Mr Henry Marsh: Philosophy, Plumbing and Humility

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I’m listening to the neurosurgeon, Mr Henry Marsh, talk to a large group of the public, this includes teenagers with an expectation of insights into a life of glamour as a neurosurgeon. Mr Marsh’s leaves us feeling inspired, thoughtful, and most of all sober to the inevitable fact, that with life comes death.

He calls neurosurgery plumbing because he’s no neuroscientist; nevertheless, neurosurgery is a career for educated plumbers with nerves of steel (one must achieve three A graded A Level’s, to be shortlisted for medical school). He describes the stress of emergency life-saving surgery as verging on terror, yet, this doesn’t get in the way of fast plumbing.

An ability to act in spite of fear has been suggested as a hallmark of success. It points to a well documented core leadership trait – courage. Being a doctor isn’t for everyone, but the principle of courage stands, whatever your profession or your status therein.

Failure for Mr Marsh was core to the learning process, an uncomfortable truth perhaps. He described over delegation and misplaced trust, yet in essence, the ability to deal with failure was necessary even when the stakes were life or death. Mr Marsh was notably humble and authentic in the presence of his starry-eyed audience.

In a nutshell, the art of being a ‘consultant neurosurgeon’ appeared more about decision making than it did surgical skills; that is, to operate or not to operate? One could be forgiven for thinking Mr Marsh a philosopher not a plumber. But undoubtedly, there were no shortcuts to plumbing or philosophy.

As a true master, he glided effortlessly through two hours of crafted teaching, leaving the attendees with discreet golden insights into the world of transformation. We expected glamour, we received philosophy, plumbing and a humble version Mr Marsh. Encore!

What can we learn from Mr Henry Marsh?

  • In the presence of fear we can still do what’s necessary.
  • We don’t always get it right, this is a part of our growth and learning.
  • As we accept our fallibility, we learn humility, this creates clarity of decision making as we gain experience in our field.
  • We work as part of a team, as a leader we must own our team’s mistakes.
  • If you don’t know the answer tell the truth, we’re not all neuroscientists or…fill in the blank.
  • It takes courage to do what you love – do it anyway.

Books by Henry Marsh:

Marsh H (2014) – Do No Harm.
Marsh H (2017) – Admissions.

A Life in 5 Chapters by Portia Nelson

Poem shared by Dr Wayne Dyer:
Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.
Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

Listen – It’s Not All About Us.

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The subject of active listening keeps cropping up in conversation, mostly with doctors. They keep talking but remain convinced they’re not being heard.

Recently, a colleague and I delivered training for the NHS London Leadership Academy, part of this involved a session called ‘Listening with nothing on your mind.’ The feedback suggested that it was the most popular part of the programme. The exercises we used were insightful.

The challenge for all of us is to listen without interruptions from self-talk and a pre-occupation with the outside world. We are often deeply distracted by our own state of mind. If over thinking is a perfectly normal part of the human condition, how do we improve our listening skills? How do we know when we’re distracted and off track? How do we know that we’re not missing something vital to the future of our business? In healthcare the ability to actively listen is necessary for safe clinical care.

It’s not always as simple as it sounds. Coaches like myself have supervision and many years of training to hone this skill….the art of coaching essentially depends upon deep active listening; this requires awareness. We must manage our tendency to be distracted by ourselves or by others.

Notice when you’re being distracted – try it, today. Notice the difference it makes to your relationships with the people around you and also the quality of your experience.  We may also find that your jobs become much easier, as we learn, that it’s not all about us.

Beyond Healthcare’s Burning Platform

 

I’ve written recently about the above, and the tendency for NHS managers to refer to the NHS as a burning platform. But there are those who’ve made a career or winning strategy out of fire-fighting, the Red Adair’s of healthcare ( Red was the famous wild well extinguisher).

But fighting fires, whether in work or at home, indicates a habit of reacting to what’s thrown our way, as opposed to the planning of a more satisfying alternative. Individually, this can be difficult to see, we’ve become experts at reacting to what goes on around us, we can’t see any crazy alternatives.

