Week off to re-charge

I had rather an eventful week last week, popping over the other side of the country to see a member of my family who was poorly. They are fine now, and I am certain it was more for my benefit than theirs. My mind is at rest, and I have now stopped letting my imagination get the better of me.

You may remember in my last blog, that I have started a course on strategic coaching, and I was doing some research in preparation for writing my assignment, on coaching and mentoring in an organisational culture. So everyday this week I have spent a couple of hours continuing the research and making copious notes, on organisational culture, coaching and mentoring policies, and people strategies to name a few of the subjects I have been immersing my self in every morning this week. So for many of you that may sound as dull as ditch water. For me it has been restorative and enlightening. I know! I’m a boring bastard! When I have not been writing I have been re-acquainting myself with one of my favourite writers Brene Brown. Before I went to Chester I ordered Rising Strong, so it was waiting for me on my return. If you are feeling less than resilient at the moment, if you have been knocked down and are struggling to get back up, then this is the book for you. Have you seen her Netflix special yet? If not seek it out, I laughed, cried and felt inspired.

It has been a week where I could work at my own pace, where I could just allow my anxieties and worries wash over me. Where I could just let myself be me.

I spent the other evening trawling through Spotify to compile a playlist, as you know I love music and often bang on about my eldest son’s band (incidentally they are playing in Manchester on 30th April at The Castle Hotel, please pop along and say hello if you are in the area), oh and now my youngest is in a band now, so I will be boring you all about them soon enough, I have heard some early demo’s and they are pretty awesome. Anyway as I was telling you I spent the other evening compiling a playlist of new music. There is a lot of really good music with something to say at the moment. So if you are interested in music and if like me it holds mystical restorative powers for you, I have included a link to this playlist for you.

Ahh April Playlist


I hope you enjoy the playlist, I generally use music to help me be present, it suspends my thought process as I let the sounds wash over me, I can then focus on what is happening to me at that moment, how the music interacts with my senses and allows me to tune into my environment. I have started running again. I wish I hadn’t stopped, as it has been harder than ever to get going with it again. I am using a couch to 5k app, and it is really helping me, but so is using my playlists, they don’s stop the discomfort but they help me reconcile it, and gets me through that initial discomfort. I am beginning to feel they I am making progress, which is good really as I doing the Hull 10k in June (no pressure). Wish me luck!

All in all another good week, roll on the next, and lets see what adventures that brings.

Back to The Books

After a 2 year gap(ish) I have gone back to studying. A correspondence course this time via Brighton School of Business and Management and the Chartered Management Institute. You guessed it, it is another coaching course.

Over Christmas I was looking round for a coaching course that was the next level up, that would benefit me day to day work as coaching lead and compliment my private coaching work. So I asked myself, what makes me feel the most uncomfortable, what do I find the most difficult, what do I avoid if I can. The answer is simple really, it is the strategic side of coaching and mentoring. In essence the embedding of coaching and mentoring within an organisation. How do I make a service that is robust enough, and simple enough to become second nature in an organisation. I want to create a service that makes a difference and continues to evolve. As well as creating a fantastic coaching and mentoring service and culture in my own organisation I want to be able to support other organisations, big and small create their own coaching and mentoring culture. So that was the aim I set myself.

I found this Level 7 Strategic Coaching and Mentoring Diploma via the CMI and went for it. Each module answers the questions that worry me. It is going to push me, but looking at my first assignment and the materials on offer it is going to do more than help me strategically, it will help me see my coaching practice through a new set of eyes. I am already thinking about how I can support Executives and business owners, to help them develop an excellence mindset. In fact I have already started to adapt my coaching offer to reflect this. So if you are an Exec or a business owner that wants to try out something new to flex your performance, send me an email, it would be great to explore it’s benefits.

You may notice though that as deadlines for assignments gets closer there may be fewer blogs. It will also slow down the book progress (which to be fair is quite slow anyway). I may however share as many nuggets of wisdom as I find.

Just a short blog today as I am still at my Mum’s and I need to get ready to travel back to Hull.

Have a lovely Easter weekend

My Journey To Becoming a Coach

Like many people I suffer occasionally from a version impostor syndrome. How dare I call myself a coach, what do I know. How dare I presume that I have the skills and knowledge to put myself into the lofty position of being someone’s coach. This was something we were talking about at my last coaching session. We talked about where these feelings come from and how ridiculous these thoughts were. My coach offered a suggestion of writing my time line of significant events. The events that have contributed to me becoming a coach, coaching lead and clinical nurse educator. The idea is to debunk these feelings of inadequacy that I feel from time to time and give potential clients and stakeholders an insight into my background and how that influences the way I coach. So I thought I would do a little potted history of my adult life, highlighting events that I think have had an influence on me. So here we are.

1989

This was the year I became an adult, the year I failed my A Levels, left home in Chester and started my Nurse Training in Hull. This was the year I started my love affair with my Hull (there is no better City for me). The 2nd October 1989 was the first day of the rest of my life, the day my own journey began, the day I started to write my story.

