October 20, 2020

I was having a conversation the other day with an old friend (a fellow strength coach over the border) and we began chatting deeply about what dictates success. As the conversation continued, we dove into some of the nitty gritty details to try to put success and the path to achievement into perspective. As always, he left me thinking about the “whys” and “how’s” of IPC, points I reflect on quite frequently.

Asking “how” one becomes successful is directly correlated to “why” one is successful. When reflecting on IPC, “how” we are successful comes down to the culture our staff and members have created. “Why” we are successful comes down to the culture our staff and members have created. Seems simple in theory, however, the reality of creating an elite culture is something coaches, teams, departments and businesses chase furiously. I feel it comes down to a simple understanding. Attitude dictates effort and effort dictates outcomes.

Why Culture?

Perception is a prime driver for action when it comes to producing successful outcomes. For me, I wanted IPC to be something more than just another gym. I wanted IPC to be the hub of physical development and performance in the Niagara Region, a place where everyone strives to be their best self. To do that, I had to understand what other folks in my position were doing well and understand what things I may do differently.

The common factor for many successful programs came down to the environment they created. A culture of folks striving for success drove the engine for others to do the same. It didn’t matter if it was a big budget room with tons of high tech gadgets or a smaller program with the bare basics. What mattered were the people. The atmosphere they created drove their success. I’ll say it again for those in the back. Attitude dictates effort and effort dictates outcomes.

How Does One Create Culture?

1) Assemble The Right Team

For IPC, it starts with having an outstanding staff. The coaches at IPC are extremely knowledgeable, extremely passionate, extremely hardworking and fully embody the values that is the foundation of what we do. More importantly, our team are constantly hungry to learn. This hunger for knowledge, feedback and growth set the standard of expectation. Complacency is the enemy of progress, our staff firmly believe that. Why is this important? It sets the tone for those we strive to serve. By aiming to be our best at what we do, we enable others to do the same. We must set the standard of expectation and lead from the front.

2) Attract The Right People

Aim to attract those who trust and embody your core values. How? You LISTEN. Ask the right questions and truly get to know your folks to the best of your abilities. That’s how our room was built; we asked the right questions, we listened intently and we acted in the best way possible to serve. It’s not about status or accolades, we don’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been. What matters to us is where you strive to be and how determined you are to get there. Understanding our member’s “why” better allow us to serve them. As much as we would like to, we can’t do the work for them. What we do is supply the diesel but it’s up to them to bring the dynamite.

How Does One Grow An Elite Culture?

1) Uphold The Standard of Expectation

Accountability is what keeps the engine roaring hot. Setting the standard of expectation is one thing, upholding it is another. We are extremely fortunate to have a room and roster full of incredible men, women and young athletes hungry for success in their individual pursuits. Whether it be general health and fitness or owning the podium, everyone in our room is working towards their own success. Seems odd at first right? It sounds like a very mixed bag, everyone doing their own thing. Yet, there’s a beauty in the individuality that adds to the “team” atmosphere. What makes it so special is that nobody cares WHAT you are trying to do. All that matters is the EFFORT everyone puts in to try to get it done. The encouragement and positivity everyone shows one another is incredible to witness and truly is the secret ingredient. IPC members have a POSITIVE attitude, we celebrate each other’s success through our combined hardship. I’ll say it again. Attitude dictates effort and effort dictates outcomes.

Now, the flip side of the coin is being aware of what may deter the culture from growing forward and addressing it head on. At times, this means saying no. No to those looking to join, no to those looking to stay and no to those considering coming back. It’s never easy to deny someone and certainly never easy to cut those once apart of the group. Most times the hard decisions stem from a place of caring, not bitterness. However, as tough as some decisions may be, we must remember it is for the greater good. We strive to ADD to our culture, not have folks simply drain from it. If we are to strive for positive growth with our people, we must be willing to let go. Attitude dictates effort and I’ve never seen anyone give a full effort with a piss poor attitude.

2) Be Human, Give A Damn

This next part is the MOST important part (you ready?). Be a damn human. As much as we love what we do, we know life has greater priorities. Our staff are no different, we all have lives outside our walls. Our culture isn’t just about the sets and reps. It’s about our families, our friends, our hobbies, our career aspirations and our other loves in life. We try to know everyone in our room on a personal level, that’s the most incredible part! Everyone sorta knows everyone, even if they’ve never actually met them. I sometimes feel this crucial element gets lost on many coaches (heck, business owners or CEOs even), but it’s truly one of the most enlightening (and important) ingredients for growing a successful environment.

It may sound unimportant, but I would urge those looking to improve their environment to focus on the most basic of human behaviors. Listen and engage with your people, say hello when you see them! Ask about their day or what they’ve been up to, it’s incredible what you can learn from one another. Celebrate the small victories as a team and empathize their failures. Understand that not everyday will be a day of incredible accomplishment and that’s ok. We preach the metaphor “moving dirt” and that somedays you may use a shovel while other days you may use a spoon. Either way, progress was made, so celebrate it. Attitude dictates effort and effort dictates outcomes.

In Closing

An elite culture isn’t created overnight. It requires careful attention and maintenance while investing in the long term. With the right mindset and focus on the human details, an environment catered for success can be cultivated. Plant the seeds, tend to them carefully and watch them grow. Over time, excellence will blossom and set the seeds for the future. Through it all, just remember: Attitude dictates effort, effort dictates outcomes.

Matrixx Ferreira

Matrixx Ferreira

Matrixx specializes in adolescent athletic development. He coaches some of the top athlete prospects coming out of high school in the Niagara region. He also works with dedicated members of the community who are passionate about improving personal fitness. Matrixx is the author of The Iron Guide to Building Muscle.

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