Natalie Goldberg came up with this metaphor of composting our experiences. Our minds are a heap of raw material and over time we sift, marinate, and distill all these experiences and knowledge into something useful, even beautiful.
I am around young coaches and they are starving for shortcuts. Hell, in the grand scheme of things I am a young coach who doesn’t mind a good shortcut, but we can’t forget this idea of composting. Your goal is not to collect the biggest heap of lamb tomahawks, egg shells, and clementine rinds as possible. It is to spend time with the quality knowledge you gather. Chew it, use it, and spit out what doesn’t taste right. This is mastery. It is not living every waking moment in a haze of podcast notifications.
This is new age of information and it is easy to become information gluttons. Fat with facts. But malnourished on experience. These people have the feel of an overzealous six year old tapping you on the shoulder with all the things they know. They are living in the clouds of possibility and likely need a mentor or guide to shoot them down.
The Health and Fitness sector has the most hobby experts of any other field and it is honestly how all of us got started. Your neighbor likely knows everything about hypertrophy and your grandmother recently heard a short segment on coconut oil on NBC and now is rubbing coconut oil on all her appliances in early Spring. This aspect of the field angered me for a long time. These people are stupid, how can they think they know everything.
But you see what my mind just did there, it flipped to me being the knower and keeper of information and that is just as dangerous. Watch your mind. Rein that sugar hoss in and realize the toxicity of those thoughts.
I choose my conversations very carefully. I write and speak about health and fitness for my livelihood. I get paid for my experience and knowledge and for that I am very grateful. But the most important aspect of information delivery is always context.
I don’t yell at people at every red light to filter their water and take a multivitamin. I can’t even remember the last time I talked to a complete stranger about functional medicine or strength training. I literally don’t have the time and if I am on a plane and sitting next to a 45 year old male licking a plastic water bottle while holding a pack of Go-Gurt in the other hand, I don’t jump down his throat about how he is shutting off the signal from his brain to his testicles with his childish life decisions. I likely say nothing, as this is not the time, nor the place. If we attempt a conversation the only thing I will do is try to plant a seed in the compost of their experiences.
A year later…
“This weird guy on the plane with a mason jar said that plastic and Go-Gurt might be bad for me and he gave me this book called Man Down. I finally read it, this [email protected] is scary.”
Job done. Seat belt sign back on.
I have been around coaches and health care providers who are bulls in their social engagement. They could be seasoned or irritatingly new. This tenacity to make people know about their knowledge and rightness in my mind is dangerous. It is ego driven. It is religious. It is dogmatic and it does not drive this field forward.
But, you may ask however will we make big changes in the world.
Slowly, yet ferociously.
From a place of service.
And in the right context.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, the people will say: we did it ourselves.”