You know what? I might just be living my dream.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed that is has been a different kind of week for me. The big giveaway is that I have blogged 6 out of 7 days. It has been pretty special, not amazing, but pretty special.

The most notable thing this week has been that I have spent the vast majority of the time in the present. Being in the present and appreciating what was happening in real time, has actually made my future prospects far more attractive and much less scary.

I said at the beginning of the week that I still had some residual tension and that I could feel that in my jaw. As I have been writing this, this morning I have just checked in with my body, I have got no fingernail marks in the palm of my hands, my jaw is relaxed and I don’t have that faint feeling of nausea I usually experience in the morning. In other words Foggy has got his feet up and is having a snooze. He is content that he is not needed at the moment. Everything is on an even keel, he is particular dose of realism is not required.

Now I am not saying I am really happy, and that is the point, that is why Foggy has got his feet up. I am neither ecstatic or miserable, I am just content to allow both emotions the space they have in my mind. I have not suddenly reached another plain of consciousness, I am not sat cross legged in the middle of the floor at one with my inner being. I have, however consciously paid attention to and appreciated what surrounds me, how my body feels, what I am doing, and what is happening to me. This has started to calm my thoughts, to the point that I have woken up this morning quite relaxed. I am knackered and full of cold and physically feel a bit rubbish, but that is not having a detrimental effect on my state of mind, it is just something I am experiencing. It is weird and fascinating to experience mindfulness (if you want to call it that) in action. It works, it really does work. I have been setting myself free from my thoughts all week and thoroughly enjoying the journey.

So why do I think I am living the dream?

I do a job I absolutely love, a job that allows me to follow my interest and work within my values, so much so that my role has become an intrinsic part of my identity. People have enough belief in me as a coach at work that they allow me and encourage me to pursue my interests, to the point that they are willing to fund me to complete a course on strategic coaching.

I am writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book, but never thought I was good enough. I listened to my self critic. I listen to my self critic less now I am writing it, because people like me can and do write books.

I write a blog. Writing a blog is my release, it helps me make sense of my world, and according to feedback I get it helps other people make sense of their world and has inspired them to take action in their life, and for a coach there is no better motivation to do something.

I have a loving family. They laugh at me and sometimes look at me sideways, but they love me and I love them. Every time I see my sons my heart swells with pride, they are handsome, kind intelligent and talented and there is not a day goes by when they do not amaze me. Just as I wrote that my youngest just cycled past the window on his paper round and a little bit of joy jumped into my heart. On Wednesday we went to watch Ben my eldest play in his band (Vialetters) at a local venue. I am so blessed to calm them both my sons to the point I look for opportunities to talk about them to others on a daily basis, and I will often talk about them when I teaching.

So that is just a few highlights about why I am living the dream. I am not rich or famous. I don’t live in a big house and drive a fancy car. I am enough , I am alive and I am making a difference.

Are you living your dream? Have you checked? How often do you pay attention to what is going on around you?

Being mindful does not mean you have to meditate or do something dramatic. Just pay attention to what is really happening right now in the physical world, not the world constructed in your mind. It is really obvious but takes practice to actually do.

A Day With The Sumo Guy

So today I spent the day at The Source in Sheffield on a NHS Leadership Academy Masterclass by Paul McGee the SUMO guy. If you have not heard of Paul he is an author and public speaker, who wrote among other things SUMO (Shut Up Move On). A book on personal management.

His masterclass was all about SUMO and how personal management can help leaders in the NHS. If you are like me and many others, you might think that telling your audience to shut up off the bat is a little aggressive, and Paul appreciates this, and does explain it another way for us more sensitive souls in the audience, which is Stop, Understand Move On.

I will not go into detail of the content of the day or his book, and that is because Paul explains it so much better, check out his website to find out more http://www.thesumoguy.com/

What a truly inspirational and energising day. As you know I have been having a present action centred week and this has continued today. Everything he talked about resonated with me. I am not going to spend long writing tonight, as I am so exhausted, but I wanted to come home and write this blog, just to highlight his work with you, and spread the word of personal management.

