The Secret of Great
By Phil Kaplan
Written for fitness
professionals striving for excellence.
In many interviews
people have asked "the secret of my success." It really is
I wrote this article
to share the value of a trait that is so fundamental, yet
all too often ignored. A trait that can serve as a pedestal
upon which the greatest fitness careers in history can be
built. Before I explain the trait, let me share eight words
that we've all been exposed to in some form or another.
it's easy, it works like magic."
Those words have traveled
through my brain more times than I could even attempt to count.
They plague me when I go to sleep at night, they pour in through
the speakers of my car radio as I drive, and they permeate
the pages of every magazine I flip through. As if that isn't
enough, I am continuously besieged by swarms of multi-level
marketers trying to get me to buy into their product offerings
as a distributor, and the promise always equates to "quick,
We all have those
little voices that emerge from a place where only we can hear
them. There is the voice of reason, and then there is the
voice of temptation, and they are at odds with each other.
The voice of temptation tells me how easy it would be to get
out there on TV and sell a nonsensical product claiming no
effort was required and results would be miraculous. Thankfully,
in my mind, the voice of reason beats the daylights out of
the other little voice. I wish that were true for everyone.
I've learned. It isn't.
There is that one
trait I'm especially proud of, one that I feel has been the
cornerstone, the foundation of my entire career. It is, in
fact, the "secret" of my success. I'm going to urge
every fitness professional to grow through the recognition
and development of this trait. It's known as integrity.
In the past few years,
in the role of consumer advocate, I've ordered almost every
product and program on the market. I have been appalled by
offerings ranging from those promising "personal training
success" to those promising great abs in minutes. There are
in fact a handful of high quality programs and products, but
they're swallowed up in a sea of fraud and deception which
leaves far too many consumers digging in the wrong dirt attempting
to find solutions.
We see infomercial
product sellers generate $100 million in sales . . . using
exaggerated "science." We see addictive stimulants sold as
miracle fat burners, and while some are injured and others
die, the product sellers appear to prosper. It appears, based
on the state of our industry, that integrity may have to be
shoved aside in order to generate the big bucks. Appearances
can be deceiving. The FTC is stepping up it's battle against
fraudulent claims. The Electronic Ab Stimulator sellers have
run into a huge FTC stop sign. Multi-million dollar supplement
sellers are finding themselves battling lawyers for selling
potentially hazardous ephedrine products as safe. Wrongful
injury cases are springing up involving personal trainers
who did not display any legally defensible measure of competence.
The voice of reason is gaining power.
There are two compliments
I'm rewarded with frequently. One is, "Phil, you make so much
sense." It still amuses me that people feel inclined to compliment
me for making sense. After all, if I am looked at as an expert,
as an educator, as a presenter, isn't "making sense" my job?
The fact that I hear this odd compliment so frequently simply
illustrates the frustration stimulated by utter confusion.
People are so used
to hearing over- the-top claims, they're so conditioned to
fail with a fitness attempt and blame themselves for the failure,
they're actually shocked when somebody gives them back their
sense of reason and presents the fitness solution in an understandable
The second compliment
has to do with ethics. I've often been introduced on speaking
platforms and radio programs as someone who has maintained
the highest of ethics. Again, I'm flattered, but somewhat
embarrassed by the compliment. I don't believe I'm doing anything
all that special. I'm simply staying connected with what I
know to be the honest delivery of factual information.
I've seen the words
of some of my peers, some people I highly respect, presented
in articles and books written by others without a hint of
giving credit where credit is due. To date I've found my own
writings and programs poorly replicated by unscrupulous operators
who have attempted to cash in on what they believed my strength
was. They believed my strength lied in marketing and in selling
programs. That is not my strength at all. My strength is something
that cannot be stolen or borrowed, something far more powerful
than marketing skills. My strength is integrity, and I urge
you to make it yours as well.
What is integrity?
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when it's difficult.
Integrity is standing up for what you believe in. Integrity
asks you to speak your mind and feelings, even if it's uncomfortable
to do so. Integrity in our field requires a commitment to
the unshakable belief that "quick easy magic" doesn't exist,
and that in order to achieve a positive physical change, there
must be a concern for activity and supportive eating.
As long as those with
questionable morals continue to challenge and tempt us with
fraudulent offerings, we maintain an uphill climb in order
to help true fitness professionals muster the widespread respect
that we know we deserve. Uphill climbs don't scare those who
are committed to pursuance of truth. In fact, we thrive on
challenges and relish in the ability to overcome them. I do
not pretend to be any great philosopher nor am I expecting
any of my words to be set in stone for future generations.
There are, however, those great leaders who we strive to emulate.
I'll borrow, with full credit granted, some of the quotations
I personally find motivating, some of the quotations that
help me understand and recognize the value of integrity in
the hope that ethics will become contagious, and the cream
of the fitness crop will rise to the top and stand as the
centerpiece of the most noble mission we could possibly aspire
to . . . helping others to better their lives . . . with Integrity!
In the words of Confucius:
"To put the world
right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to
put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal
life; we must first set our hearts right."
"No legacy is
so rich as honesty."
From the mind of
"Try not to become
a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
One of Henry Ford's
doing it right when no one is looking."
According to Mahatma
"Happiness is when
what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
Andrew Carnegie said:
"No amount of ability
is of the slightest avail without honor."
And from great military
leader, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf:
"The truth of the
matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The
hard part is doing it."
Quoting Mark Twain:
"It is better to
deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not
And finally, a wonderful
quote I'd love to award credit for . . . but I don't know
who said it! I found it on an inspirational greeting card
and it's planted itself in my head:
"The slow man with
integrity will ultimately catch the swift one who has none."
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