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

The pandemic has brought many things to a standstill. Many find themselves reflecting on things they could have done and achieved if not for their circumstances. You may be one of those who find themselves thinking, ‘What can I do to achieve happiness’? or ‘If only I could do my life over and get it right this time, maybe I’d be happier’.

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.

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

  1. Find out the difference between heights and depths of happiness.
  2. Discover how the smallest of experiences can shape us.
  3. Know more about how small things can make a huge difference to our happiness levels.


Episode Highlights

[6:04] Nik’s Learnings from The Midnight Library

  • The most recent book Nik has read is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It is a book written from the perspective of somebody who has experienced a severe mental illness including thoughts of suicide
  • Nora, the main character, ends up in a library between life and death. She is offered different choices to live out different lives until she becomes disappointed. She can then go back to the library and pick out another life.
  • With everything that happened in 2020, we get reflective and think about how things could be different.
  • Accept and appreciate what you have. If you are not happy, try to find a way to move forward from where you are.
  • Tal Ben Shahar says that happiness is the ultimate currency. However, it comes with the caveat that it is the things that give you meaning, purpose, and satisfaction, not just stuff that makes you feel good.

[12:52] Height and Depth of Happiness

  • Height of happiness refers to your peak or happy experiences.
  • Depth of happiness has nothing to do with positive emotions. It’s about the things we put around us, like our deep connections and life purpose, that give us a baseline level of happiness.
  • Depth of happiness is not dependent on feelings, nor is it necessarily dependent on circumstances.
  • Happiness is much more than possessions and money.
  • Look at the bigger picture. It’s about contentment and appreciating how you got to where you are.

[21:27] What is Happiness Dependent On?

  • Happiness depends on your resilience, coping mechanisms, belief, meaning, and purpose you have in life.
  • Negative experiences often have a profoundly positive effect on our lives.
  • Nik’s life experiences gave him the hunger to follow his dream. Listen to the full episode to learn more about a life-changing experience that changed his perspective.
  • You can find satisfaction and happiness without being famous or being good at what you do. Do something for the sake of doing it because you love it.
  • Be kind to yourself.

[26:06] Nik and His Passion for Media

  • There is no guarantee that Nik would have been happy if he got the presenter job he applied for.
  • He loves where he is now because he is involved in every stage of the production process. He is free to express himself compared to if he was working for a big organisation.
  • Nik would instead make high quality stuff and enjoy it with a few listeners.
  • He is a bit fearful of criticism.

[30:01] Perfectionism and Getting Things Done

  • Fear can hold us back, and perfectionism is often what many people use to cover up their fears.
  • Waiting for something to happen will not get you anywhere. You can’t get things done and do what you really want if you keep waiting for a perfect time.
  • When you add new things to your life, you need to take out those that don’t contribute to your life and happiness.

[31:43] How to Create a Good Mindset and Be Happy Without Going Through a Life Crisis

  • Be kind; any one of us could not be here tomorrow. Being kind also allows us to call on people when we need them.
  • Your dreams may change as you go through life, but never give up on them.
  • Living in the present is the best advice.
  • Do not let fear stop you from doing what you love.
  • Appreciate the little things.

[37:18] Top Tips to Live Life in the Present from Nik and Rachel

  • Live in the moment as much as you can.
  • Have some space for yourself but also share that with who you’re with.
  • Do what you want to do — it doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to wait until you’ve got time.
  • Don’t waste your time on things you don’t want to do.

7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

[09:52] ‘A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits that you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile’.

[10:46] ‘Life is what it is, and it’s made of all of the ups and downs’.

[12:26] ‘We think of happiness as a destination. But it is actually everything that happens along the way to that. That’s the most important stuff’.

[15:05] On negative experiences: ‘Even though they might have been negative and difficult, the moments have shaped how we are and might actually have contributed to that deeper level of happiness that we’ve got, because they made us reexamine life and look at things and do things differently’.

[20:02] ‘When you came that close to something dreadful happening to yourself and to your friends, it makes you realise how fragile life is’.

[28:33] ‘It’s all a learning experience. And if you’re too frightened to try stuff out and try to learn from your errors because it has to be perfect when it goes out, then often you just stop yourself doing anything’.

[33:25] ‘Don’t give up on the dreams that you’ve been following because they’re important. You need to have something to focus on in the future or to aim towards’.

About Dr Nik Kendrew

Dr Nik Kendrew is a GP Partner, Red Whale GP, Update presenter, and GP media guru. He attended the Math School in Rochester and studied Medicine in London at University College London Medical School. Nik was then trained on the Maidstone GP Training Scheme.

He was a Partner at Stockett Lane Surgery in Coxheath from 2006–2014 and became accredited as a GP Trainer in 2011. Dr Kendrew has worked with the West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group on the Urgent Care project for admissions avoidance. He has also worked as a GP in Accident & Emergency.

He is interested in medicine in media, especially how powerful it is in educating people about promoting health. Nik hosts the Boggled Docs podcast, and you can get in touch with him through Twitter.

Enjoy the Podcast?

In today’s high-stress work environment, you may feel like a frog in boiling water. The pan has heated up so slowly that you didn’t notice the feeling of stress and overwhelm becoming the norm. You may feel that it is impossible to survive AND thrive in your work.

Frogs generally have only two options — stay and be boiled alive or jump out of the pan. Fortunately, you are not a frog. You have many more options, choices, and control than you think.

Learn to master your destiny so that you can thrive even in the most difficult of situations. If you enjoyed today’s episode of You Are Not a Frog Podcast, then hit subscribe now!

Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into this podcast, then do not hesitate to write a review and share this with your friends.

