Key word here is “service.” Service without someone to serve is not a very profitable business model and many health & performance teams within the tactical setting struggle to earn customers.
Health and performance professionals, as well as other influencers in the tactical space (peers, leaders, icons, etc.), must take care to not accidentally reinforce an all in or all out approach when it comes to any strategy that helps take out the trash and maximize adaptation to stressors.
Instead of presenting absolutes like, “You either train with the coaches or you don’t”, offer a continuum where something is better than nothing. While it sounds simple and practical, I can promise that we (myself certainly included) have communicated messages that enabled a lack of perfection to be the enemy of progression.
Play Your Own Devil’s Advocate:
Take a moment to recall a time you failed to accept a compromise that would have moved the needle or taken out some trash, even if not all of it.
Maybe they showed up late so you left your office and locked the door behind you.
Maybe you didn’t return an email because they asked for too much.
Maybe they failed to hit all of your prerequisites for service.
Maybe they requested a service outside your scope of practice.
Maybe they showed up to perform power cleans in five-fingered shoes.
Maybe they asked for advice on how their spouse should train.
No matter what the scenario, there was likely an imperfect compromise available.
I am by no means saying, “The customer is always right.” I worked as a bartender during college and know all too well that isn’t true - Just ask the two customers I literally carried out the door because they tried to pour themselves cocktails. However, to be right is not enough to achieve influence and to be self-righteous, especially when you’re a guest in someone else’s house, can lead to a lonely professional life spent in an empty weightroom, office, or treatment room.
Here are some phrases I’ve heard and even spoken during my time in the tactical field:
We don’t train hobbyists (I’ve said this)
I coach high performance not health and wellness
I’m not a crossfit coach
If they cared then they would adjust for my office hours
I was hired to work with operators and not spouses (I’ve said this)
If leadership isn’t going to work then I’m not either
I’m a practitioner not a teacher
If they don’t go through our onboarding then we won’t work with them
I’m not dealing with mental health stuff (Sadly, I’ve said this too)
The phrases above are all examples of building barriers to entry that leave tactical professionals underserved.
If you can’t adjust your service to accommodate those you serve, then they’ll keep bringing the same garbage in and they’ll keep struggling to take the garbage out. You’ll likely have a small loyal cohort that fools you into thinking you’re making a bigger impact than you actually are. You’ll affect 10% of the force significantly while remaining ignorant of your inability to connect with the other 90%. In other words, you’ll pick up trash on Tuesdays for the one house on each block that’s willing to sort it, clean it, and place it on the curb in compliance with your narrow pickup window.
Here’s the problem - You’re paid to provide service to every house on every block.
I promise that you can compromise to achieve a window of influence without sacrificing your professional integrity. You don’t have to be so accommodating that you show up at midnight on a Saturday with a hazmat suit and an excavator to dispose of dead bodies, But maybe, just maybe, you can drop an informational brochure on recycling by the houses that don’t yet use your services. They might not yet be “all in” (or even in at all) but you can still provide some sort of benefit that might lead to deeper engagement down the road. Consider the phrases above and a likely middleground that exists below their absolutism but above the total surrender of their professional integrity. Polarized stances lead to stagnation while compromises can achieve mutual benefit.
In the words of Coach Allen Sese, “Build the bridge - Don’t shout from the other side!” …Unless you rather hear your own echo than a response.