A walk up Snowdon

Last weekend , I met up with a few of my old school friends, and we went for a walk up Snowdon, as you do!

Now normally we meet up in a pub in Chester, have a meal, reminisce and get hammered. Not all of us manage to get to these sessions and even when most of us are there we don’t always get the chance to speak to everyone before we all go our separate ways.

Well back in December most of the lads, not me however, met up in Chester, and the idea of spending the weekend together, and hiking up a mountain was formed. All the best ideas are born in a drunken stupor, don’t you think!

Luckily the idea did not fade with the hangover, but actually grew and by late January early February had become a thing, a thing we had all become committed to, both financially and philosophically. Many of us in the group (when I say many, I actually mean myself and possibly Lee) had no idea what the reality of walking up Snowdon was. Thousands of people young and old walk, run and even cycle up Snowdon every year. Colin even did it over Christmas when it was -15 (I will get back to Colin later). So how hard could it be.

So the day came to travel to Chester to meet up with my friends and travel on to the farmhouse we had hired for the weekend (their was 8 of us and it was quite reasonably priced before you think of us as flash gits). I was so excited, it was like Christmas Eve when I was 5.

We stopped off on the way to collect supplies in Colwyn Bay. My advice would be if visiting Colwyn Bay, do your shopping before you get there. This shopping experience however did not dampen my excitement.

When we arrived Colin and Rich Turner (there are 2 Rich’s) decided to test out a route before the main ascent the next day. Like 2 demented fools myself and Lee gleefully volunteered to join them. My glee soon soured as we clambered up a hillside through muddy fields and over styles. I thought my legs were going to fall off and my lungs explode. Rich informed us that this was a trial to see if we could cut across to the trail we would use tomorrow to prevent us from walking along the road for half a mile. When we reached the said trail, I thought to myself how the fuck am I going to walk all the way to the top tomorrow. What had I committed myself too. I had seriously over estimated my level of fitness and ability to walk on slopes. It was like waking up on Christmas morning and discovering that Christmas was in fact just a really long Maths exam. I didn’t want to show myself up too much, however the few of us that had taken on this mini adventure had witnessed my distinct lack of ability on slopes.

Fuck it! I thought, give it a go, and see what happens, I said to myself.

Ian had stayed behind during our recce to cook tea, and what a fantastic tea it was, veggie chilli, and tequila! The rest of the party except Rich J arrived later that evening, and much merriment and laughter ensued.

Throughout the evening and into the night, I grappled with my self 1 telling me to bow out, fake an injury or illness, anything just don’t do it, because at best you will look fat and useless and at worst you might die, self 2 saying, just do it, think of the views, the sense of achievement.

I went with self 2 clearly but resolved that I would go at my own pace, just to keep self 1 happy.

Rich J arrived just after breakfast and we set off. We walked along the road to the Ranger trail, we had decided that was a sensible option.

When we got to the trail, I struggled from the off, and had to stop regularly to release the tension in my back or get my breath. My fitter, and thinner friends were all very understanding and regularly waited for me or walked with me. Colin being super fit, went off ahead (he had already run 7 Miles before we set off). At times the others were grateful to take to wait for me and have a breather. I was determined to finish, to reach the top. To do that I had to go at my slow pace. This walk up Snowdon had turned into a personal battle. My self 1, the cautious me, wanted to stop and go back, my self 2, the spontaneous me, the achieving me wanted to carry on. Throughout my life when it came to physical achievement, and pushing myself, self 1 would nearly always win. This time self 2 was going to win. I used Colin as a focus, to me Colin always appears to let his self 2 take the lead, so during that walk up Snowdon I was allowing Colin to inspire and motivate me. He didn’t know he was doing it, he was doing something he enjoyed. I needed something or someone to focus on and Colin fit the bill. I imagined him waiting for me at the top and that thought pulled me up. Every time I wanted to stop, Colin said to me give it another 5 minutes then see how you are. (Colin never said that Colin was too far ahead to notice me) That got me to the top.

When the summit came into view I cried, in fact I wanted to break down and sob. I didn’t, I managed to hold myself together. I had done it, I had managed to prevent my self 1 from getting me to give up, my self 2 had one. This personally was a landmark moment in my life. That is why I wanted to breakdown and cry, I was so relieved.

Anyway enough sloppiness. When we arrived at the top, it was packed, there was a queue to the summit! Worse still the cafe didn’t open for another week, and it was snowing!

After some food when started our descent, via another trail, this trail was partly along a ridge that Rich T said was nice and safe. He might have thought that! I was terrified! Looking at some of the pictures the views from the ridge were incredible, I couldn’t see them, I had lost my peripheral vision by this point.

