Sir John Whitmore in action

GROW into a better way of driving

Sir John Whitmore was a champion British racing driver in the 1960s. In his first year competing in the British Saloon Car Championship (1961), he won. In 1965, he went on to win the European Touring Car Championship in a Lotus Cortina. In 1959 – his first year of competition at Le Mans – Sir John finished second in class along with his teammate Jim Clark. Make no mistake – Sir John was an impressive wheelman.

Sir John Whitmore
1937 to 2017

A champion in the world of motor racing, Sir John was also a pioneer in the coaching world. In the first edition of his book Coaching for Performance, he popularised the GROW methodology. If one of your goals right now is to become a better and safer driver, the GROW model provides a helpful roadmap for boosting your performance behind the wheel. If you’re a driving trainer, the method provides a proven way to collaborate with your clients’ in helping them to unlock their potential for becoming better drivers.

GROW’s four sequential stages are:

1.  Goal
2.  Reality
3.  Options
4.  Will.

Let’s apply the method as if we are frequently being distracted whilst driving.

First, we need to be clear about what we want – we need to be clear on what we’re aspiring to be. Well formed goals set a direction and thus aid navigation. We might begin with “I don’t want to be distracted so much.” However, perhaps it would be more inspiring to focus on what we want rather what we don’t want. For example, “Beginning today, I want to become a better driver by remaining focused on the driving environment whenever I get behind the wheel.”

The second step is to be real in appraising the current reality. What internal and external obstacles exist that could cause us to veer off track and get lost? Having our mobile phone switched on, in view and within easy reach might be too tempting to resist. An external obstacle could take the form of a chatty relative, friend or colleague that doesn’t yet appreciate how distracting they can be when we’re driving.

When we know where we are (stage 2 above), we can consider our options for change. What could we do to progress towards achieving our goal? At this stage, we’re exploring possibilities and identifying resources. We could enable ‘Do Not Disturb Whilst Driving’ on our iPhone and plan to stop at intervals during long journeys to check for urgent messages and voicemails. Additionally, we could begin the next journey with our chatty colleague by sharing on occasion when we got distracted whilst driving and got flashed by a roadside camera or nearly crashed, and go on to apologise in advance for not engaging in chat whilst we’re driving.

Finally, we must decide what we will do to progress towards our goal. What actions will we take and when? Who will we share our goal with to be held accountable for its achievement? On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed to this are we really? If not 10, why not?

Perhaps Sir John was such a successful racing driver because he applied the power of GROW to his own driving.

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