Feeling Stuck? Unlock Transformation with 5 Questions

Add this cleverly designed series of coaching questions to your problem-solving repertoire.

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Have you ever been stuck in a career rut? Maybe the money is above-par, yet you are succumbing to boredom? Or your team are familiar, and everything is just comfortable, yet at the same time, you might have a feeling of unease? It’s hard to put your finger on why — but this feeling is still there.

It’s easy to get stuck in familiar ways of doing things. Sometimes a chat with a friend about your predicament leaves you feeling validated. Yet you may have the nagging feeling that they are confirming what they think you want to hear.

In this case, you might need a coach to serve as an impartial ear and sounding board. There are many different coaches available, and they may specialise in different areas. Executive coaches might help you with your career problem. Coaches serve as guides to help us navigate through our inner world. They help us notice patterns in our thoughts and actions and give us tools to change for the better.

But before being in touch with a coach, could you be your own coach? Self-coaching is a process of self-development. This process begins with assessing your motivation and setting your goals. You move towards your goal with personal reflection and (above all) accountability.

Enter coaching models: Your problem-solving ally

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Many coaching models are easy to remember and apply. The GROW coaching model is well-known and frequently used 1,2. This article explores another coaching model — the 2EASY model, and five questions from this model to guide your thinking. The answers may help you become “unstuck”, either for career predicaments or leading change.

What is 2EASY?

I learned about the 2EASY model from Nickolas Yu, an Australian executive coach, many years ago 3. Nickolas trained a small group of managers (including me) at an off-site “coaching for managers” training course. Over a three-day course, my skills and worldview expanded. Welcome to the realm of coaching psychology. Our small group explored our nascent skills in empathic listening and coaching conversations. We also applied GROW and other coaching models to employee scenarios.

The 2EASY model is a composite of End state first, Exceptions, Available resources, Scaling and Your actions:

End state first: What does success (your end-state) look like to you? Describe the future you would like to see.

Exceptions: What is already working to help you achieve this success?

Available resources: What resources are at your disposal? A focus on exceptions and resources shift your thinking away from the problem to considering potential.

Scaling: Where are you now in creating the future you want to see (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a perfect accomplishment of this future)? What would you like to see to raise your score by one point? The answer may lead you to think through available resources again or sharpen your picture of the future to discern how you would lift this score.

Your actions: How can we take what we’ve learned? What can we do now to move the dial up just one point?

Why would this coaching model work for you?

Coaching models may sound a little too cheery in the face of life’s problems. Maybe your (business-related) problem is too serious to place within a coaching model. Yet these coaching models fuse techniques successfully used in two high-performance arenas.

These models meld sport psychology techniques with C-suite executive coaching. Leading athletes and CEOs expect results from investing in ways to deliver a step-change in performance. So what might be the active ingredient within coaching models like this?

According to Carol Dweck, people have two mindsets: fixed and growth 4. People with fixed mindsets believe that things should be done in a certain way. Why? Because it is the way it has always been done. People with fixed mindsets are often sensitive to criticism. Shrinking from criticism and challenge might lead to a long-term outcome: low self-confidence and low self-esteem.

In contrast, curiosity and “can-do” attitudes are the hallmarks of a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset believe that things could be done better. They strive to improve themselves by taking on challenging tasks and experimenting with new techniques. Learning from their mistakes is another hallmark of a growth mindset. Through the growth mindset lens, criticism is an opportunity for improvement instead of a trigger for quitting, faulty thinking or being afraid to try again.

Coaching models like 2EASY shift one’s focus. Focus shifts from a fixation on the problem (and deficit) to possibility (and resources) — or from fixed to a growth mindset. What we focus our attention on tends to grow. This shift serves as the “active ingredient” in the 2EASY coaching model.

Applying 2EASY to leading change

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We could ask ourselves the questions from the 2EASY model if we are leading change for an organisation. We could also use this model to coach operational leaders and sponsors. This model is a handy way of moving leaders and sponsors away from problems and obstacles to two possibilities and resources.

Why is this change in thinking important? We want to shift thinking and attention away from fixed to growth mindsets. A growth mindset is far more likely to be creative and open, with solutions to problems more readily available.

End state first: What does success look like for this change? How would the organisation as a whole describe a smoothly implemented change shortly after go-live?

Exceptions: What is already working in business processes, people, and technology to help us achieve our future state? Can our change team somehow expand or amplify what is working? What resources on our project team are fundamental to our success?

Available resources: What other concurrent projects and closely aligned teams and initiatives could we leverage? Are there opportunities to cross-promote our change? What organisational resources are at our disposal?

Scaling: On a scale of 1 to 10 how do our project resources and change planning stack up against our vision of success for this project? What would you like to see to move the dial up one point?

Your actions: How can we take what we’ve learned about moving the dial up by one point and apply this to our change planning?

Resourceful, growth-oriented thinking

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The 2EASY model shows the power of five simple questions. These questions lead to a subtle shift in thinking. Operational leaders and sponsors reflect on possibilities. In this case, how we can improve our change planning and facilitation. In our targeted example, we use 2EASY questions to shift decision-maker attention from a fixed, problem-oriented mindset to a broader perspective, where attention is on possibilities. These possibilities include organisational resources and focus leader attention on what is currently working well. This same model is a helpful approach to coaching yourself, especially if you feel stuck with the creative challenge in your change efforts.

Change leaders need to think entrepreneurially. Coaching models like 2EASY and GROW help us get into a resourceful frame of mind. Focusing on what is already working serves as a positive foundation for thinking through clever resources to help achieve our vision for the future — a successful change.

Our book — The Change Manager’s Companion — is available now. You can also check out our online course on Change Management.

References

1. GROW Model Guide GROWing people, performance and purpose. www.performanceconsultants.com. Accessed August 21, 2021.

2. (1) The GROW Model for Coaching by Sir John Whitmore — YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK4_kAObZwQ. Accessed August 21, 2021.

3. Home | HumanKind Meditation — Free guided meditations. https://www.humankindmeditation.com/. Accessed August 21, 2021.

4. Dweck C. Mindset — Updated Edition: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfil Your Potential. 6th ed. DO NOT USE; 2017.

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Organisational change, behavioural design and coaching psychology insights — practical and research informed. Clever ways to put a dent in the world.

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Allan Owens

Senior organisational change manager. Provisional Psychologist. Author of The Change Manager’s Companion. www.humanfactorsadvisory.com.au