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I have done some pretty cool things in my life if I take the time to look back and reflect. I’ve played tennis at the professional level and toured the world doing so. I’ve recorded my own music and had one of my songs become a “Pick Hit” in Billboard Magazine. I’ve been an actor and had roles in blockbuster hits along with Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Patrick Swayze, and Gene Hackman. I’ve received the “Presidential Merit Award” from the Grammy Awards.  And as a mental performance coach, I’ve taken an Olympic team to its best results ever in World Cup competition. I’ve taken the L.A. Dodgers from last place to first place in one season, and coached Cy Young winners, first-round draft picks, “hottest rookies,” NFL coaches and starters, and top-finishers in the Army Ranger Best Competition.

To most people, you’d think I was playing big.

But, it wasn’t until about 10-years ago, when I was on a large stage for the first time and in front of over 1,500 people that I realized I was actually playing small. Really? What colored glasses was I looking through? Dark grey? Even so, it’s taken me awhile since then to expand my vision further and truly accept my own self-worth to actually consider myself as a big league player. This leads me to what inspired me to write this article.

Beware of the newbies or the posers.

This week I was reminded of how easy it is to fall prey to people who are not (in all truth) who they make themselves out to be or claim to be. I’ve been there myself, on numerous occasions. In this particular case, it was a Facebook ad that reminded me of a former paid consultant of mine. We’ve had some history together, and some years back I’d hired him as the “Facebook expert” who was supposed to manage our new launch. I paid him top dollar, to the tune of $10,000, and paid thousands of dollars more to revise our website and buy ads etc. as advised by him to do.

It wasn’t long before we discovered, his expert status was not so solid. And, that I could have saved myself a lot of time, money, and grief if I had not travelled down that road with him. The long and short of it was that campaign generated zero sales and fell flat on its face. It was one of my many “great learning” experiences. No problem, evaluate and move on, right? Even that left me baffled when he claimed no responsibility for the bombed failure.

Oh well, time to move on, forgive and forget

But the story does not end there. Even though we’ve remained business friends and I continued to help him out from time to time with his events, every now and then, I see my coaching philosophies and coined phrases pop up in his own articles and marketing pieces. Not too uncommon as many in this industry “borrow” from each other and usually give credit where credit is due.

Nope, not this guy. I’ve watched him jump from being an “expert” FB ads guy, to a FB marketing guy, to the webinar guy, to a business coach, to a number of other consulting things including being a mindset coach, but most recently now he says he’s a “high performance coach, international speaker, & best­selling author.“ That’s almost word for word what the bio materials I sent him years ago said. Coincidence maybe? Not so fast. I know I’m not the only performance coach out there. I’m certainly not the only international speaker and best-selling author out there either. But, when in combination of watching him lift “word for word” copy and phrasing and slogans we supplied him with in order to effectively market me and my company years ago, it leaves a long paper trail history of doing this.

Rise above it Dave, you are better than this, right?

I’m reluctant to even talk about this sort of thing, because in the end what do you really want your focus on? But then I think about INROCK the Eagle, which is one of our core animal principles in the Be A Beast training program—and I know it all comes down to what level of integrity we hold ourselves to.

Roger Anthony, my co-author of the Be A Beast book, was known as Mr. Integrity, and he was not only my business partner but also my #1 mentor in life. Over the years I worked with him, he raised the bar for me as to which level I choose to play in life. And, I’m truly grateful for that.

Now, back to this consultant. He’s still a business friend, but dang sometimes what he’s doing and how he’s doing it gets under my skin. Why is that? Does it wound my own ego? Make me jealous? No, that’s not the primary issue. What gets under my skin is that he is only scratching the surface of what it really means to serve others with the level of integrity they deserve.

Everyone’s the expert.

Today it seems that everyone is an expert, everyone’s a coach—and that may be true to a certain extent. But again what level do you want to play? Do you want to play high school or college ball? Or do you want to play in the big leagues? If you want to play at the highest level, then do yourself a favor and find a top-level coach that plays with the highest level of integrity.

Do the research and know whom you are hiring as your mentor. Don’t just read their bios or hype materials and take it all for face value. Nowadays, there is just too much overstated and “alternate facts” stuff floating around.

If someone claims to be a “high performance coach, an international speaker and bestselling author” what is the real truth behind those statements?

Are we talking about someone who was a bestseller on Amazon for a few minutes in an obscure category? Or has this person legitimately sold over 300,000 books worldwide?

Are we talking about someone who crossed the border into Mexico for a seminar, which now makes him or her an international speaker? Or has this person actually travelled to Uzbekistan with a presidential delegation to speak at an event, and has this person also traveled to India to address 5,000 people who represented 50 countries sharing the stage with Bob Proctor at another event?

Are we talking about someone who became a high performance coach because it’s their lifelong passion and dedication? Or is this just the latest “catch-all” phrase to adopt or just a passing fancy?

Do your due-diligence.

I’m not saying you can’t get value from coaches at every level—just know at what level they are legitimately playing at. They say you get what you pay for, but that isn’t always true (in this business especially). I’ve seen coaches who are basically in the minor leagues who charge more than I do, and I’m like, really? Are they truly serving their clients with the highest level of integrity doing that?

I say to each their own, but I also want people to be more aware and awake to the services they are paying for. Do the research and make your decisions from there. All too many times in my life, I skipped the due-diligence part and went off my gut instincts of liking the person. Sadly, I’ve been burned by this approach on more than one occasion.

There is more than whether we “like” them or not to consider—most importantly, it’s integrity and respect. And, it should always come back to my initial question, at what level are you willing to play?

My advice is to play big, and enjoy the journey and the learning that comes with each new step. If you are going hire a mentor to play at that level, then do your due diligence and ask the tough questions.

If you are going to climb a mountain like Mt. Kilimanjaro, hire a guide who has been to the top many times and knows how to keep you out of the danger zones.

Here’s to your continued success and to stepping up to the plate with confidence and knowledge that each step has taught you something new. Again, what are you willing to do in order to live into the life that you truly love?