This was harder than the ascent, most of the time we were scrambling down rocks, trying not to slip. Again my athletic prowess meant that I brought up the rear. I was cold, wet and mentally and physically exhausted when I arrived in the pub nearly 6 hours after we set off.

That first pint was the nicest pint I ever had. After another we all went back to the farmhouse for showers and food this time cooked by Rob. We had a selection of curries, That frankly were wonderful.

That evening was a little more subdued, than the evening before and a little less alcohol was drunk, but still a wonderful evening was had nonetheless.

After a fitful sleep and a hearty breakfast we said our goodbyes, with a promise of doing something else in the autumn, perhaps a little less challenging than Snowdon.

After coming back I have felt strange a little subdued, and a little unsure of myself. Whilst writing this I have realised why. That weekend I did something I rarely do, I pushed myself beyond the limits I set myself. I realised that I am really unfit, and I need to do something about that. More importantly I have learned that I can go beyond what I think is my limit, all I have to do is listen to self 2 more. It is easy said in coaching sessions, but doing it is different, now I understand how I can turn my self 1 down. I know I can achieve far more than I think I can.

Being able to use this experience in my coaching will be invaluable. Giving the client the space to explore what their self 1 and self 2 are saying to them, will help them determine who has the stronger voice and who needs to have the stronger voice.

A bit of escapism

I Love to daydream. It takes me to a happy place, when I am feeling a little fed up.

Most days foggy makes an appearance as I have mentioned before. That on the whole is fine, I have come to accept him and his negativity, he is me after all. Some days the things he says are more painful than others, and I find it a little harder to be passive and not try to suppress what he is saying. This is normally when he is highlighting my shortcomings. Paradoxically in the long run him shining a light and exaggerating these failings is useful as it spurs me into action, to at least go some way to addressing them. That is no doubt why they are more painful.

To help me handle the discomfort I will often reach for my music to help distract me, to take me to another world. If I am feeling sad a melancholic I might go through my back catalogue of sad songs to allow me to wallow and enjoy the misery of self pity. Now self pity is a comfortable state to be in as it requires no action. The thing is I want action, I don’t want these shortcomings to be shortcomings I want to turn them into actions. I need to be forward thinking.

I still reach for my music, music creates emotions and changes the way I feel. When I want to be positive and forward thinking I listen to new music, music I have never heard before, sometimes it is brilliant, sometimes it is ok and sometimes it is awful. It is always exciting and creative and optimistic. It makes me feel creative, optimistic and forward thinking.

Now I will not address all my shortcomings because I listened to Father John Misty’s latest song but I might just start working towards some of those neglected goals and remind myself of all the things I have achieved over the last week.

We all find our ways to pull us out of our funk, just remember do the thing that makes you happy and creates optimism, not what you think you should do, or what makes other people happy.

Writing this blog always makes me happy. Sharing playlists makes me happy.

So here’s both my blog, and below is a playlist. An Apple Music one this time. If you want it on Spotify let me know otherwise enjoy my little bit of escapism this month.

My New Music Escapism Playlist

If you want to discuss how you can create an optimistic future for yourself get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or this blog.

Have a great rest of the week and remember we have a rough times, it’s what we do with them that counts.

Introducing The Wonders of Coaching and Reverend and The Makers

At the beginning of the week I had 2 wonderful telephone meetings with the coach that will be delivering the taught aspect of the coaching qualification we are hosting in March. I will be working alongside him getting a feel for delivering the course sometime in the future. As always a conversation with Anthony always leaves me motivated and positive. A large part of the second meeting was a mini coaching conversation concentrating on my feelings about my role in the teaching sessions and my role as lead coach. We examined where I see myself and what presence I want to have in both sessions, and what mindset I need to have to create a comfort in that presence. As with all successful coaching conversations they go beyond the meeting and continue internally throughout the rest of the day and evening. The next day I was due to co-deliver a one day manager as a coach training session. The questions and challenges posed by Anthony sat with me in the evening before asking me to exam my approach to delivering the content alongside the author.

I met up with Lucy the author of the training day before the session. Lucy is my manager for the 2 Coaching lead days I work. She is however more than my boss. She is a fellow coach and is responsible for me becoming a coach and doing the role I do. So she is my sponsor, mentor and coach. Because we have this relationship I feel comfortable discussing my feelings and insecurities about teaching alongside her. When you co-deliver a training session that provokes discussion it is important to learn how work in harmony. I like to think of it as a dance. When you first dance with someone new you sometimes step on each other’s toes. The key to becoming seamless is to accept that this will happen and check in with each other during the day. I love working with Lucy in these days, we have a lot of fun and I learn so much from her.

