Memories of my School Days

In a couple weeks I am meeting up with some friends from school.

We try to meet up at least once a year. It’s wonderful to have that connection with the past, and also our or present and future.

We normally meet up in a pub in Chester, have a meal, then sit round getting drunk and generally have a fabulous time. The night always goes too quick and before we know it we are going out separate ways for another year.

This year we decided to do something different, something that lasted longer. So we are walking up Snowdon and spending the weekend in cottage.

I cannot wait, it will be great to see everyone and to have more time to catch up.

In my excitement I started thinking about our time in 6th Form 30 years ago. You know what I found it quite difficult to remember much. What I did remember was the music I was listening to, and that triggered memories of parties, gigs and nights out.

So being predictable and a lover I put together a playlist. It was great fun to put together. My initial playlist was 5 hours long though. I have managed to get it down to just over an hour and half.

It is a bit of a mix of rock, indie and pop, each song though triggered a memory and transported me back to the late 80s, happy times.

Give it a listen if you wish.

Memories of My School Days

Have a Hug on Me

Everybody needs a hug, some of us more often than others.

The restorative powers of a good heartfelt hug are amazing. If you are feeling out of sorts or mentally and physically drained, a proper hug will leave with a spring in your step and a song in your heart.

A hug reminds you that you are appreciated and people do care. A hug lets you know that someone thinks you are great and they are interested in how you feel.

Now I love giving out hugs, because I think most people deserve a hug and that most people are pretty amazing. The thing is I understand that there are a lot of people who feel uncomfortable being in close contact with people they hardly know. I think that is strange but I respect their choice, the last thing I want is to make people feel uncomfortable. The whole point of my hugs are to make people feel empowered.

So with that in mind and the fact that I can’t hug you all, I thought I would offer you all a virtual hug. A hug for your ears and your soul. A musical hug. In fact a heartfelt musical hug.

This morning I lovingly put together a playlist of songs that make feel warm and fuzzy, hoping that at least some of you with feel the same.

Why not share this hug with your loved ones or make your own musical hug. Just imagine what our world would be like if we shared our hugs rather than our hate.

So hear accept it with my love.

Gizza Cuddle

Being a Coachee, Supervisee, and Coach

Last Monday I had my own coaching session. It has been a while since I was last coached. I have a new coach who is quite brilliant, just like my previous coach. Obviously I choose well.

Monday was our contracting meeting. I set out my expectations of what I wanted from my coaching and set out an overarching goal for myself. We identified my inhibiting and enabling behaviours and values, and even managed to set a couple of short term actions. It was an excellent coaching session, and then direction it took really surprised me. I discovered the route of some of my inhibitors and managing to work out some strategies I will try to counter them. My coach gave me the space to explore these ideas providing the correct amount of challenge. I must admit at times I found it a little uncomfortable but necessary for me to articulate my goal and what the risks to not achieving it are. As with all great coaching sessions the coaching continues beyond the session. Some questions the coach poses do not find their target until after the session creating more ideas and questions long after the coach has left. When you are coached by someone that is invested in you, it is truly powerful. Thank you coach.

Nearly 2 weeks ago now I had my first supervision session in quite a while. Supervision is when a group of us coaches meet up with a supervisor of coaches and discuss parts of our coaching practice, that we may need help, support or clarification with. I discussed a coaching relationship I found it incredibly helpful in raising my own awareness of the role I was playing, and like the coaching session the supervision continued beyond the session, with me thinking about the impact my questions and responses to the client have on the client. I also found talking about relationships with clients quite exposing, for me. Being challenged about your responses is very exposing as it can reveal a lot about how work as a coach and what motivates you.

On Wednesday I met a client for our follow up coaching session following our contracting meeting. Having been coached and supervised I was conscious of the impact I may have on the client. The key is to be led by the client, but to ensure the session moves forward and does not stick in the storytelling stage. Once the client had a clear goal I encouraged them to look at possibilities by asking a series of questions. This then kept the agenda theirs but kept the momentum in the session, generating possibilities that can be turned into actions.

I find that a productive coaching session for the client energises and motivated me as much as the client.

Coaching is such a powerful experience for both the coach and coachee. I implore you all to get yourselves a coach whether formally or informally.

An Easter Gift from Me to You

At the moment I seem to fluctuating between a positive week and a challenging week. This week has been a challenging one. Some of the projects I have running at work have been stumbling and faltering. Nothing unusual just the normal obstacles encountered when undertaking projects. Everything seems to be happening at once I suppose and by Thursday I was feeling overwhelmed with all of it. I needed to take stock, as I could feel the negative commentary in my head was beginning to take over. I needed some mindfulness and then a plan of action. Well I created a plan of action and then sat back today and cleared my head. On Friday I organised a coach for myself, and today I have been for a run (first one for over a month) and then put together a playlist. Both these activities clear my head. They are engaging activities I can immerse myself in the activity without bringing in unwanted interference. I can do them purely for the sake of it.

This mindfulness is reflected in the playlist I have put together today, it is an eclectic mix of whatever took my fancy this morning. None of it has any connection to Easter other than I created it the weekend before Easter. It does have some of my favourite songs, such as:

I love you Honeybear by Father John Misty

Seasons (waiting on you) by Future Islands.

The other thing I love to do is to share, so please accept this Easter Mix Tape with my love

Mattycoach Eater Mix Tape

Personality, Colour Blocks, and Bacon Sarnies

This morning I realised I hadn’t written a blog about my exciting week last week.

