Chapter 4: How do you prefer to behave

Below is the outline of Chapter 4, please feel free to critique it for me. I do however have a fragile ego, so personal messages for critiques are much appreciated. No doubt the grammar is a little rough and I will be going over that again. Feel to tell me what you think of the content.

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Are you most comfortable as an extrovert or as an introvert, or does it depend on what you are doing and who you are with?

  • Are you chatty or more the quiet type?
  • Do you prefer to watch from the sidelines or are you more comfortable in the thick of it getting stuck in?
  • Do you look within yourself for inspiration or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends or colleagues to find your creativity?
  • Do you relish those intimate one to one moments with friends or do you love those occasions with all your friends and family present?
  • Do you see like to blend in to the background or do you love to stand out in the crowd?
  • Do you think to speak or do you speak to think?
  • Do you like to reflect before you act or are you more prone to rushing in to action?

Now if you are anything like me you will relate to some of the introvert traits and some of the extrovert traits. For some of the statements you might not have an opinion either way. We are after all complex and interesting human beings, none of us can be put in a box. Saying that you may notice that you answered more one way than the other.

In all parts of my life I have a tendency towards introversion. I prefer to email someone rather than speak to them on the phone, especially when I do not know them very well. If I am in a shop and I cannot find what I have gone in for I would rather walk out of the shop empty handed rather than ask a shop assistant. When I have difficult problem I need to solve, I will prefer to do this alone and work through my problem carefully, I will then share my plan once I am happy with it. On the flip side I love teaching groups of people and I love talking in large groups, I often relish being the centre of attention on some occasions and hate the thought of it on others. When I worked on the wards I had no problem talking to complete strangers and striking up a rapport with them. When I am teaching and talking to large groups of people I am Matt Smith the Clinical Nurse Educator or Matt Smith the Coaching Lead. When I am blending into the background I am being Matt Smith, just plain old Matt Smith, the father, husband, son, blogger and coach. Saying that my extroverted traits do you show up in my latter persona as well as my professional persona, and the same is true for my introversion. Jung described humans as have different personas for different occasions. So crudely speaking I have my Professional persona as a Nurse Educator and Coaching Lead and a persona as a Father, a persona as a Husband, Son, Coach, Blogger and Friend. Most of these persona’s no doubt are very similar as your’s will be, otherwise it would could get very confusing trying to work out what version of a person we are speaking to, let alone how exhausting it would be to keep up all these multiple characters all of the time.

How do you make decisions?

As well describing your attitude (introversion and extroversion) Carl Jung, suggests there are 2 aspects of our decision making. He proposed that we either make decisions based on our thinking or our feelings. As with our attitude they are not mutually exclusive, therefore we can and do use both traits, but not at the same time. We do however prefer to make decisions either one way or another. Again to help you understand you preferred behaviour I have put together a series of questions below:

  • Do you consider yourself to be formal in your interactions with people or are you much more informal when greeting people?
  • Do you remember facts and figures more easily than names and faces or do facts and figures leave you cold?
  • Do you like to analyse a problem before you plan to correct it, or do you get stuck in and use a kind of trial and error approach?
  • When faced with an issue do you look at it with a subjective or objective eye?
  • Once you have decided on a direction of travel do you stick to that route or do you see where road takes you?
  • Do you relish competition and strive to come out top, or are you more interesting in taking part and helping others to succeed?
  • Is it important to you to have a tidy desk, is it important that everything has it’s place and is in it, or do you not really care whether you desk is tidy or not, or where things are kept?
  • Do you choose your work or task above spending time with friends or family, or do you insist on finishing work on time to ensure you spend quality time with your friends and family?

