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6 Step Blueprint To Success

Estimated reading Time: 12 min
GROWTH Process: Become The Best You Can Be

The “G.R.O.W.T.H. Process” is a 6 step process developed in the early 1990s for continuous improvement. It can help you become the best you can be at anything you set your mind to.

It always starts with you becoming very clear about what you want to achieve and why you want it. You then move on to figuring out how to get there, planning and taking action, and reviewing what works and what doesn’t so that improvements can be made.

It’s a blueprint for continuous improvement.

Whether you want to be more successful with a personal goal, improve a skill, become your ideal self, or achieve an aspiration of personal growth, the 6 step process will help. Perhaps you have business goals, sporting goals or simply want to improve daily life; then these 6 steps are all you need.

Introduction To The G.R.O.W.T.H Process aka 6 Step Blueprint To Success

During late Summer 1989, I went on a course for business coaches. Alan Fine a highly respected performance coach introduced the 4-step GROW Coaching Model. Then, during the early 1990s, in addition to using the process with individuals as a coach, I also found it useful with groups when working as a facilitator for planning and change workshops.

The toolset worked well for business challenges, especially when people were finding it difficult to move forward. I also found it useful in various other settings including sports, music, social, and the public sector.

Customer feedback led to splitting the 4th Step, into three distinct disciplines. The GROW Coaching Model evolved into what has since been known as the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process. In the mid-1990s, a customer referred to the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process as his “6 step blueprint to success”…

I’ve used the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process so much that its use has become a habit for any project, large or small, that gets near to me! So for me, it’s become more of a G.R.O.W.T.H. habit!

I hope you find the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process as useful as I have.

As you already know by now, the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process consists of 6 steps:

  • Step 1: GOAL setting – Set SMARTER goals.
  • Step 2: Reality check – Where are you now in relation to your goal?
  • Step 3: Options – Consider, brainstorm, research what options you have.
  • Step 4: Way forward – Decision time. Create a plan.
  • Step 5: Take action – Execute the plan!
  • Step 6: How did it go? – Review progress and feedback for learning.

Step 1: G.R.O.W.T.H. Process – Goal Setting

Answer A Few Useful Questions

Setting Goals

The first of the 6 steps to success of the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process asks: “What do you want to achieve?”. A simple question that requires a comprehensive answer.

This is where you determine your outcome/s. So, what are your aspirations? Big or small, it matters not. The bigger the aspirations (or the more complex) the longer this step will take.

Note: I use the words goals, required outcomes and aspirations to mean more or less the same things … they are largely interchangeable.

The single most important question to get started with anything: “What do you want to achieve?”, is not always easy to answer and is often not answered in enough detail. The more specific and detailed your answer is, the greater is the chance that you will achieve what you want.

This list of questions following might look pedantic … but I can assure you that answering them will give you an enormous advantage!

  • Precisely what outcome/s do you want to achieve?
  • How big or small is it?
  • How much, many, or even few do you want?
  • Who is involved?
  • Is location important, in which case where?
  • Is timing important, in which case when do you want it/them?
  • How will you know that you have achieved your outcome/s?
  • What will you:
    • see?;
    • hear?;
    • feel?;
    • and are there any negative effects? (if there are you might want to make adjustments).
  • What else does it get for you (or anyone else)?
  • Above all why do you want this outcome/s?

Always write the required outcomes down, incorporating answers to the above questions, in as much detail as is appropriate for the people involved.

If you are interested in the power of why!

Go here to learn a sure-fire method to discover your whys!

Also, realise that nothing is set in stone here. There may well be additions, deletions or adjustments to the outcome/s as you progress through the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process steps. There is no right or wrong; only what works for you.

Create SMARTER Goals

Many people are already familiar with the concept of SMART goals or aspirations.

Sometime in the 1980s, I learned of the evolution of SMART into SMARTER:

  • Specific – have you defined specifically, in enough detail, what you want to achieve?
  • Measurable – are you able to know when you have achieved your goal?
  • Achievable – is what you want a realistic aspiration? This is especially worth consideration for short-term goals. Be careful with this one… just because you don`t know how to achieve something yet does not make it unrealistic (Also, see “Risky”, below).
  • Resources – do you have or can you acquire whatever is needed?
  • Timed – are there any time constraints or targets? Are they specified and possible?
  • Environment – as you move towards achieving your goal, who and what else is affected?
  • Risky – by definition, all growth is achieved outside of our comfort zone. If the goal requires a need or desire for growth of some sort, is the necessary stretch clear, understood and believable? As with “Achievable”, do you believe you can learn or acquire whatever is needed to succeed.

