Coaching, Facebook Groups, Work-Life Balance, and The RSPB Birdwatch. 30/01/22

It has been a busy week this week, lots going on in my head and some different activities. I will start on the coaching front, as you will know (or not) I coach as part of my day job in the NHS, and I also offer coaching in my spare time. The idea was that I could gradually increase my external coaching practice and as time goes by reduce the number of hours I work in the NHS. The external coaching practice has been quiet for some time. Now there are a few reasons for that. It is not my main job so time to spend on thinking about it is limited to when I am not at work, and that is also true for seeing clients. We have had a global pandemic, so everyone’s focus has been elsewhere and for some money was tight. Conversely my prices were too low, they screamed bargain basement, and did not reflect my knowledge and skill as a coach. Lastly I was very much a generalist in my approach to coaching. Everything interested me, career, well-being, life, executive, only problem is none of you knew what I was coaching. Now when I coach in the NHS it is fairly general however most of the time is spent with professional development. Recently I have coached for well-being for obvious reasons. I have however noticed a lot of my coaching conversations during my day job are focusing more and more on how to create the right balance between home and work. People are driven to do a good job and succeed, however at the same time they have a family that requires their attention. A lot of health professionals and senior managers in the NHS have sacrificed family life for work life, sometimes to protect their family. Which in the short term acute phase is painful but reconcilable because there was a feeling it was temporary and there would be reward of personal success and satisfaction at the end of the journey. As we start the 3rd year of the pandemic (it was 2 years ago when the first UK patients were admitted to our hospital) it feels like we a moving into a move chronic stage, where it is not as devastating and we do have work structures in place, but the pressure on people’s workload is still extremely challenging. People are burning out now. That got me thinking that it is not just NHS and Social Care workers that are feeling this. Every sector is having to juggle staff absences, due to illness and isolation, as well as try to build in recovery plans to adapt to a future that we all find increasingly difficult to predict. If you have school age children, you are still trying to catch up with getting their education both formal and social back on track, at the same time have some quality time with your family. There are an awful lot of people out their that are doing their best, getting by, just about keeping their heads above water, but if they do not pay attention to themselves very soon will start to burnout. So that is why I thought I would focus on Work-Life Balance for working parents as my coaching focus. So I have renamed my Facebook and Twitter pages and started to concentrate on how we start to look at how we create a balance between work and family that does not sacrifice what we value, and allows us to start flourishing. I have also set up Facebook group that offers free support and guidance, giving people the space to passively engage with useful content, add their own and discuss their experiences. This is a safe closed space I will not try to sell my coaching offers within that space, it is there for anyone. If people want to make and investment in developing and improving the balance they need to flourish at home and at work then I do offer 1:1 coaching, and webinars, they can access through a subscription or on a stand alone pay as you go offer. I have adjusted my prices to reflect the quality of the coaching I provide. Being coached requires commitment, so you really have to want to make a difference, so a moderate investment financially as well as an investment of your time is reasonable.

So let me get back to the Facebook Group. I opened it this weekend, and if you are interested in joining the link is below. Please come along and share the link with your friends.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/5005899586100035