Again if you are anything like me you will be able to relate to some traits for both thinking and feeling decision making. I must admit my preferred route to making decisions is based on what I feel rather than thinking things through. However when I need to make important decisions I will think things through and weigh up the odds. Sometmes that tasks I am doing at work keep me there when I should be going home. When I am writing or reviewing guidelines I will spend time collecting data and make sure I have all the information I need before I start writing, sometimes to the point where it takes me such a long time to get things done. However in every other aspect of my life I make decisions based on how they make me feel and how they may make others feel. I will often base my decision making on my values, if they are congruent with my values, for me it is the right decision. To be honest even when I am working late or when I am researching guidelines I have made a decision that is in line with my core values which are courage and usefulness. So even decisions that appear to be based on thought, actually are based on my feelings. You may think that you base decisions on either analysis of data or on what you feel, but they may have their basis in the opposite. To examine where your decision making is routed it is worth exploring your values. What you value will unearth your preference.

In  her book Dare to Lead, Brene Brown offers an exercise to help you explore what your core values are, in fact that is why I discovered my 2 core values (courage and usefulness). It is an exercise worth even if you think you know what you core values are, as you might be surprised that another value lies behind the values you hold as important. Brene offers a long list of values and invites you to find 2 core values, this is quite u get a daunting task, therefore she suggests you come up with 10 initially and then try to group them together, in themes and ask yourself what value do they collectively represent until you get down to one or 2 core values. To help you try this out I have provided a list below, I do however implore you to read Dare to Lead if you are a leader it will change the way you view your leadership, and if you are not it will change the way you interact with your leader. Any way below is a list of values to help get you started with discovering what your core values are. Once you have 10 values that relate to you (please try not to choose values that you would like to have or what you think are admirable, choose those that really mean something to you). Then can you group any of them together, do they represent an overarching value. Take your time, really think about what you value, if you cannot find your value add it. Have some fun with it, be creative and thoughtful and you will be able to come up with 2 core values. You can find a list of all the values that you can print out via Brene Brown’s website;

Being the best
Financial stability
Future generations
Giving back

Job security
Making a difference
Personal fulfillment
Risk -taking

Brene then invites you to operationalise your core values and the values of the organisation you work in. Read Dare to Lead and visit her website to discover more.

For me this is a useful exercise to discover why you prefer to behave and make decisions. It also helps to explain why we are so complicated and not easy to put in a box.

How do you perceive the world around you?

Below is a picture, I would like to invite you to write down what is there for you in this picture.

The words you have written may well help you understand whether you prefer to percieve the world using sensation or intuition. If you use sensation you may well have written;

  • 2 girls
  • Grass
  • Dresses
  • Bridge
  • Leaves
  • Pink shoes
  • Turqouise shoes

If you use intuition you may well have written;

  • Friendship
  • Summer
  • Adventure
  • Kindness
  • Happiness
  • Warm

Again as with all the other preferences you may well have written a mixture of the 2, however it may have come easier to come up with words for either sensation or intuition. So we can percieve the world using both preferences but find it more comfortable using one or the other. I will normally want to go straight for intuitive descriptions of the world around me and have to concentrate on seeing what is really there.

If you prefer to use intuition you are more likely to be future focussed and feel comfortable projecting and predicting what is coming next. You feel at ease when planning for the future. You are happy using your imagination and when you are with others that like to use intuition you can get carried away. Using intuition is very useful when planning for the future and creating a compelling vision.

If you prefer to use sensation you are more grounded in the here and now and feel much more comfortable describing the current state. You are comfortable highlighting what is right and wrong with the current environment. Sensation is vital to ensure that any future plans are routed in the reality of what is really happening.

It is important to remember again that you can use both intuition and sensation and that you don’t hide behind your preference when things do not work out as planned. I keep repeating this, but it is so important, we are complex and are full of contradictions. We can be introverted and extroverted, a thinker and a feeling, a senser and intuitive. We may prefer to behave differently in different situations. It is vital to recognise this and embrace our own complexity and that of others.

How I made my resolution count

Well it is that time of year again, the time of year we start talking about the resolutions we are going to make in the New Year.

