A Coaching Model Created by Monica Kremer
(Transformational Coach, SWITZERLAND)
Leading your life to new heights
The heart of man is very much like the sea, It has its storms, its tides and its depths; It has its pearls, too. Vincent Van Gogh
- verb: to become or make greater, to expand gradually beyond the original limit
- noun: long, often massive and crestless wave or succession of waves often continuing beyond or after its cause
- adj.: synonym of “excellent”, used as a generalized term of enthusiasm
SWELL – Leading your life to new heights
As a coach and human being, I strongly believe that every person is full of resources and capable of elevating himself beyond imagination to design the life they deserve, aligned with their values. Our life and work experiences, no matter how big or small they are, have always a strong impact on our capacity to be more resilient, more flexible, and happier. They force us to transform, to find a purpose in life, and to develop so-called ground swelling strengths to have a more fulfilling and balanced life.
Grounding yourself is indeed essential if you wish to live a fulfilling life and ultimately inspire others to be better. Being grounded is a state of understanding more about you, what matters most to you, and how finding your optimal state. It’s about building a strong foundation that will guide you regardless of your age and life experience.
My coaching model SWELL is a reflection of my thoughts around what I have identified as effective frameworks and processes throughout my experiences as a coach. Inspired by the ocean’s swell, this model is a symbol of regular, powerful, and organic growth and elevation. It is also the power of the ripple effect, of progress, of waiting for the right wave to come and push you further and higher, to new horizons, to new heights. The swell’s fluidity is also a symbol of the mind’s exceptional plasticity and capacity of constant regeneration. Water is an essential element of our body and our lives. It hydrates, nourishes, cleans, purifies, transforms, and energizes. The water is animated by the vibration created by the wave, similar to how the mind and body are animated by the pulsation of our life purpose and actions.
By using this metaphor in coaching, I simply mean that the client develops his own steady, powerful, and energizing swell to success, enabling him to expand his horizon and get his life to new heights. In other words, moving from good to great.
The SWELL model is an invitation to clear your mind, gain new perspectives, regulate your compass, set your targets with confidence, and trust your strengths to navigate seamlessly on smaller and bigger waves. It’s a simple and universal model that could be used for all kinds of clients and topics.
The aim is to support the client through five different development phases, to empower him to shift his current paradigm to make way for what is desired, and lead him to become a strong, grounded and independent actor of his new life:
S = SET THE FOUNDATION: visualization and orientation, have a clear and inspiring vision of what you want to achieve and be clear about your core values, beliefs, and purpose
W = WORRIES/WARP: identify mental twists, biased or twisted attitudes and judgments
E = EXPLORE your strengths and talents
L = LEARN new alternatives and strategies to grow, define actions, and experiment them
L = LEAD YOUR LIFE TO NEW HEIGHTS, in confidence and trust
By following the five steps of this coaching model, the client goes through a process of empowering transformation.
Set the Foundation
The first step is to set the foundation and clarify the issue the client would like to focus on and getting the coaching agreement in place, which will determine:
- the topic: what is the focus of the session?
- the outcome: what does the client want to accomplish by the end of the session?
- the measure of success: how will the client know that this session was successful?
- motivation: what about the outcome is meaningful for the client?
During this phase, it’s important to create a space of trust for my client as we both enter the coaching relationship.
The client must have a clear understanding of what he wants to achieve in the session and how he will know that the desired outcome is satisfactory. It’s a crucial step as the client begins to understand what he truly wants to achieve and to understand all the aspects of the chosen topic. I am with the client exploring what is and what can be in the future.
The coach also needs to explore with his client why this goal is so important for him. The coach must also explore if any underlying beliefs might hinder the process, already in the same session.
To further support determining the overarching goal (for all the coaching process), I use the Wheel of Life, Vision Board (if resonates with the client), and the visualization exercise at the beginning of the coaching process. If necessary, for further clarification, I would also use the helicopter view.
Examples of questions:
(at each session)
Know what the client wants, identify the goals:
- What would you like to focus on in our session today?
- How would you know that you achieved what you wanted to accomplish at the end of this session? What would that look like or feel like? What would be a valuable outcome/goal for you at the end of this session? An action plan f.i.?
- How would you know if the change has occurred?
- If we use a scale from 1 to 10, where are you now? Where do you want to be?
Explore the goal, understand the meaning of it:
- Can you tell me a little bit about that, so I can get some background?
- How important is this to you?
- What's the most troubling aspect of this situation?
- What will be different about your life when you'll have accomplished this? How would your life change?
- Is anybody else involved?
Where is the client going:
- What would it be if you changed…? What would a new X look like? What would it have that you don't have now?
What is the reward, why is the client so excited about it?
- What do you hope to achieve in our time together?
- What would you have at the end of this session that you don't have now?
What is it going to take to reach the goal?
- Where are you now? Where do you want to be and by when?
Explore the client’s belief system, the perspectives, the assumptions:
- If you feel some underlying belief, first summarized what you heard, then:) What have you feeling so overwhelmed? What happens to you when you lose control? What is of concern to you when you feel out of control?
