“But my clients don’t want to do mindset work…”

By Colm O’Reilly

Owner, CrossFit Ireland; Certified Two-Brain Business Mentor; Founder, TheMentalHealthPlan.com

There’s an old marketing expression that goes something like: people don’t want to buy a drill bit, they want to put a hole in the wall. Seth Godwin continued this train of thought on a podcast once and said (to the best of my recollection) “they don’t want the hole in the wall either, they want to hang the picture, and they don’t want to hang the picture, they want to feel good about themselves and their live.”

Very few people ever sit next to me in an NSI and say they want to improve their toes to bar and their power snatch technique. But we teach these anyway because of how they’ll improve their physical health. 

Similarly very few of my Mindset clients ever say they want to develop their meditation or kindness practice, but I teach them because of how they’ll improve their mental health. 

Our job is to help people understand and verbalise what they need deep down inside.  Then we need to walk them through how what we ask them to do will lead to what they want.

The resistance doesn’t come from the end goal, it comes from the way we’ve suggested they reach the end goal:

  • They may not think Mindset training works, so we show them a story that it’s not wishful thinking or blind positivity but a collection of proven mental skills. It’s also critical that we set expectations for them so they’re not disillusioned with the process. We wouldn’t expect a client to lose 100lbs in 10 days, and in the same way we wouldn’t expect them to go from super anxious to self assured overnight. 
  • They may not feel it’ll work for them. Maybe they’ve even tried it at some point and failed (Sound familiar to exercise and nutrition before they met you?) We can show our clients different styles, and there’s no need to jump in at the deep end with this stuff. Sharing your personal journey of how you improved your mindset here helps immensely. 
  • They may fear losing status or wasting time on mindset. If they feel it’s hippie-ish, explain how it’s backed by scientific research, or how cutthroat NFL and NBA players use it to gain an edge. If they can’t fit it into their day we can show them how to “habit stack”: layering a new habit on top of an existing one, like deliberately taking a minute to get clear on what your intentions are for the day while sipping on your morning coffee. 

On the surface, very people will outright say that they want to work on mindset, or toes to bar, or nutrition, sleep, etc. It’s our job to show them the path to their goals and help them overcome their obstacles as they implement new strategies and habits so they can achieve what they want to achieve. 

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