To add a bit of my own work life balance, I have had quite a relaxing weekend. It started with a visit to a local restaurant on Friday evening, called Bella Rosa (https://bellarosaanlaby.com/) where we had a lovely meal courtesy of Lisa’s Auntie Barbara who had given us a voucher on for our Wedding Anniversary back in August. I know we got the voucher back in August and it took us this long to use it! We really do need to get out more. We did say that as part of our work-life balance we should commit to doing something like this a little more frequently than we do now. The pandemic has got us out of the habit of having evenings out. On the way home we thought we might pop into the local pub and have a drink. We walked home and when we got near the pub we both looked at each other and unanimously decided to give the pub a miss, go home, put our pjs on and watch netflix for the rest of the evening. To be fair the Calzone I had had at the restaurant had expanded my belly somewhat and my jeans we beginning to cut off circulation to my legs. So we went home and watch Safe by Harlan Corben on Netflix. On Saturday we got up and did the RSPB national birdwatch from our back bedroom. The results were disappointing due to the wind, so we decided to try again on Sunday before we submitted our results. We went into Hull City Centre in the afternoon to go to a craft fair at Hull Minster. It was a very pleasant if not a little expensive experience. It cost £2:50 each to get in, I think we spent around 10 minutes there and bought a couple of artisan sausage rolls for £6! We then went to the market and got some cheesecake from the polish bakery, that was so much nicer. After a brief visit to the Salvation Army charity shop where I got some cassette tapes for Jack (he uses them for sampling)we can home to scoff cake and lounge. This morning we completed the birdwatch, it confirmed what we already knew that our garden is dominated by Pigeons and Starlings, with a resident Robin. Lisa bought a security camera to put in the garden so she can see what wildlife we get in the garden. Now I am doing what I love writing this blog and thinking about all things coaching. It does feel like this week we have got the balance right. That is the point I suppose, we can get it right one time and not so the next time, and if we are curious and kind to ourselves we can tweak our lives to constantly improve how we live our lives.

Please join the group or get in touch if you want to start making a difference to what you are experiencing.

Don’t be a knob (23/01/22)

It has been a difficult week, but right now I am beginning to feel optimistic. I have had some tough staff support conversations this week. People are tired, after nearly two years they are still experiencing extremely challenging, often harrowing events. To top it all we seem to be suffering from a pandemic of intolerance and incivility. Some of the stories I am hearing are about people working incredibly hard in difficult circumstances and then having to face hostility and rudeness. What makes it worse is this behaviour is from all angles. It is not just one group of people, its from all of us. We are all bad tempered at the moment, and for good reason, but this short tempered and sometimes hostile behaviour is just making things worse. Incivility breeds incivility, when we get pushed we will invariably push back. I suppose I am guilty of a little bit of confirmation bias. Am I looking for incivility everywhere I look this week to confirm how I feel? Well yes, but there is a lot of it about, however that isn’t the only story there is a lot of kindness and compassion about if we/I decide to look for it. The place I work is full of acts of kindness and compassion, from a simple smile and greeting from a member of catering staff, to a nurse guiding a confused patient back to their bed. It is not just the hospital where I can see kindness if I bothered to look, it happens in the shops on the buses and just on the street. There are both incidents of incivility and kindness happening around us. If we choose to concentrate on how rude everybody is, that is what you will see and it will increase your risk of behaving that way. I know I have been guilty of being grumpy this week, I have tried all week to look for the beauty and kindness in the world, to create a balance and you know it does work, when you make a conscious choice to see the world differently it is possible to change your mood.

When you find yourself going down that one route and to be fair that can be down a incessantly positive road as much it is a negative one. We can be obsessed with being happy and not willing to acknowledge anything that be considered negative such as poor behaviour. This is just as toxic as being permanently pessimistic. Refusing to accept that anything is wrong in your world, and marginalising anyone or anything that challenges this. That is why it is vital to have that balance. So lets get back to what to do when you find yourself down either rabbit whole. The first thing to do is just notice that is what is happening. I noticed the other day when I was watching the news and seeing the numbers of infections dropping, I was immediately dismissive, and that this was due to less people being tested, and everything is still terrible. Then I read on twitter something that confirmed this immediately I dismissed it again, then I saw it in another source. At this moment I paused and realised I was off down a rabbit hole of dismissing anything that contradicted my narrative. What if my narrative is wrong? What if this new information is right? Just by pausing and viewing what is in front of me through a different lens will always allow information through your self imposed filter. I started to notice I was prejudging information based on what I wanted to look for. If I stop seeing information and events in terms of good or bad and start seeing them in terms of just information/data that can either be useful or not, then I can make better decisions about the world around me.

