Evolve or Die

    Writers write to make sense of the world.  Often we write to share what we know.  As coaches, we share what we know without directing, we ask questions, whilst allowing space for new thought to appear.  We hope to provide the conditions necessary for our clients to stumble upon realisation – these are known as aha moments.

    As experienced NHS managers, at best we teach not coach, we direct, command and control and our days are more likely to stumble into WTF not Aha moments.  I exaggerate for effect, a little.      

    I’ve spent 30 years working in the NHS, half of which was spent nursing, the latter half in general management.  As a children’s nurse I cared for children of all ages with life limiting disease, yet by far general management is more stressful, more thankless and remains hazardous for those with a morale compass.   

    Why this hamster wheel?  

    Eckhart Tolle may have the answer to this conundrum, about how we can learn to be a successful hamster, one that lives in the Now.  Hamsters are very good at living in the moment, as other animals, they don’t think about the past, the future, or live contemplating their death, or the death and disease of others; they can be conditioned.  The downside of being human is that our gifts become our afflictions.  As the workforce team would say, our strengths become our weakness, we overplay our winning strategy.  Spend too much time thinking about the future (planning) achieve nothing today, spend too much time living day to day, there’ll be no transformation – no aha, just more WTF.  This is important because we’re not hamsters, we’re humans, reportedly the most intelligent life on the planet: good news; we have evolved brain power, if only we would stop relating to hamsters. 

                  Awareness is the greatest agent for change…Evolve or Die

                                       Eckhart Tolle

    ‘Don’t believe everything you hear in your own head,’ says Richard Bandler, the co-founder of Neurolinguistic Programming.  So much of what we think can be categorised as belief versus truth.  The thought experiment exercise I use frequently with coaching clients, what if what you believed, this belief that holds you back wasn’t actually true?   What if our thoughts were actually creating our reality?  That we were creating the conditions we observe?  It’s uncomfortable, transformation that is, leaning up against our zone of comfort, stretching it further than it’s gone before.  If it’s not uncomfortable, it’s not transformation.  

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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

 

 

Newton’s Law, Relativity and Marmite

Notes On A Blog by Paula Goode

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

“Creativity thinks up new things. Innovation does new things.”

                                                                                                Theodore Levitt

 An ambush was inevitable. A wielding of an oratory political sword across the airwaves.   What about privatisation of the healthcare system in the UK and why were nurses treated so badly? It crossed my mind that the potential answers were worthy of a doctoral thesis. It was a paradoxical monologue, challenging the status quo and opposing change all at the same time.

Is it true that we either hate something or we love it – black or white, good or bad, right or wrong? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The impulse is to swing to the right while the conversation polarises to the far left. Fortunately there’s an alternative, because unlike Marmite, most things are relative.

“To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need…Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources…”

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.

The Habit of Excusing Oneself

I am sat waiting for a friend of mine who is a hospital consultant he’s late. He’s always late and I realise,  whilst pondering this,  that he rarely makes an excuse he just apologises. Only once I waited so long that I though he wasn’t actually going to turn up. It’s not personal; he’s late for everyone. As I write, a text arrives saying that he is in the resus bay with a critically ill child, he’s not coming, he doesn’t apologise because he doesn’t need to.

This time is used to write a blog that I was planning to write later. The blog was going to be about the ups and downs of habits and the excuses we make to ourselves in order to maintain these habits. For me, I’d like to spend more time writing and learning to be a better writer, but I spend a disproportionate amount of time on other activities – there are good excuses for this.

My blogs are late this year, having been unwell; I decided to take time off. I’ve had a good rest and feel better. This isn’t an excuse; it’s a conscious decision to take time off. There is a difference. This down time was an opportunity to reflect on the difference between conscious decision-making and excuse making. The difference isn’t the lack of intention. I notice that when I set out with my intention I go looking for reasons why it can’t be done, soon a sense of inertia begins to develop and there’s a feeling of being stuck. There’s something between the intention and the action – I realise it’s usually an excuse. Sub-consciously, I’m looking for the excuse and when I notice one I hold on to it.

