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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Overwhelm, Underwhelm and Not Giving a £*?@

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Overwhelm, Underwhelm and Not Giving a F*?@

When there’s too much to do.

    Not that I feel like writing today, but you can see that I’ve somehow managed to begin.  I’ve written previously about tricking oneself into action and it seems that Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*?@, may agree.  It’s a book I’ve read a few times, what prompted me to flick through his reams of wisdom today I’m not sure; possibly kismet?

‘Don’t just sit there.  Do something.  The answers will follow…Action isn’t just the effect of motivation , it’s also the cause of it.’

    Over time I‘ve realised this, not through reading books about being more productive or books on the paralysis of overthinking, but verified via tried and tested thought experiments. Thinking and acting can occur simultaneously, results are usually variable but surpass the benefits of inertia. 

    Overwhelm is mentioned frequently at work; for frontline staff the reality of demand management can be a stressful experience.  A head full (and handful) of tasks can all feel equally important.  Sometimes I’m much busier in my head than in reality, the art is to notice what’s real and what’s blown up.  I’m reasonably good at getting things done and solving problems only because it’s where I choose to focus my attention.   There are plenty of tasks I’m mediocre at, or quite frankly disinterested in.  I’d like to write fiction and yet my ability to write creatively is directly linked to the time I spend inventing stories — arguably it’s another experiment for another day.

‘Happiness comes from solving problems.  The key word here is ‘solving.’  If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems then you’re going to make yourself miserable.  If you feel like you have problems you can’t solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable.  The secret and source is in the solving of problems, not in not having the problems in the first place.’

    Clearly the concept of freewill applies here, we get to choose which problems we want to solve when, even if we don’t believe this, we choose nevertheless.  And how effective we are is determined by how much time and energy we apply to any aspect of work or life.  Much of Manson’s book explores the paradox of being human.   The more we are preoccupied with the overwhelming nature of what is ahead of us, the less inclined we are to set about planning, problem solving, working our way out of our current scenario.    There’s an NLP technique that can help.  Visualise yourself dealing with whatever problem you’re grappling with, the protagonist of your own movie or novel, what would you have them do if you were writing the scene? Play it through using different plot  endings.   When you have the answer that feels right – go do that.

‘Whether you realise it or not you are always choosing what to give a f*?@ about.’

    Choosing badly can become a self-limiting strategy, therefore the ‘do something principle’ can include a number of other associated skills according to Manson;

  • Commitment
  • Saying no
  • Setting boundaries
  • Building trust
  • Making choices 
  • Managing expectations
  • Accepting failure as learning

    My own strategy might involve all of the above, but it most definitely involves making a to-do list.   I get to choose the non-negotiable components of the list for that day, month, year or years.  With consideration these might change, it’s a conscious process and will certainly involve a period of reflection and consultation with those affected.   The key is in the title, TO-DO.  Even a To-Be list involves doing something differently – I might choose to be kinder.  There are people who may disagree with the following quote, believers in the path of least resistance.  And yet, therein lies the paradox of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: 

‘To become truly great at something you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it…Who you are is defined by what you are willing to struggle for.’

                                                                                                  Mark Manson

Manson, Mark (2016)  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck   A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.  Harper Collins.

*All quotes by Mark Manson.

Be Truthful not Neutral

    Christiane Amanpour CBE is a journalist, CNN Anchor and television host.  I’ve been listening to her being interviewed by  Brian Rose of London Real, she speaks with wisdom, knowledge and purpose.  Her purpose, transparent and invigorating, is that of truth seeker.  

    London Real, is a global media company, educating, inspiring and informing; it’s for people tired of mainstream media and is an ‘unedited look into the world of real people.’  I recommend everyone dip their toe into this eclectic, exemplar pick and mix of personal development.  I’m going to share insights from Christiane Amanpour but I recommend watching the full video at London Real.  Life has taught me that we all hear through our own personal filters, perhaps listen to the interview yourself, with nothing on your mind.

    I’m so invigorated by this interview, the pressure of being neutral under certain conditions can be overwhelming for truth tellers.  A coaching colleague of mine once said, ‘the truth doesn’t lie,’ and whilst this resonates, there are times when it can burn the hell out of a quiet and predictable existence.  Truth telling takes courage, endurance and a predisposition to internal fortitude; a Hero’s Journey beginning  with baby steps to full Marvel status.  I propose Ms Amanpour falls into the latter truth-teller status.  She talks of being courageous, having a vision and the guts to act, she knows that popularity is at stake if your job is to tell the truth — we just have to be gutsy enough.  The interview is an hour long but core qualities of a Marvel graded truth teller looks a little like this it would seem:

  • Be truthful not neutral.
  • Be courageous.
  • Have a vision. 
  • Have the guts to act.
  • Stare down propaganda and false accusations.
  • Take your profession seriously.
  • Bring your experience to the table — knowledge versus opinion.
  • Don’t get depressed, it’s a troubled world.
  • Find your purpose and mission.
  • Be responsible for finding the truth.
  • Find your algorithm during troubles and don’t seek safe spaces.
  • Find views that conflict with yours and debate them.
  • Don’t put yourself in a corner.
  • Believe in the power of truth.

    This interview struck me as one that could have been about professionalism as much as journalism.  In any profession there will be ‘players’ who have their own version of the truth, people reluctant to intervene use variations of the truth to selectively take sides — morally equivocating,  a practice of half-truths.  But we must stare down this behaviour when people attempt to delegitimise us according to Ms Amanpour.  Our biggest challenge,  who to believe in a post truth world?

 

‘Believe in the power of truth.’

                                        Christiane Amanpour CBE

 

 

*Gratitude to Brian Rose and London Real TV

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.