Episode Transcript

Dr Rachel Morris: Do you ever wish you could see your life over and over again until you got it just right? And have there been any moments in your life that you perhaps wish didn’t happen that were pivotal for you? And is it really possible to learn the important lessons in life without having to go through the really difficult stuff?

Welcome to another episode of You Are Not A Frog, our special Christmas episode. And yes, it’s the self-help book group again with Dr Nik Kendrew, fellow podcaster, GP, and all-round wise guy, where we talk about a couple of books that have helped us enormously and share them with you. We can all do with a little encouragement right now. So listen to find out the difference between heights of happiness and depth of happiness, how even the smallest of our experiences may shape us and the really small things that can make a huge difference to your happiness levels.

Introduction: Welcome to You Are Not A Frog—the podcast for GPs, doctors, and other busy professionals in high-stress jobs. Even before the coronavirus crisis, many of us were feeling stressed and one crisis away from not coping. We felt like frogs in boiling water—overwhelmed and exhausted. But this has crept up on us slowly, so we hardly noticed the extra-long days becoming the norm. And let’s face it, frogs generally only have two choices, stay and be boiled alive, or jump out of the pan and leave. But you are not a frog. And that’s where this podcast comes in. You have many more options than you think you do. It is possible to be master of your own destiny and to craft your life so that you can thrive even in the most difficult of circumstances.

I’m your host, Dr Rachel Morris, GP, and executive coach and specialist in resilience at work. I work with doctors and other organisations all over the country to help professionals and their teams beat stress and take control of their work. I’ll be talking to friends, colleagues, and experts, all who have an interesting take on this. So that together, we can take back control to survive and thrive in our work and lives.

Rachel: The Christmas season is traditionally a time of overeating, too much TV, and perhaps a bit of reflection before we set loads of resolutions for January that we probably won’t keep. Now it’s fair to say for many of us, 2020 has been a total car crash. You may be feeling a bit disillusioned, soft, and lacking in joy this year. But now more than ever, we need to take back control of our lives, feel better, beat stress, and start to design a life in which we’ll thrive.

Now I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and exhausted and one crisis away from not coping. That’s why I created the Shape Toolkit programme for professionals in high-stress jobs. And I’m delighted that it’s now available to all healthcare professionals as an e-learning course consisting of four modules with five videos each. It contains activities and exercises for reflection with up to six hours of CPT, and it will help you take control of your workload, maximise your wellbeing, change your response to stressful events, and design a working week that you’re going to love.

Now I love to help you get ahead of the game. And I’m offering the course a special discounted price. And as a Christmas bonus, I’m including my brand-new eBook all about wellbeing. The stress less dashboard. So why don’t you treat yourself this Christmas? Give yourself a present of the course, and I’m offering 100% no-quibbles, money-back guarantee. So if you don’t find it of any value, we’ll give you your money back. So, do take advantage of this special Christmas reduced price offer, which is only available until the 31st of December.

Here’s this week’s episode.

So, hello, and welcome to another episode of You Are Not A Frog and this week is our very special Christmas edition. And I’m really pleased to have with me, back again and again and again, Dr Nik Kendrew for our Christmas Self-Help Book club edition. Nik, welcome.

Dr Nik Kendrew: Hi, Rachel, thanks for having me back. That’s very exciting.

Rachel: It’s always a pleasure to have you on Nik. Just for those people that don’t know who Nik is, Nik, why don’t you just introduce yourself?

Nik: Well, hi, I’m Nik Kendrew. I’m a GP down in Kent. And I also, passionate about the media. So I have my own podcast called Boggled Docs, where we basically look at what’s going on in the medical media. And we use that as a springboard for you to target your CPD because basically, I’ve seen a few shows in years gone by thinking, ‘My goodness, if one of my patients has been watching that they could come in tomorrow and want to talk about this topic, I need to know all about it’. And so basically, it’s trying to fill that gap. And so that’s what I do on the podcast, and I also am a presenter for Red Whale GP Update company.

Rachel: Yes, and you’re a GP partner as well.

Nik: That’s right. Yes.

Rachel: So, very varied career. And Boggled Docs is really great. I’d really recommend people have a listen. We’re going to be talking about books today. And I think books—someone described to me these books are—they’re the best value you can ever get, right? Because you can buy all these online courses and—my own online course, which people can buy about how to be happy at work and beat stress and thrive. But a book generally contains everything that someone knows, and it costs around, book 15 quids? 12 quids?

Nik: Yes.

Rachel: So an awful lot of information for not very much money. And there’s something different isn’t there about reading a book as to watching something on a screen that I think can be really powerful and often sort of stays with you long, which is one of the reasons why I started this sort of self-help book club with you. Because well, we both love reading these different things. And my husband goes on at me all the time about all these self-help books that I read, but genuinely, they’ve been my education. And they’ve helped me so much.

So I thought, let’s do this regularly with you. And let’s talk about some things that could be helpful for people that are listening that may be going through a hard time or thinking how can I change things to, I mean, I’m going to thrive more in my workplace. And this course is a Christmas edition of You Are Not A Frog, Nik, what have you been reading recently?

Nik: So I have been reading the Midnight Library by Matt Haig. So this is a fiction book. Now, Matt Haig is—I can’t recommend him highly enough. He’s brilliant. He’s just the most amazing author. And he does nonfiction and fiction books. And I first came across him when I read his book Reasons to Stay Alive. So he’s somebody that suffered from depression. And he’s actually been suicidal in the past. And that’s why his book Reasons To Stay Alive is so powerful. And because he’s really very much speaking from the heart.

