My writing progress

So I have been struggling writing chapter 5 for the best part of a month. Today I had spent the whole morning writing, no matter how much I tried I just could not get it to fit as a chapter on it’s own. I was writing about the different personas we employ. However when I finished writing it, it just did not have enough detail. When I looked at the previous chapter I realised that the subject matter fitted perfectly with the chapter, so I have made it a section of chapter 4 and not chapter 5, which will now centre on our emotions and how they can rule our lives. So which this space for Chapter 5. Below is a sneak peek of Chapter 4 in it’s raw form, it will be refined again but if you have any thoughts please feel free to message me.

 Chapter 4

How do you prefer to behave?

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 afterall 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 yours 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 its 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. Sometimes 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 perceive the world using sensation or intuition. If you use sensation you may well have written;

  • 2 girls
  • Grass
  • Dresses
  • Bridge
  • Leaves
  • Pink shoes
  • Turquoise 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 perceive 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 sensor 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.

What do you want people to see?

Now you have explored whether you prefer to be an introvert or an extrovert, whether you make decisions based on thinking or feeling and whether you prefer to use sensation or intuition to make sense of your world. We are all a complex mix of these traits and the subtle mix that makes up our personas are different for different situations.

The question is I suppose are your persona’s you show to the world the ones you really want to show.

When I say personas I am not suggesting that we all have multiple personalities. We do show up as the same person wherever we are, however we will accentuate certain traits in different situations. It is not something that we always consciously do, and sometimes if we think about how we turn up it is not always the most helpful. I know I often become quite self deprecating and flippant when I am in the presence of people more senior than me. Over the years this has caused me a few problems with people seeing me as being disrespectful and unprofessional. With people that I consider to be my equal, but I do not know very well, I can on occasions be a little condescending and free with my opinions and advice, not taking into consideration their experience and knoweldege. When I think about these less than helpful personas of mine, I understand what I am trying to do when I employ them, I am trying to be liked, unfortunatley this is not what I get (most of the time). What I get is irritation and disconnection from the person at the recieving end of me. These personas are not congruent with my core values of courage and usefulness.

When I take time and ease into my values I start to connect with people and people want to spend time with me. So lets delve into that a little bit more. When I spend some time to quietly listen to people, and seek to understand them, I am able to dig deep into my courage and support people in a useful way. What is courageous about listening to people you may ask. As with many people my righting reflex is strong, and I am always wanting to provide people with solutions. In addition to this most people are quite keen for me to give them a solution. This however rarely ends well and it can often feel quite flat and we would end up with a situation described earlier. What really helps them is to be listened to without obvious judgement, and be given the space to work things out. This takes courage not to provide the answer, but to allow them to come up with their own solution. It feels comfortable to offer solutions and impart advice (something we will discuss later in the book), but what you are doing is saying that any thoughts they have are inferior to yours. Therefore it takes courage to not respond to your own ego, and respond to what the person in front of you is telling you. As a coach I will ask myself who am I in the service of, myself or my client. Using my righting reflex will always serve my ego, but rarely helps my client.

If I show courage and resist my righting reflex with my clients, I can help them explore thier potential. If they then can create an action plan to achieve their goal, I have been useful, and they view me in a positive light.By aligning your behaviours and attitudes to your values you feel more positive towards yourself and are generally projected in a positive light, rather than working against your values.

So why do we show our less than helpful personas? One explaination maybe that we try to live up to values that we think we should have. Values that maybe prescribed to us by the society with live in, because of who we are, or what we percieve our society values, such as financial stability, power, responsibility, patriotism or anything else you can think of, that you see as having value in the world around you.

Are you trying to live up to somebody you think you should be. It all goes back to our paradigm, our view of the world. As we discovered earlier our paradigms constructed slowly overtime from a complex mixture of our experiences and cultural references. Therefore it is very easy to fall into trying to be the person that your circumstances dictate, rather than the person who encompasses your core values. This may explain why I turn up as a bit of a know it all, who tries to solve people’s problems instead of listening. This no doubt is a result of a combination of my role as nurse and clinical educator, a leader, and a man. The societal view of nurses are that they will rescue people from thier predicaments, educators obviously provide information to help people improve, leaders are looked up to and direct their followers, and males protect. These are clearly very 1 dimensional views of each of those roles but something we all do everyday, becuase it is easy just to work on simple assumptions when we lead busy lives. However if I take time to challenge my paradigms and examine the roles I undertake and then apply them to my core values my paradigm shifts and how I turn up changes. I turn up more consistently and in line with my values. Now don’t get me wrong, I still turn up as an annoying git (ask my wife) from time to time. It is very easy to slip back in to a lazy one dimensional view of our world without applying a critical eye on why we see things the way we do. We are often aware that we have one dimensional views of other people, but rarely do we apply that principle to ourselves. If we critically analyse our view of ourselves we can check if the person we are showing the world is the person that represents who we really are. It takes practice to challenge your paradigms and the assumptions you make about how you should act.

Earlier in the book you were invited to test the assumptions you make about the world around you. It would be useful to use a version of this exercise to examine your view of the roles you fulfil in life.

  • What are the facts about the role I fulfil?/What do I really do to fulfil this role?
  • How do I describe my role?
  • Where do the sources that inform my description come from?
  • Are the sources stories I have been told by others (inlcuding first hand story telling and stories past down)?
  • Do the stories hold up to scrutiny (are they reflected in the actual activity)?
  • Are the sources first hand experiences (based on actual activity and events witnessed by you)?

At this point it is useful to have pinpointed what your core values are, if you have not done it so far. Ideally having one or two core values is the aim.

Once you have identified your core values, you can examine the roles you fulfil in the context of what you value. This exercise is pinched and adapted from an exercise that Brene Brown uses to operationalise you values. I however want you to examine whether you work in harmony with your values or not and the effect that has on the persona you show the world.

For each role you fulfil think of 3 occassions when you have lived up to your values.

  • What were you doing?
  • What were you saying?
  • What are the other people doing?
  • How did you feel at the time and after?

Then for each role think of 3 occassions when you have not lived up to your values. Ask yourself the same questions.

  • What were you doing?
  • What were you saying?
  • What are the other people doing?
  • How did you feel at the time and after?

This is not an easy exercise, I find it really difficult to be reflective, but what it does is open your eyes to all your behaviours and personas helping you examine when you are showing the best version of yourself rather than a version that does not represent you best characteristics.The art is to keep practicing, keep checking in that you are not creating a lazy one dimensional version of yourself and are turning up in full complex, multicoloured 3 dimensions. As I keep saying this requires work, however all things wonderful require effort.


Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

One thought on “My writing progress

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