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.

Please lets look for what unites us?

I normally avoid current affairs and politics on my blog, but I feel I need to write about what is happening in the UK right now.

Every time I turn on the news, open my phone or computer, I am bombarded with anger, accusations, mistrust and disconnection, and worst of all I am drawn into it and find myself getting angry about people’s choices and starting to hate people for their political views. This cannot be right. This attacks all my values of care, inclusion, and generosity. If I am not living up to these values I do not feel courageous and useful, which are my core values. If work against my core values, I feel lost, sad and anxious.

I am noticing that there are a lot of people that are struggling with their well-being at the moment. They are either more angry and short tempered than normal., or quieter and less buoyant than they are normally. I wonder if they are feeling like me, and are not living up to their core values.

The country feels so sad and so angry at the moment. It feels like the anger comes from, something I always considered a strength of this country. We have always been able to agree to disagree. The people of these islands from my view have always accepted difference (they might not like it, but you would often hear the phrase “each to their own”). That seems to have left us, decency and fair play have left us. It is OK now to attack people because they are different, have a difference of opinion.

Don’t get me wrong I know there has always been bigots, thugs and racists in our society, but there has always been the sensible, kind, inclusive voice that on the whole has shouted louder. That voice recently seems quieter, the reasonable majority has either fallen silent or has become the unreasonable majority.

There is a very real prospect that over the next few weeks, these differences are going to get worse. Either we will leave Europe with or without a deal or we will stay in Europe for a little while longer, no matter what happens one group will feel aggrieved. I am really worried that this will boil over and worst damage could be inflicted on our country.

I know I may be, being a little dramatic, but maybe it is important that we all take a pause, try to understand each other and make a plan that is good for all of us. We all need to rediscover what unites us. If you are a remain supporter, have you spoken to a leave supporter and listened to understand why they believe leaving Europe is the best thing for the country and vice versa. Please lets listen each other and find out…“What matters to us…”

WHAT MATTERS TO YOU?

I need a re-charge

What is really funny is that over the past couple of weeks I have been writing about and researching resilience, not noticing that I was becoming less and less resilient myself.

For the 2 or 3 weeks now I have been running around tending to others needs and delivering content. Now I get a lot out of both delivering teaching sessions and one to one sessions with people. However I was not noticing my own well-being and listening to my own advice. I was not giving myself time to recover (or sufficient time). I was underestimating how much all of this work takes from me, physically and mentally.

My preferred attitude is to be introverted. I find it very difficult to talk to people I do not know, or embark on new activities that involve speaking to strangers. For instance if I cannot find something in a shop I will walk out rather than asking a shop assistant. Given a choice I prefer to email or text people rather than talk on the phone.

Us humans are complicated so my introversion is not the full story. I also like to be recognised for doing a good job and I like to make a difference to people’s lives. I have learned to enjoy extroversion and I am now happy to stand in front of people to deliver content, and have coaching conversations with people. To get me to that point though requires quite a lot of energy.

This has been the problem recently, I have been coaching and teaching a lot, and I had not noticed how much this was taking from me. That is until this week. By Wednesday I could feel my resilience waning, and by Thursday night I was completely spent, getting up a going to work on Friday morning was so difficult. In fact how I felt on Friday morning reminded me of what I felt like when I was at my lowest and was unable to go to work. Yesterday I went to work. I had a plan.

I had a lovely walk in to work in the sunshine taking in the views and just being in the moment. When I got to work I talked about what was happening to me with people I trust. I could feel myself re-energising. After work I went for tea with my work colleagues. We drank we laughed, we laughed, we drunk some more, laughed some more and then went home.

I am tired this morning, a little hungover, but optimistic. I will when life gets busy, when I am required to be an extrovert, that I need to schedule in extra recovery time. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to recover. Paying attention to yourself allows you to be the best person you can be.

How Do We Know if We Are Truly Resilient?

