That was a long week!

I think it was the heat, but boy that was a long week! A lot of great stuff happened but I am knackered today,I am certain we had 2 Thursdays this week.

Monday started with some inspirational meetings,talking to some truly brilliant people. There are so many talented and committed people working in the NHS. The first meeting was to discuss the support I could offer to the development of unregistered staff. My next meeting was with the wonderful Louise who is going to support me with the back office functions of our coaching network. That meeting was so positive and was like having a weight lifted off my shoulders. To be honest I was shocked this all happened this week! I was certain this all happened about 2 weeks ago. Such a long week!

I spent Tuesday morning delivering a Insights Discovery workshop. I love delivering. I particularly enjoy challenging peoples perceptions, and helping them connect with themselves. I even managed to sign up a couple of coachees for our coaching network.

I spent the first part of the evening with a private coaching client. It was a great hour, shifting perceptions and introducing the idea of being truly present.

Straight after the coaching session we raced across the city to watch our eldest son’s band (Vialetters), play there first headline gig. They were majestic and truly did live up to their headline status. It was the perfect warm-up for their slot at Humber Street Sesh festival next weekend. for those of you going, they are playing the Strummerville Stage at 4:15. If you are going pop along to see them, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday and Thursday were just hot a sweaty days, and were a struggle, so much so that I am certain we either repeated a day or time just slowed down. The highlight was going to the pub after work on Wednesday.

Friday at last was cooler. I spent the morning with the wonderful Janis and Sandra making plans and setting dates for Clinical Supervision training next year. We didn’t get chance to make work through our planned book on Clinical Supervision, we will get chance soon. In the afternoon I met and contracted with a new internal coachee,which is always a pleasure.

This morning I went for a refreshing run, helped Ben with his student s accommodation application, now writing this blog watching the Challenge Cup semi-final. A restful day.

It has been a long tiring week, but on reflection a really productive and enjoyable week. Yesterday I was feeling a little frazzled and was I think concentrating what was causing me frustration. This exercise today has helped me concentrate on what is positive, and productive in this week. There is an awful lot to be thankful for this week.

Perhaps we should just get on with it?

I know some of my friends will be spitting their coffee over their phones reading this, but stick with me and let me explain what I mean.

I have heard this phrase a lot over the years, often from the mouths of well meaning but exasperated friends and colleagues, it can often be replaced with buck up! Anyone that has suffered from depression of any level of severity has heard those terms and felt that helpless feeling, even self loathing, in response to our inability to just get on with it. But what if was possible to get on with it, that could protect many of us from becoming ill, or that helped us stay off the anti-depressants.

The thing is most of the people that say just get on with it, are being quite sincere, because that is just what they do, with out realising that this is something that does not come naturally to many of us. There are I suppose situations where we all know that we can just get on with it regardless and then other situations where just getting on with it are impossible.

Getting on with it or JFDI (just flippin do it) is reliant on how resilient you are feeling at the moment when that task is required. Now I am debating going for a run this morning, and to be honest I have been struggling to restart running. As we know my resilience has been a little bit low recently, so I wonder if my inability to JFDI is down to this lack of resilience.

That is my point really, to be able to JFDI of get on with it, we need to address our resilience and look after ourselves. I imagine those that do get on with it pay attention to their resilience albeit subconsciously.

So lets examine my inability to no just get on with going for a run, by looking at the three characteristics of resilience described by Coutu (this is just as much for me, as it is for you).

Realism: When I went for a run on Monday evening I had this ridiculous idea that I could run solidly for 15 minutes before walking (I have not really run since December). I lasted a minute, now I did this 7 more times with some spells of walking as per the app I was using, after the 8th run I felt like a wreck. I was terribly unrealistic about my level of fitness. The level of pain and how quickly I got out of breath took be by surprise and quick frankly embarrassed me. I would even go as far to say I was ashamed of myself. Now this is quite ridiculous, I am 48 and overweight and have not run for 3 months, what else should I expect. There we are I have appraised my realism and there is some work I need to do on what I should expect from my running at first. There is clearly a need to manage my level of expectations of what I am going to feel when I run, which is a certain amount of discomfort during the run, which is then replaced with an elation and high when I have finished the run.

