My Story (Gosport 1970s and 80s)


A few weeks ago I wrote about, putting my story so far down in words to help me take stock of who I am at what my values are. Since then I have taken my mind map and have started adding detail. So far I have about 5 different stories. I have found the experience immense fun and quite enlightening. What I have realised is, after speaking to my sister that we all have very individual memories of events that are not necessarily accurate. Also our memories change as we get older, for the obvious reason of time passing, and our recollection is affected by the recollections of others. Our brain likes to have a complete story, so when you are bringing a memory to mind your brain will gather all the information it has on this memory including the memories of others. If there are still gaps in the memory the brain will try to fill in the gaps by guessing what would have happened based on what similar events they have recollections for, however these may not be real events as the brain does not differentiate from real events and those that have  been told to you through story telling.

What I am writing is not an accurate biography of my family life, but more a series of recollections that influence how I react to events and future plans, and that is exactly what I was wanting.

Below is an extract of what I have written so far. It would be wonderful if you feel inspired to do the same to help you understand your own motivation. Mainly enjoy the story and let me know what you think.

I was born in Gosport, Hampshire, on the 3rd March 1971. Apparently it snowed. I added that meteorological snippet of information because for the 10 years I lived in Gosport I never saw snow, and it is also something I always say to people (if you have known me long enough you have probably heard this several times) when talking about my birthday. It might not be true, and I cannot check now just in case it didn’t snow.

I lived in Gosport for the first 10 years of my life. My Dad was a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy and Gosport is near the Naval Base in Portsmouth. We moved from Gosport up to Chester in 1981 when my Dad retired from the Navy.

I was youngest child of Dorothy and Glyn Smith. I have a brother and sister, but more about them another time.

For the last 3 years of my life in Gosport we lived on a brand new estate on near Grove Road in Gosport. It was so new it was being built! For a 7 year old boy this is so exciting! With all the piles of mud and half-built walls this was the perfect place to play war. As I remember most of the games we played involved some kind of conflict, if it wasn’t war it was cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers, and if I wasn’t outside I was playing with my Air-Fix soldiers or Action Man.

I don’t see many boys playing war now, I know my boys would play call of duty, but they never really played war when out with their friends. My theory for this, is that the exposure my generation had to war was romantic, rather than based in reality. All the war films depicted a rather romantic image of war where there was heroes and villains, and the consequences of war were not always obvious. Nowadays with rolling news and realistic films, war does not always appear quite so romantic. As a consequence young people today need more realism that can only be achieved though computer games and not hiding behind a pile of mud with a stick for a gun.


The estate was a fantastic place for kids. All the houses and flats were set back from the roads so there was plenty of space for us to play safely, with each Close having a play ground. This meant that we had free rein across the whole estate without being in danger. Well apart from the time I fell off a wall into a big bush of stinging nettles! Oh and the time I got stuck in the mud and lost a welly! Traumatic times, but I survived.

If we weren’t playing war we played cops and robbers. One of our favourite TV programmes of the time was CHIPS. For those of you too young to remember CHIPS it was an American cop show about the Californian Highway Patrol. We would reenact the show, by riding around the estate looking for malcontents and hooligans. To add to the realism we would attach football cards to our spokes to make our bikes sound like motorbikes. Wonderful times.


Being a Highway Patrolman in the summer was hot and thirty work, so the arrival of the Ice Cream Van was always a welcome sight. The sound of Greensleeves would set off a frenzy back to our houses to get ice cream money. Our Ice Cream Van was Lyons Maid and I can still remember the menu on the side of the van. Cider Quench was one of my favourites.


After a big film release there was always an ice lolly version, which meant this was the lolly to get. I remember the chocolate flavoured Star Wars lolly which was not great, however the Star Trek blended lolly was the business.

Those summer weekends were magical times, that estate was a wonderful place to grow up with freedom to play outside with friends.

I Have Fallen of The Wagon!


In January I decided to give up drinking alcohol. My reasons for giving up were twofold I suppose, firstly was to prove to myself that I had the will power to give up, after all I gave up smoking the year before. Secondly was for health reasons, not that I think I was drinking excessively but more that I was drinking every weekend at home, and that was always accompanied with peanuts or crisps, or some other kind of fat and salt packed snack. Those of you that know me will see that I am not exactly athletic in my build and never have been.

So New Year was the last time I was to drink alcohol. To be fair January and February passed surprisingly easily with me only having a passing thought of having a drink. But then again I spent every weekend at home in those months and had not been on a night out.

March I knew was always going to be a problem month, with it being my birthday month. To be brutally honest not drinking at all just proved to much to me. I had a small drink on my birthday itself, but nothing more than that.

