Episode 115: How To Find Peace And Happiness, Even In A Life You Haven’t Chosen With Dr Maddy Du Mont

Do you ever find yourself questioning whether you’re on the right path? Or maybe you’re struggling to find meaning in what you do? So many of us feel like we are stuck in a neverending climb in our careers. Whenever you get to a point like this, it may be time to re-assess and reprioritise your life.

When faced with unwanted events, go back to your ‘why’ to discover how you can change your circumstance or perspective.

Dr Maddy Du Mont joins us in this episode to discuss how her COVID-19 experience changed her life away from clinical practice. Although difficult at first, her reprioritisation made her feel free and at peace. She shares questions that will help you find clarity on your priorities.

Change doesn’t require a life-changing event, nor does it have to turn your life upside down. It be can just simply changing your mindset and feeling at peace with your decisions.

If you want to know how to find peace and happiness in your life, stay tuned to this episode.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover how Maddy’s experience with COVID-19 changed her life entirely.

  2. Understand why we need to be honest with ourselves when setting priorities.
  3. Learn how to create change even without life-changing difficult events.

Episode Highlights

[04:17] How Maddy Coaches People

  • Maddy uses narrative coaching to help people reinvigorate their careers.

  • We can get stuck in the rat race and keep climbing ladders because it’s what we’ve been taught to do.
  • As we grow older, we tend to become more specialised and lose sight of what makes us who we are. Remember that there are many avenues for enjoyment and talent.

[06:53] How COVID-19 Affected Maddy

  • Maddy was infected with COVID-19 back in March 2020 and developed several other complications. She has not gone back to clinical practice ever since.

  • We do not fully understand what long COVID-19 does to the immune system, but we can be sure there are vascular and microvascular impacts.
  • Before getting COVID-19, Maddy worked as a clinical lead for a digital healthcare company based in London.
  • When COVID-19 first emerged, there was no experience and understanding of its effects and prolonged syndromes. Maddy was part of the first wave of infected people.
  • Maddy felt that she was weak because she was letting people down. Healthcare professionals are often the first to deny illnesses.

[12:37] How Weakness and Illnesses are Connected

  • There are a lot of expectations placed on healthcare professionals. We are taught that we need to be stronger than “normal” people.

  • Maddy shares that when she was undergoing training, she was expected to keep working despite being ill.
  • Not only that, healthcare professionals are often expected to work even if a loved one has just passed away.

[17:37] Maddy: “Having that kind of always comparing myself to that highly functioning, very busy multitasking, very high stress job was really unhelpful for me, because I just felt like I was failing all the time. So, I needed to cut free from that, to accept where I was at that moment, and organise my life.”

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  • This is why there’s a tendency to equate illnesses to feeling weak.
  • Maddy experienced fevers almost every day of the year and was then diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. She realised that she needed to accept her situation and reprioritise her life.

[18:04] We Need to Be Honest With Ourselves

  • Life may change drastically for us. When this happens, we need to be honest about what we need, how we can feel fulfilled, and what brings us self-worth.

  • Before COVID-19, Maddy was driven by results, fast-paced environments, and immediate feedback. She had to accept that she was now more suited to a slower lifestyle.
  • She didn’t receive immediate feedback from her family the same way she used to in the healthcare profession. This made her feel like a failure.
  • Maddy needed to change her beliefs. The experience made her realise that she was working so hard to distract herself from being a present wife and parent.

[23:13] What Drives You?

  • People are driven by different things; it can be simplified into fear, threats, drive or achievements, and rest.

  • Healthcare professionals are often driven by achievements. However, they often lack self-compassion.
  • Every experience can be a learning opportunity.
  • Maddy shares that reprioritising her life means reflecting on what drives her, where she gets energy from, who she wants to work with in the future, and how she wants to work.

[26:16] Maddy: “I can’t say I’ve always succeeded. There have been times when I’ve been really quite miserable and down and not doing the right things for myself. But generally, I think, I’ve tried to look at it as a learning opportunity and, ‘What can I learn from this and how can I change to meet these demands?’”

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[28:56] How to Prioritise

  • Maddy shares that her reprioritisation taught her to listen and trust her body.

  • When you reach an older age, what will make you feel like you’ve lived a successful life?

[29:54] Maddy: “… The age old question, ‘When you’re old, what do you want to look back on? What is it that is going to make you feel that you have been a success or have lived a successful life?’ And I kept coming back to this question over and over again.”

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  • When Maddy reflected on the question, her answer was never about being a good doctor. Instead, it was always about having a good relationship with her children.
  • This made her realise that she gets energy from service, meaningful interactions, and meaningful relationships.
  • When your priorities are clear, it’s easier to design your life accordingly and find peace with your decisions.

[32:29] How Priorities Guide Decisions

  • Your priorities help you say no to things that are not aligned with your needs and wants.

  • Maddy evaluates decisions based on three impacts: how it affects her relationship with her children, how it affects meaningful relationships, and how it allows her to serve.
  • You need to be intentional about your choices.

[34:35] Maddy: “I have to be able to, because what becomes apparent is that when you’ve made those choices, somehow the universe opens up and gives you opportunities. I don’t know how it does that.”

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  • Despite leaving the clinical practice, Maddy feels much happier and more creative.

[36:54] Finding the Truth in Your Story

  • People who experience burnout or life-changing health diagnoses can reach a point where it makes them realise what they need to focus on.

[38:34] Maddy: “There’s a lot of things that we can do without falling off the edge of a cliff to do it. But it does require a willingness to be really honest and willingness to go to hard places. Because the decisions that you will have to make as a consequence are getting to be tricky.”

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  • We need to re-evaluate the stories we tell ourselves.
  • Maddy shares that she used to tell herself false stories about herself. These stopped her from doing what she wanted to do.

[41:12] Maddy: “…They just happen. Anybody in the world would agree that they happen. What’s interesting is that our thoughts and our feelings and our reactions to those are changeable. Although we can’t control what happens to us, we can control our reactions about it.”

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[42:00] Change Doesn’t Need to be Drastic

  • It’s easy for people in high professional careers to believe they can no longer change.
  • Sometimes, it’s not about changing your life entirely; it can be simply changing our mindsets.

[42:43] Maddy: “Sometimes, we just need to start living that life. We don’t need to change anything else, particularly just the way we think about it. We just need to live that life in that way, and that’s quite an interesting thing to think about.”

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  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.

[43:35] Maddy’s Tips

  • Whether you experience life-changing events or not, learn to be compassionate to yourself.

  • Stop thinking too much and listen to your body. Learn to accept limitations.
  • Remember, we are worthy by simply being ourselves. Our worth is not tied to achievements.

About Maddy

Dr Maddy Du Mont, formerly a GP, currently works as a coach for professionals who are experiencing burnout and want to live more peaceful lives. She is passionate about helping others form meaningful relationships and write their own stories because she believes in the power of change through powerful narratives.

As someone who went through a life-changing health diagnosis, Maddy went through life reprioritisation herself and understood how change could be terrifying and freeing at the same time. She believes that we need to give ourselves the permission to discover what success looks like on our own terms.

You can connect with Maddy through her website.

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Episode Transcript

Dr Maddy du Mont: It’s amazing how we can get stuck on the rat race, get stuck on the conveyor belt. And we just keep doing it because that’s what we’ve been doing and we keep climbing the ladder, keep climbing the ladder. We have so many different avenues of enjoyment and talent and often, you become more and more specialised as you get older through your career and you lose those other bits that make you and you lose that sight of who you are as a person and what it is that you do that makes it different.

