Introducing The Wonders of Coaching and Reverend and The Makers

At the beginning of the week I had 2 wonderful telephone meetings with the coach that will be delivering the taught aspect of the coaching qualification we are hosting in March. I will be working alongside him getting a feel for delivering the course sometime in the future. As always a conversation with Anthony always leaves me motivated and positive. A large part of the second meeting was a mini coaching conversation concentrating on my feelings about my role in the teaching sessions and my role as lead coach. We examined where I see myself and what presence I want to have in both sessions, and what mindset I need to have to create a comfort in that presence. As with all successful coaching conversations they go beyond the meeting and continue internally throughout the rest of the day and evening. The next day I was due to co-deliver a one day manager as a coach training session. The questions and challenges posed by Anthony sat with me in the evening before asking me to exam my approach to delivering the content alongside the author.

I met up with Lucy the author of the training day before the session. Lucy is my manager for the 2 Coaching lead days I work. She is however more than my boss. She is a fellow coach and is responsible for me becoming a coach and doing the role I do. So she is my sponsor, mentor and coach. Because we have this relationship I feel comfortable discussing my feelings and insecurities about teaching alongside her. When you co-deliver a training session that provokes discussion it is important to learn how work in harmony. I like to think of it as a dance. When you first dance with someone new you sometimes step on each other’s toes. The key to becoming seamless is to accept that this will happen and check in with each other during the day. I love working with Lucy in these days, we have a lot of fun and I learn so much from her.

The training day itself was a success. The candidates played their part and contributed to the day, creating an energy in the room. The best training sessions is where the session is not dominated by one voice, but everyone contributes and we all learn something, that certainly was happening on Thursday. The most successful aspect was that there are now 7 more leaders that have realised the power of high quality questions and hopefully have the confidence in trying them out.

On Friday I was on my own giving a brief half day introduction into coaching. This was the first time I had delivered it. I spent Thursday evening and Friday morning wondering how I was going to get all the information needed to introduce coaching into a three and a half hour teaching session. In the end it was simple really, have a coaching conversation and discuss it. That is essentially what I did and then we ended with everyone practicing a coaching conversation. I was coached by one of the participants and found that 10 minute conversation so powerful that I felt quite emotional. That is how powerful a simple short coaching conversation can be. Some one who at the beginning of the morning who did not think they could coach someone and when faced with coaching me looked terrified, was able to raise my awareness on my career progression to such an extent that I felt quite emotional. All she did was ask 4 high quality questions. Granted she had a list of questions that she could use to help her, however she chose the 4 questions that she thought would help me raise my own awareness. It was quite incredible.

As you can see I have had another inspiring week at work. Personally it has been a little more frustrating. The pain in my heel is still preventing me from running and I cannot motivate myself to find an alternative exercise regime. I have found myself concentrating on work so have not put any thought into any other action plans. We will see over the next week or so how that pans out. I feel that fitness will rise up my priority list soon, as I am on holiday in a couple of weeks.

Last night we went to see Reverend and The Makers at Northpoint Shopping Centre! Yes you read it correctly as part of the UK City of Culture, bands and other acts are invited to perform in venues throughout the city that would not normally be used for arts.

If I am honest I did not fancy going. They are not really my thing, I was tired and my foot was hurting after being on my feet most of the day. I went thinking they would be entertaining, it would distract me, I might end up liking them more and Lisa really wanted to go. I went along not really feeling it, but trying my best to be positive and open minded. The wait for the band coming on seemed to me to be forever. It was an hour and half. For some reason there was no support act. I am sure there are plenty of local bands that would have been happy to play for free, to get the exposure. We were not so lucky, instead we were subjected to a very strange Indie disco in a shopping centre with no heating, with around a thousand drunk and getting more drunk by the minute middle aged couples (we were sober, that is myself, Lisa and our friend Paula). The band came on at 9pm, by this point I was cold, tired and pissed off. They were going to have to be amazing to win me over now. Unfortunately they fell short of amazing for me. They started ok, then they had some technical issues with a guitar. They started to lose the crowd and for a short while you could sense that this could go south quite quickly, especially after they tried to soldier on and destroyed their most famous song. They did however manage to turn it round and won quite a few people over and the bouncing recommenced. I wasn’t one of them I am afraid, they were alright but I was cold and tired and wanted to be at home. God that sounds so middle aged. If they had, had a decent warm up act I may have felt different, but I fear they needed to have been a different band.

Oh well you cannot have everything and on balance this week has been very positive,

Here is a picture of last night, as I said those in front appeared to be enjoying it.

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.

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

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.

My story is starting to take shape again!

After a few stuttering starts I am finally back on track writing my story.

I have wanted to write a book for years, but never really had the confidence. Then last year you may remember that I started with a mind map or several on paper. Then it sort of got stuck there as I got bogged down with detail of the mind map and lost my confidence.

Then just before Christmas I decided to give it a go again. I transferred the work I did onto an electronic mind map with much less detail.

I finished this map yesterday. This time I decided to write an overview of my story using the map as a reference point to develop the story.

I started writing up the overview this evening using google docs. As it gives me the flexibility to write when the feeling grabs me, and I can then go back to the map to remind me of any details I may forget.

Now I know I may falter again, I also know that I can adapt my approach and go again if it becomes a struggle again. My reason to write is stronger than my reason not to.