For years I would make a resolution that I would give up smoking. I made that resolution nearly every year for over 20 years, sometimes my resolution would last a week, on most occasions it would not even last the length of the New Years Eve party. I did give up smoking eventually, I did not do it around New Year though, I gave up on 13th January 2016 after making a plan that I came to after creating a goal with a compelling vision. I created a towards goal rather than an away from goal. At the time I did not realise that is what I was doing. What I did know was that every time I had attempted to give up previously I had worked out what I wanted my life to look like once I had stopped smoking. The goal was just to stop smoking (an away from goal). The problem with away from goals is that the desire to keep going decreases after you have stopped, the motivation to change your habits is just not sustained.

If you want to make a change to you life that is sustainable it is important to know what you want to achieve and most importantly why you want to achieve it. The why is what is going to sustain you when it gets tough. For me to stop smoking I created an image of me in my 60s playing with my grandchildren in the garden. I knew I could not be certain that I would be healthy enough to do this, if I continued to smoke the amount I was. If I wanted to increase my chances of being able to play football and hide and seek with my grandchildren I would have to stop smoking. This was my starting point. I then made a plan and set a date. It was hard but I succeeded because I always had that compelling vision in front of me.

When I think about this success now, I realise that the secret of that compelling vision was that it is congruent with my core values of courage and usefulness. Being a fun grandparent means I am useful to my family, as being a supportive father to my children is now. So I had the courage to tell myself that the lifestyle I was leading was not sustainable with being useful, therefore by continuing to smoke I was going against my values.

So there it is, if you want to make a resolution ask yourself what you value in your life, does the thing you want to change (being overweight, smoking, drinking too much, stuck in a job you hate) get in the way of that value? If it does what would your life look like after you had made the change? Make this as real as you can, create a picture of this life in you mind. This is important as it will keep you going when it gets tough. Once you have you goal and vision, then it is really important to make your plan. Think about what is going to be in your plan, talk your plan through with somebody, make sure you trust them and that they will not try to advise you on how best to make your plan. Ask yourself when you will know when you have achieved your goal and how you will celebrate your success.

Most importantly, don’t be a slave to the date, make your change when you want to make it, and do it because it is important to you.

Trust yourself you do have it in you to change your life.

My Christmas

I hope you all had the Christmas Day you were expecting. My day started at 6 am, whilst the rest of the family were still sleeping I got up (I still get excited about Christmas Day) to bake bread. This year I made bread rolls after my less than successful loaf last year. As it turns out they were quite nice. By 7:30 am everyone was up (Lisa was at work yesterday), and by 8:30 we had, opened our presents and was tucking into our bacon sandwiches, with my homemade bread rolls, washed down with Bucks Fizz (apart from the working girl).

At just gone 9 am Lisa went off to work and started on the prep for our Christmas Dinner. So I prepared the vegetables, made the Yorkshire pudding mix and the broccoli and sprouts in cheese sauce (to be heated later). What a lovely morning I had, I sang, I danced, and I drank Bucks Fizz, oh and cooked and washed up. I do love cooking, I am not the best cook in the world, I make a lot of mistakes, normally because I am trying something new, but I have loads of fun. The first part of the preparation was finished by 12:00.

I had 2 hours before I needed to put the Turkey (crown, there is only 4 of us). I spent those 2 hours drinking stout eating fudge and watching 2 episodes of House of Cards Season 6. The boys went out about to the pub to support their friends who were working there. So I found myself at home on Christmas Day by myself for the first time since 1990. It was strange, but I did not mind at all I had Netflix to keep me company and I had cooking to do. I also knew that they would only be out for a couple of hours.

2 O’clock came round and I started all over again, Turkey went in the oven and I pottered around the kitchen watching TV and singing along to Jungle Book. I am not sure how, but I manged to string out cooking for the next 4 hours until Lisa go home from work.

We then sat down to our Christmas Dinner, pulled our crackers told each other jokes and wore our paper hats. We talked about Lisa’s day at work, the boys’ afternoon in the pub and my day cooking. I realised as I do every year, that I had slightly over catered, and none of us managed to finish our food (bubble and squeak for lunch today). We didn’t even bother cooking our pudding.

We left the pots and table to sort out today (I am currently avoiding tidying and ashing up by writing this blog) and collapsed in front of the telly watching the obligatory Call The Midwife and Eastenders.