The questions asked above will have catered for “Specific”, “Measurable”, any important “Time” factors. and perhaps some of the “Environment” and “Resources” considerations.

This may leave “Achievable” and “Risky” to be clarified later, and there are possibly more “Environment” factors and “Resources” to be considered later in Step 3 of the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process.

Before moving on to Step 2 … ask:
Just how compelling is/are your outcome/s?
Do you truly know why you want it/them?
Have you written it all down?

Always realise that nothing is set in stone here. The outcomes reflect your or your team`s inspirations alone. There may well be additions, deletions or adjustments to the outcome/s as you progress through the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process. There is no right or wrong; only what works for you.

Step 2: G.R.O.W.T.H. Process – Reality Check

Welcome To Reality

In Step 2, we examine “What is our current reality?”.

Workshop participants have sometimes asked why this is not the first step.

The thing is that focusing on current reality first serves to limit our thinking in relation to our aspirations.

There are some situations, usually informal and with individuals, where it is best to go with the flow of whatever they want to explore first. On rare occasions, we go through step 2 before step 1.

However, achievement of growth or change requires expanding or breaking through our comfort zone.

More often than not, focusing on current reality first leads to creativity being limited to within the bounds of our current comfort zone.

So whenever possible, going through Step 1 first leads to minimal interference from our experience of the current reality, and tends to lead to more creativity.

By first focusing on aspirations in Step 1, the more likely we are to develop compelling, and motivational outcomes that lead to a breakthrough.

Reality Check

So, the question is, concerning our goals/aspirations, where am I? or where are we? right now.

Most importantly, this includes, what resources are currently available?

Resources are not just money. They include attitudes (mindsets), knowledge, skills, strengths and weaknesses (areas for improvement and learning).

Write it all down … then …

Highlight The Differences

At this point, comparing your goals against current reality will clarify the distance or differences between these two points in time.

Now you can define what specific areas need to change and by how much.

If you’ve conscientiously followed the first 2 steps you’re now very clear about what you want to achieve and why, and you should have a good understanding of the size of any challenges.

Step 3: G.R.O.W.T.H. Process – Options

This way or that way sign

In Step 3 you figure out what options you have for achieving your goals. Focus on what steps have to be taken to achieve what you want.

Position Yourself At The Goal And Look Back

Here`s an idea that I have often used. If you stand at the foot of a mountain that you intend to climb (or a small hill for that matter) and look up, it is often difficult to pick out a path. On the other hand, if you position yourself at the summit, it is often easier when looking down to pick out a route.

So, a little trick that you can use at this point is to position yourself at your goal. Imagine that you have now achieved your aspirations.

Literally, in your mind’s eye, take a few minutes to experience your outcome; see, hear and feel what you want to achieve and then look back at where you came from (look back towards where you are right now).

Look back at the path to see what steps must have been taken and what obstacles were overcome on the way to the top.

Trust me … if you carry this out with conviction you will relatively easily develop the strategies that got you (or will get you) to the top! You will have a much better idea of the milestones that you must reach, and any obstacles to overcome on the way to the top.

Here is a simple method for creating a plan.

Brainstorm Your Options For Achieving Your Goals

In Step 2, you evaluated the differences between where you want to be and where you are now. However you choose to position yourself, now brainstorm and consider what options you can think of to address the challenges identified.

Write down as many ideas as you can think of. Write down everything that anyone says, however whacky it might seem.

One whacky idea can lead to another which can often lead to a practical solution.

Also, write it down even if you have no idea how to get it done! Research often leads to unexpected outcomes.

Avoid evaluating options at this stage. Just write them all down and only ask questions for clarification where necessary. Criticism is not allowed!

Perhaps some options will overcome obstacles that you saw in the previous step. Perhaps some perceived obstacles are completely bypassed.

Once the brainstorming session is ‘complete’ I recommend taking a short break before moving on.