So if you imagine that he’s written that in the past, so now he’s written this book, and it’s come out in the last couple of months, the Midnight Library. So basically, on the back cover, it says, ‘Between life and death, there is a library’, she said, ‘and within that library, the shelves go on forever, every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived to see how things would have been if you’d made other choices, would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo your regrets’? which is quite profound…

Rachel: Wow.

Nik: …and quite throws you in, doesn’t it?

Rachel: Yes.

Nik: And so imagine that he’s written his book from the perspective of somebody that has had and does suffer from mental illness and has been so low that he felt suicidal. The characters in his book have got so much depth to them because of that. And the main character is a female character called Nora. And it is told from her perspective, and she is—when we meet her, she’s in a life that isn’t what she’d wanted. And it becomes clear that there were several points in her life where she made choices that were different to what she maybe had hoped for. And so, therefore, she finds herself in a place that isn’t happy, and difficult to talk about it too much without giving away too many spoilers. But basically, let’s just say that she ends up in this library, which is between life and death. And so she then has to decide, and she gets offered all these different choices of different lives that she could have lived. And basically, you stay in these lives until you become disappointed. And then you drop back out and go back to the library. And then you have another chat and decide about which one you want to see next.

And it’s about the right question. Because to start with, she’s asking about, ‘I want to see the life where I do this or where I do that’. But early on, she’s not saying, ‘I want to see the life where I’m happy’, which is quite telling. And so she goes to some lives where on paper, she should be the most happy that you could possibly be. And there’s one—and where she dipped into herself when she’s this Olympic gold medal winning swimmer who’s going doing the circuit and giving all these kind of corporate talks, and life-affirming talks, and life coaching and all that kind of stuff. And so that’s the life that she thought she would be really happy in. But actually, when she gets there, and lives, it is not quite as amazing as she thought.

So, I just think it’s a really interesting angle to look at. And when you think about the year that we’ve all had, you do get a bit reflective and think about, ‘Oh, I wonder how things could be different’. But I think often it’s about accepting what you have, and appreciating what you have. And if you’re not happy with something, it’s about trying to find a way to move forward from where you are.

But there’s just so many beautiful bits that are written in the book. And there’s one bit that really struck me because as we all know human beings are human beings, we’re imperfect. And it’s about—there’s a sequence which I’ll just readout, and which is basically just saying how we can accept other people and ourselves as imperfect and I’ve never seen it, kind of, written quite like this, but I think this is basically done. So here we go. It says, ‘A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits that you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile’.

And so I think it’s worthwhile thinking about yourself as a city. And maybe people close to you too because we’re all we’ve all got dodgy side streets, and bits of things like that, haven’t we? But hopefully, the bigger picture is that it gives you a feeling of being a good thing. So which city are you, Rachel?

Rachel: Just thinking got to love the quote, we’ve all got dodgy side streets. I think it’s such an important thing because we do look back on life and think, ‘Oh, if only this, if only that, if only we hadn’t got the coronavirus pandemic, if only I had made that choice, or that thing hadn’t happened, or’ And life is what—it isn’t it made of all of the ups and downs.

And I remember reading, the people that have been through really traumatic experiences, often when they look back, they say that ‘even though it was tough, they wouldn’t change it’. I mean, some people say, ‘Yes, they absolutely would change it’. But there’s something that happens, and there’s character building, and there’s resilience building that happens to us as we go through life. And unfortunately, nice experiences and nice things don’t make you happy in the long run. And you can see that quite well when you look at all the celebrity reality TV shows where they can buy as many nice experiences and things as they want to.

But there’s a lot of research on positive psychology that says that the pleasant life, unpleasant experiences can only get you so far, and actually it’s stuff that gives you meaning and purpose and all that sort of thing. That means that you are going to be much, much happier in life. And I guess happiness is a funny metric to measure things by, anyways isn’t it? What does happiness mean? What’s going to make us happy? One of the books I’ve got I was going to talk about is this book called Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar. And he’s the chap who created the—pretty much the most popular course at Harvard University, all about how to be happy. And he talks about happiness as the ultimate currency. But it comes with a caveat; you have to be careful, because it’s stuff that gives you meaning and purpose and satisfaction, not stuff that makes you feel good, necessarily.

Nik: Exactly. I think I’ve often heard people say that we—where we going wrong is that we think of happiness as a destination. But it’s actually, it’s everything that happens along the way to that, that’s the most important stuff. And also, happiness is something that isn’t permanent, comes and goes, isn’t it? And it’s the things that make you feel good in yourself and feel content with where you are, which are more important. If you’re looking for one thing that’s going to make you happy, then that’s where we kind of come on stuck, I think.

Rachel: It’s interesting. In the Tal Ben-Shahar book, he talks about the height and the depth of happiness. So, if you sort of think about happiness as being a graph that goes on symptoms, you have these sorts of peaks, where you have these happy experiences where you’re feeling really happy. So these are the sort of peaks and the troughs. But then you have the depth of happiness, which is nothing to do with what is going on with the positive emotions that you might be experiencing. It’s all about—or some of it can be genetic. Some of it can be actually how we’re hardwired to experience the world. But some of it can be about the things that we’ve put around us, like the deep connections that we have, and the purpose that we have in life, and all that sort of stuff that gives you this sort of baseline level of happiness, which actually we can do things to change, but it’s not dependent on feelings, and it’s not dependent, necessarily on circumstances.

I remember seeing a—I don’t know if it’s on Netflix, though— it was a documentary called Happy. And it was sort of an hour long. And these researchers had gone to various different places in the world. And I remember saying they were interviewing this rickshaw driver, who lives in slums, just outside New Delhi, I think. And he had five kids. They were really, really poor, a very hand to mouth living. He made his living as a rickshaw driver. I think the kids were in school, but life was tough, and they just lived in this shack. And they said, the researcher said, that this chap has the same level of happiness as the average American.

