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?

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.

Delving into my childhood whilst writing my story

As you will remember I have been writing my story, to help me make sense of myself as I get older and leave a legacy for my children.

Regular readers will also remember that over recent weeks I have been struggling with January blues. In fact according to the media this week is the week where people feel their lowest, and Monday was labelled Blue Monday. As you will remember exercise has helped chase away those blues, but this week those blues have been harder to chase away, so I decided to jump back into my story.

I have been delving into my memory banks, bank to when I was a toddler, like my memories of making Christmas decorations, going cockle picking with dad and my uncle George and auntie Sheila. That made me smile, in fact it gave me warm feeling. A feeling of love and happiness. Now my childhood was by no means perfect but there was a lot of love. That love has helped me chase those blues a little further away.

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.

Do you really want to make that resolution count?

A week in to the New Year, if you embarked on a resolution, how is it going?

If it is not going well, don’t feel bad, you are not a failure.

Don’t feel rushed into making a change in your life just because it is the start of a new year.

You can make your resolution anytime. But it is vital you choose wisely and plan for success. You must believe in the change you want to make. The change must be more desirable than what you have otherwise where is the motivation to succeed?

On New Years Eve or even New Year’s Day we decide that we are not getting any younger, so this is the year I change my lifestyle. Without much planning if any we rush into a fitness and healthy eating regime. We go on our first run or first trip to the gym and the reality hits us like a brick in the stomach. Sometimes we will resolve to persevere as it is bound to get easier. However we always overestimate our level of fitness and attempt a regime that just is not realistic. Therefore we fail dismally and spend the rest of the month feeling fat and useless.

Now you can apply this to any resolution, such as stopping smoking, dry Jan and healthy eating.

Well don’t worry help is at hand. The answer is to apply the principles below then answer the following questions. But be honest.

First you can make a lifestyle change anytime you want. Don’t restrict yourself to January.

Changing you lifestyle is challenging, it will not always go to plan, so prepare to change plans and approach.

Do you really need to change? If you do, what do you want to change? Why do you want to change?

What does the changed lifestyle look and feel like?

How much do you want to change?

How likely is it that you will achieve it?

When do you want to achieve the change?

When you have set you goal you can then start to plan how you are going to achieve your goal.

The most important thing though is to set a goal that is realistic and is something you really want, not what you think you want.

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.

A brief look back at 2017 then full speed into 2018

New Year’s Day is a reflective day. Normally down to the over indulgence of the night before. I was a good boy this year and only had a few drinks, in front of the telly. Saying that I went for a run this morning and still felt the effects of a week of over eating and drinking.

Anyway normally when I look back at my life, like many others I get bogged down ruminating about all the events that did not go well. This is far from constructive and generally makes me feel rubbish about myself. No doubt that sounds familiar to many of you.

This year I decided to use a positive psychology approach, in fact an approach I encourage at work. Instead of constantly looking at what we don’t do well, why don’t we try to learn from what we did well. So I have looked at my achievements this year, and celebrate them. Thinking about them is easy enough, and is quite enjoyable, even inspiring. Writing them down and telling people is quite difficult, as no one likes a show off. But I am going to give it a go. Really telling people what you have done well is not showing off if you encourage others to share their successes. All it does is make us all feel happy and inspired to achieve more. That is the point of a review, to inspire your future plans using your previous recipes of success, rather than you recipes of failure.

So here are my highlights (my successes).

Most of my highlights are work related:

  • I have devised a document that incorporates a sepsis screening tool and sepsis checklist for children
  • I set up a new induction and rotation for newly qualified children’s nurses
  • I have coached 5 young people helping them to decide their future
  • I have coached 4 leaders to further develop their leadership skills
  • I have delivered human factors training to all the newly qualified nurses at our hospital trust in October, and now helping to roll out a programme for the all staff next year
  • I have started as coaching lead within the trust for a year
  • I am working in partnership with my local university, doing a meta ethnography on attitudes of young people with eating disorders to the care they receive in a general hospital.
  • I have started writing down my memories for my boys to provide them with a history of my family when I was growing up
  • I have finally accepted my depression and don’t let it control my life
  • I am optimistic now for the first time
  • I am starting to enjoy my own company and one day soon will actually tell myself how much I appreciate me
  • I am learning to share my job with someone else
  • I have started to write my own self help guide, and if it helps me I might share it with you all (for a small fee)

There may be some more achievements, but that will do.

You know what, I actually feel quite good. When you start writing it down you realise how much you have done. Give it a go, it really is inspiring. You may think that you have not done anything much. That is what I felt. It’s not true, you have, you are just conditioned not to concentrate on the positive, but dwell on the negative.

So now I have looked at what I have achieved I can look forward to what comes next. Now a number of what I have started will continue. In fact most of them will. Many of them will change and become bigger and better. This next year I also want to take part in some more research, start teaching coaching skills, further develop my coaching, and provide more coaching to more people (to make coaching accessible, and an important part of all of our lives).

2018 will be incredible and exciting if I make it. Your year ahead will be whatever you make it.

If you want to do something amazing, get in touch we can have a chat and decide if being coached is for you.