Trying to find inspiration

I have spent most of today and yesterday trying to find some inspiration for chapter 5 of my book. This morning I had books out all over the sofa highlighting quotes and thinking about where I could put them and hoping they would spark something inside of me, just to get the chapter started without being wedded to one particular writer. I kept telling myself and keep telling myself it has to come from me. It has to be my story of how I connect with myself, how I fail to connect with myself, how I connect with others and how I disconnect from others. The title of the chapter is ‘Are you driven by your emotions?’ There is so much written on this subject that it is so hard not to end up just writing what they have said about it. Then my imposter syndrome kicks in and I start thinking emotionally, my armour comes up and I get stuck. I started telling myself that no one will want to read it. Who do you think you are? You don’t know enough.

So these have been my anxieties today. I set myself really, I told myself I was going to spend this week writing. Then when it started I felt this pressure to write. Then I started writing and Foggy popped up to tell me that people like me don’t do this sort of thing. This is why I am writing this, to put Foggy back in his box. I know he is only trying to protect me, but what he forgets is, that I am 48 on Sunday. I am a big boy now, I have an identity and a self worth and none of that is dependent on whether I write a modern classic or a book that never sees the light of day.

Foggy after all is how I describe aspects of my limbic system. I cannot fight him I have to let him have his say, sometimes what he says is helpful, other times he encourages me to wear armour I don’t want or need. Now I have let him have his say and I have shown him that I will not die if I write a book about personal leadership, I can get back to writing about my experience of emotional thinking, which is essentially what I have just done.

You may have noticed that I use this blog to work stuff out, to get things straight in my head, There is something about sharing what is in my head with people, that does not feel like I am bearing my soul. It helps me immensely and I hope that a lot of you find it helpful. The realisation that the anxieties that you have are shared by others is so reassuring.

So thank you for being there and reading this. I now have something to write about in my chapter tomorrow. I now have that personal angle.

One more week of being 47

Next Sunday I turn 48. Yeah I know! I find it difficult to believe too. Clean living and a sunny disposition is the answer.

Anyway I am going to miss being 47, there is something about the number 47 that resonates with me. We used live at No. 47 Springbank (for the older reader from Hull, the site of the original Silhouette Nightclub). That may have a bearing on why it is so important to me. If you look up the number on wikipedia there is nothing outstanding other than it was used widely in numerous Star Trek spin-offs, of which I have zero interest. So my conclusion is, that I just like the number.

More importantly though my 47th year on earth has been one of my best. I have been more awake than I have been for a long time. I would even go as far to say that I am the most awake I have ever been. This year I came into my own as a coach, and learned to not be ruled by my self critic.

About 3 years ago when I started on my journey as a coach, I had quite a profound experience, when I realised how full of self-loathing I was. I was talking to a client about a book she had been reading, for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the book, as I was so traumatised by my reaction to our conversation. The profound moment came when she was describing one of the premises of the book which was to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say the following words with meaning; “I love you”. Well that was it, I realised that there was no way I could do that. I didn’t love myself. I felt ashamed of myself, I wouldn’t go as far to say I hated myself, but I was not far off. There was no way I could tell myself I loved myself. Hasten to add that coaching relationship did not survive my existential crisis. When your client is concerned for your well-being it is probably best terminate the agreement. I am however forever grateful for that moment. That started me on my personal journey to fall back in love with myself. Most of this rekindling of my love for myself has occurred on the pages of this blog. It was a long journey but now I am happy to look at myself in the mirror and say out loud ” I LOVE YOU!!”

It is so powerful, being able to appraise yourself and come to the conclusion that you are enough, you are not perfect, you are in some areas quite rubbish, but on the whole you are rocking it.

The secret to falling in love with myself again, was reconnecting with my values, and always trying to work with them instead of against them. I don’t always manage it but I always try. I have also made room in my mind for the difficult unpleasant things in life. And then there is Foggy who dominated my life for so long. He is still there and if you are a regular reader you will know that he still does cause me issues from time to time, but his impact is a lot less. This is because I make room for him and accept him as part of my psyche. When I look in the mirror I see me and foggy and love them both equally. I realise now that the happy and sad times in my life are both important and deserve equal space in my mind. I know I will feel really fed up, sad, even distraught in the future, I also know that I will laugh so hard that I will cry, I know I will so proud and happy that my heart will swell, and I am looking forward to all the times I have in front of me, whatever they are. As long as I am courageous and useful I will be content.

Can you say “I LOVE YOU”…. to yourself?

You are enough, warts and all!

Finally thank you my 47th Year, you have been amazing, I wouldn’t have missed you for the world.

Shining a light on the negative

I have been reading a lot about resilience over the past few weeks. Mental health, well being and resilience are hot topics in everyone’s work place at the moment and as a nurse and coach they are close to my heart. I do write about some aspect of mental health on a regular basis. Being resilient is really quite simple, but so difficult to do.