Purpose: This I have examined a lot. In the short term I have signed up for a 10k in June. Now going back to my realism, I am convinced I will not be able to run all the way round. What I want to do is run for 15 minutes and walk for 5 minutes on repeat until I have finished. So that is one reason for starting to run again. The other is fitness. I feel unfit, I am nearing 50 and want to be healthy for as long as I can. This stems back to my core value of usefulness. The longer I am healthy for, the longer I can make a useful contribution. It also makes me feel incredible once I have finished. So purpose is not an issue for me. s

Resource: So I have trainers and shorts, somewhere to run and an app. So I have the physical resources to actually go for a run. However whilst I sit here I wonder about my physical and mental resource, in other words the energy and motivation. If I examine the physical resource, I can go back to realism and examine how long I will be running for today. I will only be running for 8 minutes, how much resource do I need to run for 8 minutes in one minute bursts. It will make me breathless and sweaty and my legs will hurt but only for about 20 minutes. If I examine the mental resource I need all I have to do is remember why I am doing it and is that more important than sitting listening to the radio. How useful will listening to the radio make me?

Well I seem to have talked myself into going for a run. I still however have to do it.

Paying attention to your resilience and what my be reducing it, in theory seems quite easy, actually putting it in to practice is a little harder. It requires you to be honest with yourself and maybe address things that may make you feel uncomfortable. Reflecting is not easy and as I say a lot takes practice. I am learning to be more and more reflective, and it is bloody hard work.

If you want to explore this further and are thinking about some one to one coaching get in touch.

I need a re-charge

What is really funny is that over the past couple of weeks I have been writing about and researching resilience, not noticing that I was becoming less and less resilient myself.

For the 2 or 3 weeks now I have been running around tending to others needs and delivering content. Now I get a lot out of both delivering teaching sessions and one to one sessions with people. However I was not noticing my own well-being and listening to my own advice. I was not giving myself time to recover (or sufficient time). I was underestimating how much all of this work takes from me, physically and mentally.

My preferred attitude is to be introverted. I find it very difficult to talk to people I do not know, or embark on new activities that involve speaking to strangers. For instance if I cannot find something in a shop I will walk out rather than asking a shop assistant. Given a choice I prefer to email or text people rather than talk on the phone.

Us humans are complicated so my introversion is not the full story. I also like to be recognised for doing a good job and I like to make a difference to people’s lives. I have learned to enjoy extroversion and I am now happy to stand in front of people to deliver content, and have coaching conversations with people. To get me to that point though requires quite a lot of energy.

This has been the problem recently, I have been coaching and teaching a lot, and I had not noticed how much this was taking from me. That is until this week. By Wednesday I could feel my resilience waning, and by Thursday night I was completely spent, getting up a going to work on Friday morning was so difficult. In fact how I felt on Friday morning reminded me of what I felt like when I was at my lowest and was unable to go to work. Yesterday I went to work. I had a plan.

I had a lovely walk in to work in the sunshine taking in the views and just being in the moment. When I got to work I talked about what was happening to me with people I trust. I could feel myself re-energising. After work I went for tea with my work colleagues. We drank we laughed, we laughed, we drunk some more, laughed some more and then went home.

I am tired this morning, a little hungover, but optimistic. I will when life gets busy, when I am required to be an extrovert, that I need to schedule in extra recovery time. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to recover. Paying attention to yourself allows you to be the best person you can be.

How Do We Know if We Are Truly Resilient?

I have got a couple resilience projects on the go at work (in collaboration with some wonderful people) and this has peaked my interest in the subject and encouraged me to do a little bit of further reading around the subject. It has made me realise that my approach to coaching whether that be inside or outside of my work place is to build and maintain resilience, and a lot of what I was reading for the first time was in step with what I had read previously (when I was looking for inspiration for my connected living work). It is always a great feeling when you notice that all the research around, success, resilience, and well-being essentially say the same thing, it does suggest there might be some truth to it, so you may well be barking up the right tree.

