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.

Do we put ourselves in pigeon holes?

I was reading a blog this morning that what prevents us from making lasting changes to our lives is the assumptions we make about ourselves and how we should think and behaved. These assumptions are based on our identity, whether that be professional or social. For instance as a nurse I am supposed to be giving, patient and self less among other things.

So we end up living up to our persona and what is expected, instead of what really drives us.

So I asked myself what assumptions do I make about myself that may limit what changes I perceive I can make.

Well I assume that I am less important than people in positions of authority, professionals and those that wear expensive clothes. This is quite clearly ludicrous but is definitely there. I will often position myself to be subservient to those I assume are better than me. I recognise that this prevents me from being successful in certain situations. Now coaching challenges these assumptions, creating an alternative narrative to these meetings where equality is the dominant thought.

Now that is a crude example but hopefully gets the point across.

So what assumptions do you make about yourself?

One I hear a lot is, I can’t run I am not the right shape. Now I’m not being funny but have you seen me. I have a round belly and little legs. You may not be built to break a world record but you can still run.

So once you have examined your assumptions then ask yourself if these assumptions are helpful and positive and which assumptions are starting to get in the way of you making changes.

Once you have identified these assumptions, look at what you value in life and live your life to your values not the pigeon hole you are currently in.

Don’t expect an overnight change you have had these assumptions a long time, so you will have to stop and ask yourself am I assuming this about myself or does it reflect who I really am.

If you live in Hull and want to discuss how coaching could challenge my assumptions. Send me an email or message me

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.

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.

My Album of The Year

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As you all know from my blogs music plays an important part in my life. I take music with me wherever I go. Whether that be on my run, on the way to work, in my office and in the seminar rooms just before teaching. Music can provide a narrative to what is going on around me. When I rediscover a piece of music I have not listened to for a while it evokes feelings and memories of the time I first listened to it. Music can also create a mindful state to help me reconnect with myself when I have been over thinking. In essence music is my safe place. Therefore the music has to be pretty special to evoke these feelings.

I have chosen 10 of my favourite albums that have been released this year. At least 2 or 3 of these albums will live long in my consciousness and evoke feelings and memories in the future. All of the albums have provided me a safe place throughout the year. However my number 1 album this year I have no doubt will be a favourite of mine for some time to come. This from a band that I have paid little attention to for the past 10 years, and it took them to split up and reunite to produce in my opinion a classic album. If you have not listened to American Dream by LCD Soundsystem then I implore you to do so, every track is a delight,

So here is my top ten albums of 2017

  1. American Dream-LCD Soundsystem
  2. Pure Comedy-Father John Misty
  3. Popular Manipulations-The Districts
  4. Villains-Queens of The Stone Age
  5. I See You-XX
  6. Little Fictions-Elbow
  7. Deep Understanding-The War on Drugs
  8. Stranger in The Alps-Phoebe Bridges
  9. Everything is Forgiven-Methyl Ethel
  10. Sempa Femina-Laura Marling

I derive a lot of pleasure from music as many people do. So by putting together a top 10 list and talking about it, I am celebrating a positive part of my life. It is so important to consciously acknowledge what is positive in your life on a daily basis. It is so easy to dwell on what is not going well and miss what is good. I am not saying ignoring what is going wrong is the way to go far from it. If you look at what is good first you start to feel positive and put yourself in a far better frame of mind to tackle what needs to be addressed rather than just feeling about what is going wrong. There is always something positive in your life.

 

 

Is social media getting you down?

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Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are wonderful, for sharing what you are doing with your friends, connecting with customers and keeping in contact with friends and family far afield.

If we are doing something  exciting or different we love to put a picture on to let everyone know what that we are doing something of interest. Or if we do something as a group we can tag all involved so we can all share the fun we had. This is all positive we feel good because we had a nice time and we wanted to tell people, and your friends feel good because they can see you having fun.

However there are times don’t you agree where you can start to think that everyone you know seems to be having far more fun than you, going on more expensive holidays, than you, are far more photogenic, have more intelligent better looking children than you?

This time of year can be worst with everyone jetting off to warmer climes, taking the obligatory photograph of their naked feet pointing towards a pool with a fancy cocktail and the must read novel just in shot. Don’t forget the photograph of the 6am pint of beer at the airport. Don’t get me wrong, I am overjoyed that my friends are having a lovely time on holiday, and it is nice to see where they are getting sunstroke this year, it is just that when I am getting ready for work on a cold rainy August morning my envy neurones (might not be scientifically accurate) become activated, and resentment starts to kick in. Then I feel bad that I am having less than charitable thoughts about my friends. So now I feel bad because my life is shit and I am a miserable mean-spirited man. Thanks Facebook!

When this happens, which is often (daily in the summer, and Christmas, and in during the Winter, also around Bank Holidays), I have started to look through my own pages on Facebook, and Instagram. You know what? There are an awful lot of statuses where I am basically boasting and bigging my life up, just like everybody else, apart from these posts and me trying to drum up business for my coaching (if you are interested in being coached just message me). That is exactly how it should be, when I go on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I am not looking for statuses telling me they had an alright day or a picture of someone sat with a cuppa looking bored, I want to see someone’s toes near a swimming pool, or a drunk at 6am in an airport.

What we have to do when we are looking at these statuses is that they do not represent the everyday reality of our friends but just the best bits they want to share with the world. We are always going to feel envious, however we don’t have to let it make us feel bad. Once you start to feel that way, examine your own life looking at what you have done, where you have been and how much fun you have had. When it all boils down we are all essentially the same.

As ever if you want to discuss how you approach your life and might be interested in having some coaching get in touch, the first hour is free and you don’t have to make a commitment to continue in advance.

matt@mattycoach71.com

Walking Through Treacle

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It was like walking through treacle going to work this morning.

My chest was tight, my legs felt like lead, and I had a feeling of impending doom one minute, then a feeling of complete indifference the next.

On at least 2 occasions on my way to work I considered turning around and going home and go back to bed. On both occasions I ignored myself and carried on. It would have been so easy to run back to bed and hide. I was dreading going to work, the thought of speaking to people made me feel sick. But I carried on. I sat on the bus holding back tears, and not knowing why I felt emotional. But I carried on.

As the bus travelled down Anlaby Road I let my mind wander I started to look around me, taking in the different people on the bus, most of them regulars on the bus. Then looking outside of the bus I took in the familiar sites of the K Com Stadium, the church at the end of Boulevard (sorry don’t know what it is called). The sun was shining, it was a beautiful morning. The negative unpleasant feelings had left me.

I arrived at work and walking up the stairs to my office the ruminations and treacle legs started again, until I got inside my office, opened my emails and started work. I was in the moment again away from my negative thoughts.

Throughout the day Foggy and his ruminations have come and gone, on the whole it has been a shitty day. If you asked anyone I met today if they thought I was struggling, they probably would not have noticed. I was determined not to let him rule my day and my life. 2 years ago this would have been the first day of a long run of giving into the depression and taking time off work. Not anymore, they are only feelings, I can let them rule me or I can rule them. I liken it to running, every time I started running it hurts and I want to stop, but I carry on and quite quickly the pain lessens and I can complete my run and reap the benefit.

As I said it is too easy to give into the feelings, but then I would always be a slave to them and never move on. They are just feelings the same as the positive feeling I have, no more or less powerful so why should I pay more attention to them than other feelings.

No doubt tomorrow will be just as bad, but if I don’t give in I know I will have good days very soon.

If you recognise any of this, don’t suffer by yourself, talk to someone, get some support. If you know me, come talk to me, you are not alone. Most of all talk to your Doctor and get some professional help as well as talking to friends and family.