A Week of Coaching Old Friends

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It has been a funny old week at work. It was another short working week, with New Years Day being on Monday. By Tuesday though it was as if the Christmas holiday had never happened. That was probably because for me and many others at best Christmas was just two long weekends.

So it was back at work on Tuesday, feeling a little deflated that Christmas was over and the long dark, and cold month of January was spread out in front of me. I tell you Foggy was having a field day on Tuesday morning, filling my head with negative and destructive thoughts on the bus on the way in to work. I desperately needed some positivity to get me through this first week of 2018.

As mentioned in last week’s blog I had briefly reviewed last year’s progress. So once I was at work on Tuesday I started with a brief look back at last year and looking at what needed to be continued into this year. This gave me some momentum helping me look beyond the seemingly cold and gloomy month. So I had plenty to get my teeth into on the first day, including working on the meta-ethnography research I am working on with the university, arranging reviews of the rotation of new staff and arranging to catch up with some of my longstanding coachees.

I have been coaching 3 nurses in leadership roles for some time now, and I had not met up with them for a few months. It was therefore important that we met up to allow them to provide an update o what they had done and what was left to complete. I must admit I did instigate the catch-ups, by wishing them a Happy New Year and asking them if they wanted to meet. All 3 were keen to meet up, either to provide an update or to discuss new and emerging issues for them at work.

Just before each coaching session I always get very nervous and quite tense. I am sure I am not the only coach that feels like this. It is the desire to provide the coaching session the coachee needs that drives my anxiety. I find that I need to empty my mind just before the session and fight the urge to rehearse the session in my head before I get there. Otherwise there is a risk that I run the session as per my rehearsal and it is not run by the coachee. I am always fearful of making the coaching session about me the coach and not keeping the focus on the coachee. It is not that we might spend the whole session talking about me, but that I start to get seduced by the subjects that we are discussion and move into problem solving mode. This can be an easy trap to fall into when coaching people who are from the same professional background.  I must admit that on a couple of occasions in 2 of the sessions this did happen. Luckily I recognised what was happening before I started to problem solve. On these occasions I declared to the coachee what was happening to me. I said told them that I had, had previous experience of this and then told them what I had learned from my experience. By declaring what I was doing, I was making t very clear that this was my experience and what I learned about it, and that it may help them, but it is up to them to decide. It is Ok to provide direction from time to time as long as you declare it.

So what I learned from the coaching this week is that becoming anxious about the upcoming session is very important to me as it raises my self-awareness of my occasional tendency to internalize the subject matter, and that if I recognise this is happening then I need to declare this to the coachee.

Now I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all 3 coaching conversations. All 3 of them are doing some amazing things and truly do make a difference to healthcare. I always come away from the sessions inspired, having learned something. As I have been coaching them for a while, I have a good relationship with them all and they are definitely equal relationships where we feel we can challenge and support in equal measure.

Meeting up with and coaching 3 old friends has definitely improved my mood this week and put Foggy back in his box. I am now looking forward to the rest of January with a renewed vigour.

Christmas Spirit is it just for Christmas?

Christmas is all about kindness and happiness.

We give each other gifts, visit friends and family, at the very least. Restaurants, Cafes, takeaways and even train stations through open their doors for the homeless. Businesses and individuals donate toys to hospitals, school children collect gifts in shoeboxes to send to countries around the world.

Then there are the small acts of kindness that many of us do, like visiting elderly neighbours with a mince pie and glass of what you fancy.

Doesn’t make you feel happy? All warm and fuzzy inside. Kindness has that effect. Giving and receiving make us happy.

Being kind is easy, it doesn’t have to cost much, it can even be free, but is so valuable to all those that experience it.

So why don’t we show more kindness to each other all year round? For a few days kindness is dolled out at industrial levels, but for the rest of the year, can be quite sparse in everyday life.

We do seem to be able to think ill of people, and say unkind things all too easily, normally to the people closest.

This year why don’t we resolve to have a kindness default setting. When we feel unkind or feel we have treated unfairly why don’t we put an opposite spin on it. If someone is mean they are most likely unhappy, offer your support and understanding instead of your sharp tongue. If you find that hard, hold your tongue, take a moment by yourself vent your frustration in private, then offer your support. Instead of shouting, listen then talk. And there you are, you are showing kindness. It feels good doesn’t it.

It is as easy as that, however our urge to defend ourself by attacking us strong, so kindness takes practice. Resolve to be kind at least once a day. After a year that is 365 acts of kindness at least. But then ramp that up for birthdays and Christmas we could have 500 easy. Each time you are kind tops up your happiness. After a year you could be 500 times more happy than you are now. It is a well researched fact that happiness and success are directly related.

So being kind makes you more successful at home and at work.

So don’t let Christmas Spirit just for Christmas!

Everything Is Going To Be OK

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All us adults between 40 and 70  have tried our best to stuff everything up. We were the generations that had it easier than any other generation in the history of the world. In the UK we had universal health care (free at the point of access), free education up to University. Excellent pay and work conditions, which has led to a whole economy based on leisure and entertainment.

Now instead of using these opportunities wisely, considering parts of the world with less opportunity, the environment and future generations, we greedily consumed all we could and more, without a thought of how we were going to pay for it all.

Well now the bill has arrived, in the guise of financial meltdown worldwide, global warming, racial and religious intolerance, and the resulting finger-pointing and blame.

Fear not, all is not lost. There is still hope, and it is in the shape of our young people. As part of my day job I speak to young people about careers in healthcare. From speaking to these young people (not all of them wanted to work in healthcare) have a real sense of community and value, the welfare of all above anything else. They see themselves as part of a wider global community and concentrate on what unites them rather than what divides them.

Now I realise that we are all idealistic when we are teenagers, but this waivers when you get older and cynical. The question is why do we become cynical? We became cynical because no one took us seriously, we were not listened to and gave up. It is easier to look out for yourself.

So we have a responsibility to our youth to listen to what they are saying, to learn from their wisdom and help them make our world a better place to live in. Let them rekindle your passion for a better world. Most of all encourage them to have a social conscience, and to act on their beliefs. After all they are going to spend longer on this Earth than us.

Have you been kind today?

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Today in the UK is National Kindness Day. A day to celebrate all acts of kindness, to promote kindness to our fellow inhabitants on this earth.

As you expected this kind of day is right up my street. However everyday,  in my book should be kindness day, but I get why someone in the twittersphere decided we should have a day. Not that I think we are unkind, but I think we are often so wrapped in our own lives, we miss opportunities to be kind.

A day like to day challenges us to think about how we can be kind. You have probably heard on social media about grand gestures of kindness, but being kind should be a habit and not something saved up for one grand event.

Carrying out small acts of kindness is more likely to become habit forming. Something as simple as smiling and saying good morning to a stranger, or offering to help someone who is lost, are small but can have a lasting impact.

It is amazing how powerful an act of kindness can have on your own mood. I have been kind to 3 strangers today and on all 3 occasions I felt a lift in my mood.

Days like to day often encourage us to be kind to strangers, but don’t forget those people closest to you. We can take the ones we love for granted. I know I can be short tempered with my family and don’t always think about going out of my way to be kind. It is so important to do something simple to show them how you love them. Again not only will it make them feel happy, but will make you happy too.

Go out of your way to be kind everyday. Make it a goal each day. You will notice the difference in you mood almost immediately.

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