A Coaching Model Created by Kathleen Vellinga-Suprata
(Creative Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Trust. How does one word – one syllable, to be exact – represent a concept that is so universally understood? In the context of life and human relationships, we understand trust to be in close alliance with Webster’s Dictionary as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”. Trust is the most essential ingredient necessary to connect in a meaningful way – first, with oneself and then, with others. Self-trust – the belief that we know who we are and where we are going – is the exclusive ‘point-of-departure’ from which all else originates, in each of us. Trust from within makes it possible to trust outwardly, in turn, making it possible to express our values, our purpose, and our truths. Our ability to navigate life with confidence and in accordance with our own beliefs is directly related to how well we learn to trust ourselves and others. It is vital then that we are able to first trust ourselves. But, how do we know that we can trust ourselves, or trust others? Is trust something we can learn?
TRUST Mantra Coaching Model
⌘ Take Risks Unwind Stay True ⌘
The TRUST Mantra Coaching model is rooted in the belief that trust itself can guide a client through the coaching process and beyond. The three elements of the TRUST acronym – Take Risks, Unwind, Stay True – represent three dominant coaching arenas that offer rich opportunities for insight, discovery, awareness, and action steps. These three broad categories within life coaching offer coaches and clients a frame of reference during a client’s session.
In addition, because the TRUST coaching model is in the form of a Mantra, TRUST becomes a user-friendly meditative reminder that 1) the client always has the answer, and 2) trust – as a “muscle” – can always be exercised. The simple act of gently humming, murmuring, or meditating on the Mantra “Take Risks Unwind Stay True” provides an immediate self-coaching opportunity. In this form, the Mantra becomes an ‘on-the-go’, and ‘in-the-moment’ reminder that self-trust begins with a conscious connection to our place of knowing, where experience and reflection happen.
Trust is internalized by creating awareness around a thought or situation. By routinely scanning how we are feeling, responding, reacting, etc. to life’s events, we gather evidence and information along the way. All the while, our trust muscle is helping us to filter what “feels” good, where ‘red flags’ appear, what makes our hearts beat faster, etc. Each time we are able to connect with our inner voice, we become more confident about our choices. That confidence, in turn, helps build a deeper trust in ourselves and in others.
Each element of the TRUST Mantra Coaching Model is directly associated with distinct areas of the coaching process, as described here:
Before you can be creative, you must be courageous. Creativity is the destination, but courage is the journey. ~ Joey Reiman
The coaching arena of risk-taking is one of the most frequent areas a client visits during the coaching process and may be the very reason a client partners with a coach in the first place. Changing careers, moving to a different city or country, quitting a job to pursue a dream, starting a family are all choices that involve risk. There are, of course, risk decisions we make every day, such as driving our kids to school, boarding a flight, taking a new dance class, or onlinedating someone when the level of risk seems reasonable. It is the greater, life-changing risks, though, that are often daunting and sometimes paralyzing. The fear of the unknown, with little or no guarantees, may prevent a client from realizing a lifelong dream, settling for a life less colorful than imagined. There are also clients who find risk-taking exhilarating, but have learned the hard way that picking up the pieces can be very disheartening. Clearly, when a client is in the arena of taking risks, valuable coaching opportunities appear.
In a coaching session, a client can choose to navigate risk, as it pertains to her particular situation. Powerful questions related to taking risks might be:
- What is the worst thing that could happen if you take this risk?
- Is it likely to happen? If so, is there a way to modify your plan or seek additional knowledge or resources to minimize the risk? If not, are you willing (and does it make sense) to go for it, knowing this is the worst that could happen?
- What is it costing you not to take this risk?
- Does taking this risk align with your highest values and priorities?
- Is not taking this risk a threat to your integrity?
Increased self-awareness around the risk taking coaching area provides the opportunity for such insights as how taking risk (or not) makes them feel, what can be learned from taking risk, and where the growth is in a particular risk. The TRUST Mantra Coaching Model not only cues the coaching process within a session, but it also allows a client to return to the “Take Risks” arena outside of a session, simply by repeating the TRUST Mantra and seeing what comes up. When a client “checks in” with where she is within this arena (i.e. “I am feeling nervous right now, but I am confident this is the path I want to travel”), she connects with all the insights and discoveries she has made thus far (“she” represents all clients, in this writing). This internal connection reinforces her confidence and she begins to trust her process.
⌘ Take Risks Unwind Stay True ⌘
Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax. ~ Mark Black
The coaching arena of unwinding, or the ability to relax and de-stress, is another dominant area that is often presented during a session. Life can be very challenging at times, especially during times of change, and a client can easily feel overwhelmed. Stress and anxiety only work to compound these challenges and it is – more than ever – important to know when to invite a deep breath, a short break, or a long vacation. Productive, creative persons can literally be halted in their creative process by the inability to relax.