1990

1990 was the year I discovered Spiders nightclub and the wonders the ‘wiggly worm’. This was the year I ate my first Rogan Josh (that was a revelation) at the Khyber Restaurant. I saved my first life in 1990, performing cardiac massage on a patient. In fact I ended up being involved with a number of medical emergencies in my first year of nursing. I had some exciting ward placements in my first year (medical elderly, acute medical and vascular surgery). I spent my first Christmas away from home in 1990 looking after elderly patients, and drinking Vodka whilst watching Ghost on my own. I met my future Best Man in March 1990 (cheers Ju).

If you don’t mind I will be skipping a year or two as we continue otherwise this could take some time.

1992

I met Lisa in 1992 on 10th April (8 years later Ben was born on this day). I turned 21, whilst on placement on 130 West (a Ward I would eventually manage 9 years later). Whilst on placement I decided that I wanted to become a Children’s Nurse.

1993

I qualified as a General Nurse (RGN) and started work on Ward 12 (Children’s ENT)

1994

I started to train to be a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse

1995

I qualified as a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse, and started work on Ward 130 East (Children’s Surgery). Ward 130 east cared for children with a wide range of surgical conditions including trauma patients and patients undergoing neurosurgery. It was an incredibly ward and we cared for a lot of very sick children. The next 3 years were extremely challenging. There were a number of shifts when I had never felt so tired, stressed and even scared. Looking back they were traumatic times, that were made bearable by teamwork. We bought our first house and started on the mortgage gravy train.

1996

I married Lisa. We had booked a holiday to Greece and then decided to get married and make the holiday a honeymoon. We had a wonderful day with our friends and family. The holiday was alright but we both had a cold for the whole 2 weeks.

1998

I moved wards to the children’s medical ward (130 West) before getting a job in Intensive Care. I worked there for just over a year, before I returned to 130 West and took part in a rotational programme between 130 West and ICU.

2000

Ben was born on 10th April, the day I became a father and my life changed forever. Being a father of my 2 boys is the most important role I have. The joy I feel in my heart when I think of my boys is beyond words. I think of my life in terms of pre and post children. Other stuff happened this year like getting promoted to senior staff nurse, but that is insignificant really.

2001

I lost my father this year, it broke my heart. Foggy took over my life for a long time after that awful day in September. I started work on the newly opened Paediatric High Dependency Unit.

2002

Jack was born on the 29th May. Obviously this and 10th April are the best days of my life. I got promotion again to Charge Nurse of 130 West a job I did for 11 years with Foggy right beside me all the way. I remember my first day as Charge Nurse, I was terrified, I didn’t have a clue what to do, and what a roller coaster ride it was.

2002-2013

Those 11 years were an adventure, where I learned an awful lot about myself, as a Nurse, a Leader and a Man. I would like to say I loved it, but I didn’t really. I wrote a blog sometime ago about compassionate leadership, where I talked about my experience as a leader at the turn of this century. Now I wonder if my time came 10 years to early, then I think my experience will help me be make sure that leaders of the future do not have to experience what me and many others went through as Charge Nurses and Sisters. There is a better way to lead and that is with compassion not just to those around you but to yourself. In 2012 I met my lovely friend Janis, who taught me how to be a Clinical Supervisor, and helped my realise I was worth something and did have a talent. 4 years later that helped me kick start my passion for coaching.

2013

I left 130 West and became the Interim Teacher Practitioner. My boss at the time asked me to work with the Safeguarding Children Named Nurse to train nurses as Safeguarding Supervisors. For the next year I adapted and rolled out Safeguarding Supervision Training and co-wrote the safeguarding supervision guidelines. I loved doing the training as it played to my strengths of compassion and communication. Foggy however was still knocking about and making me feel miserable.

2014-2016

I spent a lot of time struggling with Foggy. By 2016 I had an angle on the little fella. He still there but now I have an appreciation of him and I know to manage him. During this time I was seconded to the University for a day a week as a lecturer for a year. Those days were a ray of sunshine working with some wonderful people and spending time with the future of nursing.This relationship with the University continues to this day, working with 2 lecturers on a meta-analysis research into the care of young people with eating disorders. In 2016 I also started to work with a local 6th form college as a mentor and since then I have mentored 5 students who have gone on to start their nurse training.

2016

In 2016 I started the coaching course and found my tribe, I met another good friend of mine Anthony (the tutor) and my future boss Lucy. Lucy is the lady that saw my passion for coaching and gave me the opportunity to turn it into a job, I will be forever grateful to this wonderful lady. Thank you Lucy.