Dr Rachel Morris: Do you ever have moments where you look at your life and your career and think, ‘Is this really what I signed up for?’ Perhaps you’ve got to the pinnacle of your career and climb to the top of one ladder, only to realise that it just leads to another ladder, or that it’s leaning against the wrong wall. Or perhaps life hasn’t turned out exactly how you wanted. You may have encountered serious health issues, family issues, or ended up working somewhere really tricky. And of course, life has changed for us all through the COVID pandemic.

So in this podcast we’re asking how do you live in a way that brings peace and joy even when life hasn’t turned out lLike you thought it would? We’re chatting to Dr Maddy du Mont, GP and executive coach about how to thrive even when life throws us a curveball. Maddy suffers from long COVID and has had to make major changes to her life and career. The interesting thing is that she’s managed to reassess her priorities in life and change how she works. In fact, Maddy would say that having reprioritised she feels happier and more peaceful than she did before this all happened when she was leading a so-called normal life.

I’m fascinated to find out how we can all pivot in this way without having to go through a really difficult life event. So this episode is for you, whether you’re struggling with living a life in a way that you really wouldn’t have chosen for yourself or if you’ve reached a high point in your career and wondering, is this really it? Or if you’re still climbing up that ladder, and don’t want to look back at the end of your life and regret spending so much time focusing on the wrong things.

Welcome to You Are Not A Frog, the podcast for doctors and busy professionals in healthcare and other high-stress jobs, who want to beat burnout and work happier. I’m Dr Rachel Morris, a former GP, now working as a coach, speaker, and specialist in resilience at work. Like frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, many of us have found that exhaustion and stress are slowly becoming the norm. But, you are not a frog. You don’t have to choose between burning out or getting out. In this podcast, I’ll be talking to friends, colleagues, and experts — all who have an interesting take on this and inviting you to make a deliberate choice about how you will live and work.

We talk a lot in the podcast about the zone of power and other coaching productivity and resilience tools and principles, which I found made a huge difference to me personally, and also the teams which I worked with. I put all these principles and tools together to form the Shapes toolkit. This is a complete package of resilience, productivity, tools, and training for doctors, healthcare teams, and other busy leaders. We’ve been delivering Shapes toolkit courses all over the country in the form of keynote talks, webinars, workshops, online memberships and courses, and full or half-day live programs. We’ve been working with GP training hubs, new to GP fellowship programs, returned to practice programs, trainers groups, health and wellbeing projects, and many more organisations.

We’re now taking bookings for summer and autumn 2022 and have a few slots left for spring 2022. So if your team are feeling overwhelmed with work, one crisis away from not coping, and want to take control of their workload, do come and work happier. Do get in touch to find out how we can help.

It’s really wonderful to have with me today on the podcast. Dr Maddy du Mont and Maddy is a former GP and she’s now working as an executive coach and mentor and a GP appraiser. And in her coaching, she has a special interest in coaching high achieving professionals have got to the pinnacle of where they want to get to and just think, ‘Oh, is this it?’ And she uses narrative coaching to do that. So welcome, Maddy.

Maddy: Hello, hello.

Rachel: Great to have you here. It strikes me that there’s probably quite a lot of people that have got to where they’ve got to thinking, is this it? So presumably, this was born out of people you’re already coaching thinking, ‘Oh, gosh, I’m just seeing a recurring pattern here.’

Maddy: Yeah it was a surprising amount of people that have come for coaching, feeling really unfulfilled, having worked really hard to get where they want to be. And I find it really exciting working with them to kind of reinvigorate their careers, not necessarily start again, just change the way they’re working or change how they’re working to help them feel really excited about their careers moving forward.

Rachel: I just think that’s such a common issue. I remember reading a book about ladders, and it was talking about that, you’re climbing to get to the next rung and you’re working harder and harder to get to the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one. And you get to the top of the ladder and then either what you find is there’s just another ladder going even further up, or your ladders against completely the wrong wall.

Maddy: Yes, yes, I like that ladders against a completely a wrong wall. Yeah, I mean, it’s amazing how we can kind of get stuck on the rat race, get stuck on the conveyor belt. And we just keep doing it, because that’s what we’ve been doing. And we keep climbing the ladder, keep climbing the ladder. Particularly as medics, we have people who have so many different avenues of enjoyment and talent. And often, you become more and more specialised as you get older through your career, and you lose those other bits that make you and you lose that sight of who you are as a person and what it is that you do that makes it different.

And so it’s really exciting, I think, to work with people to kind of really help them find themselves again, remember that that person that they were when they started medicine, or before they started medicine and bring that in, again with them to kind of make sense of how they got there, and then give them a bit more choice about where they want to go moving forward.

Rachel: So I really wanted to get Maddy on the podcast today. We had a really interesting conversation about things that have been happening to you over the last couple of years, because it hasn’t really been plain sailing for you has it?

Maddy: No, that’s one way of putting it. Yeah, so two years ago, in March 2020, I got COVID and I was quite poorly with it. Although I didn’t go into hospital at the time. I think now, I would have done and I got a pericarditis that went on for a long time afterwards. In fact, medicine for that for a year, and other kind of heart complications, and then have subsequently been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis since then, and have not been back to clinical practice and not sure if I am going to go back to clinical practice now. So yeah, it’s been a little tricky.

Rachel: So sorry to hear that. And let’s get the technical stuff done first, there’ll be lots of GP thinking, ‘Oh, how did that happen?’ And had you been completely well, up until then?

Maddy: Yeah, completely well. So I was running marathons, half-marathons, triathlons, generally kind of hiking up and down mountains with my boys. Yeah, very well and it was a complete surprise, it came completely out of nowhere.

Rachel: And so you’ve never had any sort of rheumatological stuff before. So this whole Ankylosing Spondylitis, that was a new thing as well, right?

Maddy: Yeah, I think in hindsight, now, there were periods of my life where I’ve had really bad back pain and I’ve managed it with being very, very fit most of the time. So I think in hindsight, that diagnosis, the Ankylosing Spondylitis was probably grumbling along, and I was managing it by keeping very, very fit. Then the period of being very unwell and not being able to do any exercise really kick that off, as well as the joys that COVID seems to have done to my immune system.

Rachel: What do we yet fully understand what long COVID Does to people’s immune system?

Maddy: So I think not really no, there. I mean, I think we generally understand now that there is a vascular and a microvascular component to this, and we know that that, it’s much more clotting. And the idea is that perhaps what’s happening is that we’re getting kind of nervous damage to the smaller tissues from the kind of endothelial dysfunction. Anecdotally my rheumatologist has said that they’ve seen a lot more diagnoses of rheumatological arthritis. So I think, we’re beginning to piece a little bit by little bit together, but I think we’re still in the unknown in lots of ways.

Rachel: And before you got COVID in March 2020 how was life for you?

Maddy: Well, so I was working at the time as a clinical lead for a digital healthcare company based in London. So I was managing a team of 30 GP’s, I was consulting, kind of four— I was doing six sessions of consulting, I was also doing appraising, also looking after my two boys—living a very packed life. I’m also a singer, so I was doing some singing with my band—life was pretty busy and pretty full-on.

Rachel: Gosh. COVID hits you, march 2020, you’re really quite unwell. How long was it before you started to think, ‘Hang on a sec? Is this ever going to get better? This is taking a while.’

Maddy: I think at the kind of three to four-week mark, I was really beginning to panic at that stage kind of thinking, ‘Oh my God, what’s happening to me? Why is this happening?’ And bear in mind that at the time, we had no experience of this whatsoever. I was really the first wave of people in the UK that had got it and were having any kind of prolonged syndrome. So that was very scary at that time. And I think I doubted myself over and over again, kind of, ‘Am I making this up? Am I doing something that is making this happen? Why is this happening? What can I do to get better?’