As you know I am writing a book and spending the day in Paul’s presence has spurred me on to get the first draft finished, and to get going with the level 7 coaching course I was talking about last night. His has also reignited the idea of pursuing the idea of public speaking, and spreading the word about Connected Living. So if you do run a company or a voluntary group and are interested in learning more about Connected Living and how it can change your life then email me and we can make some arrangements.

matt@mattycoach71.com

The next stage of my coaching career

Today I took the next tentative steps into the part of my coaching journey. As I mentioned before in December I became the coaching lead for the NHS trust I work for. This involves developing a coaching and mentoring network throughout the organisation. This has taken me out of my comfort zone on a number of occasions, which has been wonderful if not a little scary. I feel that I have grown over the past year and months and coaching and clinical supervision have become a integral part of my professional and personal life.

As you realise I have a passion for coaching and I feel at home sat with someone having a coaching conversation or raising the awareness of a group of people about the ask/tell continuum. What I feel out of my depth with is the strategic element of integrating coaching and mentoring into the fabric of the organisation. It just seems to big for someone like me to handle. So I asked myself a couple of weeks ago, what could happen if I became the sort of person that could tackle such a big job. What would I need to do? What tools would I need? What attitude would I need?

Well I started answering those questions and today I started on that journey to being that type of person. I looked into a course that would help me raise my strategic awareness and provide me with some tools and courage to tackle such weighty high brow issues. And I found one, I secured the funding and applied. Today I was accepted onto the course. I can start at the beginning of next month.

I am doing it! Someone like me is doing it!

If you know me you know that ‘people like me don’t do things like that’ is my stock self limiting statement.

So I am doing it, I made myself vulnerable, I am scared I will fail and fall flat on my face but I started it. I am going to brave the arena so wish me luck.

My writing progress

So I have been struggling writing chapter 5 for the best part of a month. Today I had spent the whole morning writing, no matter how much I tried I just could not get it to fit as a chapter on it’s own. I was writing about the different personas we employ. However when I finished writing it, it just did not have enough detail. When I looked at the previous chapter I realised that the subject matter fitted perfectly with the chapter, so I have made it a section of chapter 4 and not chapter 5, which will now centre on our emotions and how they can rule our lives. So which this space for Chapter 5. Below is a sneak peek of Chapter 4 in it’s raw form, it will be refined again but if you have any thoughts please feel free to message me.

 Chapter 4

How do you prefer to behave?

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Are you most comfortable as an extrovert or as an introvert, or does it depend on what you are doing and who you are with?

  • Are you chatty or more the quiet type?
  • Do you prefer to watch from the sidelines or are you more comfortable in the thick of it getting stuck in?
  • Do you look within yourself for inspiration or do you prefer to surround yourself with friends or colleagues to find your creativity?
  • Do you relish those intimate one to one moments with friends or do you love those occasions with all your friends and family present?
  • Do you see like to blend in to the background or do you love to stand out in the crowd?
  • Do you think to speak or do you speak to think?
  • Do you like to reflect before you act or are you more prone to rushing in to action?

Now if you are anything like me you will relate to some of the introvert traits and some of the extrovert traits. For some of the statements you might not have an opinion either way. We are afterall complex and interesting human beings, none of us can be put in a box. Saying that you may notice that you answered more one way than the other.

In all parts of my life I have a tendency towards introversion. I prefer to email someone rather than speak to them on the phone, especially when I do not know them very well. If I am in a shop and I cannot find what I have gone in for I would rather walk out of the shop empty handed rather than ask a shop assistant. When I have difficult problem I need to solve, I will prefer to do this alone and work through my problem carefully, I will then share my plan once I am happy with it. On the flip side I love teaching groups of people and I love talking in large groups, I often relish being the centre of attention on some occasions and hate the thought of it on others. When I worked on the wards I had no problem talking to complete strangers and striking up a rapport with them. When I am teaching and talking to large groups of people I am Matt Smith the Clinical Nurse Educator or Matt Smith the Coaching Lead. When I am blending into the background I am being Matt Smith, just plain old Matt Smith, the father, husband, son, blogger and coach. Saying that my extroverted traits do you show up in my latter persona as well as my professional persona, and the same is true for my introversion. Jung described humans as have different personas for different occasions. So crudely speaking I have my Professional persona as a Nurse Educator and Coaching Lead and a persona as a Father, a persona as a Husband, Son, Coach, Blogger and Friend. Most of these persona’s no doubt are very similar as yours will be, otherwise it would could get very confusing trying to work out what version of a person we are speaking to, let alone how exhausting it would be to keep up all these multiple characters all of the time.

