Solve Problems Simply and Effectively with the GROW Model

GROW model

How do you pick the best way forward to solve your problems?

In our article The First Steps As Your Own Life Coach, we talked about setting a good goal and then taking a first step towards it.

The question is: What is that first step going to be when you think you’ve already tried everything?

Several models can help. The most used by life coaches is the GROW model.

(in fact this model is not just used by life coaches, but by all kinds of coaches, with many other models being some kind of variation on this one – more about that later).

GROW: A Simple Model That Works

GROW stands for:

G for Goal


Set a challenging yet realistic goal: within your control, precise, measurable, taking into account the impact it will have on you and those who matter around you and making sure that you are fully motivated to work towards it

R for realityReality

Take stock of your current situation: How far are you from your goal? What is the real nature of the problem you face? What are the challenges and issues? What have you done so far to try and reach this goal? What worked and what stopped you (external and internal obstacles)?

O for OptionsOptions

Brainstorm: What else could you do? Which external and internal resources could you draw upon? Come up with as many options as you can (when you think you’ve exhausted your options, ask yourself ‘what else?’ and come up with another one). Weigh each option

W for Way Forward
Way Forward
Action: Choose one of the options and decide what you will concretely do to set it in motion. Set yourself a date and time to do it. Also set yourself a date and time to assess your progress and adjust the way forward.

These 4 steps offer a structured platform to identify what you want to achieve, what you’ve already tried and what has stopped you so far, what options you have and, finally, to decide a way forward and the approach has been proven to work effectively time and time again by coaches the world over.

Trust Yourself To Know

A coach will normally guide you through the process by asking pertinent questions but will let you come up with the answers and your own options.

This can be a bit off-putting. You’re not the expert. What if you just aren’t good at brainstorming? What if there are other better solutions that you just cannot think of? What if you just can’t see what else you could try?

Yet you do have several advantages over a life coach:

  1. you know far more about your life than they will ever do
  2. you know about your strengths, weaknesses and the external resources you could call upon

Brainstorming is not as daunting as you might think.

Brainstorming tips

When you’re stuck, start with what you know:

  • Your personal strengths and your resources. How could you leverage them?
  • Your existing ideas. Could you combine and extend them to create new ones?

Welcome all ideas. Even the most stupid and weird could lead to the right option.

Keep The Model Simple And Flexible

GROW is a very simple model but, like a lot of simple models, extremely powerful.

It’s so simple and so well structured that it’s very tempting to quickly go through each step in a thoughtless motion and dive into the action part.

Only… DON’T!!

Sometimes, you’ll need a bit more reflection time to really come to terms with what has blocked you so far. Sometimes, it will require some work on yourself, on understanding the real source of your issues… and that in itself could be an action point.

Although the doing part of the model is what makes it result oriented, don’t forget the thinking part of it.

There’s no point going full steam ahead in a direction that has not been well thought through.

As with any such exercise, the real benefits come from the thought, the analysis and from understanding and using the tools (in this case the GROW model) properly.

Allow for some flexibility and be guided by your thoughts as well as by the model.

Further Thoughts

The GROW model is ideal to start with.

Play with it. See how effective you find it.

Once you’re fairly happy with it, come back to visit these pages to learn about 2 other models: the OUTCOMES and ACHIEVE models (which will be the subject of a future article and linked to here). These models are very similar to GROW, which they’re based on, but they contain more steps (and sometimes these extra steps will stop you from rushing ahead and missing important points).


Solve Problems Simply and Effectively with the GROW Model — 4 Comments

  1. I like this model. Simple, but it makes intuitive sense. I’m always good at the goals part, the rest I’ll need to work on a little I think.

    • Simple is very often the most effective (easier to remember, to implement).

      If you can get the Goals then Reality should be easy enough (be honest with yourself – root cause analysis could help you find what has really stopped you so far – identify a reason and then ask yourself why this is the case and repeat again with the answer you get and again and again – until you’re satisfied you’ve found the real cause).

      Good luck!

  2. A very interesting model. It seems so simple, but versatile. I’ve found brainstorming to be a little intimidating at first – it can be hard to get going. One thing I’ve found that helps is to just get ideas flowing, no matter how bad they might seem. Plus it helps to think from multiple perspectives or viewpoints. Anything that gets the mind going seems to help.

    • Really good points. With brainstorming, it’s best to remove any filter. Some ideas might feel crazy to formulate out loud but one of these ideas will be the right one or will lead to the right one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *