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.

Coaching Conversations, and Christmas Jumpers

This week has seen my second week learning to juggle being a Teacher Practitioner and Coaching Lead. I wouldn’t say it is any easier, in fact it may actually be getting harder, however as I relax, I am enjoying the challenge more each day.

So after a busy weekend taking in the latest projections on the Deep as part of the Hull’s City of Culture, and battling the crowds at Beverley’s Festival of Christmas with my Wife and Mother I was a little tired starting work on Monday. To be honest I felt a little overwhelmed by it all, trying to juggle both roles. I was a little short tempered with someone first thing. It took me an hour or so to realise that it was me being a little unreasonable, so I took some time to rectify the situation, and I am so glad I did. It cleared the air and gave them some time to articulate what they planned to do and receive endorsement. We both left the meeting feeling empowered and enthused. That to be honest set me up for the rest of the week.

Monday and Tuesday were coaching lead days. Both were very productive starting the process of developing a coaching network. As it is early days yet, my week is a little mixed up with both roles encroaching on each other. For instance bang in the middle of Tuesday I had a Teacher Practitioner meeting developing an advice leaflet, and the previous conversation on Monday was as a Teacher Practitioner. Then on Thursday I had a meeting in my Coaching role. This does add to the challenge but is good fun.

I am excited about going to work every morning again. It is as if I have a completely new job. Having the extra role has changed the way I look at my Teacher Practitioner role. It feels like I have a brand new toy to play with.

Even though having two roles is stressful and occasionally overwhelming, I am having the time of my life. I feel reinvigorated, so much so that I have started to write my story again, after a 4 month hiatus, and I am excited about attracting new clients for my private practice. I really want people to feel as enthused about their career as I do. Through being coached I am convinced people can discover their real dream and realise it. I have spent the whole week having coaching conversations with people, some coaching me. When that light bulb moment happens it is quite incredible. This week I have experienced it and witnessed it. Don’t be shy about coaching it does change lives.

Oh as I mentioned Christmas jumpers in the title, I really should put it in my blog. So yesterday any coaching conversations held were accompanied by a singing Christmas Jumper. Well it is the Friday before, the Friday before Christmas.

Be Your Perfect Leader

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On Monday I facilitated a timeout morning for a group of senior ward Nurses. The subject soon got onto leadership. The discussion centred on how to encourage leadership in the team, to enable staff members to actively seek solutions rather than default to the ward manager, deputy manager or unit co-ordinator, and how to manage difficult situations themselves.

To try to help them answer these questions, I posed them a question. They did not have to answer the question at the time, in fact they could keep their answer private if they wished. The question was more an exercise on looking for the right answer from their own knowledge and experience.

The question was, do you have a person you admire, and look up to when it comes to leadership? What are the qualities that make them a great leader? How do they behave (portray themselves to others)? I asked them to create a clear picture of their perfect leader. In reality this perfect or great leader is actually themselves (or yourself if you are having a go).

I personally always like to project my ideal onto someone else other than me, I find it easier to admire someone else than think of myself in those terms. However if you find it easier to see yourself as the perfect leader then construct the image as the perfect version of you.

Once you have this construct of your perfect leader, then you can use them as your reference point. When you come to a difficult dilemma, ask your perfect leader what they would do in this situation. The answer they provide are based on the attributes that you admire so are worth listening to. Work through the problem answering how you perfect leader would, including the people the perfect leader would, asking the questions your perfect leader would. You will get to the answer you need.

In reality you have been the leader, you are your perfect leader. That is not to say you will be right all the time. This method gives you the confidence to think you actions through, and to give yourself a better chance of success.

Give it a go it works.

If you want to discuss how you can improve your confidence at work, and be the best you can, email me on Matt@mattycoach71.com or message me via my Facebook page. Changing your opinion of yourself will make a massive difference.

 

My week as a Coach

I was holding a coaching session yesterday afternoon at work. I know I have said this before but it was one of the best sessions I have held. The member of staff wants to be coached, and she is full of ideas. All I have to do is ask a few questions to help her with focus and clarity and watch her work out what she needs to do.

I know I have had a good coaching session, when I hardly speak. The only times I do is to ask questions to either open expand a statement further or move the conversation on when it loses focus. I always allow the conversation to wander a little as often the journey to bring the conversation back to the coaching subject can reveal other issues that the client/coachee really wants to give air time to.

Coaching as a process for this member of staff and at least 4 other members of staff I coach is having a dramatic effect on their practise and outlook on life in general. These staff are not failing or very senior. In my eyes they are exceptional, however they would not describe themselves as such. What I am trying to say is, that are like vast majority of people (hardworking, bright, and good at their jobs). All 5 have benefitted from having a coach in different ways. They all approach the coaching relationship for different reasons, the one thing they have in common was willingly entered into the coaching contract.

Getting back to the wonderful session I had yesterday. As I said previously the coachee did all the hardwork and came up with all ideas on how to evolve her practise to ensure she develops in the way she wants to. The coaching experience allows her to take control of her own career. All of her action plans are formed by her, therefore she has believes in them.

How many times have you completed action plans created by others or created action plans based on what you think you should do? Well coaching gives you the space to create your plans based on what is best for you, using the route that you decide. That is not to say that you ignore external influences, such as corporate objectives. If you work for an organisation where you are strongly disagree with their vision and objectives, then maybe you should consider changing your job if you ever want to be happy and successful. Most of us generally buy in to corporate objectives and values, and when we set ourselves professional goals they tend to be in line with the organisation as we want to be successful there.

That really is a long winded way of saying trust your own judgement, and set your goals on what you want to do and not what others tell you to do. Having a coach gives you that space.

Seek out a coach at work, a lot of organisations have them now.

If you have a senior position in an organisation that has yet to adopt a coaching approach, and the best place to start is to get yourself your own coach.

If you are self employed definitely get yourself a coach, for a relatively small investment you will have a dramatic effect on how you approach future business planning.

If anyone is interested in coaching, please e-mail me. I will either be able to offer you some coaching or signpost you to a coaching network that may be able to help you.

my email: matt@mattycoach71.com

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How to manage that red mist


When I was writing my story, I remembered that during my pre-school and early school years I had an imaginary friend called Collingwood (strange name I know). My dad around that time spent some time based at HMS Collingwood in Gosport, and I imagine the name must have grabbed my imagination.

Collingwood was my ideal friend. Well that is how I see him now, obviously I was only 6 at the time so to me he was someone to play with when no one else was around. He was considerate to my feelings, he always listened to what I was saying, he always let me have a go, and he never took over games. He was perfect, apart from when I wanted to play catch or hide and seek of course.

More about Collingwood and his wonderful attributes later.

I often have conversations with people about how they feel about parenting or their leadership roles and how often they feel guilty or upset by their responses to their children or staff. These responses are triggered by confrontation, inaction or poor performance. They often say how I responded or wanted to respond was not how a leader or a parent should act. I know I can definitely relate to that feeling. If you react it often ends in an escalation of hostilities or at best an awkward atmosphere. If you manage to suppress your thoughts you often cannot think of anything else to say as you are too upset or angry and a solution is still not found. Either way both parties end up feeling upset or angry with themselves as well as the other person.

This is completely normal. For those of you familiar with Professor Martin Peter’s book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ will know that when you are or feel under attack the limbic system in your brain (your chimp) leaps into action and goes on the attack, not giving your more considered frontal lobe (your human) chance to think of a more constructive response. Even if you manage to stop the verbal attack your human will look into the memory store of your brain for previous precedents to help with the response, unfortunately due to the speed of response required it comes up empty handed. Therefore leaving you feeling foolish as well as angry.


This is where Collingwood the imaginary friend comes in. Well not Collingwood but your version.

Spend about 10 minutes imagining your ideal friend or leader. Write down all his or her attributes, how they react to people, how they behave under pressure, what their world views are. If you can spend as long as you can on this. Write their attributes down, if it helps drawer them. Bear with me, it does work. Carry them with you, use them as your role model. This is you exercising your frontal lobe and laying down some constructive memories about how to respond to difficult situations that can be used at short notice.

So when confronted by your stroppy teenager with unrealistic and downright ridiculous requests, you can take a breath and say to yourself….. “what would Collingwood say?”

Now don’t get me wrong it will not always work, especially when you first start trying it. It will work though and will help you avoid those trivial rows or creating a difficult atmosphere at work, and make you feel happier.

Give it a go. If you want to discuss this further email me: matt@mattycoach71.com

Parenthood

As it is Mother’s day I thought I would write an extra blog on the subject of parenting young people.

We love our children more than anything else in the world. We want the best for them, we don’t want them to feel pain. We want them to be a success in life whilst avoiding the failures and setbacks we experienced.

Every time we try to steer them in the right direction, every time we pass on our experience, we get ignored or told to stop interfering. ‘What do you know?’ ‘Its’ not like that nowadays.’ ‘You don’t understand the pressure I am under.’

You know what? They are right. We have not got a clue what it is like being a teenager. The only time you know what it is like being a teenager is when you are a teenager. We think we remember what it was like being a teenager, but most of that memory is not accurate, and most of our experience is long forgotten.

How do you feel when someone tells you how to live you life?

Teenagers and young adults are biologically hard-wired to want to take risks and push boundaries, to start laying foundations for their adult life. They are supposed to not listen to you and try it themselves.

Now this is a big shift in how you are expected to be as a parent. You have spent the first decade and a half protecting you children. Keeping them close, providing them with exciting and new experiences to make them a well-rounded individual. Spending hours watching them at Judo, Karate, Street Dancing and countless other classes. Hours cheering them on playing Football, Rugby, and Netball. Not anymore. They now seem to resent your helpful cheers and technical sporting advice. This is heartbreaking, you think they don’t need you anymore. You are so wrong. They need you more than ever, you just need to change your approach.

The time of passing on advice and being directive have gone. The time has come to listen to what they say, to show support and interest without being overwhelming. Most importantly you need to be there right behind them for when they fall. Not to catch them but to pick them up and encourage them to try again.

It is so hard watching the one you love make mistakes, and feel pain, but so important. If you think back to all your failures and knockbacks. That is where you created your resolve.

Giving your children the space to grow, is so much harder than it seems, but is worth the heartache.

If you are struggling and want to talk further email me;

matt@mattycoach71.comIMG_4871