"Radiant Spirit" Coach Mandy Jankus Lives Up to Her Title

Photograph by Tawni Eakman, Courtesy of Amanda Jankus

Photograph by Tawni Eakman, Courtesy of Amanda Jankus

You know the quote “stay close to people who feel like sunshine”? It’s referring to people like Amanda Jankus, or Mandy, as she’s known to those around her. Upon meeting this woman, it becomes evident that she was born with a gift to communicate and build communities. Although to be fair, she has more than enough experience to prove her expertise. Mandy is the creator of Radiant Spirit Coaching, a Brené Brown Daring Way Facilitator, a Communications Instructor at Bellevue College, and the Associate Director of Community Programs at The Riveter.

She never planned to have any of these titles, and listening to her story is like collecting the pieces of a puzzle that although radically different, perfectly fit together.

Unexpectedly, the first vocation Mandy followed in her life was hairstyling. “When I graduated high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I loved being creative, and I thought beauty school would be a fun way to explore that”, she mentioned. Yet, a few years into the craft, she felt ready to do something different, and her strong people skills suggested a degree in communication was the way to go.

“Even then, I never set out to be a teacher,” she mentioned. “But I had an amazing mentor during college, and since I’ve taught for twelve years now, I understand that she saw something in me before it even started to bloom. Today, I believe one hundred percent that teaching is my purpose, it’s why I was put on this earth”.

“I never set out to be a life coach either” she added. “I learned about it when I was seeing a great therapist, working through post-partum depression, and reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown, which was a powerful book for me. My therapist pointed out that I could facilitate Brené’s work and I remember that day I went home and immediately looked it up.”

After learning she had to become a “helping professional” to qualify for the certification, she officially trained as a life coach. Officially, because this is a persona she’s always embodied. “When I told my hairstyling clients that I’d be doing a life coach certification, their reaction was ‘of course you are, you’ve been a coach since you’ve been doing hair,’” she remembered laughing.

Mandy shared how her life has been enriched after becoming a coach and Daring Way Facilitator. “I think being a coach makes me a better instructor and being an instructor makes me a better coach. I’ve always gotten really great evaluations from my students, but since coaching, the comments go beyond ‘you’re so fun, you’re funny, you’re really nice,’ to ‘you heard me, you understood me.’”

Inevitably tearing up, Mandy remembered the feedback she received from students this past year. “One student thanked me for being the best instructor he’s ever had, and that’s nice, but he went on to say that he never enjoyed school and not only enjoyed my class and laughed, but also felt shocked that he could walk out every day having learned something. He thanked me for allowing him to see that hard conversations (on heavy topics like racism or discrimination, for example) don’t have to be bad ones and that everybody wins when we show up, and we’re more curious than defensive. Another student mentioned that I was the first instructor that made him feel seen, as though his voice mattered.”

Photograph by Tawni Eakman, Courtesy of Amanda Jankus

Photograph by Tawni Eakman, Courtesy of Amanda Jankus

In every role she plays, Mandy considers empathy to be essential. In fact, if given a chance to teach one thing to the entire world, she’d focus on precisely that. “Empathy is not about walking in someone else’s shoes, because we really can’t do that, and it feels impossible to connect with someone when life experiences are so different. Instead, empathy should be seen as an opportunity for connection based on emotion. It’s not about understanding exactly what others have lived, but how they have felt.”

Mandy’s story and thoughts on connection left us feeling hopeful, and thankful for the existence of radiant spirits like hers. It’s inspiring and refreshing to meet a woman who perfectly understands what lifting each other up means.

PS. Since Mindful Feminism began a few months ago, Mandy has cheered on tirelessly, and for that, we’re eternally grateful to her.