Nik: Wow.

Rachel: Who has five times the income or whatever. I just brought home to me that happiness is nothing, it’s nothing about material possessions, and it’s nothing about money. I know that you do need a set amount of income to live in and if you are struggling with money, that can be a cause of reduced happiness. But I know there’s so much more.

And if we come back to that book that you’re talking about the Midnight Library, we sometimes look back and think, ‘if only that I’d be happier, if only that had happened I’d be happier, If only that had happened’. Not realising that some of these things, even though they might have been negative and difficult that moment have shaped how we are and might actually have contributed to that deeper level of happiness that we’ve got because they made us re-examine life and look at things and do things differently.

Nik: I completely agree. And I think, often, is a case of looking at the bigger picture. And if you, kind of put it—as I was saying before, if you put too much on one thing, then that puts almost too much pressure on the situation. And it’s about being content where you are. But also looking at the learning of how you’ve got to where you are, because every knockback that you have. Every time somebody says ‘no’, if that then makes you think, actually, ‘But I still believe that I want to do this’. And it finds you a different way of doing it a different path. And that’s a positive thing, too, isn’t it?

And I’m thinking about, so, all these different parts and bits and pieces. So when I was at medical school, I had a few interviews for some quite exciting media jobs. And because I’ve always been interested in the media as well as medicine. And one of them was a high profile job, which would have been on kids’ TV, and I got pretty close to it. But I didn’t get the job. And you always think, ‘I wonder what would have happened if’, and I remember watching the presenter that got the job. And you know what, watching their career basically, and they’ve done really well, and it’s really lovely to see. And you kind of think, ‘I wonder what would have happened’. And it’s funny how ripples happen too because I had to interview for that job, which was Blue Peter, I should say, but a pain that goes close to my chest. But, yes, so I had that interview before I went to—on my elective. And it changed my mindset when I didn’t get it, I was sad for a bit.

But I remember thinking, you know what, ‘I don’t need Blue Peter to do all these exciting things. I’m going to go whitewater rafting. I’m going to go bungee jumping. I’m off to Australia, I’m going to do this amazing sort of elective expedition kind of thing’. So I had all these plans. And I was kind of, like, thinking, ‘I don’t need that’. And it completely changed my life. Because we went whitewater rafting, and I was with a group of friends, and we talked about it.

And we went over up in Cairns and up in Queensland. And we—unbeknown to us, we went on the day of a cyclone, as it was about to hit. And it was Cyclone Rona, this was back in 1999. And it just went horribly wrong. And it just shows how life can change in a split second. And one minute we were in the boat and our guides, a very surfy chap Australian guy called, I think he was called Shane, I can’t remember now. But he literally said, ‘Okay, guys. I need to tell you this, now the river is three metres higher than it normally would be. So I’m literally no use to you as a guide anymore’. And the next thing I heard was him just screaming at the top of his voice, the F word as we then got flipped out of the boat and sucked under.

Rachel: Oh, my god.

Nik: And it was—it happened so quickly. I remember being under the water and looking up and my foot was stuck between two rocks and I remember thinking, ‘This is how it happens. This is how I die’. And all I could think of was that my parents were asleep because obviously the time zone and I thought I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. And then my foot became freaked, I got out of the water as in my head went above the water. And what you don’t realise in these kinds of situations—so you have to—it’s really obvious to say know, but you have to exhale before you inhale and I’d inhale. So my lungs were full. And I was like, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’, and I couldn’t—and I forgot to exhale. And I managed to get a little bit out and a little bit in, but I got some Thunder again. And there’s a cycle for a bit where I couldn’t get my breath, and then I got sort of washed up onto the side. And it was really quite scary. And my friends were missing for a while, and luckily nobody was badly hurt from our group. But there were people who died in the accident and which is just terrifying, which we found out later. And I got leptospirosis from it. And I remember a few days later, I was having a shave in the morning and I just had this torrential nosebleed and so I’ve got a massive bang my nose in the accident. And what I didn’t realise was that my clotting was going off.

And that day, which I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t realise, because of the whole Blue peter thing. I went for a bungee jump because that’s what I was doing. I was determined to keep this thing going. And I had a torrential nosebleed during the bungee jump, and thank goodness I didn’t have any kind of weakness, any kind of aneurysm in my head because that would have not been brilliant at that point in time.

And after that, in hospital, very unwell because we went to Thailand next and so I was in a Thai hospital with delirious, terrible, high fevers, I went jaundiced, and hematuria everything was failing. And all my hair fell out and within a week or two weeks. And so, that experience was hugely kind of life-changing for me because suddenly everything in perspective. When you came that close to something dreadful happening to yourself and to your friends, and it makes you realise how fragile life is. And it makes you realise how sometimes the exciting jobs and the really amazing things are great. But it’s the small things, and it’s the friendships, and it’s everything else that counts for more, and it’s those connections with your friends. And that’s what gets you through those kinds of things.

And I had all of that was just before my finals. So goodness knows how I passed finals. I remember, when I got back to the UK, I was back on the wards. And they put this back in the days of X-rays and X-ray boxes, and they put this X-ray up and said, ‘Oh, tell me about that’. And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t even see it’. And that I’d had them—because of the leptospirosis, I ended up with anterior uveitis. So I couldn’t see properly, and everything had a halo about it. And so then they kind of said to me, ‘I think you need a bit of time off’. So I did.