How do you make decisions?

As well describing your attitude (introversion and extroversion) Carl Jung, suggests there are 2 aspects of our decision making. He proposed that we either make decisions based on our thinking or our feelings. As with our attitude they are not mutually exclusive, therefore we can and do use both traits, but not at the same time. We do however prefer to make decisions either one way or another. Again to help you understand you preferred behaviour I have put together a series of questions below:

  • Do you consider yourself to be formal in your interactions with people or are you much more informal when greeting people?
  • Do you remember facts and figures more easily than names and faces or do facts and figures leave you cold?
  • Do you like to analyse a problem before you plan to correct it, or do you get stuck in and use a kind of trial and error approach?
  • When faced with an issue do you look at it with a subjective or objective eye?
  • Once you have decided on a direction of travel do you stick to that route or do you see where road takes you?
  • Do you relish competition and strive to come out top, or are you more interesting in taking part and helping others to succeed?
  • Is it important to you to have a tidy desk, is it important that everything has its place and is in it, or do you not really care whether you desk is tidy or not, or where things are kept?
  • Do you choose your work or task above spending time with friends or family, or do you insist on finishing work on time to ensure you spend quality time with your friends and family?

Again if you are anything like me you will be able to relate to some traits for both thinking and feeling decision making. I must admit my preferred route to making decisions is based on what I feel rather than thinking things through. However when I need to make important decisions I will think things through and weigh up the odds. Sometimes that tasks I am doing at work keep me there when I should be going home. When I am writing or reviewing guidelines I will spend time collecting data and make sure I have all the information I need before I start writing, sometimes to the point where it takes me such a long time to get things done. However in every other aspect of my life I make decisions based on how they make me feel and how they may make others feel. I will often base my decision making on my values, if they are congruent with my values, for me it is the right decision. To be honest even when I am working late or when I am researching guidelines I have made a decision that is in line with my core values which are courage and usefulness. So even decisions that appear to be based on thought, actually are based on my feelings. You may think that you base decisions on either analysis of data or on what you feel, but they may have their basis in the opposite. To examine where your decision making is routed it is worth exploring your values. What you value will unearth your preference.

In  her book Dare to Lead, Brene Brown offers an exercise to help you explore what your core values are, in fact that is why I discovered my 2 core values (courage and usefulness). It is an exercise worth even if you think you know what you core values are, as you might be surprised that another value lies behind the values you hold as important. Brene offers a long list of values and invites you to find 2 core values, this is quite u get a daunting task, therefore she suggests you come up with 10 initially and then try to group them together, in themes and ask yourself what value do they collectively represent until you get down to one or 2 core values. To help you try this out I have provided a list below, I do however implore you to read Dare to Lead if you are a leader it will change the way you view your leadership, and if you are not it will change the way you interact with your leader. Any way below is a list of values to help get you started with discovering what your core values are. Once you have 10 values that relate to you (please try not to choose values that you would like to have or what you think are admirable, choose those that really mean something to you). Then can you group any of them together, do they represent an overarching value. Take your time, really think about what you value, if you cannot find your value add it. Have some fun with it, be creative and thoughtful and you will be able to come up with 2 core values. You can find a list of all the values that you can print out via Brene Brown’s website;  https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/workbook-art-pics-glossary/

Accountability
Achievement
Adaptability
Adventure
Altruism
Ambition
Authenticity
Balance
Beauty
Being the best
Belonging
Career
Caring
Collaboration
Commitment
Community
Compassion
Competence
Confidence
Connection
Contentment
Contribution
Cooperation
Courage
Creativity
Curiosity
Dignity
Diversity
Environment
Efficiency
Equality
Ethics
Excellence
Fairness
Faith
Family
Financial stability
Forgiveness
Freedom
Friendship
Fun
Future generations
Generosity
Giving back
Grace
Gratitude
Growth
Harmony
Health
Home
Honesty
Hope
Humility
Humour
Inclusion
Independence

