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  • Aspire » Coaching

    05 Jan

    Prefer to listen to the blog post? Click the Play Button Below:


    Picture by Keith Ellwood via Flickr

    Picture by Keith Ellwood via Flickr

    When’s the last time you felt stuck when it came to resolving a challenge? Every day we’re faced with decisions. Most of them are quick and easy – things that you decide on almost an unconscious level. However we’re also faced with much more difficult decisions on a regular basis. How do you grow your business? (Or make more money?) Should I hire more people? Where should I go on vacation?

    If you had plenty of time and no other distractions, then most of your challenges wouldn’t be that hard to resolve, but life doesn’t work that way. Instead everyday chaos makes sure it’s difficult to find the time to concentrate and figure out what needs to be done. And it’s pretty common that your challenges, goals, opportunities and problems will all pile on at the same time – which is why we feel overwhelmed, stressed and…stuck.

    Of course a great way to deal with that and to be more focused overall is to work with a coach.  😉

    But there are also some great tools you can apply on your own (or to help other people). One of those is the GROW model – a quick and easy way to focus. I learned about it from Alan Fine in his book You Already Know How to Be Great (next month’s Business Book Review). I don’t know that he invented it, but he certainly gets credit for developing and sharing it.

    Here’s how Alan Fine describes the GROW process:

    “Basically, it is a map of human decision making. It provides a simple way to create Focus, reduce interference and improve performance in any area of life.”

    You make decisions every day, but more than likely you don’t consciously follow a process to make that decision. But if you want to improve your performance, make better decisions more quickly, then following a simple process is a great way to do that.

    The GROW Model

    GROW Model

    GROW simply stands for the steps in the process:

    • Goal (what do you want to do?)
    • Reality (where are you now?)
    • Options (how could you move from your reality to your goal?)
    • Way Forward (what actions will you take?)

    Obviously it’s a very simple model, but the power lies in the simplicity and the structure. Most decisions you make might cover all of these steps, but they typically aren’t sequential…it’s easy to jump around – you might start with Reality (I’m out of shape) then jump to Goal (I want to work out more) then you think about Options…then jump back to Reality and maybe you even reset your Goal along the way. The end result is often chaotic and unfocused – you might end up with a clear direction but it’s not easy. The GROW model won’t guarantee quick and easy decisions, but by consciously and purposely following a process you will end up with better results.

    Here are some questions or things to think about in each step of the model:


    • What issue do I want to work through? What problem am I trying to solve?
    • What do I want to get out of this GROW session? (be focused and specific)
    • What are the consequences if I don’t take action?
    • Your goal should be in a SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound)


    • Briefly, what’s been happening?
    • What’s been tried so far? What were the results?
    • What are the obstacles?
    • How might others describe the situation (different viewpoint)?
    • Is the Goal still realistic?


    • What would take me from Reality to my goal?
    • If you had a magic wand, what would you do? (think big)
    • If the situation impacts others, how do they need to be involved? What do they care about?
    • If you were counselling a friend on this issue, what would you tell them?
    • What else could you do?
    • What are the advantages or disadvantages to each option?
    • Do any of these options interest me enough to explore in more detail?

    Way Forward

    • Do any of the options interest me enough to take action? (If not you’ll need to start over or give up).
    • What specific actions need to be taken on the option I select? What else?
    • What might get in my way and how could I deal with that?
    • Specifically what, when, where is my next step?
    • Make sure you put dates and expectations on your plan.

    The GROW model was initially developed to be used as a coaching / discussion tool to help others work through their challenges. There are a lot of benefits to getting a different perspective, especially when it comes to the Reality and Options step (and for accountability on the Way Forward). That said, it can also be used effectively on your own. And…it’s applicable for all sorts of challenges – both personal and business related. With some practice using the GROW model will become almost second nature.

    Do you have a challenge or an issue facing you right now? Maybe you should carve out some time and try the GROW model on your problem. Let us know how it worked or if you have any questions – we’d love to hear from you.

    Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

    26 Aug
    Picture by Shawn Kinkade via Flickr

    Picture by Shawn Kinkade via Flickr

    As business coaches, our job is to help business owners develop bigger, better businesses. If you’re actively trying to build your company, then you should be looking for an advisor / coach / mentor to help you.

    What can a coach help you do?

    OK, business owners are you ready for some full disclosure?  Measuring the initial value of a business coach or advisor is not always easy to quantify.  When we work with clients the impact and results of our work usually are not as obvious as the instant gratification of a new machine or any tangible object.   That said, to summarize our role is really pretty simple; we help businesses figure out where they are (clarity), where they want to be (focus), and then help them get there in the most efficient way (momentum).   And, ultimately see that the business is financially sound and profitable, again developing a bigger, better business. Over time there’s usually a way to measure the financial gain – and the goal is to make that a very positive investment, but it’s still not always a direct correlation.