Why is it so difficult for many of us not to slip into negative self talk and pick up on all the negativity behind us. As I have mentioned before being negative is evolutionary necessary. In more perilous times defaulting to the positive was an instant death sentence. Our brains are amazing at threat detection and keeping us alive, however they are rubbish at differentiating between life threatening and or looking silly. Which again in harsher more primitive times was useful, as being perceived as a bit of a tool in could mean you being banished from your group and being left to fend for yourself.

So our factory settings were and can still be lifesaving. However many of the threats we face daily will not result in our death, but are more likely to result in us being criticised or ridiculed. As mentioned before status and esteem were linked to life and death, but this is no longer the case in modern society. This means we have to be conscious of our default setting and make an effort to upgrade our operating system. The upgrade is as mentioned earlier really simple. The problem is we reset to factory settings on a regular basis so we have to manually apply the upgrade every time we encounter a threat. When you think about it, that is quite comforting, if there is a day when you are faced with a life or death situation, your threat sensors will kick in to keep you safe (hopefully, but that perhaps is a blog for someone else to write).

How do you manage your negativity? How do you create a balanced view of your life? As I say it is simple really. Once you have established that what you are facing is not a real emergency that could end with your death or harm, or the death or harm of others, then you need to challenge your perspective.

Apply some critical thinking

The most effective way to challenge the story you are telling yourself about the situation you have or are experiencing, by just asking yourself a few simple questions. You have to be honest with yourself though, if all you are going to do is confirm what you all ready think then there is no point. It is vital that you create an alternative explaination based on what is really happening.

  • What facts do I have about the situation?
  • Is there any more information about the situation in front of me?
  • What assumptions am I making about the situation?
  • In the grand scheme of my life, how important is this?
  • What are the implications of this situation?
  • Is there another way to look at this?
  • In the light of what I have learned, what would be an appropriate response?
  • What impact would your response have on others?
  • What can I learn?
  • Is there anything positive I can take from this?

Now this takes practice, as it will not come naturally. When things get tough and you have to make important decisions about how you respond to certain situations, whether that be at work, or home this stop check can provide a level of perspective and give your rational mind time to catch up with your threat centre.

If you want this to work then getting a coach will certainly help quieten that negative self talk, and if you are a business owner, or a senior leader it is vital that you learn to create a balance between the negative self talk and positivity, when making important decisions.

If you are interested in applying this approach then please get in touch to discuss the subscription offers I have.

matt@mattycoach71.com

The Connected Living Offer

The Connected Living Offer

Connected Living is an approach to personal leadership that draws on established research and theories from well respected academics such as Jung, Selligman, Brown, Peters, Csikszentmihalyi, Covey, Whitmore and Gallwey.

You are first invited to understand and connect with yourself and once you have connected with yourself, you will then be able to connect more effectively with those around you, by presenting the best version of yourself.

Connected Self:

When connecting with yourself, we will explore what makes you you and why you respond in certain ways. We will explore the following;

  • Well-being: We will use Selligman’s PERMA model to give your well-being a health check and discuss areas you may want to work on to improve your well-being.
  • View of the world: we will explore why you view the world the way you do, by discussing your upbringing, where you have lived, your work experience and your friendship groups.
  • Assumptions: we will explore the assumptions we make based on our view of the world and fact check them. Aiming to create a paradigm shift in how you see the world, and start to practice critical thinking
  • Introvert or extrovert/thinker or feeler: using Jung’s theories we will explore your preferred attitudes and how you prefer to make decisions
  • Sensation or intuition: how you describe the world around you can help you when you are creating action plans, whether you prefer to be future or present focused.
  • Are you a slave to your emotions? We will explore in it is and when it is not useful to react to your emotions rather than respond to your objective view of your world.

Connecting with Others:

Once you you have connected with yourself you can now use that greater understanding to connect more effectively with others.

  • Communicate with those around you: do you communicate to understand and learn or do you communicate to advise and teach?
  • Impact of culture and society:  how you and others view the world, does that impact on how you communicate?
  • The effect of emotions on your connections: using the knowledge of how your emotional thought processes work, we will explore who you prefer to connect with, why you struggle to connect with others and how you could challenge your assumptions.
  • A commitment to action: using your new knowledge and understanding of your preferences for behaviour and decision making, we will work together to create an action plan.

You know what? I might just be living my dream.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed that is has been a different kind of week for me. The big giveaway is that I have blogged 6 out of 7 days. It has been pretty special, not amazing, but pretty special.

The most notable thing this week has been that I have spent the vast majority of the time in the present. Being in the present and appreciating what was happening in real time, has actually made my future prospects far more attractive and much less scary.

I said at the beginning of the week that I still had some residual tension and that I could feel that in my jaw. As I have been writing this, this morning I have just checked in with my body, I have got no fingernail marks in the palm of my hands, my jaw is relaxed and I don’t have that faint feeling of nausea I usually experience in the morning. In other words Foggy has got his feet up and is having a snooze. He is content that he is not needed at the moment. Everything is on an even keel, he is particular dose of realism is not required.

