[Republished] GROW and brain hacking

Editors note: Please note this article was published last week but due to a formatting error I have republished it here today. Thanks. 

The GROW Model is a powerful tool that Radical Psychologists can use to help people change their behaviour in a constructive way – you can literally hack your brain and change your life.

Developed by Sir John Whitmore this model is used extensively in the Leadership field to help businesses improve staff outcomes.

But let’s break it down.

The GROW model allows you to help others set realistic goals based on their current situation and develop aspirations and goals for the future. This type of coaching will also give individuals the confidence and drive to improve their competence and success both in their professional and personal lives. Finally GROW gives people the will power to see their goals to fruition under the measured guidance of their colleagues.

GROW encourages you – the coach –  to stay flexible and respond actively to the coachee, rather than following a strict delineated system. You are also encouraged to listen, actively, to what is being said and not said. Finally GROW encourages you to explore, in a place of safety, a person’s goals, dreams, wishes and desires and to elicit from them a true representation of what they want, not just what they think they should say or want.

Ultimately GROW is about connecting with an individual on a deep level, and helping them achieve the things they want.

Let’s look at the constituent parts.

Radical Psychologists know that people behave irrationally. We act on a world going on inside our head, not on a world that exists out there. More often than not we are held back not by the objective circumstances of our life, but by the narrative we tell ourselves.


The first component of GROW – Goals – is all about helping people restructure that internal narrative from the ground up. We start by asking people to write down their goals. More often than not people don’t know what they want. They go through life thinking they know what they want when, actually, they can barely articulate why they do what they do. This is perfectly normal and makes sense in an evolutionary framework since constantly remaining conscious of our reasons for acting would require huge amounts of energy better spent on survival and resource gathering.

By clarifying the reasons why we act we can become aware, and take control, of the things that drive us forward. So the first aspect of GROW is all about helping people clear up this area.

For example we can get people to get a piece of paper and start asking them what they want to be doing in 5 years, in 10 years, in 30 years. We can ask what they want to be doing in 6 months, next week, or tomorrow.

This can be a difficult emotional struggle for some people who might need to reconcile their ultimate goals with their current behaviours. This is cognitive dissonance and is incredibly important. Cognitive dissonance occurs when what we believe and what we do is not in sync. The way we reconcile this is more often than not to change our thinking not our behaviour, since thinking is almost always easier to change than real world behaviour (since it might involve changing jobs, leaving a spouse etc…). What this aspect of GROW encourages people to do is to stop taking the easy way out, to confront that central raison d’etre and clarify it. Bring it into the light. Analyse it. Deconstruct it.

It’s hard. It’s embarrassing. It’s painful. Yet once clarity is achieved the next steps can be taken up.


Reality is a shifty thing. It’s important to remember here that objective reality is quite probably real, yet it has no bearing on our behaviour in any meaningful way (beyond basic observance of the laws of physics). What we are encouraging here is a close look at our subjective reality. What skills do we have. What do we do now. Where are we in the world. In our business. In our lives.

Again this is a painful, gut-wrenching process that can be highly unsettling to some people. We have to look at where we are now. Radical Psychologists know that our judgements are often clouded by emotions. We often don’t pay close attention to our real reality since we are so obsessed with our make believe reality (again a highly adaptable evolutionary trait).

So how do we clarify our reality? We start by writing it down. Make lists. Analyse. Dissect. You might be sensing a pattern here. We are not equipped, biologically and psychologically, to internally analyse these things actively. We have to externalise them (by writing them down) and then we look at it in the cold light of day.

Once we’ve clarified the reality of our situation we can compare it to our ultimate goals. We can see that we need to upskill in X area. Or take up a class in X discipline. By orienting ourselves in this way Radical Psychologists can put themselves above and beyond the average person by achieving a level of clarity most never achieve.

But that’s only half the job.


We have our goals. We have a good, hard delineation of our reality. As hard as it might be to achieve this it is so very important to our improvement.

We now move on to options. This is where we look outward to the world and say “what could we do?”, can we take a class? Develop a new skill? Move to a new town? Country? Can we find a business mentor? Read a book? Talk to a person about an issue?

