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at George Washington University Hospital for a peritonsillar infection. The extreme pain of breathing, speaking and swallowing plus the fear of potential throat surgery was the backhanded slap of mortality that I needed to change my life and priorities forever.
After all, what good is a thriving business if you are dead? Now as an Executive Wellness Coach and Founder of Infinity Wellness Partners (IWP), a comprehensive corporate wellness company that prepares organizations around the country for the most productivity and healthy work-life, I am here to remind you from the challenges I faced in my life that you are the most important coaching client.
Putting myself first and foremost is a daily practice that I still have to put effort. There are days where I lead sixteen consecutive 30-minute coaching sessions for corporate clients with only a one-hour break for lunch. Those days are rough! Literally it can be challenging to just go take a bathroom break, let alone stay active, hydrated, nourished and relaxed.
Through this blog I am going to share two things:
( 1 ) How to identify a self-care priority that has fallen to the wayside, and
( 2 ) How to create the structure to reprioritize yourself for the long-term.
1. Oxygen Mask Philosophy
Pop quiz! During the in-flight safety announcement, who do flight attendants instruct put on the oxygen mask first in the case of change of pressure in the cabin? That’s right, you! Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. This is because you cannot give what you do not have. You are doing your clients absolutely no good by showing up to coaching sessions sedentary, sugared, stressed, and/or sleep-deprived.
Not just on coaching days, but every day make your wellness the priority so that you have the vitality necessary to guide your clients to making long-lasting change. It might just save their life. Name one area in which you could provide yourself more ‘oxygen’ that would help elevate your coaching performance and sessions. Here are some ideas:
Physical – breathing, sleeping, eating, exercising
Mental – reading, writing, learning, creating
Emotional – connecting, socializing, volunteering, mentoring
Spiritual – appreciating, dreaming, meditating, reflecting
2. Your Schedule Doesn’t Lie
There is a brilliant chapter in Robin Sharma’s Greatness Guide titled ‘Your Schedule Doesn’t Lie’. It reads that if you want to see what is important to anyone just take a look at their schedule!
- Is your schedule conducive for happiness, health and a successful coaching business?
- Do you schedule the activities you need to be your fullest, most inspiring self every week?
If your area of priority in section #1 is not literally on your calendar there is a very strong likelihood that it will not happen... Ever.
Here are a few tips for scheduling:
( 1 ) Create your weekly schedule on Saturday or Sunday, not Monday.
( 2 ) Always schedule ‘you’ activities first (meals, naps, workouts, creative time, social time, etc.).
Color coordinate your schedule with coaching sessions in green (green = money making activities) and self-care activities in yellow (mellow yellow time). This gives you a visual representation of your energy flow during a day
Start every day with something for you. To be consistent long-term, schedule your priority area in the morning. Get up earlier if you have to, because evening excuses don’t exist at 6:00am and 7:00am! List what day of the week, time and the duration for your priority area identified above for scheduling:
There is a saying that goes, ‘What is the difference between Wellness & Illness?’. The answer is ‘We & I’. True, social support (we) is critically important in living the happiest, healthiest and most fulfilling life, but remember that 'I' always comes before 'We'. Every 'We' relationship is made up of 50% 'I'.
As a coach you can only control your 50% of the client-coach equation and many coaches do not take responsibility of making themselves their very best every single day. Can you see how putting client-care before self-care leads to less effective coaching, lackluster sessions and no results for your clients?
So everyone reading this blog, let’s accept where we are and the responsibility of taking ourselves where we want to be by being our most important client. If we want to change our business, our life or our world – we, first, need to change ourselves.