I have got a couple resilience projects on the go at work (in collaboration with some wonderful people) and this has peaked my interest in the subject and encouraged me to do a little bit of further reading around the subject. It has made me realise that my approach to coaching whether that be inside or outside of my work place is to build and maintain resilience, and a lot of what I was reading for the first time was in step with what I had read previously (when I was looking for inspiration for my connected living work). It is always a great feeling when you notice that all the research around, success, resilience, and well-being essentially say the same thing, it does suggest there might be some truth to it, so you may well be barking up the right tree.

Anyway, so what have I found out about resilience? As we everything the key to resilience is pretty obvious really, but not that straightforward to put into practice. Saying that it is clear that some of us naturally resilient, whereas the rest of us have got some work to do. I was reading an article from the Harvard Business Review (I know get me!), by Diane Coutu entitled ‘How Resilience Works’ (https://hbr.org/2002/05/how-resilience-works) . So Coutu suggests that resilient people and organisations possess three characteristics. When I read this it really resonated with me and I could connect it with how I approach my connected living idea and my coaching offer. So what I would do is address each characteristic and how I see it show up in my self and people around me. Hopefully it will resonate with you and help you become more resilient, at home and at work.

The 3 characteristics that Coutu suggests are present in resilient in people and organisations are: Realism, Purpose, and Resourcefulness.

Realism

How realistic are you about you current circumstances, including the risks and opportunities these circumstances hold. It is easy to deliberately not notice what is going on around us, or take our circumstances for granted. It is worth taking a few moments to critically analyse what is really going in. Ask yourself those simple questions: What assumptions am I making about my circumstances? What are the implications if I carry on this way? Is there another way to view my circumstances? What risks are there to my current circumstances? What do I need to do to reduce these risks? What can I achieve based on my circumstances? Do I need to change what I am doing to create more opportunity?

There are many more questions you can ask. The point is to raise your own awareness to help you anticipate potential threats and challenges. It is not about being risk averse, is about being risk aware.

The idea is that if you go through life just hoping for the best, you will be disappointed. It is after all the hope that kills you. If life or work is hard you need to acknowledge that and prepare for it. For instance working as a Healthcare Professional anywhere in the world is hard work, and is relentless, with very little reward. If you hope that it will get easier and that one day you will go into work and have more resources than you need, everyone will get better and your boss will send you home early with a well earned bonus, you will soon become disheartened. Whereas if you expect to work really had with limited resources and plan for that, and can see all the positives that you get from caring for people (the personal satisfaction that comes from making a difference), you are much more likely to thrive in that environment and be successful.

Purpose

Does what you do, have a purpose? Are you clear why you do things? Is what you do in concert with your values? If we don’t fully appreciate or believe in what we are doing then we can feel disenfranchised from our work and lives quite quickly. As we have discussed before having meaning is vital for our well-being. This is as important for teams and organisations as it is for individuals. We have to buy into the values of the organisation we work for and see that those around us also buy into those values including the senior management. It is worth finding out what your core values are using the values exercise I offered in my previous post
https://mattycoach71.com/2019/02/10/my-writing-progress/

It is worth understanding when you work with your values and and when you don’t and how that makes you feel.

Resourcefulness

The third characteristic is being resourceful. It is not always possible to have the resources you need to get the job done. So sometimes you have to be creative with what you have got, whether that is physical or psychological resource. Do you find yourself moaning about not having the right equipment, or that you don’t have enough, or it is out of date? Do you say to yourself or others that you don’t know how to do something a certain way, so you give up? In other words do you work from a point of view of scarcity? Being resourceful is turning that on it’s head and looking at what you do have and how you can solve the problem, rather than looking at what you don’t have and what you cannot solve. This takes practice and challenge to change your mindset. Having the negative mindset however does not change what you need to do. Exploring possibilities opens up options that you may not have see were there.

Just having one or two of these characteristics is not enough to be resilient. To be truly resilient you will need all 3 characteristics. On the face of it, it seems quite obvious. It is however not that easy and takes practice and persistence to achieve.

By all means get in touch if you want to discuss your personal resilience or the resilience of you team in more detail.