What I have noticed is, that this does not come naturally, and I keep defaulting to my biases when I am not looking. That for me is where using mindfulness has helped. As I keep defaulting I can notice more quickly that this is what is happening to me. Using mindfulness exercises helps me practice noticing thoughts and feeling rather than just being immersed in them. I can notice them come and go and say to myself…”Matt you’re being a knob again…” (actually I got this from Lisa as she has been known to use this phrase). Then I have a choice to continue, or pause and understand why I am reacting the way I was. It really does help me calm down. It does not stop me flying off the handle or making flippant comments but it does stop me from getting too entrenched in my views, and persisting in being permanently pissed off or toxically positive. If you want to try some mindfulness exercises I have a really simple 15 minute recording that might help. Just drop me an email or a message and I will send it to you.

A few months ago I wrote my own mission statement to help me articulate how I behave and how I want to be viewed. It encompasses my values and I find it really useful when deciding which thoughts and feelings are useful and which ones are not serving me well at all. I use it as my anchor, when I am feeling out of sorts and lost it is normally because I have drifted away from my mission statement. So I remind myself of it and start making decisions and behaving in a way that is aligned to it. Writing your mission statement requires you to dig deep into who you are and what motivates and drives you. It is incredibly useful and I would recommend you write one. If you are interested get in touch as I have two offers to help you write your own. The first one and the cheaper of the two is a recorded presentation on the steps you need to take to write it. The second and more exclusive option is a tailored 1:1 coaching approach where I walk you through how to write it and help you dig deep into what truly motivates you. The presentation will cost £5 and the 1:1 coaching will cost £50 (typically will take 2 sessions of 1 hour each).

So why am I feeling optimistic? Well the days are starting to get longer, the numbers of people in hospital with COVID is starting to go down and I am feeling cautiously hopeful that we will be able to resume our leadership programmes and do our normal work, especially as I have been told Amy will be starting to work with me on Clinical Supervision in a few weeks. So things are looking up.

Keep being kind and avoid being a knob. If you find yourself acting like a knob pause and ask yourself what you could do to help you stop.

Boris, shouting at the TV, couch to 10k, and dancing like no ones looking

What a week for getting the blood boiling, the news has been filled with lockdown parties at No. 10, and Boris Johnson trying to avoid all accountability. On top of that the not so Grand Old Duke of York and his alleged predatory behaviour, oh and I nearly forgot Novac Djokovic and his attempt to bend the rules to his convenience. Not a good week for Male White Privilege. Their antics have made me shout and swear at the TV and twitter. I could feel my jaw tensing and my fists clenching, and even if I remind myself that I no control over it so I shouldn’t spend so much energy on it, it still has a negative effect on my outlook, and I cannot help being frustrated by it. I do not want to stop watching the news as I think it is important to know what is happening in the wider world. But I do run the risk of feeling out of control and helpless in my own world.

This is something I have noticed in conversations I have had with nurses at work, they feel helpless and ignored. They are confronted by situations beyond their control and find it hard to see what is in their control. Many of them I speak to have had to change where they work and the way they work. This they acknowledge is no one persons fault it is just the circumstances of COVID patients and staff sickness. But when we feel helpless and out of control our mind looks for stories and circumstances that confirm this feeling of helplessness so them and me and no doubt all of you find ourselves focussing on and pushing against situations and issues we have no control over, and the cycle continues.

So this week I have decided to look for stuff I do have control over. It doesn’t change my frustration with all the shit that is going on but what it does is gives me an alternative. Now over indulgence and being a lazy git as resulted in my waist getting bigger and me feeling lethargic and unhealthy. Now I can do something about that. As you know Cancer Research is a charity close to my heart, and last year I ran the Great Manchester Run raising money for the charity. Well at the beginning of the week I signed up for this years Run again raising money for Cancer Research. This gave me the compelling reason to start running again. As I have let myself go over the past few months I started couch to 10k from scratch, and I have done 3 runs this week. Over the past couple of weeks I have also been giving away free mindfulness recordings to friends, choosing to help others also gives me a sense of control. I still get stressed about the news, I still shout at the TV, but I can also focus on what I do have control over. When I feel myself going down that helpless rabbit hole I can intentionally choose to look at what I do have control over.