I just couldn’t believe all of this. My husband’s a psychiatrist, and he kept saying to me over and over again, ‘Maddy, you’re not making yourself ill you can’t make fevers up and you can’t—.’ And I was like, ‘I know. But how do I make myself better?’

Rachel: It’s crazy, isn’t it? Side note, what is it about doctors that we never believe our bodies? And we blame ourselves for getting ill. You would never have a patient in front of you and go, ‘Well, I know you’ve got absolutely no energy and you’ve got depression, do you think that might be completely your fault? And you think you might be completely making that up? Or, you’ve got absolutely dreadful shoulder pain or you’ve broken your leg? Really? I mean, is it really that you can’t walk on it? But what if you were just a little bit stronger.’ I get so frustrated about the way that healthcare professionals just deny what is happening in their body because they feel it’s a personal slight on them, or it could be conceived as a character flaw. That’s a bit ill.

Maddy: That is exactly how I felt at the time and that I was kind of weak by letting people down. And I was letting people down and I couldn’t —yeah, all sorts of really unhelpful thoughts were happening at that stage, I have to say.

Rachel: So I’d like to go on here a little bit more. But first of all, what has happened to us that’s got us into that state of a feeling that we’re weak if we’re ill?

Maddy: I don’t know. I think—I mean, this could lead to a really big discussion about medicine, and the kind of thought processes that go through it, and the cultural change that has happened. But I think there is something in there about the responsibility that we take on as medics. We go to university, and they tell us, you can’t behave like other students, because you’re going to be doctors. And you have to be better than them, you have to be stronger than them, you don’t have—you do not go out getting drunk, you don’t need it.

Of course, we will ignore a lot of that. But it’s put into our head immediately that you are different, and you have to behave differently. The rules of normalcy don’t apply to us. And I think that goes through certainly, through my training, which was at the—roughly the same time as this is going to hurt which has been on recently and was scarily appropriate in terms of the experiences we had going through that. Certainly when we were training, there wasn’t time to be ill and there wasn’t.

You were encouraged to go in and carry on whatever unless you were literally couldn’t stop being sick. And I remember my registrar on my first ward job saying to me, ‘You have two weeks that you can mess it up in the first few weeks now we’ll cover for you after that you’re on your own.’ And I think it’s that kind of culture that grows us into these people that stops us being humans.

Rachel: I totally agree and I think we’re gonna have to in another entire podcast episode This Is Going To Hurt because I watched the first episode the other day with my partner. I was just like, yep, that’s what happened. Yeah. And my friends kept saying, ‘Oh, come on. I mean, must be exaggerated.’ Nope. I mean, obviously they cram all the bad bits into one episode, but totally and you can just remember those days and I think we’re all sort of suffering from—I don’t know, a recollection and slightly reliving that stress and the trauma of being on that point, but yeah, am I making this up?

And that’s not just physical stuff as well. I mean, I remember in my house dogs my grandmother died and rather than thinking, ‘Okay, I do need to take a couple of days off.’ I just went on call and sobbed my way around the wards for a night on my own. It was awful, awful, but not recognising that actually, I would react in the way of other people. You’re a doctor, you’re slightly different. You’re you can handle it.

Maddy: Yeah. But then that was also the time. I was not given compassionate leave to go to my granddad’s funeral.

Rachel: I had to swap shifts and swap on calls to actually go and do anything you didn’t you didn’t get leave anyway. So you’re thinking, ‘What is wrong with me? Because I can’t do anything. I’m really ill.’ Yeah. And then what happens?

Maddy: Yeah, well, I ended up having a fever of 38 every single day for nearly—for well, for over a year. At the 10-month mark, having gone through the infectious diseases, people kind of exhausted the local routes that are available to me. I went to—I pay privately to go to a rheumatologist who took one look at me and put me through an MRI scanner and said, ‘No, you’ve got ankylosing spondylitis.’ At which point I transferred back into the NHS and they said, ‘Oh, yes, yes, you have go try some adalimumab’.

So I’m now happily ensconced on that which has made the joint issues an awful lot better. I am still very much struggling with the cardiac implications. And I’m going back through cardiology a second time now, to try and really figure out what is going on. Because I’m still getting angina pains and still getting symptomatic tachycardia is where I’m dizzy and faint. And I can’t reduce my Ivabradine, which controls my heart rate, otherwise, my heart rate is 140 at rest. So we’re still kind of figuring out what’s going on on the cardiac side. So this is two years later.

Now, in the space of that time, I resigned from my online, digital healthcare, corporate stuff. I have to say they’ve been brilliant, in terms of saying to me keeping my job open for me and coming back when you’re ready, but I felt that, for me, I needed to, and this is where the big psychological changes started happening. I think I needed to accept where I was now because it was very clear that I was not going to get better quickly. And having that kind of always comparing myself to that highly functioning, very busy multitasking, very high-stress job was really unhelpful for me because it just felt I just felt like I was failing all the time. So I needed to cut free from that, I think to accept where I was at that moment and organise my life so that that was okay.

Rachel: And Maddy. I mean, it’s really interesting talking to you now, because the provisional title, I don’t know that will say it for this podcast is how to create a way of living around a life I haven’t chosen. Now, sometimes I interview guests, and they’re like, this is my story and I’ve been through it and it’s finished and this is looking back, this is what I would have done differently. Like you’re right bang in the middle of the story, still, with all the stuff that’s going on. Thank you so much for being really vulnerable and coming on and sharing it and I think it’s just really powerful because there are be a lot of listeners that there might not be that many that have long COVID. But there will certainly be a lot of listeners that have chronic health problems that have had something dreadful happen or maybe recovering from cancer, who may be have had a relationship, this is finished and they find themselves not living the life that they might have chosen or something’s gone wrong with their career or you name it.

Life doesn’t work out the way we want to and what I think your case is particularly extreme. But I think for a lot of us, there are things that we would rather change. I guess the natural thing is to rail against it and I certainly know some people that some really bad stuff has happened to them, they’ve responded in very different ways. And someone I can think of is still really railing against it and I think really suffering I guess taking that second arrow is a bit of what we’re talking about. The thing that’s happened and then a second lot of suffering is really railing against the thing that’s happened to them. And you said, accepting where I was and making those lifestyle changes. Now that was just a sentence but I bet that was incredibly hard to do

Maddy: It was very hard to do. Because what that means is getting really honest with yourself about what you need. To make your life feel fulfilled, and what brings you self-worth, and what fills you up. I think before this illness, I was very much driven by results. So I worked hard, I was kind of generally in a position of leadership where I had a lot of responsibility for other doctors as well as for patients, I kind of thrived off that. I thrived off the adrenaline and the kind of very fast-paced environment that I worked in. And coming down from that is really, really, really hard, because you kind of then go, ‘Okay, right, my life is now very slow, because I physically can’t keep up with anything else.’

So where do I find those immediate kind of feedback responses saying, ‘Yes, you’re doing well’, or yes, you’re—aren’t there anymore. And what I realised is that, I found it very hard for my children, and for my husband to be enough for me. Now, that was a really tricky discussion to have with my husband and sounds kind of awful saying it now. But I felt, the immediate feedback that you get from long term relationships and from parenting is not immediate. It’s a very long time down the road. And so, for me, that meant that I just felt like a failure as a mom and a failure as a wife a lot of the time, because there wasn’t that immediacy in the feedback.

Now, neither of them, neither of my children or my husband would say that I was a failure in any way whatsoever. But for me at the time, I was all about results and information immediately. So that had to change. I think I’ve said in our previous conversation, that it was that I had to really weigh up, my needs to achieve things for myself worth versus my children’s need to have a mother that was present because I didn’t have the energy to do both. I barely had the energy to parent my children, to be honest. So it was very difficult.