Interdependence
Initiative
Integrity
Intuition
Job security
Joy
Justice
Kindness
Knowledge
Leadership
Learning
Legacy
Leisure
Love
Loyalty
Making a difference
Nature
Openness
Optimism
Order
Parenting
Patience
Patriotism
Peace
Perseverance
Personal fulfillment
Power
Pride
Recognition
Reliability
Resourcefulness
Respect
Responsibility
Risk -taking
Safety
Security
Self-discipline
Self-expression
Self-respect
Serenity
Service
Simplicity
Spirituality
Sportsmanship
Stewardship
Success
Teamwork
Thrift
Time
Tradition
Travel
Trust
Truth
Understanding
Uniqueness
Usefulness
Vision
Vulnerability
Wealth
Well-being
Wisdom

Brene then invites you to operationalise your core values and the values of the organisation you work in. Read Dare to Lead and visit her website https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/ to discover more.

For me this is a useful exercise to discover why you prefer to behave and make decisions. It also helps to explain why we are so complicated and not easy to put in a box.

How do you perceive the world around you?

Below is a picture, I would like to invite you to write down what is there for you in this picture.

The words you have written may well help you understand whether you prefer to perceive the world using sensation or intuition. If you use sensation you may well have written;

  • 2 girls
  • Grass
  • Dresses
  • Bridge
  • Leaves
  • Pink shoes
  • Turquoise shoes

If you use intuition you may well have written;

  • Friendship
  • Summer
  • Adventure
  • Kindness
  • Happiness
  • Warm

Again as with all the other preferences you may well have written a mixture of the 2, however it may have come easier to come up with words for either sensation or intuition. So we can perceive the world using both preferences but find it more comfortable using one or the other. I will normally want to go straight for intuitive descriptions of the world around me and have to concentrate on seeing what is really there.

If you prefer to use intuition you are more likely to be future focussed and feel comfortable projecting and predicting what is coming next. You feel at ease when planning for the future. You are happy using your imagination and when you are with others that like to use intuition you can get carried away. Using intuition is very useful when planning for the future and creating a compelling vision.

If you prefer to use sensation you are more grounded in the here and now and feel much more comfortable describing the current state. You are comfortable highlighting what is right and wrong with the current environment. Sensation is vital to ensure that any future plans are routed in the reality of what is really happening.

It is important to remember again that you can use both intuition and sensation and that you don’t hide behind your preference when things do not work out as planned. I keep repeating this, but it is so important, we are complex and are full of contradictions. We can be introverted and extroverted, a thinker and a feeling, a sensor and intuitive. We may prefer to behave differently in different situations. It is vital to recognise this and embrace our own complexity and that of others.

What do you want people to see?

Now you have explored whether you prefer to be an introvert or an extrovert, whether you make decisions based on thinking or feeling and whether you prefer to use sensation or intuition to make sense of your world. We are all a complex mix of these traits and the subtle mix that makes up our personas are different for different situations.

The question is I suppose are your persona’s you show to the world the ones you really want to show.

When I say personas I am not suggesting that we all have multiple personalities. We do show up as the same person wherever we are, however we will accentuate certain traits in different situations. It is not something that we always consciously do, and sometimes if we think about how we turn up it is not always the most helpful. I know I often become quite self deprecating and flippant when I am in the presence of people more senior than me. Over the years this has caused me a few problems with people seeing me as being disrespectful and unprofessional. With people that I consider to be my equal, but I do not know very well, I can on occasions be a little condescending and free with my opinions and advice, not taking into consideration their experience and knoweldege. When I think about these less than helpful personas of mine, I understand what I am trying to do when I employ them, I am trying to be liked, unfortunatley this is not what I get (most of the time). What I get is irritation and disconnection from the person at the recieving end of me. These personas are not congruent with my core values of courage and usefulness.

When I take time and ease into my values I start to connect with people and people want to spend time with me. So lets delve into that a little bit more. When I spend some time to quietly listen to people, and seek to understand them, I am able to dig deep into my courage and support people in a useful way. What is courageous about listening to people you may ask. As with many people my righting reflex is strong, and I am always wanting to provide people with solutions. In addition to this most people are quite keen for me to give them a solution. This however rarely ends well and it can often feel quite flat and we would end up with a situation described earlier. What really helps them is to be listened to without obvious judgement, and be given the space to work things out. This takes courage not to provide the answer, but to allow them to come up with their own solution. It feels comfortable to offer solutions and impart advice (something we will discuss later in the book), but what you are doing is saying that any thoughts they have are inferior to yours. Therefore it takes courage to not respond to your own ego, and respond to what the person in front of you is telling you. As a coach I will ask myself who am I in the service of, myself or my client. Using my righting reflex will always serve my ego, but rarely helps my client.