This brings me to the last part of my title. We don’t always have control over what will cause us stress, and if we just tried to avoid stress we would never get anything. So stress is inevitable. What we do with it is important. This morning I felt quite stressed listening to the news and thinking about my week. I song came on Spotify and I started to dance around the kitchen (I know I am sorry about giving you that mental image). It made me feel better, it made me smile. It helped me complete my stress cycle. It made me feel safe, it reminded me that the world is just as beautiful and lovely, as it is ugly and terrible. I completed my stress cycle. So take time to complete your stress cycle and dance like no one is looking.

First Week of the year, lateral flows and critical incidents (08/01/2022)

2022 is only a week old and it already feels exhausting. There is just so much happening it seems, the noise from the news is deafening, and then we have our own lives to deal with. Its only January 8th and I feel like I want to take myself to bed until March.

I don’t know about you but I have felt a bit groggy this week. A combination of over indulgence from Christmas, a lack of exercise and the psychosomatic effect of everyone around you testing positive for COVID. I keep testing myself and I keep testing negative, feel for swollen glands at least twice a day, and have a daily internal debate on what constitutes a persistent cough (even though I have had a persistent cough in the past). I was always a bit of a hypochondriac as most of us tend to be, but omicron has turbocharged it.

To make matters worse the media seems hell bent on causing panic and hysteria in the general public again. The constant messaging that the NHS is on the brink of collapse is irresponsible and a bigger threat to public health than COVID 19 on it’s own. It is also untrue. The NHS is under a lot pressure at the moment, but this is not uniform across the country, and demand will peak at different times in different parts of the country. By telling the public the NHS cannot cope runs the risk of people who really need attention do not get seen. The media must provide a more balanced view and stop delivering news about health and public services with their ideological agenda whether that is to the left or the right. This is an emergency and what we need in an emergency is a cool head and for everybody to play their part in the solution, and that is not to cause panic.

That brings me to lateral flow devices. Have you got yours? It took me a bit of persistence but I did manage to get some from the government website. At one point at the beginning of the week it was stressing me out worrying about getting hold of them. But as with the news I realised I was spending a lot of time and energy reacting to events and situations that are out of my control. It was time for me to reduce my focus onto my sphere of influence and spend my time and energy on events and situations I can control. I can keep requesting LFDs online when I have a moment, I cannot control if there is any available, all I can do is try. After a day of trying I managed to get some.

Our youngest has been feeling poorly in Manchester, this has been quite stressful for us, hoping he is ok. He shares a house with his brother so we knew he would be cared for but that does not stop us worrying about him. Lisa dispatched his brother to the Chemist to get some difflam spray for his brothers sore throat. When he returned Lisa asked him how much she owed him. He casually said £19.01! “How much!!!” A perfectly understandable response I felt. It turns out he was being a caring brother and had put together a bit of a care package for his little brother, and got some cough medicine and vapo rub amongst other things. That was an example of Lisa feeling anxious and taking control of what she could control, and showing her care through her eldest son. For me it also confirmed that we had raised two wonderful, kind, and caring young men. Jack is feeling much better.

Work post Christmas has been quite strange for me. Half of my time has been spent working on my usual role and the other half of the week has been concentrating on building back up our staff support offer. Essentially this meant just tidying up our leadership development programmes to make sure we can pick them back up as soon as activity is reduced and restarting the active staff support responses by providing insitu drop in sessions for specific wards, one to one coaching and clinical supervision, and group leadership support for our department leaders. Our focus and purpose is to support our staff to continue to be the compassionate, caring, skilled health professionals they are. Having that purpose front and centre makes it easy for me to go to work everyday, even when it is difficult. This takes us back to the theme of today’s blog, when I focus on my sphere of influence I feel less stressed and better able to do what I need to do.