A coach mentor of mine, Steve Chandler talks about creating a Crazy Good future. Most of us dare not plan for good, let alone crazy good; but until we do, we’ll be stuck right where we are — feeling as though we’re on fire with our hand on the water bucket.

What’s your crazy good alternative?

 

Is Fear the Death of Creativity?

Editing A Blank Page

I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been learning to write fiction. Who’d have thought learning to write fiction could be as difficult as learning any other new skill? On some days it’s been rather a slog, and it feels more difficult than it should. As Gene Fowler once said:

    ‘Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.’

It occurred to me more than once, as with any other endeavour, it is the fear of failure that is more likely to grind us to a halt. I learned from the masters, that it is better to write poorly than not write at all.  After all, as Jodi Picoult once said, ‘you can’t edit a blank page.’ 

Leave, Change or Accept

Paula Goode is a Coach, Author and Healthcare Transformation Specialist. Founder of the The Coach Hub at Goodeinsight Ltd (goodeinsight.co.uk)

 

 “When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness”

            Eckhart Tolle

How do we know what we can change and what we can’t? Who knows? Nevertheless, there are those that will try and others who do not. What appears to make the difference seems to boils down to choice. Leave, change or accept. There’s a current trend emerging, that just accepting suggests we are helpless, having learned to be helpless, so to speak.

In conversation recently someone told me that the problem at hand (or out of hand even) had been around for 35 years, all had tried to solve it without success. There was a sense of inevitability about any attempts to resolve this issue. Noticing that the rules applied to the decision-making resulted in only one outcome (the unhelpful one), two things occurred to me:

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself”

       Andrew Murphy
 

“We cannot solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them”

            Einstein

 Martin Seligman, the American Psychologist and expert on positive psychology suggests that helplessness is learned. We become conditioned into believing that we cannot change a seemingly difficult situation. We don’t try, confined by the walls of our imagination. Unconsciously we unwittingly reinforce and sustain this self-created reality.

If Einstein is correct, then creating a different result means finding new ways of thinking. This involves a commitment to change, a commitment to solving the problem, the creation of something new.  Se we leave, change or accept? Either way the choice is yours….

“Never believe a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

            Margaret Mead

 
Paula Goode is the author of Notes on Nursing a Thought (2014)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=paula%20goode

 

 

An Inconvenient Truth

Notes On Nursing A Blog by Paula Goode

Paula Goode is a Coach, Author and Healthcare Transformation Specialist. Founder of The Coach Hub at Goodeinsight Ltd (goodeinsight.co.uk)

Opening the book by Steven Pinker – The Sense of Style. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, there is a sense of impending discomfort. There won’t be any escape in this attempt to become a better writer. Taking a deep breath the reading progresses.

The opening chapter hints that all might not be lost:

‘“Education is an admirable thing”, wrote Oscar Wilde, “but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.””

Does Pinker believe this an untruth? He describes the character and skills of a good writer, it doesn’t sound like me but there’s hope.

“I would not have written this book if I did not believe, contra Wilde, that many principles of style really can be taught. But the starting point for becoming a good writer is to be a good reader.”

There are writers everywhere, some who can’t start, some who started and became stuck and some who just can’t stop writing. What makes a great writer, a popular writer?   Who knows, maybe Pinker might just tell me. There’s a theme building, as a coach I seem to be able to inspire other people to at least write, should they hanker to be an author.

It would seem ever more apparent that there is a common denominator, it isn’t unique to writing. The unconscious and conscious scripts that act out in our minds. What we say to ourselves, the conclusions we artfully craft to explain what holds us back, that which keeps us stuck.

Our state of mind creates our experience of the world. It’s nothing new, we know this really but it’s an inconvenient truth. Inconvenient because it is we that script the experiences that we may not wish to own.

Conveniently even a glimpse of this insight can change our lives. Even just one thought…

 Paula Goode is the author of Notes on Nursing a Thought

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=paula%20goode

Ref: Pinker S (2014) The Sense of Style. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Allen Lane, London.