Rachel: And as you’re saying that I’m just wondering, and looking back on my own life thinking, actually. I think sometimes we do kid ourselves, when we are doing something that’s taking a lot of emotional energy working really, really hard. We are killing ourselves that we are doing both really well anyway.

Maddy: Yes, absolutely. It’s totally diversionary tactics for me, I realised that I was just throwing myself in this to work to kind of avoid the hard stuff of that real uncertainty and that vulnerability, that has to come with being a present parent or a present wife. It’s much easier to throw yourself into work and just kind of manage it and just kind of wing the rest of it.

Rachel: I mean, it’s about feedback as well, isn’t it? We are very driven by it. I love Paul Gilbert’s work about the different things that were driven by there’s your fear zone, your threat zone, your amygdala, adrenaline, drive zone, which take your dopamine achievement and then see your rest and digest your parasympathetic zone. And as doctors, we spend most of our time between driving, driving, driving, and—

Maddy: Exactly in very little in this soothing place. And in fact, I use that compassion focus therapy idea in a lot of my coaching, because we are terrible as doctors, we haven’t developed that compassion centre, that soothing centre for ourselves very well. So it is much more natural for us to live in the drive and the threat zones.

Rachel: As a mother, I’m just speaking for myself. Now, I can’t say that the feedback I get from my family is always positive or encouraging.

Maddy: Exactly. This is the thing about parenting, isn’t it? Is that actually, parenting is—you don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m wifing this evening.’ Actually, it’s a relationship, isn’t it? It’s not a job. You don’t get—you are not responsible for them not having meltdowns. What you are responsible for is the, working through that emotional development with them. But it’s very easy to kind of flick into that, ‘I’m parenting. This is my job, they’re having a meltdown, therefore, I’m not doing my job properly’.

Rachel: Particularly with teenagers. They sort of blame you for everything and you’d be I don’t know, you’ve been speaking to hundreds of people at a conference and you come in the door and someone has to go at you because their gym shirt isn’t clean. Can I just go back to that really difficult job?

Maddy: Yeah, absolutely.

Rachel: We are our own worst enemies in that regard. So how did you learn to cope with it? What did you do?

Maddy: Well, I think, as doctors, we’re also really privileged to have seen other people in this situation many, many times. And I remember I kind of consciously thought I wanted to be like a patient who I’d met when I was working at the Oxford Centre for Enablement who, and this patient had had meningitis and lost both legs. And we gave him his prosthesis and said,

‘Just walk a few steps, don’t go far. And we’ll see you tomorrow.’ And he came back, having walked a mile around the pond, because it said, ‘Oh, I got halfway there. And I thought I might as well keep going and come back.’ But he had this amazing energy and this kind of absolute, dogged determination to look at the bright side of things.

So I decided quite early on that I was going to try and mimic that because I didn’t feel particularly positive, or dug it in my kind of, in my attitude at the point at that point. And I can’t say I’ve always succeeded, there have been times when I’ve been really quite miserable and down and not doing the right things for myself. But generally, I think I’ve tried to look at it as a learning opportunity and what can I learn from this and how can I change to meet these demands. I think that’s—so very early on, I got all arranged in counselling because I realised very quickly that my self-worth was so bound up in my job that not being able to do my job is going to be very difficult.

And then I was doing this retraining as a coach or was going to do that alongside my job anyway. The kind of coaching way of a practical kind of forward focus really appealed to me. Each step once I found that the resigning from my job very, very difficult and that took me months and months of thinking about to do that. But once I had done it that was amazingly freeing and because I’d done it in this proactive way I had maintained a really good relationship with them and they have basically said ‘If you ever want to come back, please contact us.’ So that was a very nice way of ending it for me.

Then from there, I had this enormous sense of freedom but also absolutely terrifying because I wasn’t well enough to start anything else so was in this liminal space. In coaching, we talk a lot about these liminal spaces and how difficult it can be to sit in them. So I did a lot of work through there on the coaching course and I got to coaching myself as well which has helped me no end and spent a year really deciding to work out. Okay, this I felt like the university has given me this chance, I’m going to stop working, I’m going to spend this time figuring out what it is that is really important in life to me. What it is that drives me, where I get my energy from, who I want to be working with in the future, in what way I would like to be working with them.

And that also took in kind of a lot of figuring out the demons from my past and dealing with those things that I’d well and truly boxed up and put away and you know, hadn’t really expected to get out again. So in an odd way it’s been a really cleansing time as well and clarifying time. Not easy though.

Rachel: I know you obviously got limited energy because of your health condition. How do you know know what you should prioritise and what you shouldn’t prioritise and what you should be focusing on and what you shouldn’t?

Maddy: A lot of it for me was kind of feeling my way through it and beginning to learn to trust my body and we touched on this earlier. My body is telling me in one way or another what feels right, what doesn’t, and trying to kind of think out of your head and feel stuff has been quite useful for me. Completely new thing to me. I just before was like a bull in a china shop. You know you will do this and you will do that. The other thing I think was feeling that kind of our age-old question. You know when you’re old, what do you want to look back on? What is it that is going to make you feel that you have been a success or have lived a successful life?

And I kept coming back to this question over and over again and instinctively, that was never—I’ve been a good doctor, I’ve risen to the heights of kind of doctor management, like that just did not factor in what I was doing, or what I wanted to look back on. Absolutely number one over and over and over what kept coming out, which was a real surprise to me was, I want to have a good relationship with my children. And I want them to feel comfortable in my presence, and at ease with me and as though I’m always a safe place for them. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say that it was a surprise. Because clearly that’s as a mother what you want for your children.

But I’d always thought that that would come alongside me being successful at work. And actually, when I was really honest about it, it was about that relationship and that set me off thinking about relationships. What I thought was really important and really successful and where I got a lot of energy from was having meaningful interactions and meaningful relationships. And I realised that this actually, is a definition of success for me, because I can do that with my family, with my working clients, with everything I do; that kind of having a meaningful relationship, honest and relationships with integrity, that’s something that is in my control.

So I’m not handing that control over to anyone else and I think we’ve talked a lot about the locus of focus of control rather, that is something that I can do by living honestly, and, you know, with kindness, and being true to my values will make those relationships meaningful. And then I realised that actually, what was also important to me was being of service to people, so not only having meaningful relationships but then giving something through those meaningful relationships. That’s what I kind of came down to as my real priorities. When I looked at it that way, designing my working life became a lot easier.

Rachel: Yeah, because you know exactly what you got to focus on. And then how did you use those priorities to make the difficult decisions?

Maddy: I’m not going to say it was easy to make decisions, they were really hard, really annoying adulting decisions that I didn’t want to make. Because I wanted to be able to just juggle everything. I think I had this real fear of missing out as well, I didn’t want to have to kind of narrow things down, because I didn’t know where to go or where I wanted to be. But I’ve been forced to narrow those things down. It made me realise that those other friendships, those other kind of working relationships that didn’t fit into that ability to have a meaningful relationship or be of service actually gave me very little.

So I was much more able to choose not to do those things to say, ‘Okay, I’m not going to work with that to do that set of kind of jobs and I’m not going to choose to go back into locuming or whatever, because that doesn’t fit alongside those things.’ And what is nice is that it gives me a real sense of calm because I can evaluate any opportunities that now come up. I’m better than I was, but I’m not completely better, I still can’t juggle everything. I now evaluate those and think how is that going to impact on my ability to be there for my children, and my ability to have that meaningful relationship with them? How is that going to impact my relationship with the other important people in my life? How is this going to impact on kind of being able to give in acts of service?

