This week has been fairly special doing all the things I love. I have facilitated group clinical supervision with a team of wonderful nurses, facilitated a team time out, spent time supporting colleagues with some very difficult experiences, coached twice, introduced clinical supervision to Health Care Assistants at their conference with my very special friends Janis and Rosie, and then connected with our Hospital Chaplain and discussed future plans. Some weeks need bottling and this was one of them.
So lets start at the beginning, Monday was a day for catching up with some admin, I know I am not alone in not relishing admin, but there are times when we have to sit down and do that process to keep things moving slowly. In fact some days when Foggy has been stomping all over my self-esteem I do like to throw myself in to something that is quite mundane (when I say mundane I mean that it does not require me to be creative). I find it comforting and it tends to quieten Foggy down a bit, and I am being productive, so at the end of the day I feel good about myself. Doing this work actually put me in the right frame of mind for the week ahead.
On Tuesday, I facilitated a group clinical supervision session for a ward. This was the first clinical supervision session they had, had for quite some time. I always get really nervous before doing any facilitation. As with all of us I rehearse how it will go in my head before I go into the room, even though I know that it will never go as I rehearsed. I know I cannot predict what people are going to talk about. However what this process does is to allow all the over thinking to happen outside of the facilitation, so when I start I can turn my ego down as much as I can. I will admit though that might righting reflex does does show itself during the sessions. When I sense that this desire to solve their problems starts to appear, I stop myself and declare to the group what is happening to me. The majority of the time they take it well and ask me what I was going to say. This has given my frontal lobe (human) enough time to process the information, which is generally produced in the limbic system (Chimp) and re-frame the advice as a story about my experience. This allows the group to see it as a memory of past events that are related to their current issue. Let me explain why the human brain and the chimp brain are involved. So the chimp brain wants you to be seen as a dominant useful member of the group, often confusing facilitation with leading (well that is what I do). The chimp will latch on to any relevant solutions that you may have in your memory bank to elevate your position in the group further. The human however remembers that I am facilitating and should not be imposing my opinions on the group and a truly successful coach or clinical supervisor when allow the group to explore their own solutions. The problem is, as anyone who has read Steve Peters’ Chimp Paradox will know is that the chimp is a lot faster and stronger than the human brain and will already be mid solving before the human brain has woken up. This is why I end up declaring what is happening once I notice what my pesky chimp is up to, I then have some time re-frame what the chimp is saying. The session I felt went swimmingly and the group left the session with some actions to take forward. I look forward to seeing them again in a few months to find out how it worked out.
Later on Tuesday evening I found myself giving some gentle support to a nursing colleague. This was not coaching or clinical supervision, it was just one of those times where you just listen to a friend and colleague and be with them, maybe not physically, be present in the moment. I couldn’t make it better for them, and that is not why they rang. They rang for me to listen without judgement, to give them the space and shed a tear with them, to remind them they are all they need to be, they are enough. Being a nurse is the best and the worst job all rolled into one. It feels you with great joy and pride, and fills you with dread, despair, fear and sadness. That is why people do it. That is also why nurses need those moments of empathy with someone that will sit with them when it hurts and celebrate with them during those times of joy and pride. Having been a nurse for nearly 30 years and now not working on the wards my admiration of my colleagues is enormous. They are heroes, every single one of them, I will always have time to sit with them and hold their tissues, laugh with them and of cause have a good cry with them.
Wednesday was a nerve wracking day. I helped facilitate a team time out. I decided to use my Connected Living presentation (where the inspiration for my book came from). This was the first time I had used it. I was intrigued and terrified with how it would go down. Time constraints meant that I could not use all the slides and the type of day it was meant that I had to make some minor adjustments to allow for the team to explore their values and write a team mission statement. It was really hard work. The team were wonderful and took part wholeheartedly, they were not the cause of the hard work. In fact they did make my heart swell, with how they responded to the day. The hard work came from within me, my own internal dialogue. My chimp was in bits, quite frankly and on a couple of occasions I had to resist the urge to play it safe. Sometimes I was unsuccessful and left things out that maybe I could have left in. That was however me just being harsh on myself and the team went away with a mission statement and some strategies to make that mission statement real.
Thursday was a day of admin and one to one coaching. I love doing one to one coaching. Again it makes really nervous before I start. That desire to do the best I can for the client makes me extremely nervous. Once I enter that arena though, all those worries go away, and I start to have a conversation. Again as with group work I have to be aware that my chimp brain will want to solve their problems for them, so I am always on the look out for that solution booby trap. Both sessions lasted an hour and half. One was a work based session and the other was a private session on the evening. 3 hours well spent. Coaching is so powerful, in so many ways, whether it is to explore how you continue to be a great leader and develop further skills, or to create a personal development plan it can change the way you look at your life. The most important aspect of coaching is the hour or hour and half where you are the centre of attention, where what you say is important and is listened to without judgement. Where your own assumptions are challenged, where you can feel both uncomfortable and safe at the same time. If you don’t have a coach, get yourself one. (If you live in Hull, I am reasonable and available).
Friday was a blast I spent the day with Janis my partner in crime and mentor when it comes to Clinical Supervision, and Rosie who gives us the platform to spout about our passion. We where facilitating workshops on Clinical Supervision for Health Care Assistants, Clinical Support Workers and Trainee Nurse Associates at their conference. What an incredibly positive bunch they were. Considering the NHS at the moment is extremely busy and as a group they do shoulder the burden, they were very much focused on what they could do to make it right. Yesterday I was proud to work in the NHS. I also met our Chaplain for the first time. He has worked for the Hospital for a while but I had not met him. Brilliantly he shares the same passion for staff support as me Janis. Exciting times are ahead.
On Thursday evening I did a little exercise for Brene Brown’s book Dare to Lead. I connected with my core values. She has written a massive list of values and she invites you to identify with your 2 core values. She also suggests that if cannot find them you can write your own. So as suggested I managed to get a shortlist of 15. Eventually it cam to me, what my core values are. Courage and Usefulness. To test this she invites you to come up with 3 or 4 times where you have used your values to good effect, and 3 or 4 times where you have not lived up to your values. So this week I have used courage to sit down with a colleague and talk about hard subjects and been useful in respect of giving her space, I have delivered a new presentation, which created a mission statement. Despite being scared I have run a clinical supervision session and coached. I have also written this blog. I have this week not shown courage when I was short with my wife, I should have been brave and listened to what she was saying about her day, but I wanted to protect myself as I had listened so much to others all day, actually I should have been brave an set some boundaries so I could listen and support her and be useful. Sometimes I hide away from difficult conversations with colleagues especially when I am required to give feedback and when I do not show courage I less useful, the member of staff is then not able to work on what they need to work on. When I don’t live up to my values I feel shame, and generally feel angry with myself. I practice everyday to show courage, sometimes it does not always work out but I am getting there. If I show courage I am generally useful, and all is good in my world.