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 Mixtape to Improve My Mood

tumblr_static_15yul4fauou8w80s4gs4w0s8w

This week has not been the worst or the most challenging week I have ever had but it was challenging all the same.

This week has been a combination of interpersonal challenges, managing my time and workload in relation to being on holiday next week and planning for a busy month, with the addition of an irritating uncomfortable winter virus.

This resulted in me going to work every morning with a cloud of self-pity hanging over me.

To gee me up I turned to my generic fruit based music streaming service, collecting a playlist of songs that take stop me worrying about the past and future and bring me into the present. They may remind of being younger, so do fleetingly take me to the past, but more importantly they create that positive emotion.

That positive emotion intern evokes optimism and creativity setting me up for the day, helping face the challenges set and achieving the actions I had set myself.

I thought I would share some of my current positive share list with you. Each is a link to you tube for you to have  listen if you wish.

Also sharing my music makes me happy and consequently improves my creativity and wellbeing.

I have shortened the playlist to 6o minutes to replicate the old mix tape style.

So please accept my gift of a virtual mix tape from me to you.

Adore-Savages

Aerials-System of a Down

Queen of California-John Mayer

The Wrong Year-The Decemberists

The One I Love-REM

Pain-The War on Drugs

Ubu-Methyl Ethel

Working Man-Rush

White Riot-The Clash

LSF-Kasabian

Reckoner-Radiohead

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.

Blurring of roles and blind coaching

Multi-Cultural Office Staff Sitting Having Meeting Together

As you will remember from Being The New Boy Again blog that I am now doing two jobs in the hospital. Now some days it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Monday was one of those days. It was a day designated to my role as Nurse Educator, but not exclusively for my home department (Children and Young People).

Now to explain to you what I was doing I will give you a little bit of background. Back in October the Hospital I work for recruited over a 100 nurses in one go, and the vast majority of them had just graduated from University. As a result all of us Nurse Educators came together to provide an extensive month long induction programme devised by the surgical nurse educator team and their inspirational manager. They came up with the programme as the team had done a similar smaller scale induction the previous year. This year required a mass mobilisation of nurse educators and specialists. It was a daunting and often frustrating undertaking but we achieved it. To be fair it was more they achieved it, as I was more on the periphery, having to plan a parallel bespoke programme for the children’s nurses. I did however contribute to the adult nurse programme by holding teaching sessions on error management and human factors.  So that was back in October, and at the time we committed to providing follow days to track the new nurses progress, provide clinical supervision and receive feedback about the induction and the subsequent preceptorship on the wards. And that was what I was doing on Monday.

The first part of the morning was spent with the nurses undertaking a personal SWOT analysis and then small group SWOT analysis. The idea was to generate personal and collective actions. This is where the 2 roles for me start to blur, as the facilitator of the feedback session for the group SWOT and for the individual SWOT coaching came to the fore. This is not unusual as a nurse educator is a coach and mentor and teacher at any point during the day. However as the feedback from the group analysis was being discussed, I was starting to see opportunities for the coaching network to address some of the issues that were being discussed. How a wider network of coaches and leaders taking a coaching approach would enable new nurses to better manage their transition from student to registered nurse, and how experienced teams integrate large numbers of new nurses in to their teams. This is all the more important at the moment where the NHS as a whole is finding it challenging to reduce the current turnover of nurses. The answer has to be to enable the nurses and other healthcare workers to manage positively how they approach working in a challenging environment. But that is the subject of another blog so I will not dwell on that.

I took a mental note of all these potential opportunities, with a personal goal of discussing them when back in my coaching role. Then I rushed headlong into another coaching role. To help the nurses think about the results of their personal SWOT analysis as a real tangible thing, rather than just an academic exercise, I held a blind coaching exercise. I asked them to identify what they wanted to achieve and then write it down in a sentence. Next I asked them to think when they wanted to achieve that by and asked them to write down the exact date, not just 6 months but what date is 6 months from today. I then asked a series of questions that explored how they would achieve, what they could use, who could help, what might stop the progress, how will they know they achieved it and many more. This blind coaching approach helps a group of people clearly identify their role, tests how committed they are to achieving it, and creates a personal accountability. Now not everyone in the room will be committed to changing something about themselves, but it exposes them to coaching and for those that commit to it will see the value of coaching when they achieve their goal.

My two roles will always bleed into each other , but they more often than not compliment each other as the aim of both roles is to increase knowledge and self-awareness for all the staff working in the hospital. On top of that both roles provide so much job satisfaction. I have felt a little overwhelmed at times doing both jobs, but at the same time I am having so much fun and their are more exciting times to come.

Restorative powers of exercise

Since completing the 50km challenge in Movember I have done very little exercise.

I have noticed that this has had a detrimental effect on my mental health. My resilience had been much reduced. Foggy has become a regular companion on my commute to work and he has hung about filling my heads with negative thoughts.

Now couple that with the self imposed need to appear positive and happy to everyone. This had been exacerbated during December with starting a new role and it being Christmas. To me that meant that I must be positive at all costs and not show any frailty. Trying to be unerringly optimistic when you actually think you are a useless piece of shit is quite exhausting. I had a couple brief runs but never really sustained it.

Trying to break the viscous cycle is not always easy, and it is all too easy to find reasons why you can’t break that cycle of self pity and feeling so low. The thing is when you find the right excuse, you start to feel guilty which confirms your self-loathing.

This weekend I decided to give it a go again. I went for a short 1 mile run on Saturday. The feeling it produced was quite profound. As I started to plan how I was going to return to running up to 5km again. I could now see that the feelings I was experiencing are transient. I went for another 1 mile run today with a plan to run a further 5 miles over the next week, then slowly increase the distance I run in one go. I started giving myself the opportunity to succeed rather than fail. I feel so much more positive.

Now during the runs I felt like my lungs were going to explode, and Christmas really had taken its toll. But very soon after the runs I felt incredible. The feelings exercise evoke are quite amazing. I feel so much more positive, the anxiety in the pit of my stomach is going and so is the tension in my jaw. I feel happy again.

If you are feeling blue, or useless, or cannot see anything positive in your life, then consider exercise, it is remarkable. I know that all I have to do to pick up my mood is go for a run. It makes me feel safe again.