What Happened To Checking Your Ego At The Door?
By Manny Alayon
Fitness is an ego-driven profession and gyms are ego-driven cesspools. Whether you are a coach or fitness enthusiast the driving factor in a lot of your fitness related decisions is in fact your ego. Does anyone remember the old CrossFit mantra of “leave your ego at the door?”. I used to (and still do) love that old saying. But I think as time has passed we have strayed away from it and it has even been forgotten. What ever happened to leave your ego at the door?
From a coach’s perspective, part of this is not establishing clear lines of what is good for business and what are best practices for helping your clients and community succeed. It is as if we ignore and let big egos through our doors for the sake of not hurting someone’s feelings. We may even have viewed it as “bad business” for fear of losing that client or risking a reputation of sorts. However, not having your own ego in check and also not checking someone else’s ego will cause more problems down the road.
As a coach, it is important to not allow your own views and opinions get in the way of your clients goals. It is vital that your ego does not get in the way of accepting another view on fitness in order to grow as a professional. I have seen entirely too many coaches in the fitness field fall victim to this elitist mentality. It becomes either “it’s my way or it’s the wrong way”. Our industry is ever evolving because of our understanding of the human body and its capabilities is constantly growing. Having a system of doing things is a necessity, but it should never be so rigid that you cannot accept another view point. An ego driven leader will create an ego driven community.
Checking the ego of a member can definitely be an intimidating thing to do. You risk hurting their feelings and even offending them. However, the repercussions of letting it slide end up being far worse. Letting a member with a big ego run wild not only hurts that individuals growth, but it is bad for your gym’s culture. Members with big egos can lead into athlete entitlement, big fish, little pond mentality and become a cancer to the gym. Athlete entitlement is a term for athletes that think they have special privileges over other members because of athletic ability. It is pretty obvious to see how that is a nasty problem for a community that is supposed to foster encouragement. Big fish, little pond mentality is a term I like to use for athletes who only want to be the best within what they would describe as “appropriate for their skill level”. It is a mentality that often leads to a “I only compete to win” mentality. I also call this the “JV Champion” mentality. They do not like competition and would rather the easy wins over the strive for better. You can see this in various ways, which I can have an entire post dedicated to. Cancers of the gym complain, blame and generally bring down the energy and vibe. They generally spread to other members causing a negative training environment for everyone around them. People with big egos are generally self-centered, selfish and lack accountability.
Being in fitness pretty much means you have an ego of some sort. But it is perfectly okay and quite normal to have an ego! However, keeping yourself in check is what separates you from being a productive member of your fitness community and being a cancer. Self awareness is a major key in checking your ego. If this posts talks to you and you are offended, then you may need to check your ego at the door.