And yes, so, and that would have been—so, in a way, when I was reading the Midnight Libraries I was thinking, I wonder what would have happened my—that life with a high profile and presenting job, what would that have ended up like? And what’s very telling about the book is that actually, yes, things like that might change. But actually, fundamentally, so much stays the same, too. So you need to have the building blocks, correct and right. And so that you can sort of build from that.

Rachel: Yes, because things could have been completely different. But actually, bottom line, if you’re the sort of person that’s a real perfectionist, who’s really worried about things all the time, whether things are going right or not, that’s still going to affect your level of happiness and satisfaction. It’s so not really dependent on circumstances. It’s dependent on your own resilience, coping mechanisms, your own beliefs, your what sort of meaning, purpose you derive in life—all those sorts of things. But these experiences, these things that we badges negative experiences, often have a profoundly positive effects on us and effects on our lives.

Nik: Exactly. And I think for me, it gave me—that experience gave me this kind of, this hunger for following my dream still. And I mean, my dream has always been to be—on the one hand, it has been two dreams: to be a good doctor, and to be a good GP, and to follow this media stuff. Because for all the reasons we’ve talked about, I find the media, so interesting, and so powerful, because it’s such an opportunity to—if you get it right, you can tell stories, and you can do medical education, and get messages out there that are so important. And that’s what excites me, and what interests me about it.

And so, I’ve always—whenever I’ve been doing stuff, I’ve always in the background been doing sort of media stuff and I’ve done some stuff on so in the background, and then sort of some pilot shapes and radio stations sometimes, and I’ve done sort of science programs for schools and colleges and lots of different bits and pieces that have just been enough to keep it ticking over. And it’s just the fact that because when you really want to do something, you will just keep going and that’s kind of what I’ve done. And so that’s in a way, the podcast that I’m doing now is me scratching an itch. And also all the different presenting stuff with Red Whale as well, particularly the video stuff that we’ve been doing recently, has been scratching a huge creative edge, because I love the visual medium of television.

And in one way, but also love the intimate medium of podcasting and radio because it’s a different way of communicating with an audience. And what we’re doing now is a much more intimate way of speaking because we’re literally just in people’s ears at the moment. And whereas when you get the visual stuff, it’s kind of you got to think much bigger and try, and it’s much more expensive, and it takes a lot more time to get something on-screen. So, audio stuff is much more immediate too. And that’s what I love about the audio side of it, but with the TV side of it, it’s just when you work with a big team, and you do exciting stuff and green screen and all sorts of special effects and things, that’s really exciting and fun too.

And I think for me, it’s about trying to have fun, but use that in a way of communicating stuff that’s important. And fun learning is the—for me, it’s the holy grail. If you can do a bit of teaching or something like that. And people don’t realise that you’ve taught them anything. I think that’s amazing. And that really excites me. So that’s something I’m kind of keen on, too.

Rachel: think what’s interesting for me, in your story, Nik, is that actually, you can find satisfaction and happiness without having to be mega-famous or doing it all the time. So yes, it would have been really great if you’ve got to Blue Peter presenter. But I’m just wondering, actually which you’ve survived massive amounts of more satisfaction from doing that than actually doing what you’re doing now, which is again, really high quality really good. I think some of us feel that we have to be doing something on a big scale to derive the pleasure and satisfaction. I’ll give you an example: I love music. I used to be in a band when I was 18. I wasn’t much good. And now I don’t really do any, because I haven’t really got any way to perform.

Nik: Yes.

Rachel: And that’s ridiculous when I’m thinking about it, I could just sit down and play piano and sing whatever, for myself. It doesn’t need to be something that I’m really successful at. It’s doing something for the sake of doing it because you love it, not because of what accolades you’re going to get from it, I think that’s quite important.

Nik: Exactly. I think it is about being kind to yourself as well because that’s a creative outlet, then it’s a really important one to do. So maybe it could be your Christmas present to yourself that you could play the piano every now and again, or something that’s really gonna help with that. What do you think?

Rachel: I think yes, no, I do think that’s on my list of things to do, actually, in that, anything creative gets you into flow, doesn’t it, which is another big way of being happier. This state known as flow, where time stands still, you’re probably learning a new skill or something like that, and you’re completely lost in the moment, and you’re really enjoying yourself.

Nik: Exactly. And I—it’s funny what you were saying about, would I’ve been happy if I’d done a big TV job or something. And I think you’re absolutely right, there’s no guarantee I would have been. And in a way, what I’m doing at the moment is, for me, the best thing because I am involved in every stage of the production process. And if you are in a big job, you literally just do the presenting bit, and you’re not involved in getting stuff on screen and thinking about things like scriptwriting and camera angles, and directing, and all the different bits and pieces, which is what the whole process excites me.

And the fact that I have control over that. And with the podcast, that’s me, that’s what I—I make those decisions. I chat to people that are lovely to talk to. And I will listen to it before it goes out. And then that’s my decision about what goes out. Whereas if you’re working for a big organisation, then that is taken away from you. And there’s a level above you or—that will, in some way, influence what goes out. So, there’s a lot to be said for doing stuff yourself, and then that you’ve got more control over it.

And I’ve always said that, for me I would much rather be making really high quality stuff either on TV or radio, and doing it, and enjoying it, and having fun doing it, and with very few listeners, because then you get all the fun bits and the creative stuff. But you don’t get any of the negative stuff perhaps because the more that people see you, the more you’re open to criticism, which terrifies me. So maybe I’m just scared of the whole thing. Really, what am I doing?

