Thursday, 17 January 2013

Nursing the Nation

Nursing the Nation follows district nurses on their rounds visiting different homes across the country, creating intimate, affectionate portraits of their diverse patients and their inspiring ability to grasp life in the face of adversity.  From babies being born, teenagers coming to terms with disabilities, parents with sick children to the elderly and dying – district nurses are on hand to help them cope whilst bringing a glimmer of hope to their lives.

This factual series travels across Britain featuring some of the most beautiful and remote places in the UK to inner-city housing estates, spanning a wide cross-section of the population to follow these nurses as they go about their daily routines. On air at 8.30pm from 3rd January to 14th February this prime time T.V. series is sponsored by St Andrew’s First Aid Training and Supplies Limited. 

St Andrew’s First Aid Training and Supplies is proud to sponsor this excellent series which highlights the need for basic first aid skills throughout its duration. If you are watching the series and want to learn first aid or indeed need to refresh that First Aid Kit, then visit our web site and make that purchase today. You never know when you might be called on to help save a life!

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Who's in your team? Most of us would immediately list our colleagues, maybe our line manager, possibly even one or two 'exdended' members of other teams that we work closely with. The concept of teams is well documented and the impact of changes in teams is also covered well in literature. What is often missing is what it feels like to be in a team that works well or worse one that is clearly disfunctional. My view of teams is that they should never be too clearly defined. What I mean by that is the more you 'ring fence' or define teams the more you have the potential for building barriers. Asking memebrs of other teams to join in meetings or presenting information that could be useful to our own team will help build strong working relationships. Don't be too precious about who is 'in' and who is not, just keep things fluid and as open as possibel. Teams are in my view organic and need to breath so putting restriction on them is counterproductive. Enjoy and celerbate the differneces and challenge everyone to rethink how they interact with those on the edges of the core.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Getting the balance right

Having come back to work after the Christmas and New Year break I was amazed by how many people seemed to be dreading the idea of being back at work. People moaned about the need to return to a routine of getting up early and missing out on late night movies, not being able to over eat and generally seemed to be annoyed at the idea of working for a living. A few more stoic characters (me included) were ready and willing to get going. The gap between me and the moaners seemed huge and it made me stop and wonder if maybe I had got it wrong. I asked myself why was I so keen to be back to work, didn’t I enjoy the holiday, was it that I didn’t like my own company or that of my friends and family or was it that I am a workaholic and was missing my ‘fix’?
To answer these questions with an open and honest mind is difficult, after all if I answer in the negative to any of them it could imply that I have made mistakes, taken wrong turns in life and made bad decisions. No one really likes to admit if they are wrong, but as a coach I have to be prepared to be honest with myself otherwise I can’t be honest with my clients. So, I looked long and hard at my life, what made it good, where were there things I needed to change, what did I want to improve. This was not just a New Year’s resolution approach; no I took my life in segments and began to ask basic questions about what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to change.
So, I looked at my mental, physical, emotional and social aspects first. Mentally I’m a calm individual and pretty tough. I’ve not had issues in this area of my life so far and am happy, so no need to meddle. Physically I am active but I know I could do a bit more, so the treadmill has been dusted off and I’m working my way back into running on a regular basis: I might even go back to Toronto and do another 5k in their fabulous marathon. Emotionally I am very lucky as I have a wonderful husband so is also a great listener and saves me from myself – he is my coach and keeps me sane. My social life is good, not too busy but with writing and singing and a great circle of friends I am fortunate to be where I am in life.
Other aspects that I don’t place much store by include the spiritual and the symbolic – I say that because I feel the other aspects above are more important, but everyone is different so if you are giving your life a quick MOT, you may choose to include these or other aspects to review.
Going back to why I was happy to be back at work while others didn’t seem as keen took on a new and different meaning once I gave my life a little more perspective. I had genuinely missed the satisfaction I get from working, I wanted to get back into a routine again and I wanted to meet up with my fellow singers and writers to share our troubles and woos. It was a good exercise to do, one I often recommend to my coachees but hadn’t practiced myself for a while. Getting the balance right in life is never easy, but when you do it can make great things happen.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Self Belief

Self belief is an important factor in achievement and satisfaction. Believing in oneself is perhaps a prerequisite to success in any field. We all have competing internal voices; the one which is upbeat and positive which reminds you of your achievements, talents and abilities. The other internal voice normally casts doubt and questions your abilities. In all aspects of life, I believe we always have a choice of which voice to listen to. Hearing only the positive voice and acting on that alone may push you towards being arrogant so it is healthy to ‘hear’ the doubting voice on occasion; to give you a sense of balance and perspective. Listening to yourself and being honest is not easy. Often we push away thoughts that challenge our thinking or our view of who we are because it is difficult to face up to who we really are. Internal voices will challenge you to make a choice between the successful, high achieving self and the failing, under-achiever that can exist within all of us.
Making a choice to stay positive in the face of difficulties and challenges is always tough because we need to pull on our inner reserves of mental strength to get through. It is when times are tough that I like to remind myself that no matter how strong I am, I can be stronger by remembering that loved ones, family and friends can help me. Friends can make me laugh, I can shed a tear with my partner because it okay for him to see me vulnerable and I can count on family to create enough distractions to keep me occupied with all sorts of matters.
Self belief takes all forms, and it is worth remembering that to get to the point that you believe in yourself you have had to convince others to believe in your too. Think about that for a minute; people have employed you, they have asked your advice, asked for support, sought out your company, maybe set up in business with you. Whatever it is that people around you share with you it is because they see in you a person that is attractive, has something good to offer and has confidence. Remembering these things can bolster your self esteem especially when, like now the world is going through tough times. Remember confidence is the key factor in achieving something – if you believe you can; you will!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Doing better things