These are the questions we need to ask. In a sense this is the easiest and most important aspect of this process. We need to identify what we need to move forward. This task is only possible if we have clearly and properly identified our goals and our reality.

Once we know what we want, where we are, and how we are going to achieve it, we then need to sort out what we will do.


The will section of this model is perhaps the most nuanced.

We need to understand that Will is as much about what we are going to do as why we are going to do it.

So let’s start with the what. This is about planning. Write a step-by-step guide to moving forward. This can include a timeline, for example, “Next week I will apply for this degree”, or “Tomorrow I will phone X and discuss this with them”. Let the timeline stretch into the future as far as you want but make sure you are taking a molecular approach, focus on the specifics.

Once you’ve done that we focus on the most ephemeral but also important aspect of Will. Motivation. Drive. Willpower.

Motivation is inherently difficult to increase and we will discuss this later in more detail in the blog. It is, however, so incredibly important to this process. It’s no good if you know what you want and how to achieve it if you aren’t interested in pursuing it.


This is a long blog post but I hope its given you some clarity on this powerful model. If people are interested in hearing more feel free to tell me so in the comments but remember a Radical Psychologist is a person who understands their true nature and works to utilise it. The GROW model serves as an incredibly powerful tool that can help you rise above other people by giving you clarity, purpose, and drive to achieve the things you want to achieve whilst working in the confines of human psychology.


Good luck.  


Words and Non-Conscious Behaviour

A Radical Psychologist understands that words are more than mere symbols to communicate concepts. That is the old view of reality. The 2D view of a world inhabited by rational-linear beings computing and outputting on simple A-B scale.

A 3D, view of the world sees words as behaviours. Stimuli that act on the world and alter the environment of those around the speaker and beyond. A word can arouse passion, anger, love, understanding. Words can also change our behaviours in a very real way.

We are not linear A-B beings. We think in three dimensions and our thoughts are driven by more than the words we ascribe to them. A Radical Psychologist understands and uses this knowledge to affect change on the world around them.

Consider; I tell you that I am extremely busy, that I am snowed under, that not the hounds of Hades himself could drag me from my work, but for you I will do as you ask and do you a favour.

How does this make you feel? What if I am sat watching tv, munching on chocolate, exuding boredom and inactivity, when you ask me to help I sigh, “I suppose”, I mumble, “I have nothing better to do”.

How does this make you feel? The outcome – the manifestation of my response – that I ultimately help you is the same. Yet the first example makes you feel in my debt, as though I am doing you a great favour and it is exacting a huge price on me, the second that I am merely doing it for he same of having something to do.

Here is a truth; both examples lead to the same outcome. I help you. To the 2D thinker they are the same thing merely different on a purely aesthetic spectrum. To the Radical Psychologist – the 3D thinker – there is all the difference in the world.

Consider another example; lets go back thirty years. We work together in a busy office environment that only has one photocopier. As per usual there is a queue for the photocopier. Harried officer-workers line up to get their photocopies done but your boss has just demanded some photocopies for an important meeting – and he wants them now.

You rush to the photocopier, blindly you push to the front of the queue muttering apologies, people moan and grumble, you get evil looks from others. You slink away, your social position damaged, you feel guilty, but hey ho. At least you got the photocopies. You sit back next to me and shrug, “he wanted them now” you offer, by way of explanation.

“Let me show you something” I say, smiling. I get up, grab something to photocopy. I stand at the back of the queue and say, quietly, “Excuse me, I really need the photocopier now because I need to make some photocopies”. You laugh at the insanity of it but the laugh dies on your tongue because like magic people let me pass, I get the copies and people smile, glad to have helped me out. I return to my desk grinning. You just stare, flabbergasted.

At least, you would do if you were a 2D thinker.

A Radical Psychologist however would not be surprised. This study demonstrates exactly what I described above.

We think our actions are conscious and wilful. Actually we behave largely non-consciously. Simply responding to stimuli that present themselves to us. Robert Cialdini, in his book “Influence” (which every Radical Psychologist needs to read), calls this the click, whirr response.

Remember it. Use it. Radical Psychologists harness this automaticity to great affect.