That was a long week!

I think it was the heat, but boy that was a long week! A lot of great stuff happened but I am knackered today,I am certain we had 2 Thursdays this week.

Monday started with some inspirational meetings,talking to some truly brilliant people. There are so many talented and committed people working in the NHS. The first meeting was to discuss the support I could offer to the development of unregistered staff. My next meeting was with the wonderful Louise who is going to support me with the back office functions of our coaching network. That meeting was so positive and was like having a weight lifted off my shoulders. To be honest I was shocked this all happened this week! I was certain this all happened about 2 weeks ago. Such a long week!

I spent Tuesday morning delivering a Insights Discovery workshop. I love delivering. I particularly enjoy challenging peoples perceptions, and helping them connect with themselves. I even managed to sign up a couple of coachees for our coaching network.

I spent the first part of the evening with a private coaching client. It was a great hour, shifting perceptions and introducing the idea of being truly present.

Straight after the coaching session we raced across the city to watch our eldest son’s band (Vialetters), play there first headline gig. They were majestic and truly did live up to their headline status. It was the perfect warm-up for their slot at Humber Street Sesh festival next weekend. for those of you going, they are playing the Strummerville Stage at 4:15. If you are going pop along to see them, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday and Thursday were just hot a sweaty days, and were a struggle, so much so that I am certain we either repeated a day or time just slowed down. The highlight was going to the pub after work on Wednesday.

Friday at last was cooler. I spent the morning with the wonderful Janis and Sandra making plans and setting dates for Clinical Supervision training next year. We didn’t get chance to make work through our planned book on Clinical Supervision, we will get chance soon. In the afternoon I met and contracted with a new internal coachee,which is always a pleasure.

This morning I went for a refreshing run, helped Ben with his student s accommodation application, now writing this blog watching the Challenge Cup semi-final. A restful day.

It has been a long tiring week, but on reflection a really productive and enjoyable week. Yesterday I was feeling a little frazzled and was I think concentrating what was causing me frustration. This exercise today has helped me concentrate on what is positive, and productive in this week. There is an awful lot to be thankful for this week.

We all have a choice

I read a tweet this morning by Paul McGee (@TheSumoGuy) that invited us to make a choice today. We could choose to be grumpy about whatever was irritating us or getting in the way of our life, or choose to be grateful for what we have and what is around us.

I was out walking the dog when I read this tweet and it made me think of my surroundings and look around at the beauty of where I live. I took this picture.

Now to you, you might be thinking, that is nothing special, but to me it sums up a walk through my village on a Sunday morning in the summer, and how lucky I am to live here. 2 minutes earlier I had been irritated by someone saying something annoying on Facebook and by my dogs insistence on sniffing every blade of grass. This tweet reminded me to not forget the reasons to be grateful.

I and I am sure most of you find it easy to focus on the negative, to expect the worst, look for what is going wrong, expect that people cannot be bothered to do a good job. This is our default setting, this was how we were taught to think. These neural pathways have been trodden on for years. So seeing life through an alternative lense is not easy, new pathways need to be formed. Also it would not be helpful at all to have a wholly positive outlook in life, for one you will seriously piss off your friends and family and two it is just dangerous, you have to keep your threat sensors on. The world is tough so you must be aware of dangers around you.

What is important is to have a choice, of an appropriate response and give equal air time to the negative and the positive.

There is a lot in my life right now that makes me feel sad and grumpy, and so it should because it is horrible, so I have been practicing everyday to give it air time, to appreciate the emotion, but not to stay there for too long. I have been trying to look for what there is right now to be grateful for, and boy there is an awful lot to be grateful for, in fact a lot more than there is to make me grumpy or sad.

The stuff that makes me really sad is important and big but is out of my control, so all I can do is articulate what I am feeling and give it the attention it deserves, amazingly that gives me the space, and energy to appreciate all the wonderfulness I have in my life. So in a way I am grateful for the bad stuff, as it has made me really examine what matters to me, I wish it hadn’t happened but it has and therefore I need to accept what it is, and move on. So I have chosen to be grateful, but only when I have chance to be grumpy. Being grumpy takes me to the place where I can see what I am grateful for.

