A Coaching Model By Stephen Baker, Empowerment and Transformation Coach, UNITED STATES
VAULT – Values, Actions, Understanding, Limitlessness, & Truth
The VAULT coaching model emerged during conversations in the business world. I heard several times from clients and peers that my model had to be relatable to my client. Ironically, for clients who dig deeper for a living, the name of the model was noteworthy. As I spent considerable time with finance professionals, the VAULT model felt organic. It resonated with my clients. The model is designed to keep safe the client’s goals while that the same time overcoming (vaulting) the obstacles to those goals.
What images or emotions do hearing the term vault conjure for you? A super safe? Huge steel doors and underground steel walls? Dictionary.com defines a vault as a room or compartment, often built of or lined with steel, reserved for the storage and safekeeping of valuables, especially such a place in a bank. Or do you picture leaping over something like a gymnast, flying through the air to a point further ahead? Dictionary.com defines vault as to leap or spring, as to or from a position or over something or surpass. So which is it? Noun or verb, or both?
Both the noun and the verb can be combined into something bigger; a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The model should both safeguard the client’s goals and also enable them to vault over or overcome obstacles. Much like the combining of the noun and verb to describe the model, each of the VAULT components is impacted by the other. While there must be some sort of linearity to convey the model, each component should be considered to interact with the other. In effect, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The client Acts upon their Understanding of the Truth of the situation unhindered by other than a Limitless perspective to achieve their Values. It is not the order of embracing the components that matter but the process of doing so holistically.
The VAULT Coaching Model
Our values are part of the treasure protected in the vault. Values might be thought of as the essence of the client. In addition, Values are the motivation for client action. They can also be thought of as the desired state. The coaching process may (or may not) reveal quite a bit about the formation or evolution of the client’s values. Values may even change with exploration. A client may literally decide to take something out of the VAULT or jettison it from life altogether. The client determines which values are theirs and which ones were inherited or forced or just picked up along the life journey without meaning. The client’s interaction with their Values will require the application of the Truth component. What really matters? Determining these values can lead to something greater. According to Ayn Rand: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”
Actions represent the mental and physical movement towards or away from our values and/or goals. In this context, actions include choices to move and also those to not move. What you do or do not do will impact your outcome. It does not always take monumental effort. As Peter Marshall said at the opening of the Senate in 1947: “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” The client determines the actions to be taken toward the desired outcome and alignment with values. The coaching process allows for that determination to evolve organically from the client’s growing understanding and the safe space to remove limits. The client’s actions are the expression of their values. What the client does or does not do is the difference between the current reality and the desired outcome. Actions may include experimentation and discovery activities. It is the limitlessness of the approach which should allow the actions themselves to be an open forum for investigation, not merely a linear forging ahead.
How often have we heard “Knowledge is power”? During the coaching process, the client is increasing or realizing knowledge self-contained. Processing this knowledge, the client begins to see deeper into the situation. Over time, possibly even one session, understanding emerges from the client’s dive into their knowledge. The great thinker Lao Tzu provides two quotes from the Tao Te Ching as food for thought:
The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days. And Knowing other is intelligence, knowing others is true wisdom
Just a few words, but worth contemplating. Taking action can lead to great or terrible results. The client determines their best actions through understanding. We see from above that understanding is the intelligence and wisdom and intuitive knowledge that empowers and fuels the client’s actions to reach their desired goals. We all get lucky but according to Plato: “Anyone who holds a true opinion without understanding is like a blind man on the right road.” The client can use the coaching process to increase their understanding and progress to the desired outcome through conscious decision, not blind luck.
Understanding does come at a cost. The client will have to work on those things that are actually true. Understanding the truth, the client can take actions that support their values. Without embracing truth over imagination, the client likely will not make progress toward their desired outcome. Best stated by Sir Isaac Newton: “A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.”
Identifying limits that are external and internal and removing the internal ones. This portion of the VAULT represents and requires a change in mindset. One must remove the obstacles that one sets themselves. Coaching from the perspective of how to get from A to B rather than what stands in your way. The latter is addressed after the client carves a path. If the client begins with the obstacles, the coach can inquire about the client’s ability to remove, overcome, or VAULT over these obstacles.
Working with the truth and emerging understanding, the coaching process may enable the client to see past or free themselves from the obstacles to their desired outcome. Apple’s Tim Cook summed it up nicely: “If you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world.” The client does not have to change the whole external world; they may want to change just theirs. It is the power of mindset and belief. Paraphrasing Schopenhauer, the limits of one’s vision are the limits of the world. In coaching, the client learns that many limits may be self-imposed. Understanding the truth may be the tool that creates that sense of limitlessness. One of the best returns on investment is that imagination and creativity are free. They are internally developed. Even though we have limits to knowledge, imagination is limitless. The client embraces that freedom.
Distinguishing between fact and fantasy is vital. Truth can be hard. Realistic self-assessment is not easy. During the coaching process, the client works to understand the truth. To understand something, it has to be discovered. This takes work. The client may be tempted to avoid the introspection necessary to make the very progress that inspired them to begin the coaching process. It may not be a direct avoidance but a careful skirting or spun presentation.
Perhaps more relevant is the ever-present reality that facts do not cease because they are ignored and will not change according to our ability to stomach it.”  This portion of the model can be demanding for the coach and client. Client words that begin with “The truth of it is…” or “Actually…” often lead to an intensity that both client and coach may or may not have expected. As famously stated, if perhaps a bit more dramatic than needed for coaching, the unexamined life is not worth living.
However, when the client can embrace the truth, progress is possible. Limits will become truly understood and more easily addressed. In seeking the truth, the client is not only seeking a harsh reality but to understand where they have created their own incorrect worldview. With this last component, one last thought:
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived, and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.
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Vault. Dictionary.com Retrieved June 9, 2020, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/vault?s=t.
Vault. Dictionary.com Retrieved June 9, 2020, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/vault?s=t
Ayn Rand, Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, p 123.
Peter Marshall (1949). “Prayers Offered by the Chaplain, the Rev. Peter Marshall, D.D.: At the Opening of the Daily Sessions of the Senate of the United States During the Eightieth and Eighty-first Congress 1947-1949”
 Socrates, Plato, Republic, 506c.
Isaac newton. Theological Manuscripts: Selected and Edited with an Introd. by H. McLachlan (ed. 1950)
FAST Company Interview March 18 2015 https://www.fastcompany.com/3042435/steves-legacy-tim-looks-ahead.
Arthur Schopenhauer Psychological Observations” – Parerga and Paralipomena (1851) – Studies in Pessimism
 Horrible paraphrase of Galileo Galilei.
 Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29
 Flannery O’Connor
 President John F Kennedy, Commencement Address at Yale University, June 11, 1962.