A client of mine texted me after a sparring session in which he performed poorly, particularly in light of the fact that he was planning to compete in a few weeks (those plans have since changed). In his message, he wrote something like:
"I'm sorry for my poor performance...I know how much work you've put into me."
And my immediate gut reaction was "no, that's wrong."
Specifically, what I told him was "
To take it further.
I don't "put work" into my clients. That isn't to say I don't care about them, because I do. Nor is to say that I don't constantly strive to improve my coaching, because I'm always doing that as well. But that is work on ME as a coach, not work I'm putting into THEM as a product.
My clients are not products.
I have always maintained that, because I believe that making my client a "product" ultimate dis-empowers them. Their successes and failures become mine, not theirs. I don't want that. If my role is to help empower those who train with me then I can't empower them by taking responsibility for their actions. If I fail as a coach, I'll acknowledge it. But if I show them the path, and they won't follow it, then at some point, the fault is theirs, not mine.
All I can really think of right now is this.
Are there times when, as a coach, I need to acknowledge that I did something wrong? Yes, of course. I have offered poor advice, misjudged plans, or just plain failed to inspire people on occasion. When I do so, I have a responsibility to man up and accept that I screwed up.
But the flip side of that is that my clients must accept that if I offer them guidance and they don't follow it, then they are at fault, not me. I've seen people who can slack off through full contact sparring--an impressive, but ultimately, useless accomplishment. If someone I'm training is not willing to follow my guidance, then I won't accept responsibility for the fact that they're not achieving the results they want.
On fight day, whether that is a battle in the ring, the street, or just in your mind, the only person who can win that fight is YOU. I can help make sure you're ready, but ultimately, you have to earn that win. No one else can do it for you. Not even, or perhaps especially not, me.