Some opportunities, allow me to give a lot in an act of service. But don’t allow me to have those meaningful relationships. And so I’ve sort of made a rule that there has to be both or nothing. I have to be able to, because what becomes apparent is that when you’ve made those choices, somehow the universe opens up and gives you opportunities. And I don’t know how it does that. And I do, but it does.

Rachel: Yeah, and it’s interesting, is it because I guess you’ve been forced to have to make these decisions. Oh, no, actually, no, you haven’t been forced to make these decisions like you could have chosen just to wallow and go ‘That’s it, I can’t do anything.’ But you’ve obviously made a really intentional choice to work out what’s really important. Do some deep work to make those decisions. What would have happened? If you’d have made those decisions when you were well? How would that have affected your life?

Maddy: Yeah, it’s really interesting. I don’t know if I’ve ever got to those decisions. And I do think about this, because I am much happier now actually. Despite all the ill health, despite all the things that I can’t do, that I’d like to be able to do, I am much happier, I feel much more settled, I’m able to be much more creative in writing, the relationships that have brilliant, and I really enjoy. And I’m not sure that I would have made all those decisions if I didn’t have to. I don’t think I would have walked away from clinical practice and I think I needed to, for me. Because I think I was so scared of doing that. I was so scared of not having a role and not having an identity. Because actually, medicine gives us an identity, doesn’t it? It’s very easy.

If you’re under a social thing to say I’m a doctor, then everybody knows what you do. And they plug you in that kind of, oh, you’re this respectable this and this and this. There’s a shortcut to kind of getting this social identity.

And I was really scared of losing all of it. Because you don’t lose them all. They’re just slightly different. So I’m not sure I would ever quite have managed it and I think I might have gone on working in something that was fundamentally making me a little miserable, but I thought was the only thing I could do? Yeah, I don’t know if I would have got there.

Rachel: It’s interesting. I think you obviously had long COVID. But you hear these exact stories from people that experienced a severe burnout year or had another life-changing health diagnosis. It’s very difficult to get to the point where you’re grateful that something has happened. But a lot of people report that they’re actually happier afterwards, because it’s forced them to confront the lies and the stories they were telling themselves that just weren’t true.

Maddy: Yes indeed. And that’s what’s so fascinating and why I kind of wind narrative into the coaching. Because when I look back, there were so many stories, I was telling myself that weren’t true. And those stories were stopping me from doing what I knew I wanted to do. Not that I had an idea of what I wanted to actually end up doing, but I knew that it wasn’t this. I think there is that real need to evaluate those stories. And I am actually, I am really grateful. Because I’m not sure. I’d quite like to have done it in a less difficult way. But I’m not sure I would have done it. I’m not sure I would have made myself confront those and go through those things.

Rachel: One thing that puzzles me is how can we get this realisation without having to have a really difficult life event happen to us? And I presume, I mean, when people can see you for coaching, obviously, they’ve got to the top thinking, ‘Wow, what do I do now?’ So I bet that that’s a bit like it happening, but without the life event, and how can you help people?

Maddy: Well, this is why I love my job, because it’s so exciting. There’s a lot of things that we can do without falling off the edge of a cliff to do it. But it does require a willingness to be really honest, and a willingness to go to hard places because the decisions that you will have to make as a consequence are going to be tricky. Personally I think everybody should have coaching because it’s brilliant. But there are things that you can do yourself that you don’t need to kind of go through coaching for such as there are things like the 16 personalities, the kind of profiling, personality profiling, and values assessments, the Values in Action assessment that you can get online that are free.

They are really useful. My professor of coaching used to say that they are can openers not tape measures, which I really love. So the idea of these just to start you thinking about what it is that are your priorities, what are the values that are really important to you. I think values are the most important thing. I know that for me, appreciation of beauty and excellence is up there and alongside curiosity. Those are the kinds of things that I focus on when I’m thinking about alongside success. How do my measures of success go into this decision? So those are the two things that I use to help me make decisions. I’m a massive Brené Brown fan and she says that you can only have two values that are important, anything more, then you are diluting what your cornerstones are. So I find it quite hard to get down to just two, three is my kind of where I feel comfortable. So I think you can do those values assessments yourself, you can have those kinds of coaching conversations with yourself in that way.

There are also coaching tools on the web that you can search for. You can search for something called A Thought Download by Brooke Castillo, she’s actually a weight loss coach in the US. But she’s created this brilliant self-coaching model, which talks about circumstance, thoughts associated with that, feelings associated with the thoughts, the action that requires, and then the consequences of those actions. And it’s probably a bit much to kind of explain the way through those, but essentially, it’s the idea that circumstances are entirely neutral. They are facts, they just happen, anybody in the world would agree that they happened.

What’s interesting is that our thoughts and our feelings and our reactions to those are changeable. Although we can’t control what happens to us, we can control our reactions about it. There’s that coaching model; it’s also available, it’s free. And I think that’s a really good place to start. But really, yes, I think it’s that acknowledging at some point that it’s not fitting, right, that something isn’t fitting, right. And rather than just kind of battering on through this thing, ‘Okay, well, let’s give myself the space to investigate this. I don’t have to change anything. But let’s give us some space to investigate what this means.’

Rachel: I think starting with that question that you mentioned at the beginning, you know, what do I want to be remembered for? What will I look back and think my life was about? And if the answer to that is very different to what you’re spending your life doing now, then probably something needs to change and you get that bit of cognitive dissonance, don’t you?

Maddy: Absolutely. And I think as well, because of the people that tend to go into medicine, or very high kinds of careers, high professional careers, we tend to have that thought that we can’t change or can’t do anything without doing a whole load more learning, or a whole load more this or more that. And actually, sometimes we just need to start living that life. We don’t need to change anything else, particularly just the way we think about it. We just need to live that life in that way and that’s quite an interesting thing to think about.

Rachel: Yes, I know one of the things that we talked about in our Permission To Thrive is that one of Caroline Walker’s-

Maddy: Caroline—be at B!

Rachel: Absolutely, exactly. If you want to, if you want to be at B, then just go there and act as if you already are. And see what follows. Because sometimes, I think for doctors, we like to get into action, don’t we? Sometimes it’s easier to stop behaving like that. And then everything follows than actually think ourselves into it.

Maddy: Yeah. So that’s the other thing I think is don’t be afraid to try something out. There are lots of ways of trying things out without having to completely turn your life upside down to do it.

Rachel: So Maddy, we’re nearly out of time. I’d love to just ask you, I guess there’s two different things really, first of all, if people find themselves living a life that they haven’t chosen, but they’re stuck with it, what would your top tips be for those people? And then secondly, what about people that haven’t had anything dreadful happen, but they still feel they’re not actually that happy, and probably the tips will be the same actually.

Maddy: I think if you have had an awful something, then the first thing that needs to come is compassion for yourself, because awful things are hard. And you need to acknowledge that first, I think and then I think the second thing is really to try and stop thinking. Listen to your body a bit more. Now what is it trying to tell you? What is it trying to tell you it needs, it loves, it enjoys? And take a lead from that rather than trying to overthink and make yourself into something that you can’t be any more so I think it’s that dual thing of completely radical compassion, acts of compassion for yourself.

That kind of just acceptance that this is where we are and lean into that and feel where your body is telling you to go. Very similar actually for people who haven’t had an awful something, we’re not compassionate to ourselves. And I think we all need a bit more of that, and a bit more acceptance of ourselves and our limits. It may come in a different way if you haven’t had a radical change or a massive change but that acceptance of us as human beings and you know, we are worthy just by being us we don’t have to achieve or do or be anything. So I think that those are the kind of key points on which to start that development.