The training day itself was a success. The candidates played their part and contributed to the day, creating an energy in the room. The best training sessions is where the session is not dominated by one voice, but everyone contributes and we all learn something, that certainly was happening on Thursday. The most successful aspect was that there are now 7 more leaders that have realised the power of high quality questions and hopefully have the confidence in trying them out.

On Friday I was on my own giving a brief half day introduction into coaching. This was the first time I had delivered it. I spent Thursday evening and Friday morning wondering how I was going to get all the information needed to introduce coaching into a three and a half hour teaching session. In the end it was simple really, have a coaching conversation and discuss it. That is essentially what I did and then we ended with everyone practicing a coaching conversation. I was coached by one of the participants and found that 10 minute conversation so powerful that I felt quite emotional. That is how powerful a simple short coaching conversation can be. Some one who at the beginning of the morning who did not think they could coach someone and when faced with coaching me looked terrified, was able to raise my awareness on my career progression to such an extent that I felt quite emotional. All she did was ask 4 high quality questions. Granted she had a list of questions that she could use to help her, however she chose the 4 questions that she thought would help me raise my own awareness. It was quite incredible.

As you can see I have had another inspiring week at work. Personally it has been a little more frustrating. The pain in my heel is still preventing me from running and I cannot motivate myself to find an alternative exercise regime. I have found myself concentrating on work so have not put any thought into any other action plans. We will see over the next week or so how that pans out. I feel that fitness will rise up my priority list soon, as I am on holiday in a couple of weeks.

Last night we went to see Reverend and The Makers at Northpoint Shopping Centre! Yes you read it correctly as part of the UK City of Culture, bands and other acts are invited to perform in venues throughout the city that would not normally be used for arts.

If I am honest I did not fancy going. They are not really my thing, I was tired and my foot was hurting after being on my feet most of the day. I went thinking they would be entertaining, it would distract me, I might end up liking them more and Lisa really wanted to go. I went along not really feeling it, but trying my best to be positive and open minded. The wait for the band coming on seemed to me to be forever. It was an hour and half. For some reason there was no support act. I am sure there are plenty of local bands that would have been happy to play for free, to get the exposure. We were not so lucky, instead we were subjected to a very strange Indie disco in a shopping centre with no heating, with around a thousand drunk and getting more drunk by the minute middle aged couples (we were sober, that is myself, Lisa and our friend Paula). The band came on at 9pm, by this point I was cold, tired and pissed off. They were going to have to be amazing to win me over now. Unfortunately they fell short of amazing for me. They started ok, then they had some technical issues with a guitar. They started to lose the crowd and for a short while you could sense that this could go south quite quickly, especially after they tried to soldier on and destroyed their most famous song. They did however manage to turn it round and won quite a few people over and the bouncing recommenced. I wasn’t one of them I am afraid, they were alright but I was cold and tired and wanted to be at home. God that sounds so middle aged. If they had, had a decent warm up act I may have felt different, but I fear they needed to have been a different band.

Oh well you cannot have everything and on balance this week has been very positive,

Here is a picture of last night, as I said those in front appeared to be enjoying it.

Really what kind of week has it been?

Have the weeks been shortened? I am sure we used to get more of week when I was younger.

I started thinking about what I had done this week and realised that was the week before!

There are so many things I need to do at the moment, that time just seems to fly by.

We all say we don’t have enough time to do things we want to. Well I challenge that notion. I know I said the week has flown by, but if I am honest I have done all the things I wanted to do. All the activities and work I have done, I value higher that the activities and work I didn’t do. Sometimes we like to think we want to do something that sounds worthwhile or is good for you, but don’t by saying we didn’t have time. That might be visiting friends or family, going for a run, writing that book, organising your office. You tell yourself you would have done them if you had the time. I say no you wouldn’t! Ask yourself what activities at work and at home are immovable, you will do them no matter what? For me that is currently completing monthly training compliance for each staff member, meeting staff members for coaching, cooking tea for my family. I will not, not do these, and become distressed if I cannot do these. I value them above say going to certain meetings, going to the gym, and cutting the lawn (in the summer). It is not always things we enjoy that we prioritise, often it is what we think is important or that we don’t have a choice over. There will however always be something we enjoy that we make a priority even if we don’t like to admit it. I know plenty of people that work late on a regular basis and do so because they get engrossed in what they are doing. There are others that feel guilty not prioritising certain things and end up staying late to finish them. That for me is worrying that they don’t value their personal self, and will end up being less productive and increasingly unhappy. These are the people who need a coach with them to raise awareness of their values.