What I do need to get better at is to filter out all this noise from the news, especially when it is as noisy as it is at the moment.

Take care,

New Year…so far 2022 seems depressingly familiar (03/01/2022)

As we enter another pandemic dominated year, I thought I would re-start my regular blog, for a few reasons. One reason is for posterity, as a piece of history alongside all the other blogs and diaries written by countless others around the world. I did this back in 2020 and recently I self published those blog entries. To date I have sold around 10 copies either via Kindle or paperback, and if I am honest that is about 7 more than I expected. I might treat myself to a fancy IPA with the royalties. So if I manage to fill a year’s worth of blogs I might do it again for this blog series. Hopefully this series will end in a positive optimistic note.

2022 has started in a similar vain to 2021 with a variant of COVID causing havoc, however this particular variant does not appear to be devastatingly fatal as last years. This one in many ways could end up having a bigger more widespread impact on us all, as it attempts to infect as many of us as possible. Now most of us will end up with a mild headache and cough, others will be bed ridden for a few days, some people will end up in hospital with a very small number getting really sick. What kind of virus offers such a wide range of possibilities. And then there is the potential of some having long-term problems despite only having a mild acute illness. With all this information being thrown at us, in varying degrees of hysteria by the media, is there any wonder a lot of us are experiencing long-term anxiety. The side effect of this media frenzy is extremes of populist viewpoints on both sides of the argument from conspiracy theories about some elite global superclass controlling the masses with the illusion of a global pandemic, to people insisting on complete lockdown with no one being allowed out of their homes until the virus is eradicated. It is easy to see how these views can take hold, and create division, all you have to do is go on twitter to see these febrile arguments erupt on an hourly basis. I suppose pandemics do this, not only do they effect us physically but they impact on every part of our lives even if you have never actually been infected by the virus. The toll exacted by this virus as many people have said will not be fully appreciated for years to come. I suppose all we can do is start to work out how will live with it. This is not going to happen overnight, clearly as we move into our second year of this pandemic.

This has made me think about previous blogs I have written about living with uncertainty, this is what we have been doing for two years and it looks like we have a while to go before we can start to return to our normal balance of certainty and uncertainty. Learning to live with uncertainty takes time and effort. Dr Susan David ( I have mentioned her a few times in previous blogs) has written a wonderful book called Emotional Agility that is really helpful. Paul McGee’s book Shut Up Move On (SUMO) is also really good at explaining how to live uncertainty. I find mindfulness techniques useful to quieten my mind. Apparently I have a very soothing voice, so I have in the past recorded some mindfulness messages for people, if you would like one, email me or send me a message via twitter or Facebook and I will send you. I also offer personal coaching on how to live with uncertainty, to find out more email me or send me a message as above via social media.

We cannot do anything about the uncertainty of the pandemic, but we can manage our response to it. Stay safe everyone.

There is just a lot going on

Last weekend I felt overwhelmed, I had so many things going round my head. The week before had been my Mum’s 80th Birthday, and we had all travelled to see her. It was a lovely celebration full of emotion. Spending precious time with family is so special. I had placed so much importance on these few days with my Mum, my boys, my Sister, my Niece, my Nephews and my Great Niece, that it was becoming quite stressful and overwhelming. I know my Mum felt the same, gladly we both managed to calm down long enough to enjoy her special day. Even so the whole experience was quite emotionally draining. When we got home on Thursday I felt depleted.

On Friday and Saturday I decided to concentrate on my leading through the pandemic project. I spent most of Friday working out a strategy on how to present it. I got myself confused and stressed trying to rush the process to get something that made sense. I ended up wasting a lot of time messing around with transcripts and not really getting anywhere. This confusion and stress was swiftly followed by doubt and feelings of inadequacy. On Saturday morning after writing a blog and settling my mind I continued to work through transcripts this time reframing my actions as a helpful way to examine the content of transcripts, identifying themes and testing some ideas about how I might present the project.