Anyway, so what have I found out about resilience? As we everything the key to resilience is pretty obvious really, but not that straightforward to put into practice. Saying that it is clear that some of us naturally resilient, whereas the rest of us have got some work to do. I was reading an article from the Harvard Business Review (I know get me!), by Diane Coutu entitled ‘How Resilience Works’ (https://hbr.org/2002/05/how-resilience-works) . So Coutu suggests that resilient people and organisations possess three characteristics. When I read this it really resonated with me and I could connect it with how I approach my connected living idea and my coaching offer. So what I would do is address each characteristic and how I see it show up in my self and people around me. Hopefully it will resonate with you and help you become more resilient, at home and at work.

The 3 characteristics that Coutu suggests are present in resilient in people and organisations are: Realism, Purpose, and Resourcefulness.

Realism

How realistic are you about you current circumstances, including the risks and opportunities these circumstances hold. It is easy to deliberately not notice what is going on around us, or take our circumstances for granted. It is worth taking a few moments to critically analyse what is really going in. Ask yourself those simple questions: What assumptions am I making about my circumstances? What are the implications if I carry on this way? Is there another way to view my circumstances? What risks are there to my current circumstances? What do I need to do to reduce these risks? What can I achieve based on my circumstances? Do I need to change what I am doing to create more opportunity?

There are many more questions you can ask. The point is to raise your own awareness to help you anticipate potential threats and challenges. It is not about being risk averse, is about being risk aware.

The idea is that if you go through life just hoping for the best, you will be disappointed. It is after all the hope that kills you. If life or work is hard you need to acknowledge that and prepare for it. For instance working as a Healthcare Professional anywhere in the world is hard work, and is relentless, with very little reward. If you hope that it will get easier and that one day you will go into work and have more resources than you need, everyone will get better and your boss will send you home early with a well earned bonus, you will soon become disheartened. Whereas if you expect to work really had with limited resources and plan for that, and can see all the positives that you get from caring for people (the personal satisfaction that comes from making a difference), you are much more likely to thrive in that environment and be successful.

Purpose

Does what you do, have a purpose? Are you clear why you do things? Is what you do in concert with your values? If we don’t fully appreciate or believe in what we are doing then we can feel disenfranchised from our work and lives quite quickly. As we have discussed before having meaning is vital for our well-being. This is as important for teams and organisations as it is for individuals. We have to buy into the values of the organisation we work for and see that those around us also buy into those values including the senior management. It is worth finding out what your core values are using the values exercise I offered in my previous post
https://mattycoach71.com/2019/02/10/my-writing-progress/

It is worth understanding when you work with your values and and when you don’t and how that makes you feel.

Resourcefulness

The third characteristic is being resourceful. It is not always possible to have the resources you need to get the job done. So sometimes you have to be creative with what you have got, whether that is physical or psychological resource. Do you find yourself moaning about not having the right equipment, or that you don’t have enough, or it is out of date? Do you say to yourself or others that you don’t know how to do something a certain way, so you give up? In other words do you work from a point of view of scarcity? Being resourceful is turning that on it’s head and looking at what you do have and how you can solve the problem, rather than looking at what you don’t have and what you cannot solve. This takes practice and challenge to change your mindset. Having the negative mindset however does not change what you need to do. Exploring possibilities opens up options that you may not have see were there.

Just having one or two of these characteristics is not enough to be resilient. To be truly resilient you will need all 3 characteristics. On the face of it, it seems quite obvious. It is however not that easy and takes practice and persistence to achieve.

By all means get in touch if you want to discuss your personal resilience or the resilience of you team in more detail.

A Week of Compassion and Ethics

Before I start talking about what has happened to me this week, I would just like to share something that I am noticing about myself at the moment. My weeks seem to be going a lot faster at the moment. I know it is a very middle aged British thing to say. It must be that I am so engaged with the content of my week that I do not notice the time passing. There you are, just something I wanted to share.