Some of you will already know that my working philosophy is to ‘do better things’. This statement comes from the Levels of Learning theory. In a similar way that Mazlow captured the notion of the hierarchy of needs, the idea behind levels of learning is a progressive approach to improvements. The first level is about ‘doing’; doing anything in a manner that is unfocused and unclear. This approach to work, or indeed to life will deliver poor results, low attainment levels and poor satisfaction.
Move up a level to ‘doing things well’ and instantly the impact is one of improved achievement and satisfaction. Doing a job well gives the doer and those around an increased sense of ability and no doubt pride. So if ‘a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ is your kind of thing then creating just a little more focus to your day to day activities will reap rewards.
But why stop there? Why not push things on to the next level and ‘do things better’? The idea is simple; you take a long hard look at what you do and how you do it and ask if there is a better way to approach things. Could you improve how things are done? If so you will have achieved that illusive goal of improvement. If you apply this thinking across a whole department of a team then you are into continuous improvement thinking which is so essential in any workplace.
No doubt with a continuous improvement cycle firmly embedded and things being done to a better standard it feels like the team are really motoring and achievements come naturally. At this point it would be easy to rest on one laurels but the theory of Levels of Learning requires a little extra push to get to ‘doing better things’.
‘Doing better things’ means taking a fresh approach to your thinking and to your practices. It challenges you to think about why you have adopted a particular approach, whether this approach is still relevant and whether there is a better way that you should now adopt. In organisational terms you might implement a 5S programme and soon discover that the benefits first gained are being lost to time consuming reviews. Moving to Kaizen might be a better use of skills, knowledge and time. On a personal level changing your routine might have a dramatic effect on your health, just swapping one unhealthy item for a piece of fruit will still make a difference to your health over time.
Doing better things is not easy, it is a challenge but one worth going for. Take the Kaizen approach to it and take one small step at a time. Focus on one area of your work or your life and challenge yourself to find a better way of doing that thing!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Etiquette – is for everyone

I recently visited an office where several staff were eating lunch at their desks. Nothing too unusual about that, except the smell from one of the lunch boxes had everyone apologising for the aroma that filled the air: everyone that is except the person eating from the offending box.
This type of behaviour typifies a loss of standards in the workplace that I have noticed. Another problem area for many office personnel is the increasing trend towards wearing what I refer to as ‘beach wear’. This style of dress is fine for out and about or indeed at the beach but I find exposed tummy areas, with tattoos, plunging necklines, casual shoes and combat trousers don’t inspire confidence. If a person can’t dress appropriately for work it sends to me a message that they don’t care.
It is hard to get the balance right in work but a little thought can make a big difference. Before opening a window or turning on the air conditioning, ask others if they don’t mind. If you borrow an item make sure you return it. Say please and thank you more often, share treats now an then and think about what you are saying so as not to cause offense.
E-mail can be a major trap for ‘breaking rules’, too many people use bold, or UPPER CASE in e-mails and don’t realise that this is viewed by the reader as shouting and rude.
I am guilty too of not always being on the ball when it comes to behaving in the correct way at work, but I try to be aware and if I do spot a mistake I try to correct it by apologising. No one is perfect but a little effort goes a long way in making life just that little bit brighter.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Letter to Andy Murray

Dear Andy, what a fantastic role model you are! I watched every stroke, every thud and every twist of the ball while you played the most fabulous tennis at Wimbledon this year. The result, a growing pride that you are the person you are and a sneaky wee feeling that next year you will grasp that trophy. It's a funny thing that sometimes the things we want seem to elude us but often its just a matter of time. The trick I've found it to remind myself just how fabulous I am - not a great Scottish trait I know but with a bit of practice even we can manage a bit of self stroking. I know you're probably thinking that you didn't achieve what you wanted but stop a minute, remind yourself of your outstanding achievements to date and then if you have even the slightest bit of doubt take a look at the TV footage of the kids in Paisley a few weeks back when you visited. I think you will agree that the look of complete joy and pride on their faces at seeing their hero is a brilliant reminder that you are a world class athlete with nothing but success in your future. Need to sign off now, keep laughing - it's a great remedy for all that ails you!