Thank you @thesumoguy for your inspiration.

Doing what I love

This week a calm seems to have fallen over me. As you will no doubt know life for the past few months has been challenging and is likely to be challenging for some time to come. As I mentioned last week I am learning to roll with the punches and keeping picking myself up when I get knocked down. This and last week I have been talking a lot about purpose and how important that is to being resilient. For me this gives me the strength to carry on. I generally know if I am talking a lot about a subject it is because I am wrestling with it. I am trying to fully understand it, to devise personal meaning of it. Over the past couple of weeks I have been grappling with what is important to me, I have been examining what I value and connecting back up with my purpose. In fact as I have said before actually writing this blog helps me articulate and understand what is swirling around in my brain.

As I am writing this, I am noticing my feelings about my core value. My core value as you may remember was being useful. My sense of usefulness has been sorely challenged over recent weeks. There has been things going on in my life that I have been unable to control, unable to make better. With regards to these subjects I have felt useless. I have felt like an impotent bystander, watching something awful unfold that I have no influence over. I felt that I was not living up to my core value, and letting myself and my family down. This is the story I have been telling myself. As Brene Brown would put it, this is my first shitty draft of my story about what is happening to me. I can tell you, now I have articulated that this draft certainly is shitty and is completely inaccurate. Now I think about it, this week I have been demonstrating to myself where I am useful, what I do that makes a difference. When I apply my usefulness to what I have been doing as a family member over the past few months, I have been useful, where I could influence things, however there are a lot of situations in life that I can not influence and I need to let them go, and stop trying to wrestle them to submission.

My usefulness comes from doing what I love. I love listening and talking to people, I love showing people the wonder of gentle communication. I love sharing the magic of curiosity and the incredible power of empathy. When I do this overtly I am on cloud 9. That is what hooked me to nursing, then clinical supervision, and now coaching. I do have ever practice empathy and listening with fascination all the time which obviously has less of an impact on me and I can and clearly do not pay as much attention of it’s worth to my resilience. I derive my sense of purpose from helping people feel connected, care for and listened to, which in turn satisfies my core value of usefulness. For weeks now I have been fighting and losing with uncertainty. Trying to accept uncertainty is really hard, but paying attention to what you are winning at seems to diminish the impact uncertainty is having on me.

So this week I have delivered clinical supervision training for 2 days, coached and delivered a careers session to school children. This has most certainly restored me and connected me back up with my core value, and at the same time reminded me of what my purpose is.

Having a purpose gives you somewhere to go to recharge your batteries when life gets tough and keeps knocking you back.

Are you clear about why you do what you do?

Don’t let love, compassion and connection get lost in the rhetoric of protectionism, and difference.

I was having a discussion at work yesterday with with some wonderful people (Anthony Brookes and Janis Hostad) about resilience and how we can support people to recognise and embolden their resilience. We were asking ourselves what enables resilience and we started to dissect Coutu’s 3 behaviours of resilient people. As we were talking I noticed that we were talking about spiritualism, a sense that we are all connected. I said it out loud which now seems a bit ridiculous telling a Chaplain that what we are talking about is spiritualism, as if he hadn’t already realised. He was however very patient with me, and really rather excited about exploring how to create a message of connection, meaning, and compassion that does not appear to be wedded to one religion our other, but is accessible to all regardless of faith or lack of it.

This got me thinking about the latest video of Brene Brown with Russell Brand, where they discuss at length spirituality and where a seeming denial of it can lead to the blind pursuit of wealth without regard of wider society. This was something that really resonated with me. I spend a large part of my working life spreading the message of compassion, both self-compassion and compassion to those around yo, to create connections, which creates collaboration, which can create meaningful long lasting outcomes. But then I come home and turn on the news and hear the rhetoric of hate, difference, and protectionism. Lesbian couples being beaten up on buses, young women being racially abused on the tube, a father and young child drowning trying to get to a better life, politicians encouraging disconnection, politicians being physically attacked in the streets. I am sure I could create a longer list, as there is always something new reported everyday, reminding us of our differences, creating fear. It makes my heart sink, some days it feels like I am swimming against the tide trying to get people to view the world through another lens, that lets us see the connections we have with our fellow humans. A lens that encourages us to see them as human beings, to see them as mums, dads, sons, daughters, cousins, aunties and uncles, with hopes, dreams, fears, and optimism. As Brene Brown says it is difficult to hate someone close up, so move in. Move in and recognise your hopes, dreams, fears and optimism in theirs. We are all complicated, and flawed, we are all contradictions, so lets recognise, reconcile and appreciate.