If I show courage and resist my righting reflex with my clients, I can help them explore thier potential. If they then can create an action plan to achieve their goal, I have been useful, and they view me in a positive light.By aligning your behaviours and attitudes to your values you feel more positive towards yourself and are generally projected in a positive light, rather than working against your values.

So why do we show our less than helpful personas? One explaination maybe that we try to live up to values that we think we should have. Values that maybe prescribed to us by the society with live in, because of who we are, or what we percieve our society values, such as financial stability, power, responsibility, patriotism or anything else you can think of, that you see as having value in the world around you.

Are you trying to live up to somebody you think you should be. It all goes back to our paradigm, our view of the world. As we discovered earlier our paradigms constructed slowly overtime from a complex mixture of our experiences and cultural references. Therefore it is very easy to fall into trying to be the person that your circumstances dictate, rather than the person who encompasses your core values. This may explain why I turn up as a bit of a know it all, who tries to solve people’s problems instead of listening. This no doubt is a result of a combination of my role as nurse and clinical educator, a leader, and a man. The societal view of nurses are that they will rescue people from thier predicaments, educators obviously provide information to help people improve, leaders are looked up to and direct their followers, and males protect. These are clearly very 1 dimensional views of each of those roles but something we all do everyday, becuase it is easy just to work on simple assumptions when we lead busy lives. However if I take time to challenge my paradigms and examine the roles I undertake and then apply them to my core values my paradigm shifts and how I turn up changes. I turn up more consistently and in line with my values. Now don’t get me wrong, I still turn up as an annoying git (ask my wife) from time to time. It is very easy to slip back in to a lazy one dimensional view of our world without applying a critical eye on why we see things the way we do. We are often aware that we have one dimensional views of other people, but rarely do we apply that principle to ourselves. If we critically analyse our view of ourselves we can check if the person we are showing the world is the person that represents who we really are. It takes practice to challenge your paradigms and the assumptions you make about how you should act.

Earlier in the book you were invited to test the assumptions you make about the world around you. It would be useful to use a version of this exercise to examine your view of the roles you fulfil in life.

  • What are the facts about the role I fulfil?/What do I really do to fulfil this role?
  • How do I describe my role?
  • Where do the sources that inform my description come from?
  • Are the sources stories I have been told by others (inlcuding first hand story telling and stories past down)?
  • Do the stories hold up to scrutiny (are they reflected in the actual activity)?
  • Are the sources first hand experiences (based on actual activity and events witnessed by you)?

At this point it is useful to have pinpointed what your core values are, if you have not done it so far. Ideally having one or two core values is the aim.

Once you have identified your core values, you can examine the roles you fulfil in the context of what you value. This exercise is pinched and adapted from an exercise that Brene Brown uses to operationalise you values. I however want you to examine whether you work in harmony with your values or not and the effect that has on the persona you show the world.

For each role you fulfil think of 3 occassions when you have lived up to your values.

  • What were you doing?
  • What were you saying?
  • What are the other people doing?
  • How did you feel at the time and after?

Then for each role think of 3 occassions when you have not lived up to your values. Ask yourself the same questions.

  • What were you doing?
  • What were you saying?
  • What are the other people doing?
  • How did you feel at the time and after?

This is not an easy exercise, I find it really difficult to be reflective, but what it does is open your eyes to all your behaviours and personas helping you examine when you are showing the best version of yourself rather than a version that does not represent you best characteristics.The art is to keep practicing, keep checking in that you are not creating a lazy one dimensional version of yourself and are turning up in full complex, multicoloured 3 dimensions. As I keep saying this requires work, however all things wonderful require effort.

Preparing For The Next Round of Clinical Supervision and Rumbling With Rumbles

This week has been a week has been a week of creating visions for the future and laying down some plans for making those visions a reality.

