“Thank you,” Andre said.
“For what?” I said.
“For calling me out and holding me accountable,” he replied, putting his hand on my shoulder and looking at me with a knowing smile. “You are a true friend.”
My client and dear friend, Andre, is a chef. He’s one of the best, thriving professionally with endless accolades.
But he was struggling personally, his weight ballooning. He was out of control.
One night, while at a charity event, I saw him eating and drinking with abandon.
Now, to keep it in perspective, he had quit smoking a year earlier. Andre blamed his weight gain on that, but here we were, a year later.
Everyone around him let this happen to him. His friends, coworkers, and those who “loved him.” They said nothing. They did nothing to hold him accountable.
So, I walked up to him after the dinner had concluded. Most everyone was gone.
I looked Andre in the eye and said, “Do you want to die?”
He looked at me, stunned.
Finally, he collected himself and said, “Dude, what are you talking about.” (In his heavy French accent and all!)
“You are my client, Andre, but most importantly, my friend,” I told him and explained that I was trying to give him a much-needed wake-up call.
“No one else is saying anything to you,” I went on. “You have a young family. What you are doing is not sustainable. If you continue, you won’t be here for them.”
“How many old fat people do you know, Andre?” I concluded.
Andre looked me square in the eyes, tears welling up, and said, “What can I do? I am a chef. How do I even get started?”
I proposed to him that the Biggest Loser Contest might be a great thing for him and another mutual friend. It’s a fun, competitive format with check-ins and a prize at the end of six months.
Andre nodded his head, looking defeated, and sulked off. We didn’t talk again that night, but I noticed a grave look on his face from across the room.
Fast forward six months. I ran into Andre again.
He’s lost 50 lbs.! He still wasn’t smoking. And he was still a Michelin Star chef.
Most importantly, he was alive and well for his family, feeling better than ever!
I couldn’t have been more proud. I understand the discipline and faith it takes to change your life so completely, to pull yourself out of a hole that seems inescapable at the time.
And that’s when Andre thanked me.
Sometimes, the most important conversations you can have are the ones you do not want to have, the squirmingly uncomfortable ones that could easily break a solid friendship or even lose a client.
I can’t tell you how many times I risked offending someone and losing their business or friendship just because I told them the truth – the truth they needed to hear.
But if you care about someone – a client, family, or friend – remember that it IS your business how they are, what they do, and how they can grow and thrive.
They deserve to hear those tough conversations, and so do you.
Challenge the people in your life to be their best.
And be open to challenging you, too.