I suppose I need to start on Sunday night (last week). I was packing clothes with a sense of excitement, and trepidation as I prepared for 4 days away with work. See I don’t normally get the chance to work away, in fact this is the first time I have worked away from Hull in over 20 years, and then it was an 7 week placement in Scunthorpe, so I’m not sure that counts.

This time I was being sent to Derby with a colleague to become an accredited practitioner of a personality preference evaluation tool.

It sounds very fancy and it is! To be honest I was quite sceptical even though I had, had my profile completed about 18 months ago. My problem was that personality preferences were categorised into colours with descriptions such a fiery red and cool blue, and then people would wear their colour personality as a badge of honour or use it to explain their poor behaviours. I am now however educated and enlightened. In fact I can see how powerful a tool this evaluator can be to help people achieve their goals both individually and collectively. What is needed though is enough people with enough understanding to challenge the stereotypes that can develop if the language of colours is used in isolation. I prefer to say that I prefer to be a supporting helper, but can be a reforming director if needed. If used properly this tool can stretch people’s capabilities.

I am so pleased I went on this 4 day course, it has energised my enthusiasm for coaching ( I didn’t think that was possible either).

It wasn’t just the content of the course that energised me. When you work in a hospital it is easy just to surround yourself with like minded people, generally people that work in public office (healthcare, social care, police, fire service and education). On this course public sector workers were in the minority and I was working alongside people from a wide variety of industries. You know what? They are just like me! We had a great time working with each other and learning so much.

The course was held in a swanky hotel on the outskirts of Derby. Being NHS employees we did not stretch the public purse, so we stayed down the road in Derby in a normal hotel. However lunch, coffee and snacks were part of the course, and oh boy they were lovely, the bacon sarnies were my personal favourite.

You may be wondering what the coloured blocks means in the title. Well when you have your profile done you get coloured blocks that you can put in you order of preference. From now on however I will be using my blocks to demonstrate that the colour code they produce is not fixed and you can and should use all of your personality to benefit yourself and your team.

I will gladly say those 4 days were 4 of the most inspiring and enlightening days I have experienced for a long time.

A shivering March Mix Tape

On this cold and snowy March morning I thought I would share my warming March mix tape. The music that has sat with me through this month of contrasting temperatures and moods.

I put this together based on what has turned up on the radio or in shuffle on my phone. Music that has peaked my interest throughout the month. This music has sat in my ears providing a soundtrack to my commutes and when cooking.

Music is such an important part of my life. Because of that I think it is important to share what is resonating with me. Feel free to dip in and have a listen, you might already know the music, but their might be a song in there that really connects with you and changes everything.

As always the playlist is just the right length to fit on a C60 tape for all of you old enough to remember mixtapes.

Think of this as my monthly gift to you.

My March Mix Tape

A Week Off My Birthday and Foggy

I always book the week of my birthday off. I rarely do anything, but I just like having the time off with nothing in particular planned, a week of chilling out.

Well there was certainly a lot of chilling with ‘The Beast From The East’ arriving in the Monday. I had the first few days by myself, which was perfect, some time just for me, apart from a short meeting at work on Monday. To be honest both Monday and Tuesday were largely taken up with work. With the first day of the coaching course starting on Monday I wanted to do some preparation. I needed to refresh my memory of some of the reading materials and feel comfortable with what Anthony has planned. I didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to. I don’t see coaching as work, it is as much a hobby. I enjoy it so much.

If I am honest I have spent most of the week, reading about coaching. Well the weather was so cold there was not much else to do. I spent some of my time writing some notes about my story. This is s project I have written a lot about and published a blog the other day based on those notes. I find writing about and dissecting my early life quite helpful understanding why I react the way I do.

The cold weather prevented my Mum coming for my birthday, which was a real shame, as we were all looking forward to seeing her. We will however being seeing her at Easter, which is not that far off.

Saturday was my birthday and the last day of the cold weather. As Birthdays go it was quite low key, with just a trip out to the pub for lunch. It was lovely spending the afternoon with my family, eating drinking and laughing.

The highlight of the day was getting a flat cap and a pair of doc martens. A man of simple pleasures. It has been about 20 years since I last owned a pair of docs, and I have wanted a cap for about a year. The kids think it is hilarious, simultaneously having a middle aged crisis and embracing middle age at the same.

This morning I was woken up by Foggy. God knows where he came from, I have felt really positive and optimistic for weeks. Then all of a sudden he fills my head with negative thoughts and pessimism. I woke up with a pit in my stomach and a feeling of hopelessness. I was at a loss to why this was happening. Now previously I would try to fight it or start to feel sorry for myself. This time I just let the feeling sit there. I concentrated on the physical feelings I was experiencing. My jaw was tight so I focused on my jaw and it started to relax, the same with my neck and shoulders. Just by focusing on them, they relaxed. This is something I read again recently in John Whitmore’s book Coaching for Performance. The first time I read about it a year or so ago, I thought it was interesting but didn’t actually give it a go. After reading about it this week again I thought I would give it a go. It works! On top of that it helped turn Foggy’s volume. By concentrating on my physical symptoms the negative thoughts gradually dispersed. I am certain it will not chase Foggy away, but it does help turn him down, more quickly than just letting him act out. No doubt he will be back tomorrow before the course starts, amplifying my anxiety so I will give it a go again.