Note: the concept of ‘complete’ is based on the 80/20 principle. Once 80% or so of ideas have been found, progress will slow down considerably. When you run out of ideas for more than a couple of minutes it’s time to move on. More ideas may well appear over time and can be added when they are discovered.

Evaluate The Options

Having explored your options for achieving your goals, you now have a list of ideas. Some may well be completely impractical or inappropriate.

Examine each option, consider if it is useful or not and discard any that you have no interest in.

It is important that people do not take any implied criticism personally. Be sensitive to those involved and ask permission from the person who submitted an idea before removing it.

Flesh out each option a little where needed. Some may be simplistic and not need further development. Keep on writing everything down.

Perhaps some options can be combined in interesting ways? Ask what resources (skills, training, tools, materials, finance, time etc) are needed for each option. As you think/discuss make sure any new ideas are captured and considered appropriately.

Check to see if there are any new ideas, especially if the goal/s have changed.

Step 4: G.R.O.W.T.H. Process – the Way Forward

In Step 4 you choose the way forward; you decide the best steps to take.

It’s Decision Time …
Lady looking puzzled by possibilities

It is worth (briefly) checking that the written goals from Step 1 are still intact. Given a better understanding of possible options available to move towards your goals now, ask, are the goals realistic yet still exciting/motivating? Do you want to change anything in the description of your aspirations?

Having refined a list of options in the previous step, for you to be able to move from where you are now to where you want to be, it’s time to consider what option/s will deliver the effect that you want in the most efficient way. It’s decision time!

Do you have the resources needed for each option?

Do any preferred options require more resources?

If so, what further options do you have to acquire the necessary additional resources?

Now It’s Planning Time – Time To Get Organised…

“Keep everything as simple as possible, but no simpler” – Albert Einstein … so keep your plan as simple as you can but make sure it’s comprehensive.

Sort your chosen options into a logical order, making sure that those dependent on others are placed appropriately. For clarity, some options may need to be further expanded.

In my opinion, no plan is complete without target dates being included. Without dates, it is just a list of objectives, not a plan. But remember that in many cases dates can be flexible. Unless there are critical dates (see below), do not get too hung up on them.

Where there are critical dates, perhaps based on external influences or due to other commitments, be clear on what they are. Make sure all those who need to know, understand what is critical and why.

Also, be realistic with time estimates. Personally, I usually add 50% to my original estimate.

Remember to include criteria for measuring results. Write down a description of how you will know when each item on the plan is complete.

In addition, if the plan is going to take more than a short time (perhaps more than one month) then it is worth including regular progress reviews in the plan (see Step 6).

Step 5: G.R.O.W.T.H. Process – Take Action: Implement The Plan!

Action aimed at target

It`s time to take action by implementing the plan as developed in Step 4. Probably the simplest instruction and yet the most critical step.

If no action is taken, nothing will be achieved … so …
Just Do It!

This is where discipline comes into its own. Especially if you are working on your own.

Daily disciplined activity is essential to make sure you follow the plan.

It´s useful to invest a few minutes at the end of each day to check progress against the plan, and become clear on what you will do the next day.

Also, it is a good practice to regularly remind yourself why you want to achieve your aspirations.

If you find yourself regularly falling behind, avoid beating yourself up … ask yourself: “What’s getting in the way of progress?”. Just be honest and change what you can to improve.

Above all, during the time allocated for taking action on your plan, stop doing things that are not productive.

Make no bones about it … if you are not getting things done, you will have to take the pain of changing something (perhaps behaviours) in order to make progress.

You will not regret the discipline! It’ll feel great when you achieve what you want.

What To Do When You Find Yourself Off-plan …

Original straight line plan
The Original Plan 

There’s not much that can be said about this!

The perfect world looks like this…

Zigzag plan as it really happened
Here’s What Actually Happened

The white arrows show what typically happens!

When they notice they are off course, most people, try to get back to the original plan (as shown by the white arrows).

Notice that when added together the white arrows are at least twice the length (i.e. they take twice the time) as the original plan.

Zigzag points re-planned for efficiency
Opportunities For Efficiency

In this hypothetical example, there were at least 5 opportunities to re-plan from a new position (as shown by the red arrows), setting out the quickest way to the goal from each of those 5 positions.

This may look a little exaggerated, but I hope it makes the point.