In a coaching session, when a client expresses the need to unwind – physically or emotionally – around a certain issue, situation or circumstance, awareness is created by asking such questions as:
- What is the greatest benefit to your life right now in finding ways to unwind?
- What is the greatest benefit to your life in the long term in finding ways to unwind?
- How would it feel to be able to unwind before … (a meeting, an audition, an interview, walking through the front door of your home after an intense day at work, etc.)?
- Ideally, when/where/how can you best unwind for your needs?
- What is one more way in which you can unwind?
- When will you know you need to unwind?
Creating awareness around unwinding may also include such tools as visualization (i.e., describe a comforting scene you can escape to), reframing perspectives (i.e., describe opposite emotions of what you feel when you are stressed), creating structures (i.e., is there a way to include this relaxation in your daily routine?), and acknowledgement (i.e., that is a wonderfully creative way to de-stress!). The TRUST Mantra Coaching Model acts as a gentle reminder of these insights and action steps, especially when a client embraces the Mantra as the cue to being aware of the need to unwind. By connecting to her needs consciously and deliberately, a client will learn that she is always in control, that unwinding is a choice. Increased confidence informs her self-trust. and, in turn, the trust muscle is exercised.
⌘ Take Risks Unwind Stay True ⌘
Life is funny. Things change, but you will always be you, so stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone. ~ Zayn Malik
The coaching arena of staying true spotlights one of the most important aspects of coaching: a client’s core beliefs and values. Knowing and accepting who we really are matters, at all times. This is the arena where words such as integrity, passion, authenticity, purpose, meaning, honesty, sincerity, loyalty, faith, morals, ethics, and principles come to play. It is essential to a client’s journey, regardless of where it is taking her, to know where she stands in her truth. Clearly identifying and defining a client’s core beliefs and values within the first few coaching sessions sets a rich foundation for a client’s insights, discoveries, and actions. Creating deeper, more profound awareness around being true to oneself may begin with such questions as:
- What does it mean to be true to you?
- Are you being true to yourself in this situation?
- Is this who you are? If not, what feels incongruent to you?
- How does this align with your values/beliefs?
- How does it physically feel to be/to not be aligned with your values/beliefs?
- How does this experience resonate with you?
As a client moves through life, seeking answers to these and other profound meaning-of-life questions, she learns to gather evidence for living in accordance with her personal truth. Creating awareness around staying true to oneself is like turning on a light, awakening to the bigger picture. The TRUST Mantra Coaching Model uniquely gives structure to these “A-ha” moments, by first allowing for a conscious connection to the “Stay True” arena, and then applying the insight to the current situation. Reflections and insights gained during a coaching session can be pondered and a client may feel one step closer to knowing “who she is”. When a client makes a choice from a state of authenticity, the experience creates an inner resonance of affirmation. Focusing attention on the intention to stay true, a client can self-edit the process by doing more of those things that express who she truly is and less of those things that do not. The TRUST Mantra Coaching Model offers an opportunity to connect to her inner core, and helps to reinforce her trust in her personal truth.
Trust is often described as something we build, we break, we repair, we earn. We are taught to be careful with trust, that trust is fragile, that we should trust our hearts and trust our intuition. We are taught that courage and faith are required in order to trust (‘take a leap of faith first and the trust part comes later’). We are taught to trust no one, or only certain people (those who never lie to us, for instance). While all of these descriptions might be true, we are still left wondering: what does it really mean to trust ourselves? The truth of this is that authentic selftrust is learned through conscious experience. If we regard trust as a muscle, we can learn to exercise trust in a deliberate and meaningful way. Trust is intangible, yet we know it when we ‘feel’ it.
When a client makes a decision to partner with a coach, it is quite often because she feels there is something going on in her life that needs attention. She has taken the first leap of faith by trusting in the coaching process. Coaching allows for an abundance of insight and discovery about herself, as well as the way in which she is moving through life. The increased awareness gained in coaching sessions may benefit a client in many aspects of decision-making, choices, connections, motivation, and expectation.
The TRUST Mantra Coaching Model offers a structure for navigating the three dominant arenas of a client’s journey – Taking Risks, Unwinding, and Staying True. When a client experiences a better understanding and awareness around each of these arenas, she will begin to apply what she has learned during coaching sessions to her daily life. Applying the TRUST Mantra at any point in time on her journey – in a car, on an elevator, during a meeting – helps her to consciously connect with any one arena or a combination of the three arenas, in any order. The nonlinear form ⌘ of the TRUST Mantra lends itself to being able to “find” where a client is on the acronym and reflect. The simple act of reflection allows the client to connect with whatever insight she has resonated with and she can decide whether or not to take a corresponding action. This deliberate and conscious act of looking inward for the answers reinforces the trust and confidence that she, indeed, does have all the answers. And trusting herself is just a Mantra away.
⌘ Take Risks Unwind Stay True ⌘