Rachel: Brilliant. Thank you so much Maddy. That’s been really helpful I think particularly the thing about working out what your own values are and I love that thing. If two values what are your two cornerstones around which you can pivot every single other decision? So Maddy, if people wanted to get hold of you or wanted to come and have some coaching with you? How can they find you?

Maddy: You can email me at maddy@drmaddydumontcoaching.co.uk You can go on to my website, which is drmaddydumontcoaching.co.uk. There you can also find me through The Joyful Doctor.

Rachel: That’s great. So just encourage people to get in touch with Maddy if you want to find out anything more. And I think there’s loads more he wants to ask you. So can we get you back on the podcast another time?

Maddy: Oh, please. I’d love to. That would be great.

Rachel: That’s fantastic. And yeah, we do wish you all the best and your journey towards good health continues upwards.

Maddy: Thank you.

Rachel: Okay, good to speak.

Maddy: Bye.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self-coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it by the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@youarenotafrog.com I love to hear from you. And finally, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you’re listening. It really helps. Bye for now.

Podcast links

Get in touch and book a slot with us for live program courses of the Shapes Toolkit. Bookings are now open for Summer 2022 and Autumn 2022! We also have a few slots left for Spring 2022.

Learn Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Model. You can also learn more by listening to her podcast, The Life Coach School.

Take these free assessments over at Values in Action. You can also profile your personality with 16 Personalities.

You can find Brene Brown’s various books here.

Connect with Maddy via website or email. You can also contact her on The Joyful Doctor.

Looking for advice on a dilemma? Email us at hello@yourenotafrog.com.

Get access to the THRIVE Weekly Planner!

Have any questions? Contact Rachel through these platforms:

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Twitter: @DrRachelMorris

Email: rachel@wildmonday.co.uk

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Dr Susi Caesar joins us to talk about how you can elevate and enjoy your professional life with annual appraisals. She shares the purpose of appraisals and how they can help you choose the best way forward in your career and personal life. Dr Susi also gives her top tips on what you can do to make this process more meaningful. If you want to know more about appraisals and how you can benefit from them, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 113: What To Do When A Junior Is Badmouthing Your Colleagues with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to discuss what we should do when we see inappropriate behaviour like badmouthing. He shares how we can manage difficult conversations with the intent of helping others. We also discuss the importance of recognising triggers through the SCARF model. If you want to know how to deal with difficult conversations for a better workplace, listen to this episode.

Episode 112: Why We’re Ditching the Term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding joins us to talk about imposter syndrome and why we need to drop the word from our vocabularies. We also discuss how self doubt can be helpful to us. Finally, she shares tips for overcoming wobbles and incorporating more self-compassion into your life. If you want to get over your imposter syndrome and practice self-compassion, then this episode is for you!

Episode 111: What To Do When You Start To See Red with Graham Lee

Graham Lee joins us to discuss our emotional states and ways to apply simple mindfulness techniques to change them. Most conflicts are rooted in unmet needs. When we admit those needs, we can instantly change relationship dynamics. Graham also shares tips on what to do during stressful situations where your emotions cloud your judgement and thinking. If you want to use mindfulness practice to be more aware of your emotions even during difficult situations, tune in to this episode.

Episode 110: How To Stop People Pleasing And Absorbing Other People’s Angst

Dr Karen Forshaw and Chrissie Mowbray join us to discuss how our core beliefs shape the way we respond to situations. When taken too far, empathy and helping people can be a big cause of stress. In addition, we also talk about we can learn to reframe and reassess their core beliefs. If you want to know how to help people without absorbing their emotions, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 109: Is It Possible To Have Fun At Work? With Dr Kathryn Owler

Dr Kathryn Owler joins us in this episode to share her fascinating research on the characteristics and traits of people who enjoy their current jobs. We dissect the common themes these people have in finding success in their careers. And we also talk about changes we can implement as individuals to make work more fun and enjoyable. If you want to start adopting the mindset people who have fun at work have, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 108: What We Wish We’d Learnt at Med School with Dr Ed Pooley & Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Ed Pooley and Dr Hussain Gandhi join us in the latest episode of You are Not a Frog. They discuss the management skills a doctor needs that you won't learn in med school, plus tips to help fresh doctors feel empowered in their workplace. Whether or not you work in medicine, these skills are crucial when it comes to working effectively and managing your own and others’ time. Tune in and listen to the experts talk about the management skills med school doesn't teach you and how to learn and develop them today.

Episode 107: Define Your Own Success In Life With Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to talk about the importance of honesty and clarity in defining our own success. We may think that achieving certain goals will make us happy, but evidence shows us it’s the other way around. It’s only when we’re happy that we can be successful. We also discuss how to overcome common barriers to our happiness and success such as fear, guilt, and uncertainty. If you want to know how to live a happier and more successful life, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 105: The Simplest Way to Beat Stress and Work Happier with Dr Giles P. Croft

In this episode, Dr Giles P. Croft joins us to discuss how our thoughts and emotions trigger stress signals. He shares his controversial approach to tackling stress, and why most of our efforts to cope better don’t really help at all. We also delve into the importance of pausing to allow yourself to calm down and letting go of the things you can’t control.

Episode 104: How to Cope With Nightmare Relatives and Colleagues Without Losing the Plot

In this special Christmas episode, Corrina Gordon-Barnes shows us how to create the groundwork for a peaceful and successful holiday season, even while navigating difficult relationships with relatives or colleagues. Corrina guides us to relax our expectation of a perfect holiday with our family, so we can face reality in ourselves and others. She explains a simple framework to allow you to resolve conflict, and walks us through what we can do during difficult gatherings and how to shift our responses to create different outcomes. Tune in to improve your strained relationships with relatives and co-workers through empathy and letting go of past assumptions.

Episode 103: How Not to Settle For The Way It’s Always Been Done

Dr Abdullah Albeyatti talks about improving your life and career by making changes and taking risks. He explains why settling for the familiar could be slowly ruining your life and how you can avoid this situation. Finally, he shares his top three tips to become a changemaker in your field. If you want to start doing things differently, creating change, and take more risks, then this episode is for you!

Episode 102: Why FAIL is Not a 4-Letter Word

Drs Claire Edwin, Sally Ross, and Taj Hassan join us to discuss how we can manage and deal with our failures more effectively. We explore the idea that rather than doing something wrong, failure is an opportunity to really grow and learn both as individuals, as leaders and as organisations. In any situation, it’s important to remember that we’re all human. It’s okay to be honest with ourselves and each other about our mistakes - after all, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. If you want to know how to change your mindset around failure, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 101: Making Helpful Habits Stick with Sheela Hobden

Sheela Hobden joins us to discuss how we can harness the power of checklists to create a routine. She shares how you can approach your goals in a more realistic way and learn to encourage yourself using specific goal setting techniques. Sheela also recommends creating identity-based goals to ensure that you keep building your new identity even after completing certain milestones. Start small, and eventually, you’ll see these good habits stick!

Episode 100: Dealing With the Guilt of Not Being Okay With Dr Nik Kendrew

Dr Nik Kendrew unravels why we experience overwhelming guilt when bad things happen to us. He also shares some tips, techniques, and resources on how to deal with guilt, especially in these difficult times and circumstances. Apart from this, Nik talks about the significance of scheduling our entire day to do important things. Finally, he discusses why setting boundaries is necessary to maintain our sense of self.