Step 6: G.R.O.W.T.H. Process – How Did It Go?

Feedback symbols for questions

In Step 6 it is time to review achievements and answer the general question: “How did it go”?

A warning: it may be tempting to ignore this step … especially if you’ve fully achieved what you wanted … or if the project is a `one-off`. I recommend asking the key questions below … there are always learning points.

In addition, if your aspirations are going to take some time, perhaps due to complexity, you may benefit from adding periodic reviews into your action plan at Step 4.

The same Key Questions are useful for any feedback review.

It is, of course, important to review progress against the Goal/s. In addition, it’s valuable to consider the actions that were taken, and the overall G.R.O.W.T.H. Process itself. Are there any things you would do differently next time?

I reiterate that the purpose when you review achievements is not just to check progress against the plan. There is additional value in discovering any areas for improvement for the overall process that can be applied in the future.

Key Questions For Feedback

  • what worked?;
  • what didn`t work?;
  • what did I/we learn?;
  • what can I/we do differently next time?

Applying the learnings from the answers to these four questions will lead to continuous improvement.

Try Out This Blueprint To Success…

I encourage you to try out the G.R.O.W.T.H. Process … the ‘6 step blueprint to success’ … you might like it, and if you apply it consistently and persistently, you’ll generate a set of good habits that will lead to a successful life. You’ll find yourself more often in a state of flow, in the present moment, and be on your way to experiencing the best life can be!

Let me know how you get on …

If you have any questions, please reach out, add a comment or contact me.
If you think others might find it useful, please share…

Richard B

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  1. Hello Richard, Thank you so much for this interesting article. It has helped me a lot to go back to basic and start over again. I have studied your six steps to success and will work on this. I am more clearer now. I have Set up a list where I have put all my, our goals and found out that I am still on the right track. I just was a bit confused. We have set up so many different things over the last years.
    We have made seven sculptures.
    Seven songs, three are released. The other four will be released this year.
    Gerhard is producing a classic piece called Challenging Beethoven, which will be released, after making the video clip. And last but not least, I started a website in 2020, where I try to help other women to dare to dream big and get slender and healthy at the same time. As you can read, we have made all the resources. The main thing is the time issue. To promote all of this costs a lot of time. What stressed and gets me under pressure the most is time. Do you know how I can set up a proper time management, so that I can be more focused?
    Thank you again Richard for your great help.

    • Hi Monique
      Thank you for reaching out and discussing your situation. I am very pleased that the Human GROWTH Habit (as I call it) is useful to you. I can give you some clues about time management (an expression that you will find I don’t use myself) … here is an article I wrote recently on this:
      I hope it helps. Just get back to me with any follow up questions.
      Best wishes

  2. This is something I absolutely must do. I can see that it takes time to make this blueprint, but it is important to achieve all my goals. I have several goals, and I may not have expressed them all very clearly in my mind to start or continue the process of achieving them. As you mentioned in this post, we should be clear about what we want to achieve.
    I love the arrows in the pics, they clearly show how it can go and they make me feel less bad about straying from the path sometimes. We’re only human, right? The wonderful thing is, though, that all straying arrows get back to the main arrow and eventually reach the goal, which means that persistance and hard work pays off.
    I’ll do this blueprint. How much time do you think I should set aside to create this blueprint for my goals?

    • Hi Christine. Thank you for reading about the Human GROWTH Process and telling me what you think. I’m glad you found it interesting and hope. more importantly, that you apply it and find it useful. To me, it’s become a habit over the years. Whenever I, or anyone else I am with, has a challenge I automatically run through the process, asking appropriate questions to help myself or the other person/people to be clear at each step.

      You ask how much time to allow. There are two points to make.
      1. the first few times you use it, it will take more time than later. With familiarity, you can get through faster. If you go through the process on your own I would encourage you to ‘practice’ the process with something that you consider to be simple, the first time around. Perhaps a mundane everyday ‘project’ like going to the shops.
      2. If I was coaching someone face to face I would normally schedule a 2-hour slot (not for planning to go to the shops!). How long it actually takes would depend on the complexity of the required outcome and the necessary steps to achieve it. With an individual, with guidance, it usually takes between one and four hours.

      Please let me know how it goes. Thank you… Richard


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