I then started thinking about the daily blog entries I made at the beginning of the pandemic, that were a mixture of diary entries about what was happening to me and around me, with my thoughts on how to maintain our resilience. So I revisited them and had an idea of putting them all together into a book, that could be a companion piece to the leadership project. So I spent the rest of the day editing them and putting them into one document. This spilled over into Sunday and a large part of Sunday was spent fiddling with the entries and writing an introduction, as well as an hour spent exploring how I could get it published on Amazon. Even though I was having fun doing all this, I could feel a tension in my body. There was this underlying pressure to get things done, but I had taken on so much that it felt like it was impossible. As the Sunday drew to a close my focus shifted to work and all that needed to be done in the coming week and the following weeks. That with my personal projects was just too much. My mind was muddled with too many moving parts. For a moment I felt like pushing the stop button and taking myself off to bed for the rest of the year. I dismissed that thought immediately, I have got no choice, if I don’t go into work on Monday at finish designing the leadership webinar, continue co-ordinating the 360 degree feedback for our leadership programme participants, and co-ordinate the Clinical Supervision training for next year, then it won’t get done and I will feel more stressed and overwhelmed in the coming days and weeks.

I had a choice, I could continue to be zoomed out looking at all that needs to be done and feel overwhelmed, or I could zoom in on what needs to be done right now to achieve the big picture. I know I can do what needs to be done, some of it might be at the edge of my competence, but I know I can get support when I need it. So I parked the weekend projects to revisit this week and started shifting my focus to what I would be doing on Monday. I still had the tension in my body, I still felt pressure to achieve, throughout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I ended up recognising that, that tension was required to create the sense of urgency I needed to create some pace to get the different elements done. Half way through the week, my boss gave me some feedback that had a profound effect on me. She told me that the work I had done to develop a modular leadership programme was well received and added flexibility for the participants, many of whom are juggling completing the programme with high work demand. It was just the motivating tonic I needed. I really felt I was getting somewhere.

Last weekend and the beginning of last week was uncomfortable, I felt overwhelmed and out of my depth. It would have been easy to avoid those unpleasant feelings and shy away from pushing myself to achieve. What I did was acknowledge why I felt that way. I felt that way because it was important for me and others to complete what I started. My core values are courage and usefulness. My values were clearly driving me to keep going and achieve. Therefore the emotions I was feeling were helpful. To get the work done and to start achieving my goal I needed to concentrate on smaller performance goals each day, goals that I could achieve each day. So I zoomed in and focused on those individual goals using the tension and anxiety created by my need to be useful to motivate me. Halfway through the week my value of usefulness was validated which motivated me further.

When work or life starts to get too much, be curious about the emotions you are feeling, listen to what your mind and body are telling you. Allow yourself to make the right choice even if in the short term it is uncomfortable.

Is it time to untangle yourself from a past that no longer serves you?

I wrote a tweet earlier this morning suggesting that it is possible to learn to untangle ourselves from from the failings of our past, to allow us to act to create a compelling future.

Yes it is possible, if you are as tangled up as I am though it is going to take a while. That is what most of us don’t realise about self-improvement, it takes time and a huge amount of effort. Most of us (and yes I include myself in this) fail at the first hurdle. We give up early because we set ourselves up to fail by trying to untangle everything all at once, and like trying to unravel a piece of thread you just get more tangled than you were before. The only way to disentangle yourself is to start small and work on one knot at a time methodically and carefully.

If you read through my previous blogs you will see this is something I have been doing for quite sometime. It is working I have given up smoking, I am doing a job I love, I have two satisfying projects on the go and I coach privately, rather than being a smoker and stuck in a job I have fallen out of love with. I am learning to be more emotionally agile, and not being hooked on the need to be experiencing happy emotions all the time. I have still got plenty to do and the one thing the alludes me is managing my weight.

