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The Odd Paradigm of The Strength Coach

I think a lot about the industry and field I work in. I engage with it from a weird outsiders perspective, having a network of coaches which has been mostly built through social platforms and my old college coursework. I've burnt out before in this field, and in returning to it, I've found it necessary to keep some of its habits at an arms length. I am far from a normal strength coach, yet I am completely typical at the same time.

For those who aren't strength coaches reading this, I want you to keep reading, for I hope you can gain an insight into this world and perhaps learn some takeaways to better your own field or line of work.

There's an odd paradigm in strength coaching, which I see so frequently in online debates on forums or comments sections. There's a lot of bickering about a little nuance. Fights break out defending means and methods of improving health, fitness, and human performance. There's a lot of information to weed through in this field. Yet, when it gets boiled down to it, so much of what is coached in the field is the same thing repackaged or rephrased. We all (mostly) use the same exercises, perform similar set and rep schemes, and have similar goals with our athletes: strengthen weak areas which allow us to better perform daily tasks in a given domain.

It's actually biblical (see Ecclesiastes) how nothing is new under the sun. Yet, if everything is old, why do we argue so much about it?

The matter to me, seems to stem for a greater desire to be valued or seen as greater. We're all fighting to be top dog in a hierarchy which no one else cares about. The more you punch-down the rising newcomer or punch-up at the top dog, the more you feel like you're climbing the hierarchy. But this is terribly benign to any onlooker. Most people (or you, for my non-strength coach readers) aren't any more likely to hire us because we proverbially "dunked" on another coach. But what will be notable is how you handle yourself within discussion and how you interact with others.

Especially in the current climate, people are looking for those who can interact and be personable. What greater way to showcase you are incapable of this then by ignorantly arguing online with someone you've never met? Is this how we wish to be seen? To be one who wants to punch-down at the people who are still learning? Or to be seen as someone who must be right all the time?

The problem with this, is how the hierarchy we are striving for doesn't really exist, and it doesn't matter to anyone else but us. The invisible hierarchy of dominance, of being smarter, or having better athletes to coach, or the logo on your shirt doesn't matter. Your spot in it if it did exist is so easily stripped away, and you're left with nothing at all. And your life goes on, and those who still live in the invisible hierarchy still live on, all while forgetting the other existed.

At the end of the day, if we continue to argue and live in this paradigm of an invisible hierarchy which no one can see and no one can quantify we limit our ability to have fully positive impact. People will forget about the good stuff you shared. They'll forget about the eBook or symposium you spoke at. But they will always remember how you made them feel, and if the feeling wasn't good, your impact diminishes with each passing reminder of you.

If you've read this far and you're not a strength coach, there's some lessons here for you. This is not a uniquely strength coach problem. Having worked in the public education system even briefly, it existed there as well. And it likely exists within corporate America or in the field you work in. It may take place in-person more than it does in the vitriol of the internet. But if you can be aware of it, you may find a way to escape it and avoid the distress it may often cause.

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