The Curious Coach Podcast

Episode 074:
Mini: Autonomy

This week’s reflective episode draws upon Autonomy – one of the five domains from David Rock’s SCARF model.

Listen below or search for The Curious Coach Podcast on Apple podcasts, spotify or wherever else you normally listen to podcasts!

Audio Version


Hello and welcome to this weekly mini-episode of The Curious Coach Podcast.  For this week’s reflective episode I want to draw upon the SCARF model that was created by David Rock.  David Rock is the co-founder and CEO of the Neuroleadership Institute as well as a best-selling author and thought leader in the world of human-performance coaching. His SCARF model features five domains of human social experience that either activate our brain’s primary reward or primary threat circuits.  These domains make up the acronym SCARF, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.

When you look at the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, a number of the SCARF domains seems very appropriate.  However, the one I’d like to reflect on today is autonomy.

So what is autonomy? In the most simplest sense, it’s about how much control we feel we have over events.  On one hand, you might feel you’ve no control over all events that are currently happening to you.  You might have been told to work from home, or to self-isolate, or be in a city which is locked down.  Perhaps you no longer have a job because your employer has temporarily closed down, or no work as you’re self-employed and your client base has dried up.

These are really challenging times.  Understandable, there’s a lot of stress, worry and anxiety going around.  And not just worry about ourselves, but also for older family members or friends who may be more at risk of serious illness or worse. There are indeed a lot of events happening that are outside of our control.

At the same time, my challenge for you this week is to reflect on what autonomy you still have.  What is still within your control?

You can choose to keep physical distance from others, and practice good hygiene to limit the spread of this virus or not. You can choose whether you’re going to stay in bed all day or get up.  If you’re working from home, you can choose where in the house you’re going work, when you’re going to login or logout.  You can choose how you respond to those around you, how you react to your kids when they complain about being bored or fed up because they’re now starting to miss school and seeing their friends.  You can choose whether you’ll try and get exercise or not, what you’re going to eat and so on… reflect and become aware of all the things that are still within your control.  Become conscious about the choices you still have and take back some of the autonomy you might have unconsciously lost.

So that’s my challenge for you this week.  Find those areas each day, no matter how small, where you still have autonomy.  Reflect on the control you do have and choose how you want to respond to the challenge that we’re facing.  Hopefully you’ll find that you have more autonomy that you might have otherwise thought.

As always, if you’d like to get in touch and share what you noticed, please don’t hesitate to send me an email to [email protected] and that’s stephen with a p.h.  Full details of this and all the other episodes can be found on my website at

Thanks for listening and until next time, don’t forget – stay curious!