“Patience is bitter, but it's fruit is sweet.” ~ Aristotle
"Sweetie, don't push the pedals back just push them forward!" I said impatiently. I was teaching my 5-year old daughter how to ride a bike. "I'm trying my hardest daddy!" she yelled.
She could sense the frustration in my voice. She was right, the harder she tried the worse it got. Now normally I'm one of the most patient people you'll ever meet, but today, for some reason, I found myself openly frustrated.
“Let's just try again tomorrow,” I said, sweat pouring from my face. I was irritated that she wasn't getting it and I was irritated that I was frustrated. "I'll pedal back to the car,” she said. The car was only about fifty feet away but it may as well have been a mile as far as I was concerned. “Sure,” I said, as I plopped down on the curb.
When a client works with a trainer or a coach it is a unique relationship, the very foundation of which requires patience. There is no immediate gratification, it's not like walking into Macy's where you pay and walk out the door with something tangible in your hands.
A client that wants to lose ten pounds has to be made aware that it is a process and it's not going to happen overnight. As a trainer, you cannot be ambiguous. You have to be clear that it's going to take patience to achieve that goal. If you are not clear from the onset, it's very easy for a client to become impatient when they don't see instant results.
I believe a client MUST have a clear, strong goal in order to demonstrate patience. As a rule, patience is a byproduct of setting goals or a destination. Try taking someone on a walk without telling them where you are going at the onset...after about 15 mins I promise you you'll have an irritated walking partner!
Sometimes our clients aren't showing the progress they would like and it is easy for frustration and impatience to evolve. Setting goals at the beginning of your relationship and revisiting them regularly will allow your client to refocus. Goals inherently allow trust in the process, we can demonstrate more patience when we have a destination.
"Daddy daddy!" Sophia squealed excitedly. I looked up and saw her little legs churning furiously down the parking lot. I smiled. She had remembered to do something that I had forgotten, she had set a goal of getting to the car and she accomplished this. I realized that she was never the impatient or frustrated one, it was me. I smiled as she rode past the car.