The week started with an afternoon meeting with the inspirational Janis to discuss plans for training Nurses in Compassionate Clinical Supervision. This year we are introducing new trainers so we thrashed out how that would look. We then planned the content for our refresher sessions for existing Clinical Supervisors. This is when me and Janis are at our best, when we start being creative. We came up with some great work, none of which I can share (Janis would kill me if I let the cat out of the bag). I will share it once we have delivered it. We also finally came up with a working title for the textbook on Clinical Supervision we plan to edit. For the first time we managed to get some ideas for chapters written down. As usual it was a brilliant meeting, so inspirational and really productive.

Wednesday saw me meeting up with another inspirational woman Nicola (one of our Practice Development Matrons). I help Nicola with the post induction support program she runs for our new registrants. This currently consists of 2 catch up days offered to our new Nurse registrants. During these days we combine, personal and professional reflection along with practical skill acquisition. We have done this for 2 years now and we are starting to plan what we will be doing for our next cohort of graduates and more importantly the first cohort of our Nurse Associates who will be graduating in May. Now what we are doing essentially is useful, however there are a few issues that still need resolving. One of them being that with the ever increasing complexity of healthcare and the demands put on the new registrants, by themselves, their colleagues and the public we felt that we needed to offer them something else that helped them recharge their resilience. This was where my mind started to tick over and I managed to summon the marvelous Janis into the room. Now Janis, Janis’s boss, Tony (the coolest, kindest, Chaplain I know) have recently been playing with an idea coined by Janis as Rumbling for Resilience (nod to Brene, but this is all Janis, she even has a dance for it…don’t ask, I am still rumbling with that). This idea was at the request of Janis’ boss to address the stress she was seeing amongst the nursing staff within their Health Group. A germ of an idea began with Janis and was added to by Tony who had done something very similar in his previous job, where he would open up the Chapel for people to drop in during the afternoon, have a drink and a cake and talk to people about how they felt, or what was happening to them. As we know sharing your shame and discomfort diminishes those feelings and can restore your self esteem. So we have been playing with this idea mixing it with some structure with the informality of a drop in session. It hasn’t got off the ground yet but we are doing some work on that.

Anyway lets get back to my meeting with Nicola, so Janis and her rumbles entered my head when thinking about what additional offers we can put into our package for new registrants. My idea was that we could offer a resilience rumble (drop-in) once a month for new registrants where they could talk about their experiences with people going through the same thing in a protected environment with a very light facilitation. We would then offer 1 to 1 Clinical Supervision to any of those that needed it. It needs some work to get this up and running for May but I can feel exciting times ahead, rising to the challenges modern healthcare throw at us. During our discussion we touched on something I want to explore further, and that is one to one support of our new leaders, something that is mentioned a lot but due to the workload always seems to drop off. So I have been thinking about what an offer for supporting new and emerging leaders that is realistic and workable would look like. That is the challenge, to develop coaching and supervision programs that are responsive and become part of the fabric of the work place. Funnily enough I am looking at a course that focuses on the strategic element of coaching and how to embed it into the culture of an organisation.

On Thursday I met Steve our new colleague (Senior OD Practitioner) a thoroughly agreeable chap, as I mentioned earlier exciting times are ahead. I also had a lovely catch up with my friend Becky. We discussed all things, coaching, supervision, parenthood, getting older and blogging. We all need a comfortable chat to replenish our soul, and Becky certainly provided that on Thursday.

Well Friday, I am not sure what went on, on Friday. I spent most of the day being late for meetings. A lot of restorative discussions with some coaching. A great day but a bit of a blur.

So that was one of those positive weeks, where you can see all that needs to be done, but instead of filling you with dread, fills you with excitement for the challenges and adventures ahead. Bring on next work.

So What Happened To January?

Most years January is torture. It goes on forever, it is cold, dark and miserable and everyone is skint after being paid in the middle of December. This year however I blinked and missed it. Now the weather has not been great, it was as dark as any other January, and there was definitely too much month left at the end of the money, so why did it pass by faster than my 46 previous January’s?