- What has worked? What hasn't worked? (focus on energy and creativity)
Check-in if the goal is still the same:
- When we started the session, we agreed to focus on it. Are we still there? So I'm hearing that we want to look at (other focus, f.i. UB) in this session. Is that correct?
- Do you see your new focus related to your initial focus?
Make the client accountable (review obstacles):
- How can you support this change? What needs to happen? What next steps would you like to take'
- ( (if the client doesn't come up with any action, or could do more): What if, as an additional option, you could…
- Any obstacles that might get in the way of this? How can we ensure that this doesn't happen?
Close the session:
- Is there anything else you want to discuss today?
- May I ask for your permission to then close this session?
(addition questions for the first session)
- How satisfied are you in each category? (Wheel of Life)
- What comes up for you around the importance of…?
- What makes you feel energized?
- What qualities do you most admire in other people?
- What can you contribute to that other people need you?
- What does it say about you?
- Where do you feel something needs to change, to make your life happier?
- What is working? What is not working?
- What is the optimal solution for you in this situation?
- How would you know that you achieved your goal?
- If there were no constraints, how would your ideal life/situation/environment look like?
- Visualization: Imagining your elderly self looking back on your life/situation. What advice would you give yourself? What would your elderly self say about the importance of this?
- Where do you see options for change?
- What are your thoughts and feelings about this change?
- How is it going to improve your life? What would be the benefits of change?
- What makes it important?
- What options do you have in front of you to make that change happen?
- (How do you feel about creating a Vision Board about that life, that new you?)
W = Worries/Warp
The second step is to cultivate awareness and gain perspective, by assisting the client in revealing the very core interpretations, disempowering beliefs, resistances, as well as limiting thought patterns, behaviors, emotions and any other blind spots that might be keeping the client from reaching his goal and living his purpose. Tools such as the Negative vs Positive perception, the Awareness building exercise, and the CBT distortions can be used here.
Examples of questions:
- What makes me resist make this important change?
- Are there any fears about making this change?
- Am I afraid of change?
- What has been preventing me so far?
- Would you agree to ask your family, friends, colleagues for feedback about you? (Awareness building exercise, Insight Quiz)
At this stage, the rapport between the client and the coach is growing and the client is opening up as the coach is offering a safe space, listens carefully, shares observations, and asks powerful questions. In this exploration phase, the coach enables the client to find the gap between the current state and the desired outcome.
E = Explore your strengths and talents
The third step is crucial as it aims to build confidence and trust to empower the client to shift his limiting interpretations, by exploring his current reality, the thoughts and behaviors, gain new perspectives, and determine the strengths and talents associated to the client’s vision and values, that shall accompany him into his ideal future.
As the client has started to create awareness in the previous step, he now needs to connect with his strengths and values and permit himself to try something different, to get his life to the next level. This is the stage of the session when usually clients can have that AHA moment!
Tools such as Strength Finder, Empowering vs Disempowering and Responding vs Reacting tool can be used here, to enable the client to train to generate alternative thoughts or more adaptive behaviors is key here.
Examples of questions:
- What are your passions?
- What are your talents?
- What are your resources, your strengths?
- What and who inspires you?
- What motivates you? What gives you energy?
- Would you accept to use the Strenght Finder tool?
L = Learn
The fourth step is to practice new ways of being that align the client with his desires and determine the actions the client wants to achieve, the structure to support him and set up the key actions to give the client power to change, as well as build confidence and trust to reach his highest potential.
Here the coach supports the client to shift the perspectives he has identified in the previous step, thus bringing him creativity and supporting him to break free from old patterns and disempowering behaviors. It’s important to use this step as well to understand the potential barriers for change, constantly reevaluating the actions and structures in place. This is the moment where the client is taking ownership of his newly created ideas or beliefs, reinvented in the previous step.
To support him, the coach can use the Commitment vs Trying tool and if relevant, supporting the client in “growing his voice” by giving him public speaking training (start with CBT approach – see David Burns, Feeling Good Handbook)
The coach also supports the client to decide how he wants to measure his progress, by gathering relevant data (f.i. monitoring thoughts and behaviors).
Examples of questions:
- What would be the action steps you could take to achieve your goal?
- What personal resistance do you have (if any) to take these action steps?
- What is the structure you can put into place?
- Who can support you? (Accountable buddy)
- How will you celebrate your success?
- What are your accomplishments/successes?
- How do you feel about your success?
- What has been blocking you?
- What will you continue?
- What will you change?
L = Lead your life to new heights
The fifth and last step is when the client achieves transformation by moving towards independence. In this last stage, the client feels energized and inspired and learns to celebrate his new life.
The coach supports the client to analyze and acknowledge the change (through scale measurement f.i.), reconfirm that the desired outcome is achieved and that the client feels committed to acting upon it (self-check process). The coach usually also recommends a follow-up assessment after 3 months.
A powerful question to end a session with could be: “What has been your learning and take away?”
Throughout all sessions, it is essential to keep the client on track of what he wants to achieve. He needs to be clear about the process, the progress, and the transformation that is happening. The coach should thus check-in periodically during the sessions if everything is clear for the client.
You can’t stop the waves, But you can learn how to surf. Jon Kabat-Zinn