I well and truly fell of the wagon last weekend. I had a night out to celebrate my birthday with some old mates. In the week leading up to the night out I was pontificating about what I was going to do on Saturday night. Then I said to myself what am I doing? I am a grown up, if I want to have a drink with my friends I can. This is a completely different to smoking (in my experience) as I was addicted to tobacco, but I was not addicted to alcohol. My drinking had not become a problem, whereas smoking had. Well that is what I said to myself! On Sunday morning when I had a terrible thirst and a headache I wasn’t so sure. That was not the worst of it on Wednesday night I went out with my brother as it was the first time since my birthday to meet up. We decided to go on Newland Avenue (Hull) for tea. We went to Roots and had Goat Curry (I highly recommend if you live in Hull or visit Hull that you visit Roots Kitchen and Rum Shack on Newland Avenue, the food is great, in fact all the bars and restaurants on Newland and Princes Avenue are worth a visit). The problem of going for tea with my brother is that alcohol tends to play a large part and this evening was no different. I can definitely confirm that drinking large amounts of alcohol on a school night is definitely a problem, and any reoccurrence should be reduced to a minimum! You notice that I am not saying never be repeated, I am not falling into that trap again.

So I had decided that I would not let drinking alcohol or not drinking alcohol become a part of my life. I would drink when I went out with friends as a social occasion, and occasionally at home, but it would no longer be a weekly routine.

Sometimes goals need to be amended or scraped because they do not have the impact that you first wanted. That is perfectly reasonable, it is after all part of life. Whatever you do, do not beat yourself up if you do not achieve all your goals, just think of another one and give that a go you never know that one may change your life for ever.




Can we really be whatever we want to be?

I was reading an inspirational post on Facebook today, like many I have shared in the past. It got me thinking can we really be whatever we want to be?

When I was young I wanted to be a Soldier, Rugby Player, Rock Star and an Actor (not all at the same time). I ended up being a Nurse!

So can we really be whatever we want to be? 

In a way yes. We have just got to really want it. Saying you want to be something is not anywhere near the same as really wanting it.

To be successful in anything you have to put the work in, you have got to want it so much that you will not give up on it. 

We can all be successful at something but it might not be the first thing that you think you want. 

I wanted to be an actor but I did not have the inclination to learn lines, I could not be bothered to put the effort in, I liked the idea of being an actor but was not prepared to do the boring bit. I liked playing rugby but I hated the fitness training so was never going to get better at playing as I was not fit enough. 

When I was 16 I decided I wanted to be a Nurse, so I volunteered at a hospital and loved everything about it and from that point on all I wanted to be was a Nurse. All the way through my training I never wavered, even when I failed an exam, I was determined to be a nurse. I enjoyed it enough to be successful.

The key to success is simple find the one thing you love to do above all else, and do that. You will be a success because you will not mind putting the effort in.

The sky is the limit if you want to put the work in.

Story of Me

I was 46 this week. Which is no special landmark, in fact it is something or nothing. A non-entity of a birthday I suppose.

Throughout the week building up to my birthday I had been asking myself what has brought me to this point in my life. It certainly doesn’t feel it has been part of a master plan. Saying that I can think of a number of goals along the way.

I thought it would be interesting to piece them all my stories together from birth until now to actually see what has brought me to this point. A memoir of sorts.

I suppose there was a couple of things I wanted to achieve:

  • I wanted to see if I had the memory to be able to remember enough events in my life to make it meaningful
  • To map out events in my life that have shaped who I am
  • To document my life for future members of my family to read when I am no longer around to tell them

As some of you will know I am a sucker for a mind map. So that is where I started. I first drew a mind map of my life. I find this method of bringing my thoughts together incredibly easy and within minutes I had filled a page with recollection from different times in my life. I don’t think in straight lines so that is why I like working with mind maps as they allow you to leave a subject and then come back and add more at a later stage.

Once I had my life mindmap I could then move onto more detailed maps of each aspect of my life. This again was suprisingly easy to do and I found myself triggering memories in the dark recesses of my mind, some of them that have not seen the light of day for over 30 years.  Below is a picture of my mindmap for the first 10 years of my life. It started quite slowly and then it just started flowing, and I found myself coming back again and again to add more.

This is project is really still in its infancy, but I can tell you it is really satisfying and enlightening. At times it has been quite emotional, which I suppose is not surprising really for someone who cries watching X Factor.

Now I have a mindmap for each stage of my life I have started writing my stories. When I have a few put together I may share them on here, we shall see.

As an exercise so far I have found it enjoyable, which I suppose is all you can ask for. When you are trying to make sense of your life and think about your future it is vital to know where you are and how you got there.

I will keep you posted on my progress.

How do you empty your bucket?