I would always tackle it as if it was one straightforward problem. Lose weight, by exercising and eating less and healthier food, oh and drink less beer. I should know better though. Nothing we do that is longstanding is straightforward, it is always tangled up with our view of our world, which is shaped by our past experiences and our relationship with those experiences. The reason I am fat is simple, I eat too much unhealthy food and don’t exercise enough. The reasons why I do those things even though I know they are bad for me is complicated, really complicated. When I think about it in many ways it is similar to my smoking habit, it took a while to disentangle that. The only difference is that I have been eating shit food for a lot longer than I was smoking, so there are a lot more knots.

You may have guessed as ever that I am writing this blog to sort my own shit out. Which is exactly true. I know what to do, but on this subject I have not previously delved deep enough. Writing this, is like zooming in on a big picture and concentrating on the small details one at a time.

So how am I going to tackle this issue, which knot am I going to concentrate on? I am going to concentrate on my emotional response to food and not exercising. What I value about these habits? How well are these habits serving me now? What could I possibly do that would serve those values now? Which one of those actions could I start to do now?

It sounds really simple but really examining the emotions and values that lay beneath a longstanding habit is challenging and requires a shift in mindset. You may remember a blog I wrote about Acceptance Commitment, or more recently when I wrote about Dr Susan David’s Emotional Agility. These approaches are very useful when untangling yourself from your past. You can do it yourself but employing a coach is a much more effective way of completing it. Below is a simplified version of the process:

  • Accept that things happen in your life that are emotionally painful, at the same time accept that emotionally uplifting things will happen too. Make room and accept both into your life with compassion and kindness.
  • Recognise the difference between your thinking, planning mind and your observing mind. The most effective way to do this is to practice mindfulness techniques to start to notice and let go thoughts and feelings.
  • Explore what you value, identify your core values. Recognise the values that drive your thoughts and emotions, identifying those that serve you well, and letting go those that do not serve you well.
  • Identify small changes to habits that meet the needs of your helpful thoughts and emotions and are congruent with your values.

The key for this is to spend the time practicing letting thoughts and feelings come and go. You can use this technique for change you want to make. If you want to explore this further, please get in touch. matt@mattycoach71.com

Lead a satisfying, fulfilling life at home and work.

Effective leadership starts with yourself. Being a selfless heroic leader may well be effective in the short-term, but as a long-term solution it will only end in you burning out and a dramatic reduction in your performance as a leader.

If you want to see long-term improvement in your performance as a leader, and see that borne out in the performance of your teams, it is vital to concentrate on you personal leadership. The knock on effects of personal leadership is that you will lead a more measured fulfilling life in and outside of work.

I offer a personal leadership coaching programme over 6 sessions, during these sessions we will cover:

  • Managing and maintaining a healthy mind
  • Identifying and working with behavioural preferences
  • Learn how to respond rather than reacting
  • Challenging and reframing perspectives and narratives
  • Communicating effectively (including holding difficult conversations)
  • Exploring why we connect with some people and not others
  • Creating a curious view of the world
  • Goal setting
  • Creating a commitment to action

For £20 per session (when all 6 sessions are paid for in advance) you can start making a difference in how you lead your life both at work and home. All sessions are held via video messenger.

Book now and you will be eligible for a reduced rate for my VIP coaching subscription of £60 per month which includes a maximum of 4 coaching sessions a month plus unlimited email support.

To book a session email me: matt@mattycoach71.com

Improve Your Civility With Self-Care

When we are not feeling good about ourselves, it is all so easy to project our emotions onto those around us through rudeness and generally being unpleasant. Conversely self compassion results in compassion towards others.

If you are noticing that you are more short tempered than usual. If you are feeling intolerant of people around you. If you look at your recent behaviour and do not like what you see. Is it time to start looking at self-care?

Exploring what you value is a good place to start, as it can help you understand why you feel what you feel. Message me if you want to start reducing your incivility and increase your ability to self-care.