The upside of noticing this is that we get to make a conscious decision about whether the goals or intentions we have set for ourselves really need our attention. The ability to make conscious choices in our intentions mean that an inability to achieve our goal can be more about either the quality of our decision making or the quality of our excuse making.

Intention – Excuse + Action + Result

So I’ve started my New Year, albeit slightly late, with some new intentions. With an eye on my personal excuse regulator it’s going to be an amazing and fruitful 2015.   Happy 2015, may it be filled with intentions and cured of its excuses. It’s a cure that requires no prescription, those excuses – just let them go…

The Gratitude Legacy

I was talking to a doctor recently who didn’t like the idea of being a legacy maker. He thought it sounded somewhat superior and grandiose. In essence, he couldn’t see that what he was doing was creating a legacy.

For clarity, a legacy:

“Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor”

(Dictionary Reference.Com)

“Consequence, effect, outcome, upshot, spin-off, repercussion, aftermath, footprint, by-product, product, result, residue, fruits”

(Oxford Dictionaries.Com)

What proceeded was a discussion regarding a real life, fly on the wall observation of the fruits of his life saving work, the patients whose lives he had saved but also the strategic and academic endeavors that would inform and lead further work in his speciality. It was clear from the conversation, that he just couldn’t see the legacy in what he was doing. We may well ask why?

It would seem the habit of constantly judging what we do against the achievements of others can leave us feeling undervalued and lacking in contribution. Ironically, if you are in the business of hanging out with people at the top of their game, being anything less than the cream of the gold top can leave us feeling a failure.

The reality is, that everyday all our interactions are the opportunity to leave an impact, or consequence on the people and businesses we work with. Good or Bad. There is a significant difference between aspiring to be the best and comparing ourselves with the best. Comparing ourselves with the best can leave us feeling demoralized and unmotivated. Aspiring to be the best ignites, leads, stretches and grows us. When we are surrounded by legacy makers the bar we set for ourselves can be constantly out of reach – but this is an illusion. Like clinicians regularly exposed to high risk clinical procedures, they stop seeing what they do as risky,  risk (in our minds) being associated with something we don’t do on a regular basis which has catastrophic consequences should it go wrong.

It would seem that our legacy makers need reminding that the value of what they do doesn’t diminish because everyone around them appears to be contributing also.  This is true whether you are a doctor, nurse, manager, cleaner or CEO, the legacy is created through the consequences of what we do and its impact.    In any context it rings true that kind and encouraging words or expressions of gratitude can change someone’s life, if not save it.  The good news is, it’s a legacy that costs nothing.

Leading a Burnout

I was talking to a coach colleague and friend of mine yesterday. We were having a discussion about training programmes for 2015. The subject turned to proactive versus reactive management. The skill of being proactive seemed to be vital in the need not only to get things done, but necessary for preventing fires starting. Therefore the skill of proactive leadership is essential for preventing fires starting and extinguishing them should they flare up.

The metaphor of organisations as a burning platform with managers running around putting out fires is an interesting one for the health sector. It occurred to me recently that much of the resources in the NHS were spent on healing the sick, we have some of the best healers on the planet and we excel at emergency medicine and trauma care amongst many other specialists. These are some of our most skilled fire fighters in action. So it would seem curing the sick and injured in itself is the big picture burning platform, an organisation with no shortage of fire-fighters busy looking for things to fix. The paradigm shift of prevention seems to be something that we have put our attention to but it never really took off, not like the popular occupation of fire fighting. It has been asked, who would want to learn to prevent fires starting when your whole business is built on putting them out? We refer to this paradox as the turkey fattening itself up for Christmas.

What’s interesting for us as coaches is that much of what we do with clients, whether it is organisations, teams or individuals involves helping people shift their paradigms. Some call it creating a new story; some refer to it as merely letting go of the story. Maybe it’s time for something new, a brand new paradigm?

In working with state of mind, artful communication strategies and transformational coaching skills we believe that a real paradigm shift is not only possible but also inevitable. What this means is, given the right conditions anything you want to create is possible – you just have to stop fire fighting long enough to see it.

Choosing To Let Go

Some of you will know that I spent some time with Michael Neill at the Supercoach Academy recently – he teaches The Three Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness.

