I once worked at LA Fitness as part of the training staff. My job was to contact every member who hadn’t yet had their free training session and take the member through a workout. After the workout, I’d give that person an assessment and sell them a personal training package.
Of course, not all members took the free session offer. And some of the trainers were able to get their own clients without my help.
There was a trainer there named Mike who had the most clients amongst the trainers. Mike was a thin, sinewy early 40s black guy who really felt he was the shit when it came to training. Mike walked around LA Fitness like he owned the place.
One day the PT manager Jeff told Mike to do something that Mike didn’t like (I don’t remember what it was). Mike had to oblige, since Jeff was the boss, and he later vented his frustration to me.
“I don’t even need to be here, Dre. I got all these clients. I’m doing them a favor by training them here. I could leave today and tell my clients, ‘come meet me in the parking lot’ and keep ALL the money. What I need them for?!”
I wasn’t friends with Mike — we merely worked at the same job — so I spared him my opinion. I just smiled and listened. But Mike knew the same thing I knew: in the LA Fitness hierarchy, Mike wasn’t shit. He needed that job more than LA Fitness needed him. If Mike had quit, another trainer would have stepped up and gladly taken all his clients (who would not follow Mike to the LA Fitness-owned parking lot, being that they were paying membership fees to LA Fitness already anyway). Mike felt a sense of power in his tiny circle of influence — empty power Ina circle no one cares about.
You have power when you control another person’s outcome. Their win, loss, paycheck, success or failure depends on you. Ideally you can get into a position where no one has this power over you; in the meantime you do your best to minimize its effect.
Mike did a good job as a trainer and many people knew him. He had knowledge of the product (fitness) and a good amount of experience. But one sentence from the right (or wrong) would’ve taken all of that right from under him in an instant. And these wouldn’t be a damn thing he could do about it.
Mike had zero power — we all have to start at zero at some point — but that wasn’t his problem. His problem was that he’d grown so comfortable with his position, he’d deluded himself into thinking he mattered.
That complacency is where the real danger lies.