Invenio: Coaching and Mentoring April 2016 - Growth - Page 6

TIf the word ‘growth’ did not appear at some stage during a coach training session or while reading a book on the subject, it is likely that questions would have to be asked at the highest level. Growth is almost synonymous with coaching as the implication is movement. Development could also be argued as going hand-in-glove with growth. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Those of you who know me will recognise my natural inclination to head towards a definition.

Growth is defined as ‘the act or process, or a manner of growing, development, gradual increase; a stage of development ( Its synonyms include augmentation, expansion, improvement, advancement and aggrandizement (what a wonderful word this is). And for the word aficionados out there, the antonyms are decline, decrease. So I think that it is safe to say that we are talking about a positive movement from one point to another.

“OK, so it’s defined, now what?” I hear you ask. Good question. Like so many words that appear within the coaching and development context, they can mean different things to different people, even with the most complex and comprehensive definitions to hand. Additionally, clients are likely to talk about growing personally, professionally, spiritually, intellectually or emotionally to name but a few scenarios. That is why it is often useful to ask a client what they mean by their use of a particular word or phrase. This is the key ability to be in their world and to speak their language, in the way they speak it.

Rather than talk about the different contexts of growth that I have alluded to above, I would rather focus on what we need to consider when understanding what growth is and how we may approach it from both a coaching and personal perspective.

In ‘Human Givens’, Griffin and Tyrell (2007) draw a comparison of looking at human beings in the same way that a gardener may study plants. Questions that can be asked include what physical, social and psychological nutrition is needed to enable this organism to achieve fruition of its innate nature? They also suggest looking at the things that may prevent us from achieving this fruition; what they call inner templates and what Transactional Analysis (TA) may describe as injunctions. Critically they note that:

‘…a person is not a plant and we need not just material but also mental, emotional and, some would say, spiritual nourishment if we are to flourish. And, while plants ‘know’ how to grow, children and adults need structured guidance to optimise their own self development’ (p5).

This structured guidance may take many forms. What I take from this is that there is a need for some form of support mechanism in place. This could come from many sources, parents, friends, colleagues, self or externally from a coach, mentor or counsellor. Furthermore, there is a blueprint which, if followed correctly, will yield greater results.

Going back to plants, I bought a number of bulbs and packets of seeds yesterday. On the labels is information which tells me where to position them, when to plan them, how deep they need to be and when I can expect to see them flowering. Simple, providing I follow the instructions. Baking a cake would be another analogy.

Why is it then, that when it comes to our own growth, we sometimes forget to follow our own instructions? Process Communication informs us that psychological needs are the cornerstone of our emotional wellbeing and when these needs are regularly met, we are well motivated and more resistant to distress. It also improves our communication with others. So for our own growth and when supporting others, we need to understand the ingredients (see Kung Fu Panda for a more enlightened explanation of ‘secret ingredient’).

No matter what area of growth you or your client are looking at, there is a need to understand a number of aspects before progressing. What are the ingredients for growth, what psychological needs must be met in order to succeed in growing, why is it important, what can derail your [their] progress? These are just some of the questions worth exploring before the journey begins, as growth is a journey. How far one needs to travel to experience the level of growth they seek will truly depend on the individual. For some it may be a few steps. For others, it may take a lifetime. A few will never reach the level they aspire to, but their journey may be growth enough. Only they will know.

In concluding, I feel that the words of Lewis Carroll from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ are quite apt.

‘Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don't much care where.”

The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.”

Alice: “So long as I get somewhere.”

The Cheshire Cat: “Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

Until next time,


David Monro-Jones AMC ASM

IIC&M Managing Director