So I had a slightly different Christmas Day now my boys are older and that Lisa was at work. However the important parts of the day remained as they have always been since the boys have been born. I got up super early, we opened our presents and we ate far too much food and watched things on the telly I would never normally watch.

What is important is that we use holidays to spend some time for ourselves whether that is in groups, by ourselves or both. It is too easy to get caught up in it all and not pay attention to ourselves. Remember you are a participant in the story that is being played out in front of you, so take part, and don’t miss out on the fun because you are too busy worrying about what is coming next.

Have a fab Boxing Day.

Ugly Crying

The other day I made the mistake of watching Toy Story 3 alone. Oh god it was carnage. Now I enjoy this film and I also know being a sensitive soul I generally shed a tear at the end. Normally however there are members of my family around me, namely my sons who will have a laugh at me for crying at a cartoon. In fact Jack points out to me that I cry watching almost anything, including X-Factor (well I love to see people trying hard). Anyway none of these filters were present.

In hindsight I should have thought on and given the film a wide birth. But no, I thought I would be alright. I had things to do on the computer I said to myself, so I would not get completely drawn in and it would provide a pleasant backdrop to my work. That worked fine until the final 2 scenes. The scene where Andy is preparing to leave, and he walks into his bedroom with his Mum. She looks around the now empty and bare room. A room us as viewer of all 3 films recognise as a place of fun and adventure for Andy and his favorite toys, that is now is just an empty shell. All his toys and pictures packed away. Well the look on her face grabbed me, and it started. It started deep down in my heart and rose up to my mouth, I let out a little sob then the tears started and just did not stop for the next 10 minutes, accompanied by increasingly louder sobs and the obligatory snot bubble. my face was all contorted and I could not help rocking. If anyone had looked in through the window they would have assumed I had just been told some terrible news, and not watching a kids film.

As you all know, I have 2 boys. They are my world and I am so proud of them. They are 16 and 18 years old and over the next 2 years will be leaving home. Ben will no doubt leave next September. I want them to leave, and I want them to be successful and independent. Like every parent I want the best for my Children, but I would also quite like for them to stay young and need me, the way I am used to them needing me.

I have been starting to prepare myself for Ben leaving home for a while now. Many of his friends left home in September, so it has been on my mind since then. I think just watching Toy Story 3 brought those feeling to the surface. I realise now post sob that this is all part of the process of change that we are experiencing as a family and what I am experiencing as a parent.

There is nothing like a good ugly cry to let out all of those unhelpful emotions. It then gives you some space to create clarity in you thoughts. I felt so much better after it. I wish we all could feel more comfortable with full on sobbing, instead of repressing it. If we don’t let these feelings out, they just muddle our thought processes, and we end up being much more unhappy. In fact I was coaching someone recently that had a good old cry, we just sat there for a couple of minutes whilst they just cried. Once they had finished we had such a productive conversation, once the blocking emotions had been expressed. I did notice that they kept on apologising for crying, and I realised that was something I do. There is no need to apologise for doing something that is so useful. From now on I am going to practice not apologising for crying, I am also going to allow myself to have a good ugly cry and not repress it. I am going to appreciate the snot bubble. In fact I think that should be my mantra for the New Year.


Have a lovely Christmas and New Year, and if you feel the need have a good old cry, you will feel so much better.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Remember to have the Christmas that really plays to your values. Have the Christmas that sits comfortably, the Christmas that feels warm, cosy, familiar and natural.

For me that means getting up at 6:30am and baking some bread, wearing the traditional Christmas morning outfit, my Christmas onsie.

Whilst waiting for the bread to prove I will often take to Facebook bemoaning the fact that my children are too old to get up this early.

The smell of baking bread always gets them up to be fair. We then have our present opening ceremony where Holly (our dog) takes centre stage.

This is her in pre-Christmas build up.

Once the presents are open and thanks are given, it is bacon sandwiches (vegan bacon for Ben) with freshly baked bread and Bucks Fizz.

We then tidy up and wear whatever wearable gifts we have received. We speak to various family members over the phone.

Before I know it, it is time to start cooking Christmas Dinner. I love cooking so this is a source of great joy. A bit of festive music, bucks fizz, a hot oven, and veg to prep and I am in heaven.

We have dinner at about 3,and then settle in front of the telly for the rest of the evening. Simple but enjoyable.

So whatever you do, do it the way you want and do it well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Are we all less resilient than we used to be?

Life seems tough at the moment. Are we less resilient in the face of the pressures of life, or is life just tougher?

Maybe the answer is yes to both. Our work and personal lives are so much more complicated than they were a decade ago. Technology allows us to do so much more than we used to. In healthcare we are now caring for people that would have never made it to hospital 20 years ago. We are living longer than we were. This means during the winter more and more people are at risk of illness. Our success in healthcare however is outstripping our ability to fund it. This probably has always been the case but our rate of development in healthcare is breathtaking. Then you add in the financial crisis, that we are just coming out of, and then add in the current uncertainty of Brexit, then there is a lot of pressure on healthcare workers alone.

Looking wider technology has had a massive impact on all of our lives. Most of us have a really powerful computer in our pockets that instantly connect us to the worldwide web (even my 77 year old mum has one). For many of us not having our mobile phone and connectivity is unthinkable. We now expect a constant stream of information at our finger tips. When we go to events the first thing most of us do is grab our phones to record it or stream live. I was at a concert this year where someone next to me watched the whole concert through the screen of her phone.

Technology is amazing and makes our lives so much easier, but if we don’t keep an eye on it, it can be so destructive. There is the obvious problems I have spoken about before with social media, such as scarcity, and bullying. Then there is the disconnection it can cause, technology makes it so easy for us not to talk to our fellow human beings. We can do all of our shopping online, if we want to know how someone is we can text them or message them, or we can just post an update on Facebook. There seems to be an app for everything now, so it is quite possible to conduct large parts of your life without talking to people. We are however social animals and need that social connection to survive.

Now remember Professor Steve Peters book, The Chimp Paradox. In his book Steve explains simply how different functions of the brain drive our behaviour. The chimp as described by him has threat recognition as part of it’s function. The only problem with the chimp is, that alone it is unable to provide context. The chimp relies on our memory bank to provide that context. So here is the problem, as we are connected constantly to this big dangerous world, we are confronted with potential threats on a daily basis. The chimp has terrible trouble trying to distinguish between someone being mean on Facebook and someone threatening you. If we are not careful we can be put into a threat state on a daily basis, without the usual biological response of fight or flight. This mentally can be exhausting.

So we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time either in our past or our future and very little time paying attention to what is happening in the present.

Yes we are less resilient and yes are lives are harder (well maybe not harder, just more complicated).

Spending some time in the present everyday, dedicating an hour of happiness a day, and sharing how you feel with someone daily will go a long way to making us more resilient.

My top 10 songs of 2018

If you know me well, you will know how important music is to me. In the past I have shared mix tapes and playlists. As well as listening to music I love sharing music that I love. 

I love music that has something to say, whether that is in the lyrics or in the music. Over the years my musical taste has certainly changed, when I was in my late teens and early twenties I had quite a closed view of what I liked and did not like. This was largely based on what my friends were listening to. The desire to fit in with your tribe is so important as a teen and a young adult. My taste is much more eclectic nowadays, and I love experiencing new music. 

So below is the list of my top 10 songs. I have provided a Youtube link for each song just in case you have not heard it. The list is in reverse order.

I have also left a a link to my best of 2018 spotify playlist

10 Gallipoli – Beirut

9 Tried-BADBADNOTGOOD & Little Dragon

8 Heart Attack-Tune-Yards
7 Loner Boogie-Boy Azooga
6 Fists of Fury-Kamasi Washington
5 Like Sugar-Chaka Khan
4 Saint-Blood Orange
3 Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rarest of Them All-Father John Misty
1 Ullswater-Hookworms