Now I am not saying I am really happy, and that is the point, that is why Foggy has got his feet up. I am neither ecstatic or miserable, I am just content to allow both emotions the space they have in my mind. I have not suddenly reached another plain of consciousness, I am not sat cross legged in the middle of the floor at one with my inner being. I have, however consciously paid attention to and appreciated what surrounds me, how my body feels, what I am doing, and what is happening to me. This has started to calm my thoughts, to the point that I have woken up this morning quite relaxed. I am knackered and full of cold and physically feel a bit rubbish, but that is not having a detrimental effect on my state of mind, it is just something I am experiencing. It is weird and fascinating to experience mindfulness (if you want to call it that) in action. It works, it really does work. I have been setting myself free from my thoughts all week and thoroughly enjoying the journey.

So why do I think I am living the dream?

I do a job I absolutely love, a job that allows me to follow my interest and work within my values, so much so that my role has become an intrinsic part of my identity. People have enough belief in me as a coach at work that they allow me and encourage me to pursue my interests, to the point that they are willing to fund me to complete a course on strategic coaching.

I am writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book, but never thought I was good enough. I listened to my self critic. I listen to my self critic less now I am writing it, because people like me can and do write books.

I write a blog. Writing a blog is my release, it helps me make sense of my world, and according to feedback I get it helps other people make sense of their world and has inspired them to take action in their life, and for a coach there is no better motivation to do something.

I have a loving family. They laugh at me and sometimes look at me sideways, but they love me and I love them. Every time I see my sons my heart swells with pride, they are handsome, kind intelligent and talented and there is not a day goes by when they do not amaze me. Just as I wrote that my youngest just cycled past the window on his paper round and a little bit of joy jumped into my heart. On Wednesday we went to watch Ben my eldest play in his band (Vialetters) at a local venue. I am so blessed to calm them both my sons to the point I look for opportunities to talk about them to others on a daily basis, and I will often talk about them when I teaching.

So that is just a few highlights about why I am living the dream. I am not rich or famous. I don’t live in a big house and drive a fancy car. I am enough , I am alive and I am making a difference.

Are you living your dream? Have you checked? How often do you pay attention to what is going on around you?

Being mindful does not mean you have to meditate or do something dramatic. Just pay attention to what is really happening right now in the physical world, not the world constructed in your mind. It is really obvious but takes practice to actually do.

A Day With The Sumo Guy

So today I spent the day at The Source in Sheffield on a NHS Leadership Academy Masterclass by Paul McGee the SUMO guy. If you have not heard of Paul he is an author and public speaker, who wrote among other things SUMO (Shut Up Move On). A book on personal management.

His masterclass was all about SUMO and how personal management can help leaders in the NHS. If you are like me and many others, you might think that telling your audience to shut up off the bat is a little aggressive, and Paul appreciates this, and does explain it another way for us more sensitive souls in the audience, which is Stop, Understand Move On.

I will not go into detail of the content of the day or his book, and that is because Paul explains it so much better, check out his website to find out more http://www.thesumoguy.com/

What a truly inspirational and energising day. As you know I have been having a present action centred week and this has continued today. Everything he talked about resonated with me. I am not going to spend long writing tonight, as I am so exhausted, but I wanted to come home and write this blog, just to highlight his work with you, and spread the word of personal management.

As you know I am writing a book and spending the day in Paul’s presence has spurred me on to get the first draft finished, and to get going with the level 7 coaching course I was talking about last night. His has also reignited the idea of pursuing the idea of public speaking, and spreading the word about Connected Living. So if you do run a company or a voluntary group and are interested in learning more about Connected Living and how it can change your life then email me and we can make some arrangements.

matt@mattycoach71.com

The next stage of my coaching career

Today I took the next tentative steps into the part of my coaching journey. As I mentioned before in December I became the coaching lead for the NHS trust I work for. This involves developing a coaching and mentoring network throughout the organisation. This has taken me out of my comfort zone on a number of occasions, which has been wonderful if not a little scary. I feel that I have grown over the past year and months and coaching and clinical supervision have become a integral part of my professional and personal life.

As you realise I have a passion for coaching and I feel at home sat with someone having a coaching conversation or raising the awareness of a group of people about the ask/tell continuum. What I feel out of my depth with is the strategic element of integrating coaching and mentoring into the fabric of the organisation. It just seems to big for someone like me to handle. So I asked myself a couple of weeks ago, what could happen if I became the sort of person that could tackle such a big job. What would I need to do? What tools would I need? What attitude would I need?

Well I started answering those questions and today I started on that journey to being that type of person. I looked into a course that would help me raise my strategic awareness and provide me with some tools and courage to tackle such weighty high brow issues. And I found one, I secured the funding and applied. Today I was accepted onto the course. I can start at the beginning of next month.

I am doing it! Someone like me is doing it!

If you know me you know that ‘people like me don’t do things like that’ is my stock self limiting statement.

So I am doing it, I made myself vulnerable, I am scared I will fail and fall flat on my face but I started it. I am going to brave the arena so wish me luck.