Episode 99: How to Deal with Criticism When You’ve Reached Your Limit with Dr Sarah Coope and Dr Rachel Morris

Dr Sarah Coope joins me to talk about the workload of medical professionals and the benefits of setting boundaries while dealing with criticisms amidst the global pandemic. We discuss the three elements of the Drama Triangle and ways to navigate or avoid them reliably. As we dive deeper into the conversation, we explore the art of saying 'No' through acknowledging our limits. Awareness and recognition can go a long way in maintaining our boundaries. If you want to take the first step in recognising your limits, handling criticism better and setting proper boundaries, tune in to this episode.

Episode 96 – How to Deal with Difficult Meetings with Jane Gunn

We hear from the expert in conflict management and mediation, Jane Gunn. She discusses important tips to keep in mind to host great meetings. She shares some practical conflict management tips and how to make decisions that you and your team agree on. Jane also emphasises the importance of putting the fun back in functional meetings and the need to give a voice to participants.

Episode 93 – How to Delegate, Do It, or Drop It with Anna Dearmon Kornick

Anna Dearmon Kornick joins us to share the time management strategies crucial for busy professionals. She lays down tips on how medical practitioners can have more control over their days. Anna talks about how to manage admin time and imparts ways to combat distractions. We also discuss the importance of delegation both inside and outside work. For this, Anna introduces the passion-proficiency lens and knowing your zone of genius.

Episode 92 – How to Avoid Becoming the Second Victim with Dr Caraline Wright & Dr Lizzie Sweeting

Dr Caraline Wright and Dr Lizzie Sweeting join us to discuss the second victim phenomenon. They explain why patient safety incidents are occupational hazards and how they can affect healthcare providers. Caraline then shares her personal experience of being in the “second victim” role. Finally, they share tips on how to avoid second victimhood and how to provide support to someone going through it.

Episode 91 – How to Break Up With Your Toxic Relationship With Your Career with Dr Pauline Morris

Dr Pauline Morris joins us to share her career counselling advice for physicians and other professionals in high stress jobs. We discuss the common pitfalls that lead doctors to unsustainable work habits. Pauline also sheds light on why staying in your comfort zone can be detrimental to your performance. To avert this, she shares tips on how to better recognise and advocate for your own needs. We also learn about the importance of self-care and taking time for yourself.

Episode 90 – What to do About Bitching and Backbiting with Dr Edward Pooley

Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to discuss what to do when colleagues make inappropriate comments about others. We talk about why it’s crucial to consider the question behind the question in workplace backbiting. Ed also teaches us how to challenge in a supportive way. Most importantly, we learn some strategies to prepare ourselves to speak up when the situation requires it.

Episode 89 – Should I stay or should I go? with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to share how to better relationships and take control and stay in your zone of power. She shares how to make a good decision by questioning thoughts and assumptions. We also discuss how you can change your perspective to become more compassionate, accepting, and empowered. If you want to know how to better relationships, stay in your zone of power, improve your decision-making skills, and be true to yourself, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 88 – How to Ditch the Saviour Complex and Feel More Alive with Rob Bell

Rob Bell joins us in this episode to discuss the perils of the saviour complex and the desire to keep hustling even when we’re miserable. We learn that taking time for rest and reflection only helps us get stronger. You can’t heal and help rebuild a broken system if you don’t look out for yourself first. Tune in to this episode to find out how to ditch the saviour complex, feel happier and live a more fulfilling life.

Episode 87 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 5: What Should I Do When I Think a Complaint is Unfair? And Other Questions with Drs Sarah Coope, George Wright, Samantha White, and Andrew Tressider

We’re joined by a panel of expert guests to share their thoughts on how to handle complaints. Together, we discuss ways that you can adjust your perspective and respond to unfavourable situations. Most importantly, we tackle issues regarding malicious complaints and how to cope with them. If you’re having trouble managing yourself during complaints, then this episode is for you.

Episode 86 – Gaslighting and Other Ways We’re Abused at Work: What’s Really Going On? with Dr James Costello

Dr James Costello joins us to talk about his new book and the insidious ways that organisations and individuals can undermine us. They compel us to do extra emotional labour for us to cope with the workplace dynamics. We also chat about what happens when authority and power are misused. Finally, James shares some of the disastrous consequences bullying in the workplace can have and what we can do about it. Tune in if you want to know what to do if you suspect that you or a colleague are experiencing relational abuse in the workplace!

Episode 85 – How to have crucial conversations with Dr Edward Pooley

Good communication between colleagues is crucial for the success of any organisation. Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to teach us how to communicate well. He discusses the three strands present in any conversation and helps us understand how we can be more aware of each. We also share some frameworks that can help you navigate difficult conversations. Understanding the importance of emotion is crucial in being an effective communicator and connecting with your team.

Episode 84 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 4: Creating a Workplace Where It’s OK to Fail

Professor Susan Fairley and Dr Jane Sturgess join us to discuss how to create a workplace that doesn’t shy away from failure. We talk about how civility can save lives and also touch on the issues around incident reporting in healthcare. Most importantly, we talk about creating a culture where people can have difficult conversations without defensiveness. If you want to know how to approach failing and speaking up in the workplace, tune in to this episode.

Episode 83 – The Ups and Downs of Being a Man-Frog with Dr Chris Hewitt

Joining us in this episode is Dr Chris Hewitt who also uses the metaphor of a man-frog in coaching professionals to have a better work-life balance. Chris talks about why we find it so hard to recognise burnout. He also shares his top tips and practical strategies to address work dissatisfaction. If you want to stop feeling like a man (or woman) - frog in a pan of slowly boiling water, listen to the full episode.

Episode 82 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series Episode 3: Surviving the Process

Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker and Heidi Mousney join us in this episode to discuss healthcare professionals’ experiences when dealing with complaints. We talk about the different emotions you may experience and practical tips on getting through. If you want to know how to survive the process after making a mistake at work and receiving a complaint, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 81 – When Soft and Fluffy Met Coronavirus with Steve Andrews

Steve Andrews, Associate Director of Leadership for East and North Herts NHS Trust shares how, through using just five crucial questions, you can check in on people, rather than check up on them. The 5 questions will help you to find out how people really are, help them look out for their colleagues, empower them to solve their own problems AND communicate empathy and support. Want to know how you can apply compassionate leadership in your organisation? Then, this episode is for you.

Episode 80 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 2: What to Do When You Make a Mistake with Drs Clare Devlin and Dr John Powell

Drs Clare Devlin and John Powell join us to discuss the proper way of responding to professional mistakes. We talk about why doctors have a hard time whenever they make a mistake at work. Clare and John also share valuable advice on minimising negative consequences and getting a good outcome for you and your patient. If you want to learn a roadmap for what you should do you make a mistake at work, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 79 – How to Give Yourself Permission to Thrive with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us once again to talk about burnout and giving ourselves permission to thrive. Having experienced work burnout, Katya shares her story and discusses the red flags of burnout. We also talk about why we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to thrive and how we can overcome our own internal barriers. If you want to learn about how you can listen to your needs so that you can thrive in work and in life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 78 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series 1: Preparing to Fail Well with Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer

Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer join us in this first episode in a new series on ‘Complaints and How to Survive Them’ to talk about coaching doctors and dentists through complaints made against them. We also talk about the perfectionist mindset and how changing our perspective towards failure can help us and those around us. If you want to know how to deal better with complaints made against doctors and other professionals in high-stress jobs, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 77 – Denial, displacement and other ways we neglect ourselves with Dr Andrew Tresidder

Dr Andrew Tresidder joins us to talk about how many medical practitioners and other professionals in healthcare and high stress jobs neglect their health and well-being. We're so focused on taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves but our well-being is vital if we want to keep doing the work we do. Find out why healthcare professionals need to learn more about health, as opposed to only learning about disease and if you want to know how to focus on taking care of your health and well-being, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 76 – Tech Tips for Happy Hybrid Working with Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi, or Dr Gandalf of eGPlearning, joins us in this episode. He is a GP, PCN director and host of the eGP Learning Podblast that shares deep dives into health tech for primary care. He shares his tech and time hacks for hybrid working to survive and thrive in the new virtual environment. If you want to find out how to improve your hybrid working experience, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 74 – Managing your Time in a System Which Sucks with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to share his take on time management techniques for busy individuals. He discusses the three types of competing demands and how to manage them. We also talk about being more comfortable holding difficult conversations about workplace issues - vital to help change the environment we work in. Tune into this episode to discover how time management techniques and communication can help you get a calmer and more time-efficient workplace.

