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The 5P’s Personal Development Model

Written by: Gilles Varette, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Gilles Varette

Given the right conditions, anything can happen, even a plant growing in the middle of a desert, the same applies to personal development. With a background in project development support and risk management, I have always favored working with clear frameworks and models, therefore I have a natural inclination towards structured approaches. However, when my instinct tells me to go “off script” I trust it. As an enthusiastic believer in Carol Dweck’s concept of Growth Mindset, coming up with the 5P model was a natural first step in my burgeoning career as a coach.

While there are already so many wonderful and powerful models, I wanted to encompass my learnings into a simple framework: with just the need to include the right model for the right situation in each step of the journey. Of course, my ego also played a part, who does not want to create a model that could be a reference in our industry? But the essential point was to support fellow coaches in accompanying their clients’ journey in the most comfortable way possible for both, a bit like choosing the best vessel for a journey.

The 5P’s Personal Development Model

"The future, you don't have to foresee it, but to allow it" Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

1. Projection

This first step is about setting the tone, whether or not our clients have a clear goal. There are several useful tools at our disposal, for example in “The Inner Game of Tennis” (Gallwey, 1974), we learn about the effectiveness of visualization in sports which is applicable as we know in many other situations. Where no clear goal is apparent, mindfulness can contribute by bringing our clients to a place of success in their past and can help them recall the feelings, emotions, and strengths they experienced at that time.

This may overlap with Perspective whereby our clients visualize themselves at a time of success and recognize strengths they may have forgotten. While models are important tools for any coach, allowing our clients to tell their own stories can be one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. By exploring the story behind the story through active listening, we can learn so much more from our clients: in particular by paying attention to how our clients are expressing themselves through their body language, tone, and expressions.

2. Perspective

As I learned in my Coaching studies, research indicates one will get further ahead faster by learning to maximize strengths rather than simply trying to shore up weaknesses. The VIA Character Strengths Survey developed by Martin Seligman a pioneer of Positive Psychology is a great support for giving our clients a different perspective on their perceived strengths. This iteration of the model is also an excellent opportunity to touch base with emotions, and how they can influence our actions and any biases we may have, or others may have about us. Susan David (2016) reminds us that our emotions contain important but raw data that can help us make value-based decisions, we have emotions: anger, disappointment, concern, sadness. And we have stories such as “I would do this if only the circumstances were right.” When those emotions and stories own us, they call the shots, rather than what is truly of value to us.

3. Plan

Planning does not need to be a complex long-term exercise, but at a minimum, it is important for our clients to be clear about Who the Stakeholders are, among their families, friends, work colleagues, and maybe more. What it is the client wants to achieve, What role the stakeholders will have in their journey, and most importantly, How our clients are going to achieve their plan: the small steps they need to take along the way, small or micro habits they will create. Knowing how it will evolve in time: it is important to apply an agile strategy. Like any plan, risk management plays an essential role: I find the CIA model (Control-Influence-Accept but manage) a perfect traveling tool to integrate into that part of the journey. One could arguably incorporate the CIA model at any of the steps, but I feel it is essential, a “must-have” in the planning phase.

4. Practice

“Do more than believe, practice” (William Arthur Ward), this is when our clients must walk the walk. This is probably the most stressful part of the Journey for our clients, so support and encouragement are essential. I would not hesitate to have regular check-ins outside of the scheduled sessions, especially in the early days of the journey. While Emotional Intelligence played a role in the previous steps, now is the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of Emotional Agility developed by Susan David (2016), reminding our clients that “discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life”.

Irrespective of the goals, journaling and mindfulness are two habits I would “strongly” encourage my clients to practice. Journaling helps to keep thoughts organized and makes them apprehensible and de facto will facilitate the next step. Mindfulness practice helps relax the body and mind along with reducing stress levels. This step is the ideal place to introduce Kelly Mac Gonigal’s concept that stress is helpful and should be accepted, utilized, and embraced. I read “The Upside of Stress” (2015) at a darker time in my life, this book combined with the CIA model, it contributed greatly to my fight against burnout and potential depression, introducing me to new habits that contributed to my well-being, freeing me from unconscious bias that had been holding me back for so long.

5. Progress

The last step in the model, yet the journey is only just beginning. Measuring progress allows our clients to take a step back and potentially develop new perspectives, adjust the plan, and practice the current or new small habits, in what I would call an agile way, small iterations at a time. By this stage, our clients will have encountered five factors determining how we react to situations or events: Environments, Thoughts, Moods, Behaviours, and Physical reactions. This is a fantastic opportunity to introduce the ACE first model for Positive Change to help our clients evaluate their journey and progress, leading to potentially new perspectives and more discoveries, how exciting… At this stage it is also key for our clients to start labelling their emotions while not letting them take over, “I felt disappointed” is a much better narrative than “I was disappointed”: emotions are raw data to process, not directives to follow.

I feel strongly about this quote from Epictetus “It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”. In her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” (2016) Angela Duckworth, having studied Westpoint Academy cadets, explains and demonstrates why naturally talented people frequently fail to reach their potential while other far less gifted individuals go on to achieve amazing things. For her the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a passionate persistence, and I do agree as I witnessed the same phenomenon in my days serving as a paratrooper. Developing our clients’ resilience is essential for personal development. Resilience is one, if not the essential element of the formula for growth. The 5Ps model invites our clients to question, challenge, and hopefully develop their PhysicalSocial, Emotional, and Cerebral facets, laying their path to the top of Maslow’s pyramid: its peak, the self-actualization calls for exploring the paradigm of Spiritual Intelligence, defined as the ability to access higher meanings, values, abiding purposes, and unconscious aspects of the self and to embed them in living richer and more creative lives (Danah Zohar, 2012).

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Gilles Varette Brainz Magazine

Gilles Varette, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

30 years’ experience in Leadership; NCO in a paratrooper regiment in his native France, leading a global virtual team for a Nasdaq-listed company, Board stewardship, Coaching, and Mentoring. Gilles, an EMCC-accredited coach holds a Master’s in Business Practice and diplomas in Personal Development and Executive Coaching as well as Mental Health and Well-being. He strongly believes that cultivating a Growth Mindset is the key to Personal Development and a natural safeguard against the expertise trap. He lives by this quote from Epictetus: “It is not what happens to you that matters, but how you react, when something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it”.





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