2017-Now

In the past 2 years I have coached inside and outside the hospital. I have coached managers, nurses,midwives, teenagers, charity workers, housewives, designers, artists, doctors and business owners. I have loved coaching every single one of them. I have learned so much from everyone of them. In 2017 Lucy asked my Matron (Vanessa) if she could borrow me for 2 days a week. Thank you Vanessa for saying yes. So for 2 days a week for a year I was borrowed to start a coaching and mentoring network. I worked with Anthony to train more coaches, arranged coaching supervision and connected people up with coaches. In December 2018 I became Coaching Lead permanently (still only 2 days a week). We have trained over 20 coaches, and over the past year coached over 70 people. I have revamped manager as coach training. In April 2017 I connected back up with Janis and started to help her train clinical supervisors. We are on a mission to train 300 supervisors over 3 years. Outside of the trust I have started writing a book on my approach to coaching called Connected Living. I have written a masterclass for self management based on the concept of the book. Connected Living comes from my experience as a ward manager and how my self-neglect and lack of personal management led to my lack of resilience when I was swimming against the tide.

What is next

To finish writing my book. Start a level 7 coaching diploma. Further develop the coaching and mentoring network, embedding it into the organisation. Expand my coaching practice, and delivering the Connected Living Masterclass to a wider audience.

So that was my timeline. I am not sure if I did it the way my coach expected by I found it quite useful. I feel much more comfortable with where I am in my career.

If after reading this you feel inspired and want to know more about my coaching service, please feel free to email or message me.

Perhaps we should just get on with it?

I know some of my friends will be spitting their coffee over their phones reading this, but stick with me and let me explain what I mean.

I have heard this phrase a lot over the years, often from the mouths of well meaning but exasperated friends and colleagues, it can often be replaced with buck up! Anyone that has suffered from depression of any level of severity has heard those terms and felt that helpless feeling, even self loathing, in response to our inability to just get on with it. But what if was possible to get on with it, that could protect many of us from becoming ill, or that helped us stay off the anti-depressants.

The thing is most of the people that say just get on with it, are being quite sincere, because that is just what they do, with out realising that this is something that does not come naturally to many of us. There are I suppose situations where we all know that we can just get on with it regardless and then other situations where just getting on with it are impossible.

Getting on with it or JFDI (just flippin do it) is reliant on how resilient you are feeling at the moment when that task is required. Now I am debating going for a run this morning, and to be honest I have been struggling to restart running. As we know my resilience has been a little bit low recently, so I wonder if my inability to JFDI is down to this lack of resilience.

That is my point really, to be able to JFDI of get on with it, we need to address our resilience and look after ourselves. I imagine those that do get on with it pay attention to their resilience albeit subconsciously.

So lets examine my inability to no just get on with going for a run, by looking at the three characteristics of resilience described by Coutu (this is just as much for me, as it is for you).

Realism: When I went for a run on Monday evening I had this ridiculous idea that I could run solidly for 15 minutes before walking (I have not really run since December). I lasted a minute, now I did this 7 more times with some spells of walking as per the app I was using, after the 8th run I felt like a wreck. I was terribly unrealistic about my level of fitness. The level of pain and how quickly I got out of breath took be by surprise and quick frankly embarrassed me. I would even go as far to say I was ashamed of myself. Now this is quite ridiculous, I am 48 and overweight and have not run for 3 months, what else should I expect. There we are I have appraised my realism and there is some work I need to do on what I should expect from my running at first. There is clearly a need to manage my level of expectations of what I am going to feel when I run, which is a certain amount of discomfort during the run, which is then replaced with an elation and high when I have finished the run.

Purpose: This I have examined a lot. In the short term I have signed up for a 10k in June. Now going back to my realism, I am convinced I will not be able to run all the way round. What I want to do is run for 15 minutes and walk for 5 minutes on repeat until I have finished. So that is one reason for starting to run again. The other is fitness. I feel unfit, I am nearing 50 and want to be healthy for as long as I can. This stems back to my core value of usefulness. The longer I am healthy for, the longer I can make a useful contribution. It also makes me feel incredible once I have finished. So purpose is not an issue for me. s

Resource: So I have trainers and shorts, somewhere to run and an app. So I have the physical resources to actually go for a run. However whilst I sit here I wonder about my physical and mental resource, in other words the energy and motivation. If I examine the physical resource, I can go back to realism and examine how long I will be running for today. I will only be running for 8 minutes, how much resource do I need to run for 8 minutes in one minute bursts. It will make me breathless and sweaty and my legs will hurt but only for about 20 minutes. If I examine the mental resource I need all I have to do is remember why I am doing it and is that more important than sitting listening to the radio. How useful will listening to the radio make me?

Well I seem to have talked myself into going for a run. I still however have to do it.

Paying attention to your resilience and what my be reducing it, in theory seems quite easy, actually putting it in to practice is a little harder. It requires you to be honest with yourself and maybe address things that may make you feel uncomfortable. Reflecting is not easy and as I say a lot takes practice. I am learning to be more and more reflective, and it is bloody hard work.

If you want to explore this further and are thinking about some one to one coaching get in touch.