A Week of Compassion and Ethics

Before I start talking about what has happened to me this week, I would just like to share something that I am noticing about myself at the moment. My weeks seem to be going a lot faster at the moment. I know it is a very middle aged British thing to say. It must be that I am so engaged with the content of my week that I do not notice the time passing. There you are, just something I wanted to share.

So Monday and Tuesday saw me introducing Compassionate Clinical Supervision to 6 senior Nurses/Practitioners. Compassionate Clinical Supervision is the particular style of Clinical Supervision we have adopted in Hull and are teaching our Nursing and ODP (Operating Department Practitioner) staff. Clinical Supervision (in the Nursing world) is an important but much neglected practice. The purpose is to support the nurse in their practice, and improve outcomes for patients. Now we have added compassion into clinical supervision. The emphasis of our supervision is restorative, with the premise being that a Practitioner will be better able to show compassion to their patients if they are able to accept compassion from themselves and those around them. Healthcare is challenging, it always has been and always will be, and in the context of modern society can feel more challenging than ever. Therefore it is more important than ever to formalise an approach that goes some way to restore our Nurses/Practitioners. So that is what we are doing by training Nurses/Practitioners to be Clinical Supervisors.

The training we offer is held over 3 days. The first 2 days are positioned consecutively with the third day about a fortnight later. Day 1 and 2 are quite full on, so that is why we have a gap before we come back with the 3rd day.

Normally there would be 2 of us delivering the training as the training is very practice heavy, therefore it is easy to observe what is going on during the practice supervision sessions with 2 sets of eyes. However my partner in crime had succumb to the dreaded respiratory viruses that circulate this time of year. That meant that I was single handed, a challenge but one that I relished.

I met 6 wonderful people who made the 2 days extremely enjoyable, and I would like to think that all of us took something valuable away from those 2 days. We had some really useful rumbles that allowed us to really dig into the group supervision process and tackle some of the more challenging moments that turn up when supervising groups.

When I got home on Tuesday night I felt mentally satisfied but exhausted. I was glad I had experienced those 2 days but also glad it was over.

Wednesday was spent running around catching up with people that I had not seen for a few weeks. Just checking in with them and making sure they were OK. There are some days that are just taken up with restorative conversations, or making arrangements for various staff to get the support they need and deserve. Wednesday felt like I was just paying attention to some of my spinning plates that were maybe at risk of running out of spin and going crashing to the floor. There was also some work on resilience that myself and some colleagues needed to get started. So it was a running around kind of day. I love days like that (well at least one a week, a full week of them is a little testing).

Thursday was spent in Leeds attending to the second half of the title of today’s blog. Attending a CPD day on Ethics in Coaching. in terms of my coaching journey, this at the moment feels like one of the most impactful days I have had. It is always great to connect up with other Coaches that work in healthcare, and then add on some really useful content and that turns it into a quite special day. I found it particularly useful in the context of me learning to be a Coaching Supervisor, my role as a Clinical Supervisor and as a Coach. The tools and concepts that I was introduced to, resonated with all of those roles I hold and I could clearly see how I could apply them to help either myself or my client consider the ethics of what is in front of us. When I booked on the day I felt it was important to do to understand the boundaries and rules of coaching, but I thought it would be quite dull and dry. I never anticipated it would have such an impact on me and how I view my work. I was completely engaged during the whole day, and was disappointed the day had come to an end.

Friday was dominated with the resilience work for me. We spent a large part of the afternoon thrashing out a presentation on resilience for leaders to be delivered early next week. I love coming up with ideas but struggle sometimes with making a tangible product, so I was glad of my colleagues who have more of an eye for detail. My day ended with my own coaching. I have felt frazzled for a few weeks with so much happening, so I was really looking forward to some restorative coaching, and my coach did not disappoint. She gave me the space to talk about all the things that are making me frazzled and getting in the way of me achieving my goals. It was one of those sessions where I could feel a physical change in myself after the coaching. Thank you Coach.

Roll on next week and more adventures