Episode 73 – How to Find Your Tribe: The PMGUK story with Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman

Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman join us on this episode to discuss the importance of a work community. We talk about the inspiring stories from the online community they created, the Physicians Mums Group UK (PMGUK). Nazia and Katherine also share their tips on how to increase connections and find your own tribe at work. If you want to know how to create a network of supportive colleagues and feel more connected, then tune into this episode.

Episode 72 – Working well – from anywhere! with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us to discuss how to work well from home by creating healthy boundaries. She shares how to be more productive by using the third space hack and taking breaks. Katya also talks about how to be more active and better connect with people in the workplace. If you want to learn about working well from home and achieving a better work-life balance, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 71 – Create a Career You’ll Love with Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to discuss how to find a career you love. As an executive coach specialising in career development, Claire is an expert in guiding people how to find a career they love. We talk about the value of job networking and diversifying in our career journeys. We also share our tips and experiences on how to find a career you love. We do this by helping you identify the roles that best suit you and how to go about getting these roles.

Episode 70 – How Safe Do You Feel at Work with Scott Chambers

Scott Chambers joins us to talk about why we need to make people feel comfortable and safe enough to speak up in their workplace. When we create psychological safety in our team, we improve overall happiness and boost performance! If you want to learn how to create psychological safety for a better and happier team - whether you’re the boss or not, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 69 – Make Time for What Matters with Liz O’Riordan

Liz O'Riordan joins us to share productivity life hacks. These have helped her transform how she approaches work. Now, Liz can spend quality time with her family and enjoy life. In this episode, she teaches us how we too can achieve this. If you want to learn some new life hacks, beat burnout and work happier, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 68 – The Revolutionary Art of Breathing with Richard Jamieson

Richard Jamieson discusses how we can utilise breathing techniques to feel calmer, make better decisions and be more productive. He explains the different steps we can take to change our breathing patterns. When you’re in a high-stress situation, remember this: just breathe. If you want to know how to use breathing techniques to beat stress in everyday situations, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 67 – Bringing Your Best Self to Work with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding discusses how to bring your whole self to work without leaving bits of you behind. Sarah shares her own story of experiencing burnout at her old job and rediscovering her true passion. We also discuss how applying our core strengths to our jobs can mean the difference between burnout and having a sense of fulfilment. Don’t miss out on this episode if you want to learn more about how to be yourself and how to bring joy back into your work!

Episode 65 – Passing the Naughty Monkey Back with Dr Amit Sharma

Dr Amit Sharma joins us to discuss the effects of taking on too many of other people’s ‘naughty monkeys’. We talk about why professionals in high-stress jobs so often take on the rescuer role and how to shift that mindset. Amit and I also discuss the importance of empowering patients to take control of their own health. If you want to know how to avoid being weighed down by too many naughty monkeys, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 64 – What to Do When You’re Out of Fuel with Dr Jess Harvey

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP partner and GB triathlete, talks about what happened to her after running out of fuel and feeling burnt out. She discusses how we often ignore the symptoms and signs for too long and why resting and refuelling is as important as what we're doing in the first place. If you’re feeling burnt out, tune in to this episode to find out how you can plug the holes in your energy bucket!

Episode 63 – How to Survive Even When Times are Tough with Dr Caroline Walker

This episode is part of the COVID-19 Supporting Doctors series, and joining us again is Dr Caroline Walker. She's here to discuss why rest is crucial, especially for people in high-stress jobs. Caroline also shares key strategies that can keep us going through the crisis. The previous year has been tough, so don’t miss this episode to start 2021 better prepared.

Episode 62 – Self-Coaching for Success with Dr Karen Castille, OBE

Dr Karen Castille joins me in this episode to discuss her book on self-coaching. She shares powerful questions to ask yourself which will jumpstart your self-coaching journey. She also talks about the importance of developing this vital skill and crafting powerful life questions. Before we close the show, Karen gives her top tips for self-coaching. Don’t miss this episode if you want to learn how you can find clarity and achieve success through self-coaching!

Episode 61 – The Self Help Book Group on Happiness with Dr Nik Kendrew

In this episode, You Are Not A Frog regular Dr Nik Kendrew joins me to discuss the concept of happiness. We tackle the everlasting question of ‘What is happiness’? We also talk about perfectionism and fear and how these can hinder us from doing the things we want to do. At the end of the show, Nik and I give our top tips to being happier. If you want to know more about living a happy life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 60 – Creating a Workplace that Works with Dr Sonali Kinra

Dr Sonali Kinra joins us to discuss why people leave their jobs and how to prevent it. We talk about the importance of workplace culture and its role in creating an environment that makes people want to stay. We also discuss why you need to seek opportunities that broaden and develop your career. Don’t miss this episode if you want to find out how to keep yourself in a job you love.

Episode 59 – A Social Dilemma? With Dr James Thambyrajah

In this episode, Dr James Thambyrajah joins us to talk about social media’s subtle yet profound effect on our daily lives. We discuss the perils of being unaware of how our online decisions are influenced. James also shares his insights on how we can improve how we stay informed and inform others. Tune in to this episode if you want to learn more about how to go beyond your digital echo chamber.

Episode 55 – The One About Alcohol

Dr Giles P Croft is back to chat with Rachel about his experiences following a revolutionary read he was recommended. You might remember Giles from episode 46, where he talked about how as humans, we naturally default to happiness.

Episode 52 – A year of the frog

The week’s episode is a special one as the Frog celebrates a year of podcasting! It’s been quite a year - including charting in Apple’s Top 100 Business Podcasts in the UK!

Episode 50 – Freeing yourself from the money trap

Joining Rachel in this week’s episode is Dr Tommy Perkins, as well as being a GP Partner, and father, Tommy is one half of Medics Money. Medics Money is an organisation specifically aimed at helping doctors make better decisions with their finances. It’s run by Tommy and Dr Ed Cantelo who is not only a doctor but a qualified accountant.

Episode 49 – The Self Help Book Group No 2 with Nik Kendrew

This week Rachel is joined by You Are Not A Frog regular, Nik Kendrew. Last time Nik joined us, we discussed a book that has helped him in his professional life as a GP, trainer and partner as well as his personal life. Nik’s back this week to talk about another brilliant book and to share what insights and learnings he’s gained from it.

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

Rachel is joined by Sheela Hobden, Professional Certified Coach, wellbeing expert and fellow Shapes Toolkit facilitator. We talk about why rest isn’t just important for wellbeing, but important for productivity and creativity too. 

Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

Rachel is thrilled to welcome back Jane Gunn – lawyer, mediator and expert in conflict resolution who has been known as the Corporate Peacemaker. This episode is for you if the thought of addressing a difficult issue with one of your colleagues send you running for the hills…

Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Ruth Cocksedge a Practitioner Psychologist who started her career as a mental health nurse. She practices in Cambridge and has a particular interest in EMDR for PTSD and creative writing as a way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

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