One of the insightful teachings at the heart of the principles is the fundamental understanding that as humans we are inclined to being emotionally affected by what goes on around us through our thoughts. That the quality of our thoughts is alone responsible for the quality of our experience. This in itself can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for us action people, who love to go around helping and fixing anything that’s broken – in the world of the form (physical) that includes broken bones, injured bodies, the sick and the organisations that care for those in need of repair. It would seem that our emotions and feelings come about as a direct result of the quality of our thoughts, which ones we give energy to and which ones just flit in and out of our conscious awareness, are all just choices we make. Given the gift of conscious awareness, we get to observe and choose our thoughts.

The analogy of the pill is a great one to use here. We have all heard of the placebo. The placebo tricks the mind into believing that a cure or palliative intervention has taken place and somehow our symptoms disappear.  We get better because we expect to. There is a plethora of evidence to support this – so clearly it would seem that mind really has an influence over matter. This is nothing new in the world of self-improvement or medicine. The preference for medicine over non-clinical interventions is a debate for another day. Just maybe it’s a pill that’s just a little difficult for the power brokers to swallow.

When I first heard that maybe I was responsible for my own crappy day, I wasn’t best pleased. Then something really amazing happened. Along with the responsibility came freedom to choose, at any moment in time I got to let go of those negative thoughts and create space for a much more resourceful presence. It turns out I didn’t need to go looking for a pill to swallow I just needed to learn to let go.

Towards Success Versus Away From Failure

Over the last few months I have noticed that blogs written in a more ‘towards’ something better rather than ‘away’ from something undesirable, seem to generate much more interest from my readers.

Now this sounds pretty obvious when put this way, that people prefer to read and be inspired to generate a more positive, optimistic view of the future ahead. Focused on what we would like to create versus dwelling on what we would diminish appeals to most of us.

There’s a well-defined stream that runs through the world of self-improvement that is common to all. The idea that you get more of what you focus on. When we think about our goals, our plans and our strategy it helps to formulate a direction of travel and to focus on the journey ahead. At its simplest, when you focus on your problems, you appear to have more of them. When you focus on what’s good about life, what’s good about work and what’s good even about the taste of our coffee in the morning, we feel a sense of gratitude that softens our world.

So, take a moment…consider how much time is spent dwelling on what’s not working versus creatively planning a new and more colourful scene. As Walt Disney is famously quoted:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Keep on dreaming, keep on creating and keep on believing.  You can do it!

Pin The Tail On The Donkey

This game keeps popping into my mind recently, because sometimes when observing how we do things, it can feel like this way. If you are not familiar with the game, it involves a picture of a donkey without a tail. The participant is blindfolded, spun around and expected to pin the tail to the correct area on the donkey. The one who gets the tail nearest to the right spot gets to win the game. I am guessing as with anything else in life, you could improve your performance with practice.

It occurred to me recently that sometimes we get to play this kind of game, attempting to get a result even when we are not sure where the donkey is, never mind his rear end.  We sometimes delegate the task not really knowing how skilled the person is or even how often they have played the game.  Often this works and at others the tail gets pinned but not quite in the place we had hoped.  The results will depend upon the level of orientation of the individual.

In the current financial climate, educating people in donkey tail management can seem like a luxury (hope you are still with me here). Education and training especially for non-professional team members can be affected. The potential downside of this means that you have less people available to allocate the task to, they may also be less skilled and had less training than is ideal. The paradox is, with less people skilled in tail management, the more skilled the ones you have need to be.  If we don’t get this right, the skill of managing a disappointed donkey (and it’s tail handler) becomes more of a priority than the skill of making sure the tail is in the right place.

If none of this makes sense to you, what I am pointing to suggests that without the training and development of our teams, they get to fumble around in the dark, through trial and error or by chance,  we may get the results that are required. It’s a shortsighted strategy that results in much of our time being spent managing disappointment. So let’s play a new game, one that involves getting it right first time, and if you think this isn’t possible, ask Toyota. They might introduce you to their Lean donkey.

The Book Notes on Nursing a Thought by Paula Goode, available at goodeinsight.co.uk