So Monday and Tuesday saw me introducing Compassionate Clinical Supervision to 6 senior Nurses/Practitioners. Compassionate Clinical Supervision is the particular style of Clinical Supervision we have adopted in Hull and are teaching our Nursing and ODP (Operating Department Practitioner) staff. Clinical Supervision (in the Nursing world) is an important but much neglected practice. The purpose is to support the nurse in their practice, and improve outcomes for patients. Now we have added compassion into clinical supervision. The emphasis of our supervision is restorative, with the premise being that a Practitioner will be better able to show compassion to their patients if they are able to accept compassion from themselves and those around them. Healthcare is challenging, it always has been and always will be, and in the context of modern society can feel more challenging than ever. Therefore it is more important than ever to formalise an approach that goes some way to restore our Nurses/Practitioners. So that is what we are doing by training Nurses/Practitioners to be Clinical Supervisors.

The training we offer is held over 3 days. The first 2 days are positioned consecutively with the third day about a fortnight later. Day 1 and 2 are quite full on, so that is why we have a gap before we come back with the 3rd day.

Normally there would be 2 of us delivering the training as the training is very practice heavy, therefore it is easy to observe what is going on during the practice supervision sessions with 2 sets of eyes. However my partner in crime had succumb to the dreaded respiratory viruses that circulate this time of year. That meant that I was single handed, a challenge but one that I relished.

I met 6 wonderful people who made the 2 days extremely enjoyable, and I would like to think that all of us took something valuable away from those 2 days. We had some really useful rumbles that allowed us to really dig into the group supervision process and tackle some of the more challenging moments that turn up when supervising groups.

When I got home on Tuesday night I felt mentally satisfied but exhausted. I was glad I had experienced those 2 days but also glad it was over.

Wednesday was spent running around catching up with people that I had not seen for a few weeks. Just checking in with them and making sure they were OK. There are some days that are just taken up with restorative conversations, or making arrangements for various staff to get the support they need and deserve. Wednesday felt like I was just paying attention to some of my spinning plates that were maybe at risk of running out of spin and going crashing to the floor. There was also some work on resilience that myself and some colleagues needed to get started. So it was a running around kind of day. I love days like that (well at least one a week, a full week of them is a little testing).

Thursday was spent in Leeds attending to the second half of the title of today’s blog. Attending a CPD day on Ethics in Coaching. in terms of my coaching journey, this at the moment feels like one of the most impactful days I have had. It is always great to connect up with other Coaches that work in healthcare, and then add on some really useful content and that turns it into a quite special day. I found it particularly useful in the context of me learning to be a Coaching Supervisor, my role as a Clinical Supervisor and as a Coach. The tools and concepts that I was introduced to, resonated with all of those roles I hold and I could clearly see how I could apply them to help either myself or my client consider the ethics of what is in front of us. When I booked on the day I felt it was important to do to understand the boundaries and rules of coaching, but I thought it would be quite dull and dry. I never anticipated it would have such an impact on me and how I view my work. I was completely engaged during the whole day, and was disappointed the day had come to an end.

Friday was dominated with the resilience work for me. We spent a large part of the afternoon thrashing out a presentation on resilience for leaders to be delivered early next week. I love coming up with ideas but struggle sometimes with making a tangible product, so I was glad of my colleagues who have more of an eye for detail. My day ended with my own coaching. I have felt frazzled for a few weeks with so much happening, so I was really looking forward to some restorative coaching, and my coach did not disappoint. She gave me the space to talk about all the things that are making me frazzled and getting in the way of me achieving my goals. It was one of those sessions where I could feel a physical change in myself after the coaching. Thank you Coach.

Roll on next week and more adventures

Is Spring in The Air?

What a fantastic morning it is this morning in East Yorkshire. After such a stormy few days, wondered to myself when I was taking the the dog out, is Spring in the air?

