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The Rules of Personal Responsibility Do Apply to You
Originally Posted: 09/10/09

One of the most culturally defining shifts I have witnessed during the last 10 years or so in this industry is the trend by the professionals in our industry toward blaming others for lack of success in their business or for their personal failure.

As I have said many times, the industry as a whole is in the middle of its biggest shift ever away from many of the old practices that sustained us in the 80's and 90's. Many of these fundamentally flawed, and in many cases outright sleazy practices, such as high pressure sales or draw boxes, simply reached their expiration limit and don't work anymore.

Other trends, such as the shift away from circuit equipment toward results driven functional training, are more positive and reflect an industry moving in the right direction. You may not agree with these examples or the others I have used in recent blogs, but hardly anyone will disagree that things aren't what they use to be.

Change also leads to extreme success for some and hopeless failure for others. Change happens whether you want it to or not and right now we are in the middle of the fastest period of change since the late 70's and early 80's when the entire industry was beaten back to its roots by the emergence of the first franchise clubs such as Gold's, group exercise was rising, cardio driven by electronic function appeared and the peak and slow fade of Nautilus.

But as we say, with changes come those folks who don't adapt and this lack of adaptation to what is really happening in your world brings failure. Owners who don't reach their expected success often don't admit that maybe their dream business was nothing more than an abrupt nightmare that drained their money and left them crying on the curb. Something caused them to fail and that force had to be something else beyond their control.

This lack of personal responsibility is not only disgusting, but it is often that thing that prevents anyone from fixing the business. If you are the source of failure, but spend all your time blaming the market, the economy, the competitor, your spouse, your dumb ass staff (that you hired and trained), and anyone or anything else you can find, then you will never really address the issues that often can be fixed and the business saved.

An owner that blames his staff for his lack of success in the club is often the one that hires the cheapest people he can find, refuses to learn how to train and motivate, and then fires often because, "they don't get it”. The issue is not the staff but who hired them and trained them. If the owner adapts and changes rising to meet his weakness, he will prosper. If he doesn't he will fail, but nothing changes until he realizes they are his staff and it's his fault they are worthless employees.

Personal responsibility assumes the owner will look within first. Most don't because it is so much easier to blame someone else for your misery and stupidity than admitting you might not be doing a great job with your people.

But it isn't just the owners who suffer from this personal flaw. Many companies in our industry refuse to look inward as well and many individuals depicted on the news also avoid starting within as the root of their personal evil. Eat too many big burgers and then sue the company for selling them to you might be the ultimate example of the mixture of lousy personal values and a lack of personal responsibility in your life.

Based upon the assumption that refusing to be responsible for your own life is cultural and beyond just our industry, here are some things worth mentioning:

• If you are wearing it around your fat ass or gut, you ate it. It's not water weight. It's not bloat. It's not pretty. It is impossible for anything to get to your ass that didn't go through the lips first.

• If you are not projecting a curve toward being profitable by the end of your first six months in business, your business plan doesn't work and probably won't. Change the plan and stop blaming the competition.

• The Y's are a fact of life Get over it. If a Y is hurting you look at what you own. Is it a niche? Is it up-to-date? Have you even painted the pig in the last several years? You do not have a right to make money just because you opened a club. You do have the ability to run a competitive business, but most of the clubs that fail against Y's are way beyond their competitive years and often deserve the beating.

• If major equipment companies continue to develop endless lines of fixed equipment they will fail. It is not the economy, it's the fact that going around in circles with a giant card doesn't work anymore and the members know it.

• Trade shows in our industry are not relevant. The speakers are seldom relevant, the format is worn out and fewer owners are going because of the expense. It's not the economy; it's the fact that your product is no longer relevant to the consumer. Change it or close it but deal with it.

• If you are being drained of members it's not the club down the street that is killing you, it's the fact that you can't even spell customer service. Members just want you to be nice and appreciate their business but most clubs won't even greet their members or thank them when they leave. Look at your staff and if they are dumber than a Jerry Springer audience fire them all, learn customer service and get new ones. Members leave for two reasons: you don't appreciate their business and show this appreciation every day and they don't get results because your training is 20 years out of date. The new guy gets them but you drove them out and it is your fault.