Any way my week has been very productive. I have been talking to potential coaches about starting our coaching course. So lots of varied conversations that have actually raised my own awareness about my coaching. I spent Monday and Friday talking to our rotation nurses and setting their objectives. Tuesday was spent talking to students from Hull college, showing them how to make beds and discussing patient hygiene, pressure sore prevention, privacy and dignity and professionalism. I love talking to young people about my passion for care and compassion. I also spent some time re-igniting and not doubt prioritising some work I started on nutrition, and preparing to launch our children’s sepsis management plan, now the paperwork has come from the printers we can make final plans for launch (another change of priority, something that has been in the background whilst waiting for the paperwork to arrive).

There is no surprise really that the week flew by.

The Confidence Factor

I am back on track with my goal, of running the Hull 10k in June.

Being on the cuddly side of large, having confidence is a considerable factor when it comes to running.

The confidence is 2 fold. There is the confidence of being out in public in sports wear, looking like you are about to collapse in a pool of sweat gasping for air. Then there is the confidence in my fitness and ability to run any kind of distance.

Now back in November I was running 5km 3 times a week. So I can do it, I can have the confidence to run a good distance in public in shorts. After all not 18 months ago myself and Lisa stumbled round the Great North Run in front of thousands of people. The problem with confidence is though that it can leave you. When you stop doing something, or when something happens, that changes your mood.

Because I had a break from running for December and now most of January my fitness level dropped, and my mood dropped. Then I felt guilty that I wasn’t keeping fit and running like I said I would. Then I tried to start back up, without much planning and thought. So when I did go for a run a few weeks ago it was hard work and that took me by surprise as it was harder than I thought it would be. That knocked my confidence and dropped my mood further.

So what is different this time? Well I have planned for the run to hurt and for me to feel like s fat blob running in treacle. You know both the run on Sunday and today were hard but not as bad as I expected. I did feel self conscious but not as bad as I thought, I also made sure I ran when there was less people. I have also set myself a slow conservative regime slowly building the distance I run, but with the permission to run further sooner if I feel confident enough. So yes it hurt yes I feel a twit in my running gear, but in my mind I have the image of me in June running 10k and feeling so proud of my achievement. In fact I am feeling all emotional writing it.

I know I will falter again, each time I will re-examine my goal and my plan and keep doing that until I achieve my goal.

How are you doing with your goals?

I don’t know about you……?

lack-of-motivation-tshirt

Since New Year my motivation has been seriously waning. As previously mentioned my main goal this year was to carry on running and improve my fitness.

Well I am ashamed to say my progress to continue this goal has been completely pants. My motivation has not gone completely but it is not what it should be. One reason is that keeping fit has dropped in my priority list, and getting in from work and lazing around on the sofa has gone up in my priority list. This no doubt is a symptom of putting a lot of effort into my work at the moment, with the change in my working patterns still new. However this is not the full picture. I have also neglected my goal and the reasons why I why want achieve my goal. It is vital to check in regularly with your goal and your motivation to achieve it. This then leads you to examine the action plans you have put in place and test their effectiveness. I also have to accept that my goal maybe is not specific enough and it is not completely clear when I will achieve and what my level of commitment is. In a nutshell I have lost my way and let my goals drift.

I am certain if I had used a coach or even coaching conversations I would no doubt still be working successfully towards my goal. As I am a coach maybe I subconsciously decided to coach myself, or just fell into the trap of coaching myself. Self coaching though rarely works. As mentioned before coaching is about raising your awareness, shining a light on previously unnoticed potential, and noticing and testing assumptions. It is very difficult to see examine yourself objectively and not collude with your emotional self. A good coach can do that by asking high quality but really quite simple and obvious questions, that do what I described above.

Now I thought I would get us all started on defining our goal, testing our desire to achieve, exploring what actions we need to take, identifying the potential difficulties and so on. By asking a series of questions in a blind coaching style. So if you are up for it and would like to define your goal better and ultimately achieve your goal answer the questions below. This will get you started, however you will need to check in with a coach or someone you know that will not try to hijack you by giving you advice. Someone that will help you keep motivated. I am going to do it and check in with a coach at work I will then let you know how I am doing periodically.

Get a pen and paper, open your mind and be honest.