The daffodils are blooming, there are buds on the trees, there is birdsong in the air and the sun is shining.

There is something so restorative about springtime, it signifies new life, all the trees and flowers come back to life, hibernating animals wake up, the birds start building nests and laying eggs. We all get out in the garden and start tidying, and planting, we throw open our doors and windows and start our spring clean.

Maybe we need to harness this positivity, and start making a difference in other parts of our life? Is it time to spring clean our professional life’s, or is time to start a new project?

For me spring brings new possibilities with starting my strategic coaching diploma, being halfway through my coaching supervision course, delivering clinical supervision training to nurses across the trust, and delivering my new manager as a coach programme to managers in the trust. Incidentally I have developed a a non-NHS manager as coach three day programme, that can be delivered to small groups of managers and leaders in small to medium businesses and voluntary groups. I also rolling out my connected coaching product outside of the NHS. This includes one to one coaching, workshops, short presentations, and a book. Bloody hell I am going to be busy this spring. The work outside the NHS is a little more challenging as I have spent my whole working life in the NHS. Therefore marketing is something I have never had to think about before. I am however enjoying the journey and discovering skills I didn’t know I had. So watch this space this spring both inside and outside the NHS. if you are thinking of a project and think you might benefit from a coaching critical companion approach, get in touch. If you would like me to deliver manager as a coach training, then get in touch, or if you just want a chat to exchange a few ideas then again just get in touch.

Let’s make this spring special, with all that is going on around us, we certainly need it.

Are we all less resilient than we used to be?

Life seems tough at the moment. Are we less resilient in the face of the pressures of life, or is life just tougher?

Maybe the answer is yes to both. Our work and personal lives are so much more complicated than they were a decade ago. Technology allows us to do so much more than we used to. In healthcare we are now caring for people that would have never made it to hospital 20 years ago. We are living longer than we were. This means during the winter more and more people are at risk of illness. Our success in healthcare however is outstripping our ability to fund it. This probably has always been the case but our rate of development in healthcare is breathtaking. Then you add in the financial crisis, that we are just coming out of, and then add in the current uncertainty of Brexit, then there is a lot of pressure on healthcare workers alone.

Looking wider technology has had a massive impact on all of our lives. Most of us have a really powerful computer in our pockets that instantly connect us to the worldwide web (even my 77 year old mum has one). For many of us not having our mobile phone and connectivity is unthinkable. We now expect a constant stream of information at our finger tips. When we go to events the first thing most of us do is grab our phones to record it or stream live. I was at a concert this year where someone next to me watched the whole concert through the screen of her phone.

Technology is amazing and makes our lives so much easier, but if we don’t keep an eye on it, it can be so destructive. There is the obvious problems I have spoken about before with social media, such as scarcity, and bullying. Then there is the disconnection it can cause, technology makes it so easy for us not to talk to our fellow human beings. We can do all of our shopping online, if we want to know how someone is we can text them or message them, or we can just post an update on Facebook. There seems to be an app for everything now, so it is quite possible to conduct large parts of your life without talking to people. We are however social animals and need that social connection to survive.

Now remember Professor Steve Peters book, The Chimp Paradox. In his book Steve explains simply how different functions of the brain drive our behaviour. The chimp as described by him has threat recognition as part of it’s function. The only problem with the chimp is, that alone it is unable to provide context. The chimp relies on our memory bank to provide that context. So here is the problem, as we are connected constantly to this big dangerous world, we are confronted with potential threats on a daily basis. The chimp has terrible trouble trying to distinguish between someone being mean on Facebook and someone threatening you. If we are not careful we can be put into a threat state on a daily basis, without the usual biological response of fight or flight. This mentally can be exhausting.

So we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time either in our past or our future and very little time paying attention to what is happening in the present.

Yes we are less resilient and yes are lives are harder (well maybe not harder, just more complicated).

Spending some time in the present everyday, dedicating an hour of happiness a day, and sharing how you feel with someone daily will go a long way to making us more resilient.