A Research Paper By Winston McGill, Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES
How Coaching Can Facilitate Personal Enlightenment Using The R.U.A.O.K. (Recognition, Understanding, Action, Outcome, Knowledge) Model Approach
Enlightenment: Knowledge about and understanding of something; the process of understanding something or making someone understand it. Oxford Learners dictionary online
Prior to being coached my feelings were, I imagine, like most people. I can figure things out myself, I’ve got it handled, I really do not need coaching. I was mistaken.
After being coached and in turn coaching, I realized that coaching is in fact a very effective way to gain clarity, perspective, and tools needed to find solutions to whatever challenges life presents.
In the book, “Co-Active Coaching” by Laura Whitworth, Henry Kinsey-House, and Phil Sandahl there is a short but succinct sentence
Coaching is a powerful relationship for people making important changes in their lives.
I will use this paper and my model to discuss and explore the transformative journey coaching help clients traverse.
According to ICA study material
coaching does not rely on past issues for achieving growth but rather focuses on goals towards the future. Coaching is action-orientated. The focus is on where the client is right now, where they want to be next, and how to get them there.
We all have faced circumstances of adversity in the past that created trauma or negative emotions. Dealing with past issues may involve counseling to assist the client in moving forward. As a coach it’s important to be forward-focused, partnering with our clients to eliminate or diminish limiting beliefs or behavior that prevent achieving the desired outcome.
Going backward to revisit negativity and disappointments from the past serves no purpose in propelling clients to the next level.
Personal Coaching Approach
Using the acronym from my coaching model, R-U-A-OK (Recognize, Understanding, Action, Outcome, Knowledge)let’s examine the coaching process.
R-Recognizing that there is imbalance or blocks to achieving a particular outcome. Clients seek help from a coach to assist them through whatever it is that is holding them back from the desired outcome. The client may have tried goal setting, counseling, various self-help books but nothing is really working, they just can’t seem to break through the barriers. They conclude that perhaps a coach needed, “what the heck do I have to lose? I’ve tried everything else.”
Recognition is the first step on the path to personal enlightenment. The first step is always the hardest. Unfortunately, many people don’t progress because they are afraid of taking that first step. Whether it’s a fear of failure, fear of success, a fear of the unknown, they are gripped by this emotion and a pervasive voice that so many are willing to listen to. A false expectation appearing real, the voice has no power on its own but is given a great deal of deference by those of us not willing to confront it.
U-Understanding what has been holding you back. The ICA-trained coach has a core belief that the clients being coached have the answers, it’s there, it just needs to be coaxed out in a safe nurturing environment that’s hosted by the coach.
A skillful coach asking open-ended, primarily “what” questions will allow the client to begin to think more deeply on those thoughts or beliefs that may be preventing them from achieving their desired goals. The coach has to be mindful not to offer a solution or an opinion on how they would handle challenges. Instead, coaches have to approach those challenges with curiosity, empathy, and respect. Asking questions and trying to understand the issue the client is trying to resolve. This in turn is provoking and encouraging the client to think, to consider thoughts and possible solutions that they’ve had all along. The questions should be opening the door to understanding what was previously muddled and confusing.
Remember the client has the answers. The client is asked, what do they wish to achieve in the coaching session? This question offers further clarity for the client. A poignant example of how powerful understanding is can be found in the book, The Art of Possibility, by Rosemund and Benjamin Zander
How often do we stand convinced of the truth of our early memories, forgetting that they are but assessments made by a child? We can replace the narratives that hold us back by inventing wiser stories, free from childish fears and in doing so, dispense long-held psychological stumbling blocks.
The coach at this point in the understanding phase can use the following “Common Themes in Coaching” as presented in the book The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching by Marion Franklin
Valuable Insights: Ambivalence, attached to the outcome, carrying old messages, Either/or Expectations, wherever you go, there you are.
Personal Empowerment: Authenticity, Hardware store for milk, Permission, taking it personally, Unmet needs, wanting things to be different than what it is.
Creating Connections: Abandonment, Alienation, Authority/Victim, Boundaries, Caretaking/people-pleasing, Lone wolf.
