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Let’s Be Honest…It’s The Only Way We Get Better

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If I told you that you needed to be more honest with yourself to get better, you’d probably get a little defensive at first.

You’d think…I don’t lie. And I surely don’t lie to myself.

Wait…did I just lie? Shit.

(Tony has me questioning who the hell I am once again.)

Having a coach tell you to take an honest look at yourself can be hard, if taken at all. Most won’t do it. Most will be offended that a coach would ask you to be more honest with yourself.

Don’t be. We all need more honesty.

We need extreme honesty.

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin wrote a great book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win”, which I cite often. This book crushed it when it comes to identifying tangible situations you need to take more ownership for. They took real life conflicts from the battlefield and taught lessons that business owners, leaders, teachers, and parents could use.

But beyond “Extreme Ownership”, there’s a whole other layer of ownership that a lot of leaders miss. These situations aren’t as obvious and if you didn’t have someone point them out for you, you wouldn’t miss them. Instead of telling you that you’re lying to yourself, let’s refer to it as an “absence of honesty”.

Recently, this absence of honesty was brought to the attention of our coaching staff by our coach that coaches the coaches, JMac. To the average member at our gym, JMac, aka Johnny Mac, appears to be just another happy and extremely friendly CFPBer. He has influenced my journey in CrossFit since he was on the CrossFit seminar staff and taught me at my Level 1 in the summer of 2012. Over the past few years he’s led workshops with our coaching staff to help make us better. It’s been an amazing experience to be vulnerable as a coach and have your craft picked apart and put back together stronger with the help of a coach like JMac.

When someone identifies your absence of honesty, you may not think much of it. You could blow it off as unnecessary perfectionism, or you might assume you’re already perfect enough. Both are dangerous approaches to life, your career, and your health. You can always get better. You can always learn something new.

We had a workshop with JMac one time where it was all about honesty. If you’re a coach in any sense of the title, you know there are a lot of hard conversations to be had with your students. It’s not always easy pointing out someone else’s faults for them. We not only had to be more honest with our members but more honest with ourselves.

First, honesty with our members. I’ll give a quick example so you know what that looks like. Let’s say the class is doing a strength WOD of back squats. One of your members, John, is squatting with knees caving in towards each other. The fault isn’t bad enough to be dangerous to John’s knees but enough to stop him from getting full depth and full power from his posterior chain muscles.

Are you honest enough with John that you can address this fault with him? Secondly, how far do you take that honesty? Do you give him a few cues like “knees out” then go onto the next athlete? Do you give them a general approval like “good” and hope they know what they did better? Did you leave them better off than you found them?

That last question transitions into the one we should ask ourselves.
Are we being honest with ourselves?

To find out, you have to ask yourself the tough questions. Did we leave our athlete better than we found them? Should we have left them or should we have stuck with them for a little longer? Did we do everything we could in that moment to make our athlete better? Did we do everything we could in that hour to make the class better?

These are the questions I started asking myself. Whether it was on the coaching floor, working out, parenting, CEOing, etc. I brought more honesty to all aspects of my life and I’ve watched it pay off.

As an athlete, honesty is the only way you know if you get better. Do you have an honest assessment of where you are currently at? Do you choose weights and scales based on your ability level or do you try to be something you’re not? Do you have honesty in movement, hitting full ranges of motion or following a set tempo to the millisecond? Do you let yourself get away with less than ideal movement? Do you record your reps accurately and do you track at all? Do you give everything to a workout or do you hold back? Do you maximize every minute you are given in the gym to get yourself better?

I’m not trying to humble you or help you realize you weren’t as good as you thought you were… even though that’s exactly what JMac did to me…maybe that is what all the great coaches do.

It’s more about me wanting you to improve. And in order to improve, you must know where you are now. You must know where you are tomorrow and the next day, and always examining how you got better and how you can get better.

Just over 3 months ago we started a nutrition coaching program here at CFPB. We have a 3-month initial sign-up from our athletes so we are just now seeing what a 3-month commitment to the process can do.

With all of our athletes, we encourage them to track everything they eat. Why?


It’s not a matter of whether we trust you to follow the program or not. It’s about the athlete learning what they are truly putting in their body.

The number one reason people are successful with tracking macros is because they are finally being honest with themselves.

If you want success with any diet, the only factor that matters is honesty. Paleo, macros, Zone, it does not matter which diet you pick. I’ll say it again, it does not matter.

The only diet that works is the one you are honest with.

The only workout program that works is the one you are honest with.

A lot of people need that remote coach or nutrition coach to help them introduce that honesty. The expertise is what you think you’re paying for, but the honesty is really where the value is.

Welcome that honesty from your coaches and get all the value you can out of each day. You will get better because of it.

Keep living with extreme honesty,