Rachel: I think fear does hold us back a bit as well. I think maybe that’s where some people’s perfectionism comes from, isn’t it? Because all the advice I’ve read recently about how to do business, how to do this, how to do that, it’s just, just ‘JFDI’ just flipping do it. Just put something out there. It might be a podcast, it might be going live on a video on social media, or just try some teaching, try this, everything I’ve ever done was the first. And the first time I did it, it was pretty rubbish. It was pretty terrible. The podcast that everything was a first and I’m hoping that I’m getting better at podcasting since I started, but it’s all a learning experience. And if you’re too frightened to try stuff out and try to learn from your errors because it has to be perfect when it goes out that then often you just stop yourself doing anything.

Nik: Exactly. I think that’s one of my big things as well. I’m quite a perfectionist. And with my podcast, I was desperately trying to think how can it be perfect. And I did two pilot episodes, which I really enjoyed doing and you kindly helped me do one, which is lovely, thank you. And but then I was like, ‘Okay, how can I make this perfect having done that’? And then I just said to myself, ‘You know what, if you wait for this to be perfect, this is never going to happen’. So I just thought I can go set a date, I’m going to do it, and it’s just going to happen, and we’ll see what happens and you’ll learn from doing it and actually putting it out there. And that’s what I did, and luckily I’ve had some very lovely feedback.

But it is literally the case of just do it because you can wait forever for things to be exactly the right place. And I even—because now I was thinking I’m a bit too busy and I got such cold feet the week before I was going to do my first one. I was like this is, ‘What am I doing? This is ridiculous. Why am I even doing a podcast? You’re mad to do this’. And then I just thought, ‘But actually, I need to do this when I’m at my busiest because I need to make it fit around my schedule’. Because if I think, ‘Okay, I’m going to wait till I’m on annual leave and I’m going to put a whole week aside to do this podcast’, then that’s unsustainable because I can’t be off work forever. So it needs to fit around what I’m doing already. And that’s what I’ve done. And that seems to be working—fingers crossed—at the moment.

Rachel: Yes, absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head. We wait so things are going to be perfect and we wait so we’ve got time to do them. And in my experience as a busy professional, that time never comes. Literally, it will never come, if you wait until you’ve got time. So you need to get on and do this stuff. Even if you’ve not got time. There’s a caveat here, because one of the things I talk about a lot in terms of resilience and stuff is, is not waiting, not adding more stuff into your life when you don’t have time for it. So if you really want to do something, add it in, but then get rid of something else, get rid of the fluff, get rid of the stuff that’s not contributing to your life or making you happy, or you’re just doing because you feel that you ought to do it. And experiment and get stuff out there.

We’re almost out of time, I just wanted to ask a question because—and it’s something that I’ve been wondering about for a while. I have a few friends who’ve had sort of serious life-threatening illnesses, sort of breast cancer, and other things. You’ve just told me about your story about nearly dying in that river, all of which had a massive impact on people and made them change their lives and the change that changed the way they did things and really got them focused on what was important in life and what made them happy.

Now, I don’t want to have a life-threatening illness, I’m sure, I’m sure. How do we get that mindset without having to go through that? those awful things? How do we do that for ourselves without having to create some great disaster or crisis in our lives?

Nik: That’s a really good question. I think that—and it’s, for me, because this happened kind of 20 years ago, well 21 years ago now and it’s important to, for me to revisit it as well, to remember what I learned because sometimes you forget, and it’s important to go back. And I think it’s really important to be kind because any one of us could not be here tomorrow. And so that’s what I always try and be because I would hate—and I remember because that happens so quickly like that, and it wasn’t expected at all.

And as you know when I was under that water thinking about—and you know what, it’s true, what they say, when your life does flash in front of you, because I had all these different images of, of me running around a toddler and stuff with my brother in the garden and stuff, what on earth was going on there? And it’s just, it was all in slow motion. It’s really, really bizarre.

But I remember thinking, well, ‘Thank goodness that I’m on good terms with my family, with my parents, my brother, my sister’, and because that’s important. But also, if you’re kind to people—because you never know, when you’re gonna need to call on them, your friends will help you in situations. And even if it’s new things like a podcast. You’ve met people on the way, you will have chatted to them, they will come on, if you’d be nice to them. But if you’re not nice to people, then they’re just going to go, ‘You know what I’m busy, really sorry’.

And I think as well, it’s about having—don’t give up on the dreams that you’ve been following because they’re important to you. You need to have something to focus on in the future or to aim towards. And it might be that changes, or it becomes a little bit different to what it was originally. But it’s got to be something that you are trying to achieve, and it might just be something straightforward, such as you want to sort of build on the relationship that you’ve got and have more time for your partner and stuff like that. That’s all going to pay dividends in the long run and yes, I—does that answer your question?

Rachel: Yes, I think that’s some really good advice. I was just thinking I was reading this Happier book and towards the end, It’s got a sort of little meditation about imagine, and it’s got a quote from Mark Twain and saying, ‘Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18’. I’m wondering about wouldn’t that be great.

And he talks about this sort of psychiatrists have been spending a lot of time with terminally ill cancer patients and says that, it’s just a quote from the book, ‘An open confrontation with death allows many patients to move into a mode of existence that’s richer than the woman experienced prior to their illness because they report dramatic shifts in life’s perspective. They can trivialise the trivial. They seen a sense of control. They basically stopped doing things they do not wish to do, they communicate more easily with families and close friends, and they live entirely in the present rather than in the future or the past’.

Nik: Yes.

Rachel: And then this quote at the end of this section says that, ‘Over and over, we hear our patients say, why did we have to wait until now to be riddled with cancer to learn how to value and appreciate life’?

Nik: Well, I think that living in the present is probably the best advice, isn’t it? Because it helps with so many things. It helps if you’re going through something awful, if you’re experiencing a dreadful illness, then if you live in the present, you can cope with the few seconds that you’re living in, and it’s a way of kind of reframing things in many ways.

