You are not unique, you are not special, you are not different

Posted on December 17, 2012

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To my clients who read this, this is not aimed at any particular one of you. Although I’m sure some of you will recognize yourselves at one point, I didn’t have one of you in mind when I wrote this. It’s more an amalgam of what I’ve seen over the years. So don’t worry, I still love you. 

UNIQUE-

: being the only one

-Merriam Webster Dictionary

You are not a unique little snowflake.

Lyle McDonald

This is going to piss some people off. Good. I hope it does. The people this will piss off are exactly the people who need to hear it.

An analogy first:

Do you believe in soul mates? That out of 7 billion people and counting there is only one, just one, unique person for you? That 6.9 billion other people aren’t right or good enough for you? That only 1 out of 7 billion have the qualities you desire? If you do, it might be pointless to continue reading this…

Sorry, mom was wrong. You are not one of a kind. Despite your rationalizations, you do not defy physics or science.

“But, but, but!”

Stop it. Seriously.

Are you human? Then here are some truisms:

  • You need to eat less in order to lose weight. Not losing weight? You’re not eating less. “But, but, but!” STOP . IT.
  • If it takes 9 months to heal a particular injury then no, you cannot heal said injury in 3 months. No, you cannot mentally will yourself to heal faster.
  • Men will never understand women.
  • You will die some day.
  • You need to lift more weight in order to get stronger.
  • You can’t lose 10 pounds a week, every week.
  • For strength and size, muscles respond best when being trained once every 5 days.
  • No, you can’t train 7 days a week balls out and not get injured.
  • Your body can break down, just like everyone else’s.
  • How you stand, sit, walk and sleep is the most crucial aspect to whether or not you’re in pain.
  • Commitment scares the bajesus out of me.
  • Protein is especially important when dieting.
  • Despite what Tim Ferriss claims, you cannot learn in a couple hours a week what someone else has spent over a decade learning for hours a day.

Side rant on the last one:

I swear to heaven and earth, there are certain personalities where no matter what I say they will just not believe me. It doesn’t matter how much research or how many testimonials I show them. Hell, often times they meet the actual testimonial. Still doesn’t matter.

(I don’t mean to put these types down; I actually used to be that way myself, but these people need a reality check.)

It’s as if they think I’m blatantly lying to them. Whether they consistently think I’m full of shit no matter what, or maybe they have trust issues due to their childhood, a member of the opposite sex wronged them, whatever.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t question things. Of course you should. I love when my clients are researching things for themselves and coming back with questions. But there is an extremely fine line between being inquisitive and blatantly, pointlessly challenging the person you’re asking to help you. AND not listening to their advice to begin with.

Yes, if you come back to me with a question and I can’t justify my position to you, or why we’re doing X instead of Y, there is a problem. But after a certain point, and it should probably happen quickly, the person you’re asking for help should have proven their self to you. Once they have, let them do what they do. This is one of the biggest perks of hiring someone: They do the thinking and work for you.

I remember hearing Warren Buffett say something akin to “I think one of the things I do better than others is not mingle. If I’m going to invest in a company I’m going to make sure the managers in place are good at what they do. Then I leave them alone.”

If you’re going to trust someone, then trust them. Because going off on your own reading an hour here or there, and then trying to contradict the person you hired with what you read while watching The Voice last night, is not helping. After a certain point it’s actually insulting to the person you’ve hired.

I was a mathematics major for two years and finished with a minor. I literally spent 17 consecutive years of my life consistently in math classes. You know how you bitched about Algebra? Or Calculus? Try Calc. 3, or Theoretical Algebra. What’s Theoretical Algebra you ask? You know when people ask that philosophical question “If a guy shits in the woods and no one is around to smell it, does it make a smell?” Picture answering that question, but with math. And that’s just one question on the first test.

