InsideOut Development

A Summer Vacation GROW Conversation

by Michael Rutkowski


We talk a lot about the value of InsideOut Coaching in the workplace, but our workshops are also chock-full of stories of coaching conversations in personal relationships. One man told me that his relationship with his children dramatically improved as he became more adept at using GROW in his conversations with them.

As a father, that idea intrigued me, so I’ve been looking for an opportunity to put the GROW Model® into practice with my own family. My oldest son is experiencing the joy and freedom of his first summer vacation from school. While we’re happy for him to have his own childhood experiences with summer, my wife and I want to be sure that he has opportunities to learn during this time outside of school. He’s a pretty creative kid, so we’ve talked a little bit about him and me undertaking a creative project together.

This father and son “fun creative project” was the perfect opportunity to practice a breakthrough conversation using GROW. [Learn more about breakthrough conversations on page 19 of this e-book.]

Here’s how it went down: my son, like most people, really likes to know why things are happening, so I introduced the concept of GROW to explain how we were going to come up with the plan for our creative project. To do that, we watched this quick video introduction to the GROW Model:

The video’s illustration of the model made so much sense to him that he couldn’t help articulating back to me what each step of the conversation would be. In his words, we would first discuss our Goal, then talk about our Reality, then chat about some Options, and finish by picking out our Way Forward.

With a few short questions he was able to describe his Goal that the “fun creative project” would be the creation of our own board game, and that we needed to define a plan to build it. With a quick prompt about the consequences of not reaching this goal he quickly mentioned that his summer would be less fun because he thought we would miss out both on the fun of making the game and being able to play it with others. “That would be a bummer, Dad.”

With the stakes clearly established, we then assessed the Reality of our situation. Between his time in school and my time at work, it had been difficult for us to find the time to work on a project like this in the past. We occasionally found time as a family to play games but hadn’t yet put the time aside to think about what a game of our own would be like. With his time away from school and our increased awareness that it would be possible to overcome our obstacles, we agreed that our Goal was still realistic and worth pursuing.

Our discussion about Options was really fun. It turned out, my son had spent a lot more time thinking about what our project could be than I had expected. He already had a strong concept for the game—after an unexpected eruption, a group of explorers have to race down from the top of a volcano before lava reaches them. The options he was interested in revolved more around how to build the plan for creating the game than coming up with the plan for what the game would be.

One of the most helpful things we did in this phase of the conversation was to ask each other “what else?” to dig deeper into the different things we could do to create our game.

We then agreed that as much as we enjoyed all our options, it was time to define our Way Forward and settled on two points of action. First, we agreed that it would be important to keep playing other games so we could explore fun things players have to do to win other games, and think about how to make our game as fun as possible. Second, we agreed to make a chart of the different steps we’d need to complete in order to build our game so that we can think through everything we need to be ready to do together and have a clear way to keep track of our progress.

We took one last look at identifying any other obstacles in our way, and my son astutely observed that this project would likely look very fun to his 2-year-old sister, and we’d need to be careful to keep her away from the game pieces. Other than that, we were in the clear.

I see now why others have been so quick to tell me why GROW can be applied broadly. Without this conversation, my son and I would have remained stuck in the belief that being busy was getting in the way, and we wouldn’t have had the breakthrough we needed to define our project and plan our way forward.

This experience has left me wondering where else in my life I can apply these principles to communicate better. If you have any suggestions from your personal life, please leave them in the comments below.

Category: Coaching GROW Model

Picture of Michael Rutkowski

Michael Rutkowski is all about growth. Over his career he intentionally joined companies that make a difference in helping people and organizations grow, and has been blessed to play a driving role in three different education and coaching companies as they scaled from being startups to global leaders in the power of learning. It is no coincidence that he now serves as InsideOut Development’s VP of Marketing. He lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife, 2 children, and 2 dogs. He believes in the healing power of cooking good food, and is a competitive axe thrower on the side.

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