So, and the other thing that always rings true is about life experiences that you will regret the things that you didn’t do. And if you try them and it doesn’t work out, you’re not happy doing them, that’s fine, at least you tried them. But don’t not do something because you’re scared of not doing it or because you won’t find or you don’t got time to do it. Just give it a go. And that’s the best sort of experience, isn’t it?

Rachel: Yes, absolutely. Don’t wait, try things now. Live in the present. Don’t worry about the future, or the past. And appreciate those little things actually are so important. And I think for me, the coronavirus pandemic has brought my attention back to the little things that are important to me, like my family, and like my friends and being outdoors and being fit, and all those, all those sorts of things. And connecting upwards and with those things that give my life meaning and purpose and actually, that is the basis of happiness, not really what we achieve, or how much money we earn, or what we look like, or anything like that.

Nik: Exactly. It’s about building memories as well, isn’t it?

Rachel: Yes, yes, absolutely. So Nik, we’re at the end of the episode. And gosh, that was so much for sort of, Ho, ho, ho, like had a Christmas episode. But I’m, I’m really glad that we talked about that because that question of how do we hold those insights as if, as if we didn’t have much time left? And live life like that? I’m gonna keep thinking about actually over the next few weeks, and I might have an answer for you, maybe by the middle of next year. So when I’ve got the answer, I will share it.

Nik: Cool, I look forward to that.

Rachel: Do you have any top tips for people just over the Christmas period, what they can do to live a bit more like that?

Nik: Yes, I think, live in the moment, as much as you can. Have some space to yourself too. If you need to have a bit of space, it’s fine. Just, but also share that with who you’re with, and just say, ‘I just need a little bit of a bit of me-time just for 10-20 minutes’, or so. And maybe, you can need to get this into headspace or something just to give yourself a little bit of a refresh, then that’s fine, too. And don’t feel guilty about that because Christmas sometimes—and in any kind of festival when you’re with family and friends that maybe you don’t spend a lot of time with now that, when we did, we were kids, we spent lots of time, but now it’s kind of more short, sharp bursts when you’re kind of working stuff, then it’s a case of just being honest and just saying, ‘Love being with you. I just need a little bit of time to myself, and I’ll be back in 20 minutes, and I’ll be absolutely fine’. And so it’s just showing that isn’t it, really?

Rachel: Right. Good. Well, Nik, thank you so much for being on the podcast with us today. My top tips, as we’re going probably just to say to people, just if you’ve got something you want to do, just do it, put it out there. Don’t worry about it being perfect. And don’t wait until you’ve got time to do it. My second thing would be, start to say ‘no’ to more stuff that you really don’t want to do. Life is too short to waste on stuff like that. And appreciate the small things in life that give us pleasure, and happiness and connection.

Nik: Exactly. And don’t, yes, no, I definitely—there’s more things I want to focus on.

Rachel: Oh, Nik, it’s always been a pleasure. Thank you so much for being on, and we’ll speak to you soon.

Nik: Thanks for having me. Take care. See you soon. Cheers.

Rachel: Bye.

Thanks for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it with your friends and colleagues. Please subscribe to my You Are Not A Frog email list and subscribe to the podcast. And if you have enjoyed it, then please leave me a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. So keep well everyone. You’re doing a great job. You got this.

Podcast links

Give yourself a gift this Christmas season by getting The Beat Stress and Thrive Course! I’m offering a special discounted price, and as a Christmas bonus, I’m including The Stress-Less Dashboard e-book.

You Are Not A Frog Ep. 17 with Dr Nik Kendrew

You Are Not A Frog Ep. 49 with Dr Nik Kendrew

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben Shahar

Happy directed by Roko Belic

Shapes Toolkit for professionals in high-stress jobs

Follow Dr Nik on these platforms:

Twitter: @nikkendrew

Buzzsprout: Boggled Docs

Linktree: Boggles Docs

For more updates and episodes, visit the You Are not A Frog website. You can also tune in on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Sign up here to receive a link to the episode workbook and CPD form downloads for each podcast. You can use them for reflection and to submit for your appraisal.

You can also join the Shapes Collective Facebook group where we chat about the hot topics and regularly post interesting articles.

Have any questions? Contact Rachel through these platforms:

LinkedIn: @Dr-Rachel-Morris

Twitter: @DrRachelMorris

Email: rachel@wildmonday.co.uk

Find out more about our training here.

Here’s to surviving and thriving inside and outside our work!


Other Podcasts

Episode 157: The Power of Pressing Pause

While you relax, take a break, and drink some tea, You Are Not a Frog brings you our quick dip episode about the power of pressing pause. Rachel shares her own stressful experiences and how high-stress professionals can find themselves too often in the stress zone. We also dive into what you can do once you press pause. Learn tips that can help you take a step back, face stressful situations and start thinking about what you can do to overcome them.

Episode 150: How to Get People To LOVE your Ideas with Toby Moore

Toby Moore joins us in this episode to share communication techniques that can convince the people around you to change. He shares his insights and advice that can improve how you speak to people, whether to an audience of hundreds, a sceptical team, or to a key decision maker or colleague. Want to learn the best communication strategies to convince others to change? Tune in to this episode.

Episode 143: Is It ‘Normal’ Not to Cope?

When you’re burning out, stop blaming yourself and start being compassionate. If you want to know how to cope with stress and burnout in the normal and human way, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 142: How to Stop Your Finances Controlling Your Career

Dr Tommy Perkins joins us for a conversation about money and career. We talk about why people make unusual financial decisions and what motivates a person to spend. Find out how you can make the changes you need in your life without worrying about money when you tune in to this episode.