Basically I didn’t stop to think this year. I have been so busy, I have been delivering content 2 or 3 times a week, and then writing, and preparing content on the other days or going to meetings about delivering content and coaching. I have never had a January like it, it has been brilliant. A little bit overwhelming at times but brilliant just the same. It is starting to feel like coaching in such a busy and challenging environment is having an effect. Despite it the hospital being really busy (as you would expect in January) people were coming along to the insights sessions, and manager as a coach sessions and were really engaged in what I had to say. I also spent some time with our Nurse Apprentices and our Trainee Nurse Associates teaching them all about Human Factors and how to manage the inherent risks we take to work. They were engaged and charming and made feel so proud to be working for the NHS. A couple of them have even taken up the opportunity to be coached, in fact I have been getting at least 1 coaching referral per session this January, which for a bunch of cynical health professionals is quite something.

I have also spent a significant amount of personal time working through my personal action plans of developing my own private coaching service, by putting things in place, and thinking about my business plan. There is still a lot of work to be done but I do now have a clear plan and direction. So with this, my ever busy role in the NHS and me still doing battle with my book (which is a little problematic at the moment), no wonder January came and went. I have noticed my blogs have been shorter recently no doubt as a result of the amount of other work I have been doing. This afternoon I am going to spend some time staring at a blank page thinking of something interesting to write for my book. So wish me luck.

If you are thinking about your action plans this year and are not sure they are right for you or they are not progressing as you expected drop me a line we can have a chat and start to discover the direction you need to be going in. If you haven’t already take a look at my subscription offers on my price plans and services page.

We all need a bit of coaching, if only to keep our well-being in check

If you are a regular reader of my blog or know me, you will know that for part of my working week I lead the coaching network at my place of work. We are a fledgling network, so therefore we are still training our coaches. We currently have 2 cohorts running and by the end of the year we will have around 40 coaches with an ILM level 5 qualification.

The 2nd cohort (which is really our 3rd but the 2nd I have supported), were in this week completing the coaching for well-being module. My friend and coaching mentor Anthony (I may have mentioned him before) runs the course for us, which in turn is awarded through Leeds Beckett University. I always sit in on the modules, to develop and practice my coaching skills and to learn how to teach the course. Module days are always the highlight of my month, and coaching for well-being has to be my personal favourite.

To be honest it could not have come at a better time, as I mentioned last week I have been a little frazzled lately, and it was clear that that there were others in the room that had similar experiences during January. All the modules that Anthony delivers are very practical heavy with plenty of time spent coaching each other, interspersed with the relevant theory. For this particular module the students pair up with the same person all day. As there was an odd number this week I had the opportunity to pair up with somebody for the day.

So I had a day of talking and rediscovering some different models of well-being coaching and having the opportunity to try out some different approaches and using models in a way I had never done before, whilst at the same time supporting someone else’s coaching development. It was such a fulfilling day, and on top of my own coaching contracting meeting on Tuesday.

My old coach is moving on to pastures new, with a new and exciting job (good luck and thank you so much Vicky), so I have a new coach. It had been a while since I had had a coaching session, and with so much going round in my head, with a million and one projects I was feeling overwhelmed and stuck in the future, causing me to doubt my ability to achieve the goals I had set myself. So on Tuesday I had my first contracting meeting with my new coach.

It was quite liberating. For the first time in a while I had an opportunity to empty my mind in the presence of someone who was just prepared to listen, in the first instance and then probe and challenge. The whole thing took 2 hours (which is longer than I would normally feel comfortable with), there was so much that needed to come out that it felt more like 30 minutes. I talked, she listened, I talked some more she asked me questions, she invited me to draw it, I drew it, she asked me some questions, I drew it some more, I wrote a list and then drew some more, I cried, she listened, asked me some questions. After all that we had a purpose for the coaching and a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. We then set our boundaries and timings for our continued coaching relationship. It was massively helpful. When I walked into the meeting my jaw was tight, my fists were clenched and Foggy was having a field day. When I left my jaw and fists were relaxed and Foggy had gone to be. I had a clear goal and an action plan for the next month. I was back in the present.

Reflecting on that coaching session now, the most impactful aspect was the level of empathy shown throughout. Saying that though being challenged to have an action plan alongside the empathy (compassionate challenge) probably had the greatest impact. We all need that space to talk out what is going on in our heads, especially during these busy, stressful months.

If you don’t have that opportunity seek it out.