Now even with all that math, do you know what I do every year tax season comes around? Hire a fucking accountant. Do you think I can really keep up with every law change for what I can write-off is? What the conversion rate for gas is in 2012 compared to 2011? DO YOU THINK I WANT TO DO THIS?!?!?

Never mind that. How well do you think I can keep up with those things compared to someone who does this every single day, and makes money from doing so?

The answer is I can’t. What I can do is my best to try and find someone I trust. Someone I feel is good at what they do. And then once I believe they’re good at what they do, I let them be good at what they do.

But to think you’re going to hop on Google for a night, then know and understand something more than a person who has been reading, learning, and applying something for 15 years, is close to defining insanity.

Take advantage of the fact this is one aspect of your life you don’t have to think about. To quote one of my clients, “I tend to over-think nearly everything. One of my favorite aspects of this is I just come in and mindlessly go. I don’t have to think here.”

Back to my math days. I specifically remember one jackass. (Out of 2300 students I’m pretty sure 2250 fit under this category at Lafayette College.) We were in our Calc. 3 class and this gunner goes on and on about how some people’s grades could come out different, was the professor taking certain numbers into account, etc. Finally the professor goes, “I’m a mathematician. I think I can add and subtract.” Of course I was the only one who laughed despite the fact humor seems to be disallowed at that school.

Now, I talk all the time about how different approaches work for different people, right? So am I just contradicting myself? No. Here’s what I mean when I often answer a question with “It depends.”

-Brand new mother comes in exhausted after being up with her newborn since 2am the previous night. Am I concerned with what the optimal fat-loss workout is for her at this juncture? No. And are we going to do exactly what we did last week when this mom got 8 hours of sleep? No.

-Brand new client comes in. He’s had 14 knee surgeries, 11 of which were before the age of 20 due to a structural abnormality. Because the surgeries were over two decades ago he still has unusual hardware in his legs. Hardware that especially makes certain weather conditions intolerable.

-Client who has brain cancer, vertigo, frozen shoulder, an amputated lower leg, and can’t move without a wheel chair.

-Or read this story from Robyn, a woman who recently commented on a different post. Breast cancer, structural abnormality in the hips, what seems to be congenital laxity in all her joints, spinal fusion surgery, yes, if that woman walks in things are going to be different.

There’s a reason I clearly remember these people above. They stand out of hundreds I’ve dealt with. Because these people’s circumstances are certainly venturing towards the unique. Walk in with something akin to the above and things will be different.

You and your lower back ache walk in? Not so much.

Yes, all those people are going to necessitate different approaches. Not only in program / treatment design, but just in the way I say hi to them when they come in the door. How many people even fit into that much of an extreme though? Barely any.

Yes, you might require a different approach than so and so, but, AND THIS IS A BIG BUT, you are likely still the same as hundreds, thousands, or millions of other people. (This is where the aforementioned definition of unique comes into play.) At some point you’re going to fit into a category. Your category might have less people than other categories, but it’s almost assured there’s still a lot of people in it.

Guess what though? None of these people break those truisms above. For instance, the guy with the knee surgeries was having a ton of trouble with his weight. You know what magic he did to lose weight? He ate less. How he ate less (and exercised) is unique; not the fact he ate less.

Or the new mother. How many brand new moms do I have at one time? Barely any. How many brand new moms have I had over the years, and how many brand new moms have tried to get back into exercise? A lot.

So, no:

  • Your thyroid is not the problem.
  • Your metabolism is not broken.
  • You do not have special muscles or bones.
  • Your boss is not the problem.
  • Your spouse is not the problem.
  • Your children are not the problem.
  • Your parents are not the problem.
  • Your childhood is not the problem.
  • Burger King is not the problem.
  • Your dog is not the problem.

If you find yourself saying things like the above, things like “My problem is such and such.” Things that are often external factors, which you think somehow only apply to you. Then, to steal from The Last Psychiatrist, realize “it” or “that” is not the problem; the problem is you.

You are not unique, you are not special, you are not different.

Get the fuck over it.

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