My journey began when my first husband got cancer at 32

After becoming a widow and single mum at 30, Kristen Russell "buried my trauma in whatever I could." Then, at her lowest point, she found TCI. 18 months on, Kristen has a business and life she loves.

In 2014, young mum Kristen Russell had her husband and teenage sweetheart Greg Lukes pass away in her arms of cancer, two years after a shock diagnosis. The Navy specialist was just 35 and left behind his devastated wife and children Breanna, now 12, and Jacob, 10.

“I spent the next five years finding myself again, burying my trauma in whatever I could,” says Kristen, who also had to deal with an inquiry into her husband's death, which found in 2016 his job killed him.

“All of the coping mechanisms I’d had in place weren’t working for me. anymore. I went downhill so fast and it got to a point where I knew I couldn’t keep going the way I was.

“It’s funny because I was quite in denial up until probably the week before Greg passed away. We would take it in turns for being strong for each other, then it got to the point where he got sicker and could no longer look after me.

“I had to be the strong one. I was the hero—that is my tribal cycle. I was too busy looking after both our families, I basically left myself to last and that was why after four years, five years, it finally turned to shit for me.

And that’s when I found TCI.”

Kristen, 37, has lived in the same small town on the NSW south coast most of her life. She first heard about coaching when she and second husband Peter Russell, who were wed in 2016, were on a road trip to Sydney. Peter, 47, who owns a real estate agency, was about to do a coaching course and told Kristen about it en route.

The gym instructor was at a low point after an injury meant she couldn’t work out. “It threw me into the worst tail spin ever. I had used exercise and diet as a way to control life and it was the perfect place for me to hide,” she says.

“So when Peter told me what he was doing, I was like, ‘I would love that.’ All of the things he was talking about really resonated. It was my motivator to move forward.”

Three days after googling TCI in May 2019, she joined straight into Pro Coach.

“I told my husband, I said, ‘If I have to pay that much money to find myself again, that’s what I am going to do. I am worth more than the course fees’. He said, ‘okay, do it.’

“I came for business but I came for myself as well. It was about my future but also my healing.

“Five years ago I wanted to end my life. Now I love my life so much.”

18 months on, Kristen shares her TCI experience and business secrets for success:

Happy family

What was on your CV before coaching?

I left school straight into the corporate world and spent 12 years working in project management for building and construction. I was very driven.

What has coaching given you?

Allowing myself to be vulnerable and putting down my tough girl mask and accessing all of those traumas that I was escaping and allowing myself to actually heal, that has been the biggest reward.

How has TCI changed you?

I am a completely different person. I don’t even recognise me. I am a better version of me before Greg got sick. I went through a horrible experience and it still often can catch me off guard, but now have the tools to be able to work with it and understand what’s going on for me. I have awareness around how I’m feeling and process my emotions instead of going, ‘Shit, what is going on here?’

And how has it changed your life?

Oh my goodness, I don’t even know where to start. It’s kind of like magical thinking and I know it is, but I feel the reason I went through what I did was to be able to grow and help other people. The added bonus is I am so proud of myself. I think I am the toughest person I know and I feel unstoppable. If I  have to stand up and talk to 30 people I think, ‘You held your husband in your arms while he died. You got this.’ My own self confidence and certainty is quite high.

What makes you a great coach?

I am able to be warm and compassionate and I love bringing out the best in my clients. It lights me up seeing them succeed. My success is their success.

“What really appealed to me about TCI was that I could not only heal myself but I could get business training at the same time. I could come and discover myself but learn something that I could then carry forward at the same time."

Kristen Russell
Kristen RussellEmotional intimacy coach
Kristen Russell

What has this done for your lifestyle?

My relationship with my children is amazing. They can express how they feel and I can be there for them, instead of the rigid 'don't be fun, don't be loud' thing it used to be. Our house is so fun. My relationship with my husband … we are so close. I had this protection thing that he couldn’t penetrate—I was so hurt underneath and if I lost him that would be the end of me. It’s allowed me to soften and let him in so much more.

Where are you at with your business?

My business is called KRis Mind Dynamics. I have 10 clients at the moment—I don’t want any more! There's heaps of flexibility. My days usually look like forty per cent gym, forty per cent business, twenty per cent family and home type of things. Pete and I went on holidays to Canberra a month ago. I took my laptop and did all my clients when I was there. I feel really lucky. I love my life.

What challenged and surprised you most about TCI?

Probably that I thought I didn’t need to work on myself. Yes, I had that shitty time but I didn’t realise how deep the emotional work within myself and the growth needed to go. I was naïve around that. It wasn’t until Meta II that Matt Lavars did a coaching demo with me that changed my life, I will be forever grateful for him.

What was the big turning point or milestone with your coaching journey?

I signed my biggest client within three months—24K for 40 hours work. I’m earning way more than I used to earn in corporate. I’m currently charging $500 an hour for my coaching.

Your best marketing strategy?

Networking. I don’t do any marketing, all the business is by referrals. Because my husband owns a business I know a lot of business people and a lot of people know me in this town, know what I’ve been through, what type of a person I am and I have goodwill built into the business.

Advice for other TCI coaches?

Follow the bloody system! And just appreciate where you are at. Enjoy the journey, don’t get too caught up on what kind of coach you want to be, at the end of the day that’s why we’re here—to learn who we are and how we can be a great coach.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Probably doing much of the same. I would see me doing more EI stuff, more relationship type coaching. Having a smaller amount of high calibre clients, five really high up CEOs that I just fully love on and appreciate and grow their business. In the beginning I wanted to take on the world, be this highly successful driven and I still am but that was at the exclusion of my family. I just see me more evolved and bringing more knowledge.

“To anyone thinking of joining, you will never regret it. It will be the best day of your life and will continue to be the best day of your life. I wish I found you five years before I did, it’s changed my life. I’d probably be dead if I didn’t find TCI, I don’t know what would have become of me. If you are sitting on the fence and are unsure, you just have to do it. I'm never looking back and I'm never leaving!"

Kristen Russell
Kristen RussellEmotional intimacy coach
Kristen Russell

Kristen is a total fitness lover (“I don’t party, I don’t smoke, I don’t eat shit”) and you will find her at her local gym taking classes, “yelling at people, laughing, being silly. I love spending time with my family, I am a pretty open book, nothing is hidden here. I am probably an over sharer. I tell the honest truth with love."

Kristen Russell
Kristen RussellEmotional intimacy coach