    What we do, what that process looks like varies with every business and every owner depending on what the biggest obstacles are and where the biggest opportunities appear to be.   We provide a tool box filled with the most effective proven ways to help businesses be profitable and we do our best to help you implement them.   We have real life experience that only comes from owning and running a business ourselves.  All important attributes and traits that we bring to the table – but it doesn’t even cover what might be the most important thing we do.

    Could there be more to it than this?   

    ac·count·abil·i·ty noun \ə-ˌkau̇n-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

    One of the most significant components we provide a business may be accountability.  It is a scary word for a lot of business owners.  Not having to be accountable to someone else is often the reason many of them started their business in the first place.   But not being accountable to anyone can leave even the most well intentioned person misguided.  And although it is definitely a noun, it can be very intangible for those needing to embrace it.

    “The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.” – Steve Maraboli

    This past week over a period of less than a few hours, three different clients called to simply share something they had done that reaffirmed the power of the accountability component. In each of the three cases, the business owner had a different task or procedure that in the past they were either unable to complete or were able to self-excuse away why they were allowing it to happen (or not happen). The type of stuff they knew they should be doing, but just hadn’t been able to do in the past.

    But this time it was different.  Together, we had created a plan and prioritized what was important.  We had clearly identified what was acceptable and what was not acceptable.   And most importantly we had created an accountability component between the business owner and their trusted advisor.   Additionally, once one understands their function as the business owner, it may not be so much about letting their coach down as they don’t want to let their business down!

    Selfishly on our end, these types of calls are some of the most rewarding.  But more importantly we know because of our client’s action they are becoming better business owners, stronger leaders, and they are moving their business in the direction they ultimately want it to go.

    How about you? On a scale of 1 -10; if you were completely honest with yourself, what number would you rate yourself in the accountability category?  What could the positive outcomes be if it was even 1 number higher?   Why would those outcomes be important to you?

    Be accountable. It’s a huge key to success.

    As always we value your comments in the space below.

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

    22 Feb

    I got into a conversation this morning with a friend of mine about online multiplayer games – he’s a big fan of Halo 3, we both liked Call of Duty 4, but he had never played Team Fortress 2!  (currently the best 1st person multiplayer game out there in my opinion).

    So that got me to thinking what Team Fortress 2 could teach us about running a small business.  If you’re not familiar with the game, here’s a quick overview from the publisher’s website:

    Unlike other “class-based” games that offer a variety of combat classes only, Team Fortress 2 packs a wild variety of classes which provide a broad range of tactical abilities and personalities, and lend themselves to a variety of player skills.

    Play as the flame-throwing Pyro, the room clearing Heavy, or the Spy, a master of disguises. Other classes include: Scout, Sniper, Medic, Engineer, Demoman, or Soldier.

    Basically you play several variations of Capture the Flag types of games online with friends and strangers potentially anywhere in the world.

    Here are a few key lessons that I came up with:

    Read More…

    28 Jan

    The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) has been been around for about 20 years and unfortunately there are a lot of people that haven’t heard about it.  From their website here’s a brief description of what KTEC is:

    The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation is a state-owned corporation established to promote advanced technology economic development in Kansas. We strive to meet the technical needs of Kansas companies by providing access to individuals with expertise and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. We even provide or help secure financing for research and development.

    This is a really progressive program that most states don’t have, and it’s right here in our backyard!

    One of the newer things that KTEC is doing has been the addition in the last 2 years of the KTEC Pipeline initiative – http://www.ktecpipeline.com/ .  The idea is to select up to 10 ‘innovators’ every year, specifically in the technology or bioscience fields and hook them up with resources (including a $35,000 grant), special training from top of the line entrepreneurial experts and access and introductions to partnerships and capital markets.

    Getting selected for the Pipeline is extremely challenging and a very big deal.  This year there were over 400 applications and over 60 in-depth interviews to select the 9 winners.


    The reason I’m familiar with all of this is because I’m thrilled to report that one of my clients was accepted into the Pipeline program last week.  (Not because of anything I did, but because he’s a brilliant guy with some really revolutionary ideas…!).

    Dan Melton is the President of NonProfit Technologies, which is a “a socially conscious for-profit think-tank that develops web-driven products and solutions to improve the effectiveness, cost-savings or impact of public-sector organizations.”

    Essentially what Dan and his team are doing is creating cutting edge Web 2.0 applications that are targeted towards the public sector.  Historically the public sector lags the for profit world when it comes to technology but there is a huge need and viable marketplace for the right ideas.

    Luckily Dan is full of great ideas that are not only great business opportunities, but will also drive dramatic benefits to the public sector – a true win-win situation.

    Congratulations to Dan and the team at NonProfit Technologies!

    Stop by his site and check out some of the cool stuff he’s got going on.  NPT

    Shawn Kinkade   www.aspirekc.com

    13 Jan

    Probably because it’s the new year, but I’ve been seeing a lot of sites and articles focused on the idea that the best way to change is develop new habits.

    Once you get to the point that you no longer consciously think about something it becomes ingrained into your life.  And if you consciously choose the most effective habits, one at a time, you will become an unconscious effective machine…so to speak.  😉

    Read More…

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