Eliminating Obstacles: Ignoring intuition, not in the present, Perfection and Control, stuck in a strategy, Tunnel vision.
These phases can give the coach some tools to facilitate more insight on what questions to ask the client. The ability to use these tools illicit introspective answers from the client.
A-Action is the step that further propels the client on the journey to ultimate enlightenment. What are the action steps needed for the client to move forward? This is not for the coach to put in place. The coach will ask the question and the client will answer. I will reiterate the coach is approaching this from a position of curiosity. When the client begins to understand, this often will evoke a discernable change in demeanor that the coach should recognize as an “aha” moment by the client. When the client comes to this point of understanding the coach will ask, what are you going to do to move forward? The client in turn should be offering a set of actions he or she needs to implement. The coach can assist with accountability if desired by the client.
If the client is willing to express what actions he or she needs to take and list the steps that they wish to take, I believe the coach is in a position to assist with clarification by, asking questions and then offering support by the way of holding the client accountable to be measured in future sessions. This is a powerful step in the process, setting the client up to achieve the ultimate goal of enlightenment. Action is a comprehensive and measurable indicator that will clarify, what up to this point has been thoughts and conversation.
O- Outcome is defined by taking into consideration the previous three steps then crafting a defined outcome or at the very least the desired outcome. Through the coach asking powerful questions, the client should become clearer on the desired outcome.
Going through the process from recognition, understanding, and action to outcome may encompass several sessions depending on the complexity of the subject. The client is on a journey of self-exploration, thinking deeply and introspectively on the conflict expressed. If the outcome is not clear at this time, then the coach should slow the process down and promote more in-depth exploration, and further defining the desired outcome.
K-Knowledge is the final step in the process using the RU-A-OK model. After progressing through the previous steps, the client comes to know what’s been missing from previous attempts to navigate through a particular issue. There will be a feeling of satisfaction, of enlightenment in understanding how the process has taken the client from a place of confusion and frustration to appreciating a process that works with the client clearly able to take clear and concise steps to solve the issue expressed in the coaching agreement.
Knowledge is permanent and the key component to the RU-A-OK model if a client is to make life-altering changes that can affect them in many positive ways and create a clear path to personal enlightenment.
Using the RU-A-OK model the coach has acted as an inquisitive partner exploring the parts of the story that the client originally conveyed but may actually have hidden meaning based on a lack of understanding or insight on the client’s part. The coach through effective questioning has not sought to guide the client but instead open the portals of self-reflection and self-examination to an ultimate conclusion.
Depending on the complexity of the issue or issues being examined the client and coach may embark on a journey that may be short or lengthy in duration.
The client/coaching journey is not linear and takes courage on the client’s part to deeply explore subject matter that one may find uncomfortable. There may be stops, starts, twists, and turns as the client delves deeply into issues. The coach in turn must be disciplined and present enough to give the client the space to think about circumstances or issues that are causing them to be stagnant. The coach to create a space built on a foundation of trust so the client is comfortable with sharing. Without trust, the client/coach relationship is doomed.
If the coach simply stays mindful of the principles laid out in the model RU-A-OK along with following the listed ICF Core Competencies the coach will be on the right track to a successful coaching outcome. The RU-A-OK model is in step with the ICF coaching standards.
1. Demonstrates Ethical Practice:
Understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards of coaching.
2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset:
Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible, and client-centered.
3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements:
Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans, and goals. Establishes agreements for the overall coaching engagement as well as those for each coaching session.
4. Cultivates Trust and Safety:
Partners with the client to create a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. Maintains a relationship of mutual respect and trust.
5. Maintains Presence:
Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded, and confident.
6. Listens Actively:
Focuses on what the client is and is not saying to fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client systems and to support client self-expression.
7. Evokes Awareness:
Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor, or analogy.
8. Facilitates Client Growth:
Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.
Coaching is a gratifying profession that when utilized properly, using the standards outlined in this paper is an effective and ethical tool for the client to self-guide themselves to self-enlightenment with the coach as a partner and facilitator.
Co-Active Coaching Laura Wentworth, Henry Kinsey-House, Karen Kinsey-House, Phil Sandahl
The Art of Possibility
Rosemund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander