Relationships are built on trust. But how trustworthy are we? Is there a way to find out? And can trust be measured? Those are questions that David Maister, Charles M. Green and Rob Galford explored in their book, The Trusted Advisor.

Trust may sometimes be perceived as a something a leader has or does not have. That’s partly true, but what Green has done is define trust as a being composed of four attributes: reliability, credibility, intimacy and self-Interest. The Trust Equation is:

( Reliability + Credibility + Intimacy ) / Self-Interest = Trustworthiness


The equation breaks down as follows:

C = credibility or the quality of being believed. The credentials we bring.

R = reliability or performing with a level of consistency that can be “counted on.”

I = intimacy or close familiarity; closeness. The ability to embrace emotional safety. The extent to which people can confide in us.

S-O = self-oriented or the amount of energy one focuses on her/him self.

(Maister, Green and Gaiford, 2001)

As the equation shows, anything that increases the numerators of Credibility (can we believe what you say?), Reliability (can we depend on your actions?), or Intimacy (do we feel safe sharing information with you?) can increase trust levels, while anything that increases the denominator Self-Interest (are you focused more on yourself than others?) will reduce trust. Thus, we maximize trust by increasing some combination of credibility, reliability, and intimacy, while reducing our self-interest (i.e., by focusing more on the people we’re serving, rather than ourselves).

Intimacy and Self-Interest are the two attributes impressed me most. Intimacy is about open, honest, humble, vulnerable. As a coach, you have to bring the intimacy to the atmosphere, which help reach the heart of others. Then the connection with others is easily built. Self-Interest is related with self-awareness. When being fully present, self-Interest automatically drops. When not being present, our mind is busy in thinking or imaging past or future. Are you aware of the state and thought? How long could we be in present state? How fast could we switch from self focused thinking to others focused thinking?

Trust is essential to developing relationships with individuals. Leaders who cannot inspire trust cannot lead; there will be no followership. So it is something not simply to value, but to practice. Every day!

Change And Growth Happen At The Edge Of Comfort Zone

edge of comfort zone
Climbing the mountain

We talk about the comfort zone quite often especially when we face the challenge or make change of our lives. Are you on the edge of your comfort zone? As a coach I know how difficult it is at the edge of comfort zone.

I still remember my experience of climbing the high mountain in Switzerland. It was the first time I looked at the mountain and doubted whether I could make it through. Luckily there are two things help me stay with the edge of my comfort zone and step up. One is my partner (playing coach role), who was encouraging and inspiring me during the climbing, and he took this photo here. Another is the lovely dog following me closely. For the dog, there is no much difference between climbing on the mountain and walking on the flat roads. Seeing the dog walking around made me focus on my foot movement, step by step, nothing else. In the end, when stood at the top of the mountain, I was feeling great and laughing.

It’s a simple personal experience at the edge of comfort zone. Growth here is gaining inner confidence. Most people experience forming a new habit or changing an old habit is difficult. As human, we are more”store and program” creatures. So what’s the challenge when you are at the edge of comfort zone? Here are two small stories from the people around.

One client came to me after she returned from her vacation. She said “I felt my meditation habit was not stable after my holiday. Before that, it was my morning ritual.” Here she forgot when the environment changed she needs to be aware of it then make adjustment.

Another story is observing my partner quitting smoking. It was not easy. As you know, many smokers tried many times in their lives and put a lot of effort to become a non-smoker.

Except the will power (energy), there is one more important thing, be aware what is going on during forming a new habit. The concept “Habit Gravity & Escape Velocity” is what I learned from Eben Pagan. This concept can help people get comfortable with being “uncomfortable”.

habit gravity and skill velocity

Habit Gravity and escape velocity is the natural process that is happening within our mind when we install a new habit. It takes about 30 days to develop a new habit and once you do that the momentum starts to build and the new habit will become a part of you (basically programmed into your systems).

From the model image, you can break 30 days to 3 sections of 10 days. In the beginning few days, you are excited, optimism about the new habit, then you hit the “habit gravity”. The first 10 days will be the hardest and you will be resisting the new habit, don’t like the new things you are doing which take your energy away. Eben names this part of forming a new habit as you are “Defying Gravity” and getting resistance.

Once you pass this 10 days, you will be still facing active resistance and being pulled, but not to the extent of the initial 10 days. You still have to consciously work on your new habit. Once you passed 20 days doing the same thing everyday, it will start to automatically integrate to your life. You see the “light” of the end of tunnel. It’s called “Escape Velocity”. By the 30th day this will be a part of your life that you will do without even realizing.

If you are not conscious about this model, forming a new habit is hard. So the pattern to form a new habit is: Awareness -> Will Power -> Habit (Do it) everyday for 30 days. The Habit Designer & Timer can help you plan your habit in detail and refine it.

This is a general model, but the disclaimer is for some people and for certain habits this can take longer than 30 days.

Bring More “Yin” Energy in Business


The Tao teaches us the art of living and doing business. Yin and yang are symbols of the Tao. They are the dynamic force of the Tao, constantly interacting with one another. The yin represents the feminine energy, soft, sensibility, dark, receptive, and the moon. While the yang represents the masculine energy, hard, rationality, light, active, and the sun.

When the yin and yang energies are balanced, we experience harmony, beauty and peace. But when they are out of balance, the opposite occurs.

In today’s business world, there is an abundance of yang energy, which can mean forward driving, fast growing and super productive without regard for the damage done to others and the environment. The yin energy in business we don’t pay enough attention to, such as compassion, collaboration, nourishment, kindness and receptiveness.

Here is a good sample of bringing more yin energy in business. There is a company C negotiated with one big client about cooperation. C had made a big concession but the opposite still didn’t agree. The negotiations had reached an impasse. Knowing any negligence and indiscretion in such situation may result in a big order missing, all of experienced negotiation represents of C daren’t go further and their boss had no idea either.

Then one manager A from C smiled towards the opposite represents and said politely, “Our company is very sincere to make a long-term happy cooperation with your company. And we believe your company has the same goal. Otherwise, we wouldn’t negotiate for so long time. Although there are some discrepancies in certain things, we have the same goal of making a long-term cooperation, which is one thing we all know. Each company proposes different solutions, and the pricing is certainly different. Probably it has more advantages in the short term if the pricing is lower, but you get what you pay for. In the long term, you may find internal friction, low efficiency, slow development and so forth.”

“The solution provided by our company is fit for your current situation. We believe it will bring many economic benefits, also we believe that you recognize the strength of our company. We do hope to have a long-term cooperation with you.  About the cooperation details, we may discuss further. Of course, we have our bottom line and we will keep it.”

“I think the relationship between two companies is like the marriage. Now it’s the loving stage, also mutual adjustment and adaptation period, but we are looking forward to the happy marriage. Then we could create one healthy baby and lead a happy life together!”

The result is, the yin energy brought by A eased the tension of the negotiation, especially the last sentence made the people laugh. Finally it brought harmony to the business and both sides agreed the cooperation.

3 Easy Ways to gain Chinese Likability


Dutch friend Joost visited China first time in February 2016. We stayed in my hometown for 2 weeks to celebrate the Chinese new year. My hometown is nearby Chinawood – Hengdian World Studios. Joost doesn’t speak Chinese, but he easily gained Chinese likability. So how he made it?

1. Smile When Greeting and Leaving

Enter and Leave with a smile. Joost said “Ni Hao!” with a smile to everybody, he was immediately welcoming the other into engaging with him. For Chinese, it’s very friendly when you speak “Ni Hao!” first, because Chinese living in a small town are not used to seeing foreigners. They would quickly like you when you greet in Chinese.

2. Remember Chinese Family Name or Title

To remember Chinese name is difficult for foreigners. Joost tried to remember Chinese family name, “Li” “Zhang” “Chen” “Guo” or their titles, like “ShuShu” “AYi ”, “GeGe” “MeiMei”, “XianSheng”. If you could say “Xiao Wang”, “Lao Li”, “Wang Zong” then double gain good impression.

3. Use Chopsticks for Lunch & Dinner

Chinese food is delicious. Mostly you will have lunch & dinner with a group of people. Using chopsticks is an easy way to impress Chinese as a foreigner. You would be easily accepted by Chinese through one meal. Once they see you could use chopsticks freely, they automatically think you are part of them. It’s natural for Joost to eat Chinese food with chopsticks since he started using chopsticks from his childhood. It takes time to practise chopsticks but definitely it is worthy.

These 3 easy ways seem simple, but when done right and with a kind heart, people you meet in China will be impressed. You will become more likeable because you’re kind, genuine, and a good friend.

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