  • Do have something you want to achieve?
  • Can you write it down in a sentence?
  • When do you want to achieve this by? (Give an actual date such as 27th July 2018 instead of 6 months)
  • How will you know you have achieved it? (How will you measure your progress and achievement)
  • Using a scale of your own devising (1-10 if you like), how much do want to achieve this? (If your score is 5 or below have another look at your goal)
  • What can you possibly do to achieve your goal? (Possibly is the important word, use your imagination)
  • Is there anything else?
  • What resources could you possibly use to achieve your goal?
  • Is there anything else?
  • Who could you possibly involve to help you achieve your goal? (again be imaginative, don’t just think of people you know and speak to, think about who you admire, who has an impact on you)
  • Is there anybody else?
  • For those people you have contact with, how are you going to persuade people to buy-in to your goal?
  • Is there anybody else that could possibly help you?
  • What are the possible barriers to you achieving your goal?
  • What are the possible pitfalls you may encounter on the way to achieving your goal?
  • What are the possible risks to you achieving your goal?
  • How can you possibly overcome those barriers, avoid those pitfalls and reduce those possible risks?
  • What are the possible implications of you achieving your goal? (Both positive and negative)
  • What possible assumptions are you making about achieving your goal? (can be about you, other people, the goal itself or the result of achieving your goal)
  • When are you going to start achieving your goal? (again write down a specific date)
  • How much time will you need to set aside to achieve your goal?
  • Do you have space in your routine to accommodate this time?
  • If not what are you prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goal?
  • Can you write down in your diary, planner or calendar the time you have allocated to achieve your goal?
  • Using the scale you established earlier how likely is it that you will achieve your goal in the time scale you have set? (Be honest with yourself, your score is on or below the halfway point on your scale, then go back and examine your goal, your actions and timescales)
  • Now close your eyes and imagine you have achieved your goal. Imagine the feelings that evokes. What are your friends and family are saying? Spend some time creating a clear mental picture of your success to help you motivate yourself when you start to struggle.
  • Last of all what are you going to do to celebrate when you achieve your goal?

 

Now this will get you started, but if you are serious in making this change a permanent change then find a coach, to help you stay focussed on what you want to achieve. It does not have to cost a fortune, find someone you trust and who will not be tempted to offer you advice.

 

An Exciting Week of Coaching

Last weekend I wrote about the prospect of mixing my 2 roles this week.

Well so far so good. It has been a challenging but exciting week. Monday and Tuesday I suppose were standard kind of days. Monday was a nurse educator day, with a mixture of time in my office and an afternoon of auditing on a ward and then a lovely discussion with a teenage patient her Mum and their nurse. We spent about an hour in total talking about the teenagers experience on the ward and her treatment. It was a really informative chat getting a 3 way perspective of inpatient treatment on a Children’s Ward. To keep track of the impact our care has on the young person, their parents and the nurses delivering the care is so important, but manage to do that in one go with all three parties there is a first for me and quite brilliant, I hope the parent, young person and nurse found it useful too.

Tuesday was a coaching lead day. A large part of this day was spent preparing for the launch of the coaching network, the rest of the day was taken up with a team meeting and preparing for the next day’s Human Resources time-out.

So Wednesday was the HR time-out day. I was there to introduce so coaching skills and techniques to the HR Advisors. I had developed a bespoke training session (well I took an existing training day for managers and adapted it for HR Advisors). This was the first time I had trained anyone in coaching techniques singlehanded. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I was a complete needy wreck all morning. Once we were into the second half of the session and into the practice coaching session I started to relax and enjoy it. I can honestly say for large parts of the morning I was out of my comfort zone, and only in hindsight can I appreciate the session as a success. It was certainly a training day where we all learned.

Today I was back in my comfort zone with fellow nurse educators, holding the second day of the new starters catch up day, hosted by our Practice Development Matron. I facilitated the feedback session after the nurses had worked in small groups to analyse their first few months in our Trust. This is so important that both the Nurses themselves and the organisation take responsibility to learn from what worked and what didn’t work to improve our induction programs and to help us all to respond to the changing demands of delivering healthcare in 21st Century UK. Despite the challenges that are definitely evident it is heartening how positive the morning was with the emphasis being on solutions rather than problems. There are truly some talented future health leaders amongst these nurses. I certainly feel positive about our future healthcare.

Following the feedback I gave them a chance to form their own personal goals using blind coaching. I asked them a series of high quality questions designed to formulate a smart goal, examine how they are going to achieve it, what difficulties they may encounter and create a commitment to achieve it. Time will tell if any of them turn that goal into a reality.

One day left and another coaching conversation due tomorrow. A good week in all. I feel I am starting to make a difference, and influencing people’s relationship with coaching.