Switch Your Aerial to Receiving and Transmitting Mode

Over the past few months I have been speaking to a lot of people across healthcare, individually and in teams. Sometimes reflecting on their experiences and other times looking forward to what is next for them. I have asked them a lot questions about what has been challenging, what has been helpful, what they want to happen next and what challenges they may face. The answers to these questions have been varied depending on their role and what they were facing. There were 2 questions I asked however that universally generated very similar responses. What would you ask of others? What would you offer others?

Think about those 2 questions for a moment. How would you answer them?

When asked what would you ask of others, people overwhelmingly wanted them to be kind, to be supportive and to be open to asking for help if they need it. When they were asked what they would offer the vast majority said they would offer themselves, their time to listen and be compassionate.

Most of us want people to be kind, but also to recognise when they need help and ask for it, and the majority of us are willing to offer that support. We are all willing to offer compassion but I would suggest from this that most of us are reluctant to ask for it, until things get really bad.

To be honest this came as no surprise to me, and I doubt it is a surprise to you either? We are all wonderful at transmitting kindness and compassion, but a little reluctant to receive it, until we really need it.

What would be great is if we could all switch our aerials from transmit mode only to receive and transmit. If only it was as easy as just flicking a switch. I don’t know about you but I have been telling people for years to be kinder to themselves, social media is full of memes telling us to be kind to ourselves. Many people have told me. It makes no difference; we all just carry on putting others before ourselves. Because that is the virtuous story that we tell ourselves and is told to us, so it is the right thing to do. Being self-compassionate is indulgent and selfish. To open ourselves up to willingly be on the receiving end of compassion, not just when we have reached crisis point, but whenever we get a bit of a knock, we are going to have to create the right conditions. We are going to have to do a bit of work on ourselves to become more emotionally flexible.

Below is an approach that may help you become more self-aware and more emotionally flexible to allow you to be open to receiving compassion and in the long run make you more compassionate.

Be Here Now

Practice spending more time in the moment. There are times everyday when we feel consumed by our thoughts (for me it is usually first thing in the morning and last thing at night). Bring yourself in to the present by either using mindfulness techniques or by doing an engaging activity that takes your attention that you enjoy. It is important to be able to set yourself free from your thoughts and spend a moment noticing what is happening right now, not in the future or the past but right now. Practice stepping back from your thoughts and watch them come and go rather than getting caught up in them and letting them push you around.

Open Up

Make room for painful feelings, sensations, urges and emotions. Don’t struggle with them, run from them or get overwhelmed by them. You don’t have to like them, but it is important to recognise that they are there for a reason. It is better to be curious and understand what message they are sending rather than push them away. Painful emotions are often connected to what is truly important to you, therefore that needs acknowledging.

Know What Matters

When we have a clear understanding of what we value, we are in a better position to acknowledge and create space for our painful emotions. We are less inclined to push them away as that would diminish what matters to us. When we are clear what our core values are we have a greater knowledge of what lies behind our emotions and we are better placed to address what needs to be addressed. To help you identify your own values try and answer the following questions as honestly as you can (after all you are the only one that will see the answers);

  • What motivates you?
  • What is important to you?
  • What moves you into action?
  • What gives you a sense of identity?
  • What scares you to death when you imagine losing it?
  • What do you depend on to influence others?

Commit to Action

Now you are practicing stepping back from your thoughts, giving space to your painful emotions, and are now clear on what you value, you can now start to make choices and take action to improve your well-being or to maintain your balanced outlook on life. You don’t have to make big changes, what is important is that you take action that is congruent with your values. You are able to decide on the best action for you based on what you value and what will attend to your emotions. So you are able to recognise and act when you need help, and therefore be in a better position to recognise and act when those around you need help.

Emotional flexibility in such an uncertain world is vital and some might suggest a professional requirement.

Is it time you switched the mode on your aerial to receive and transmit?

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