On Wednesday I was presenting Mental Health Awareness to a Group of Childrens’ Nurses. Part of the day is taken up with raising awareness of our own mental health and how we manage the stressors in our own lives. 

Yerkes-Dodson back in 1909 suggested that stress or pressure is vital for us to perform, but if we experience too much stress our performance levels drop quite dramatically.

Recognising our stress levels and how to prevent them turning into distress is important for our work and home lives.

Now we all require different levels of stress or pressure to perform effectively, therefore we all become distressed at different levels.  This is best described by the stress bucket theory. 

We all have a bucket in which we store our stress. Now we are all born with different size buckets, and our buckets can change size throughout our lives depending on what is happening in our lives. Stress fills our bucket like water, and when it gets full it overflows which results in us becoming distressed and unable to function effectively.

Thankfully our bucket has a tap at the bottom that we can turn on.

The tap is turned on by taking part in positive activities that we enjoy and make us happy. Now we all enjoy different activities so it is important that you choose the right activity for you that gives you the most satisfaction. Be wary of activities that involve chemicals both legal and illegal (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, etc.) as these often give short term satisfaction along with long term stress.

Now it is important to tend to your stress bucket everyday and not just empty it once it is full. Find time each day for positive activities (activities that make you feel satisfied or happy). Most days we take part in many different positive activities without noticing, therefore spending a few minutes each day toting up all the positive things that have happened in the day can be very effective.

Aim for an hour of positive activity everyday, and most importantly recognise and appreciate those activities. 

How to be Happy

Monday saw me teaching 2nd year Child Branch Student Nurses about the signs and management of dehydration, followed by causes and management of fever in children. Talking about dehydration does not always fill people with enthusiasm on a Monday afternoon, so I thought I would add an anecdote to lighten the mood and grab their attention. So relayed the story when I was dehydrated on holiday in India many years ago. After eating dodgy rice from a suspect food vendor one night I became violently ill with bodily fluids leaving me from both ends of my body for 12 hours leaving me dangerously dehydrated. The descriptions of the violent bodily eruptions raised a laugh and the students mood. Now they were happy and more optimistic about the afternoon ahead of them.  As they were more optimistic they were more likely to contribute to the afternoon, ensuring I was not droning on to a bunch very bored student nurses. The afternoon went swimmingly from here on in, and when enthusiasm was waning I would bring them back to the image of me in extremis in hot and sweaty hotel room in Goa. To be honest the talking for most of the afternoon was conducted by the students as they raised and answered questions and added their own anecdotes about their experiences for dehydration and fever whilst on placement.

What the hell has this got to do with coaching I hear you cry!

Happiness, that is what it has to do coaching. Happiness is what we all strive for if we happy we are more creative, and engaged. When you are creative and engaged you are more likely to be successful. This is scientifically proven. If you have a positive outlook and have more positive emotions than negative you will be more productive at work and have more successful relationships in your personal life.

I am not saying you need to be a grinning inane idiot to be successful. In fact that over the top level of optimism will ultimately lead to distress as it can be very difficult to manage any difficult or challenging situations that you will inevitably encounter. I suppose you could call this happiness a contentment/satisfaction with what you are experiencing right now and that you are optimistic that you can continue to have this level of happiness at least in the future even if things don’t go to plan.

To maintain this level of optimism you need to feel more positive emotions than negative. So think carefully about how you speak to people at work and members of your family. Give more positive messages than negative messages, not only will it make them feel good it will make you feel good. Even when people have done something wrong being positive is much more constructive. Instead of that was rubbish  or you didn’t do that well, you can give your response  positive angle by asking how we can do it right or better next time. I know sometimes we have to pull people up or tell them off. However it is still possible to be positive by helping them find a solution or make amends.

Give it a go. When writing an agenda for a meeting make sure the ratio of agenda items is 3 positive items for every 1 negative. How much more productive was that meeting? How many ideas were generated? Then try it home with your spouse and children. It is a bit more difficult at home as you will need to increase your positivity ratio to 5:1 for it to have any effect. Work on it though it will be worth it. On the days you manage it you will notice a difference in the way the family interacts and how much happier you all feel.

If any of this does make you think about how you are at home and work, then get in touch and we can discuss it more.

What is Coaching

Coaching in a nutshell is opening peoples eyes to the choices they have to get the most out of their lives, careers, businesses, or relationships.

As we travel through our lives we have a habit of restricting our choices in what we are capable of, either by listening to people that tell us we cannot do something or as a consequence of a failure resulting in us telling ourselves that we cannot do something. This dismissing certain paths is designed to improve our chances of success by allowing us to concentrate on activities that interest us. 

However these restricting behaviours can prevent us from trying activities that we may be successful in. Coaching challenges these restrictive behaviours and gives you the permission to try out that activity or idea that you have always wanted to give a go.