• I don't care how many kids you have, how many years you have worked or how burned you are, if you own a single facility and go home at five on Monday afternoon, you deserve to have your ass kicked.

• If your spouse is making you miserable get a new spouse. Many owners I talk to spend hours blaming their spouse for their failure. If you are that miserable either get professional help and fix it or move on. If you let someone else ruin your life it is your fault and not theirs. Stop bitching about it and get on with your life.

• You are not entitled to make money because you had what you thought was a good idea. Good ideas are cheap and everyone thinks they have one but the ability to turn a good idea into money is very rare. Good ideas are the first brick in your success but it is only one brick and it is a very big house.

• Putting everything you have into your club to get started gives you the right to play but doesn't guarantee you will win. You have the right to get your ass kicked like everyone else but you also have the right to work harder and master what it takes to make money in this business.

• If you are blessed by being successful, the rules of the universe then don't guarantee that you will be successful forever. Many big companies in our industry have failed, and are failing, because they don't realize that what made you successful seldom keeps you that way. The client changes but many companies don't. What ever happened to Stairmaster, Nautilus, Body Master, Flex, Ezone and so many more? Where is Universal now? How about Icarian? Where is Living Well and International Fitness? What happened to Spa Lady? Where are all of the circuit knockoffs that were ripping the last few years? All merged, sold, closed or are lesser versions of past success. The foundational truth of the universe is that everything changes and you change or die because the client no longer wants what you have to sell. There is not a single idea in this industry that hasn't been disputed and resurrected. Look at strength training. We are now back to the basics because the members want success and won't settle for anything else. You change willingly by accepting the rule of change or you change unwillingly because the laws of the universe dictate that your business plan is no longer relevant in the real business world.

• Stop bitching; no one cares. If you are unhappy, keep it to yourself. Endless complaining, especially to your staff, leads nowhere except to a miserable staff. No one cares your broke. No one cares your fat, unless you have a skinny spouse. No one cares your business doesn't work unless it is someone like me who gets paid to clean it up. Stop being a victim, get off your ass and go to work. It really is that simple.

• To quote Larry Winget, you're broke because you want to be. You don't need that big ass truck while you are barely making your rent. Your kids don't need all that new kid crap when you are just getting started. You don't need to eat out every night and you don't need to get away this weekend. Look in the mirror if you are broke and blame that guy if you want to blame someone, because it is the guy looking back at you who is spending you into financial oblivion.

• Most stupid kids have stupid parents.

• You can't save yourself into profitability. Cutting your expenses down to nothing and hiring children as staff gets you nowhere. Your goal is to generate revenue everyday you are in the business and if you aren't generating enough revenue then learn how.

• Smoking might be the all time dumbest thing you can do. If you smoke and are in the fitness business then get out of the fitness business because you giving the rest of us a bad name and you are definitely not a role model for a healthy lifestyle.

• With all the books, workshops, online training and consulting help in the industry there is no reason to be an unsuccessful owner unless you are uncoachable, hardheaded or don't understand that your lack of knowledge is why your business doesn't work. The funny thing is that you don't know how to fix it but you won't let anyone else fix it either.

• If you own your own business and aren't working about 70 hours a week then you are probably getting what you put into it.

• There is enough time to do it all. Turn off your television and play with the kids or better yet take your significant other and a good bottle of wine to your room and embarrass your kids. Turn off the television, back away from the computer, put down the crackberry and you will find a lot more hours in your day. Stop bitching about not enough time and start valuing the time you do have.

So many people make their lives harder than they need to be. Once you realize that you are the one responsible for your own life, miracles can happen. You can learn new tricks, make money, have a life and be productive but you first have to escape "poor, poor, me” trap and be able to acknowledge that you don't always have the answer and that it isn't someone else's responsibility to make sure you are happy in the world.

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