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As I've gotten older (relatively speaking), my assessment of people's credibility has become increasingly pragmatic. Said simply, I don’t really care to hear about what people say they can do. Instead, show me. Don’t tell me. I don't mean this in the sense that I refuse to listen to people, but when it comes to the industry I work in, words only carry weight if they are backed up by a greater magnitude of results.

Talk That Talk

Why the disregard? Speaking is a skill, is it not? It certainly is, but it isn't hard for someone to be good at “talking,” and talking a “good game” is a learnable skill, one that is relevant to any field. With enough jargon and some reading, anyone can “sound good,” as I like to say. It really isn’t that difficult.

Relative to fitness as a whole though and its various niches, it has become common place for people to “talk the talk” and then not deliver. You see this with online trainers who don't have any real clients or experience but try to position themselves as newfound experts. You see it in powerlifting when people boast about the total they think they'll have come meet day and then they bomb out. You see it in business with claims of what someone’s service or product can do, and those claims are never delivered.

Many times over, I've seen people make claims about their skill set and abilities as professionals, but when the time comes to actually teach and demonstrate those skills and abilities in practical application, they fail.

Prove It or Don’t—It Isn't Hard

Ultimately, it isn't a difficult thing to assess someone’s credibility. The criteria is rather universal:

  • Clients or customers
  • Profit and losses
  • Numbers and testimonials
  • Experience/time in operation

Here's a straightforward example. Recently, Swede Corey Burns became a member of Team elitefts™, and his book “5th Set for Powerlifting” was published. Before he became a team member though, there was a vetting process. Were there people he had trained? Yep, a lot. Had he competed? Yep, a lot. Had he gotten people stronger? Yep, a lot. Had he been doing this awhile? Yep, over 10 years.

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Now, there were other factors involved, but my point is the team wanted to know if Swede was for “real” before he came on board. And he was. Personally, I think very highly of the guy. He’s the real deal as a coach.

Examples aside, the larger point is that whether you are a customer, a buyer, a coach, a client or just an individual, you have to have some kind of criteria for how you assess people. You can’t afford to be fooled by “good sounding” words and pictures, especially in the fitness realm. While one could say that the internet has made it easier to be someone you are not, I disagree. With people more wired in and connected than ever, it has become easier than ever to ask people and inquire about someone. That’s a point from Dave Tate from a recent team conversation.

Whereas back in the day, you’d have to make phone calls and hope people got back to you, now you can reasonably find someone’s work history, resume, what gym they’ve trained at, where they went to school and so on and so forth. You can get all the information you need. There isn't any excuse for not doing your homework about someone. So while social media might allow people to put on a good show, in reality, it just sets you up for a bigger fall if you aren’t honest about who you are.

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Whether you want to call it bragging, bullshitting, frontin’ or flat out lying, people have always presented themselves as being more than they are. There isn't any religious text for any religion that doesn’t speak of people being dishonest and lying about who they really are. People being dishonest isn't a new thing. The only way to be sure of anyone is to meet him, speak with him, have a conversation with him and ask him to show you something of who he is or what he is claiming. It goes back to the beginning: show me, don’t tell me.

The experience of finding out that someone isn’t who he said he was is never fun. It can cost blood, money and time. So if someone has nothing to show, he probably isn't worth hiring, working with or getting to know in the first place.