Don’t get lost in the rhetoric of fear and protectionism as that denies our innate desire to search for and find connection with those around us. It is biologically necessary for us to nurture and support our species. Don’t fall for the de-humanising language used by people that want us to create disconnection in their desire to accumulate personal wealth. Connection and compassion creates more sustainable wealth for all.

Sharing the Coaching Message

It has been a distracting week. I can back from leave on Monday and was still preoccupied with thoughts about the health of a member of my family. They are getting better, but I live and work the other side of the country and I am a natural worrier. I speak to them everyday so I am reassured daily, which is lovely, however it does not stop my emotional brain running riot and jumping to conclusions in between. I have been talking about my worries with friends and close colleagues who have been helping me find perspective, so thank you to all of you. So as I say it has been difficult to keep my focus on other parts of my life (like work). Saying that it has been quite a full on week, in both my roles. I have been doing quite a few one to one coaching and clinical supervision sessions. In times of stress I find these quite therapeutic. When I am stressed and feeling vulnerable I like to move into my comfort zone, and my default setting is compassion and empathy, so entering into a one to one with someone who have stuff to work through is perfect for me. I can sit listen and be a witness to their emotions, offering observations, asking questions to help them get to where they need to be. There are points in our life where we just need to wallow, and just feel sorry for ourselves, with someone we trust alongside us. I know I have certainly done that this week, and I have gladly performed the role of witness/supporter for others. What is important when you are being the witness/supporter is that you suppress the desire to make it better, that is not for you to do. Just by being there and offering your ear and shoulder is all the help they need. Not everything can or needs to be fixed. Well this blog was supposed to be about my day at the HEAT 2019 medical conference, but as what normally happens I have spent half a page sorting my own feelings out.

So back on track! I spent yesterday attending the 8th annual HEAT 2019 Conference. This is a medical education conference for Hull University Hospital NHS Trust. As Coaching Lead for the Trust I was invited to deliver a coaching workshop, which of course I was delighted to accept. The theme for this year’s conference was Health, Well-being and Resilience (right up my street). The key-note speeches were on resilience in the face of adversity, returning to practice, fatigue and the coaching service offered to trainee medical staff. The afternoon were dedicated to workshops including my brief introduction to coaching, mindfulness, and resilience.

As they had, had a very comprehensive introduction to what coaching is, and the documented evidence of it’s usefulness, the workshop was an opportunity for the participants to be coached. Once I had set them up and goal them thinking about a goal they wanted to achieve and provided context to the techniques I would be using, I then coached them using the blind coaching technique, where I ask them all a series of questions that deliver more detail to their goal and starts to populate an action plan with time frames and metrics to measure progress. Each participant is invited to write down their answers to the questions and use their answers as the basis for their action plan going forward. If anything this technique demonstrates that coaching is more than just a conversation and can be quite a challenging relationship, that is focused on achieving results. t

Both the workshops when well, with everyone fully participating and appearing to get something for it. I found it rewarding but mentally tiring. When I am feeling vulnerable like I am this week, I default to my introverted attitude, therefore delivering a workshop for Doctors required a lot of mental energy. All I wanted to do was to sit quietly and listen to others speak. But I stole myself dug deep and put myself in the arena. When it had finished I was spent. I dared greatly and as far as I can tell it paid off.

If you are interested in knowing more about coaching, don’t forget I offer 1:1 coaching skills for leaders and short masterclasses for small groups. If you work for the Trust I run a Manager as Coach course and more dates for next year will be out soon (all this years are fully booked).

If you think you may benefit from being coached get in touch.

Week off to re-charge

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

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

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

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

Ahh April Playlist


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

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

Back to The Books

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

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

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

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

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

Have a lovely Easter weekend