Episode 141: You Choose

You might feel your obligations box you in. But the truth is, you make a choice whenever you act — even if it seems you have no choice at all.

Episode 140: How To Stop Emotional Eating, Eat Better and Feel Better with Dr Matthea Rentea and Keri Williams

Keri Williams and Dr Matthea Rentea talked about the causes of emotional hunger and how it affects our mood and hormones. They also discussed their inspiring weight loss journey and explained why diets don't always work. Finally, they imparted tried-and-true advice on how to stop emotional eating. Don't miss out on this episode if you're looking for the most practical ways to manage binge eating and experience consistent weight loss!

Episode 138: How to Balance Life and Work

Dr. Claire Kaye joins us in this episode to discuss why we should never aim for work-life balance, and why you should aim for life balance. If you want to learn how to do a life audit to work out your priorities, this episode is for you.

Episode 137: Shark Music

If you're not careful, the assumptions you make can turn your thoughts into a spiral of dread. Don't listen to the shark music!

Episode 134: How to Tell People What They Don’t Want to Hear

No one wants to hear a no from other people. However, for many professionals, knowing how to say no and maintaining your boundaries is a must. Jane Gunn joins us once again to talk about how you can say a clear no. Stay tuned to learn how you can say no in the best possible way.

Episode 133: But Is It A Tiger?

Are the things that annoy you in your daily life causing frustration, irritation, and bad moods? Learn how to stay calm in the face of irritations, shake off disruptions and make better decisions even in the heat of the moment.

Summer Replay 2022 Episode 3 – 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.

Summer Replay 2022 Episode 2 – 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 131: What To Do If You’re Stressed AND Bored

Rachel discusses how to address and navigate the toxic combination of stress and boredom in the workplace. She talks about the role of learning in living a good, meaningful, and self-actualised life. Rachel also lays down five ways that will enable you to fit learning into your schedule without increasing the chances of burning out.

Episode 130: How to Say F**k It and Become Ridiculously Relaxed (Even about Stuff That REALLY Matters) with John C. Parkin

John C. Parkin joins us today and encourages us to say ‘fuck it’ more in our lives! Not everything is important, and sometimes we try too hard living up to society’s excessive expectations. John shares how overcoming stress and setting boundaries often results in overthinking and feelings of guilty. He wants us to calm down and breathe! Let’s learn to finally prioritise relaxation in our lives and see how much better we become through it. If you’re struggling with stress and want to know how to calm down and let go of what you can’t control, then this episode is for you.

Episode 127: After Burnout: Going Back to Work with Dr Katya Miles

When major issues occur in your life, it’s often necessary to take a break and deal with them, and of course, there’s also the other reasons we take significant time off work - maternity or parental leave, taking a sabbatical or taking a career break. If you want to know how to go back to work thriving, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 126: Using Nature to Answer Your Big Questions With Henri Stevenson

Henri Stevenson joins us to talk about the ways connecting with nature can shift our thinking and open up new solutions. We discuss the differences in our thoughts and feelings when we're in nature versus within artificial walls. She shares her stories of finding metaphors for life situations reflected in nature and what she learned from them. Henri reminds us that sometimes, the solutions to our problems may show up in quiet spaces when we take a few moments to connect with nature. Curious about how to take time to learn and connect with nature? Learn how and much more when you tune into this episode!

Episode 125: How to Say No and Deal with Pushback with Annie Hanekom

Everyone has difficulty enforcing their set boundaries, from top-end executives to junior employees. Logically, we know that we cannot do everything people want, but biologically, our minds are hardwired to please people. In this episode of You Are Not a Frog, Annie Hanekom guides you through how to say no and deal with the inevitable pushback.

Episode 124: How to Change When Change is Scary with Dr Claire Kaye

Change can definitely be scary. However, it doesn’t always have to be a difficult experience. Dr Claire Kaye joins us in this episode to talk about how you can approach change proactively. Whether you dislike change or thrive on it, her insights and enlightening tips will help you make the most of the opportunities in your life. Are you undergoing a difficult change right now? Learn more about how to change even when change is scary in this episode of You Are Not a Frog.

Episode 123: How to Live With No Regrets with Georgina Scull

Georgina Scull joins us in this episode to talk about what she learned from writing the book, Regrets of the Dying: Stories and Wisdom That Remind Us How to Live. She shares three revelations that people have while on their deathbeds: not being able to make other people happy, living up to other people’s expectations, and trying to rewrite history. We walk you through practical steps to help you reflect on your true desires so you can live a meaningful life.

Episode 122: How to be Happy at Work with Sarah Metcalfe

Joining us to talk about the importance of happiness in the workplace - and how we can find it - is Sarah Metcalfe. The founder of Happiness Coffee Consulting, she shares her top tips on simple things you can do to pursue happiness and share it with others. Even in high-stress jobs, it’s possible to choose happiness and spread it. And the results can be extraordinary. If you want to learn more about how and why we should be happy at work, tune in to this episode.

Episode 121: How To Be A Happy Working Parent with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to discuss the common struggles of working parents and the things we need to unlearn. She shares how to take radical responsibility as a parent and delegate responsibilities from housework to emotional load. We also teach you how to stay in your zone of genius and accept help when you need it. It’s time to live a life you love and enjoy, even amidst all your responsibilities! If you’re struggling to balance work and parenting, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 120: Making Online Meetings Work with John Monks

John Monks joins us in this episode to discuss designing better online meetings and interactions. We clarify the difference between a meeting, a presentation, and a workshop. We also discuss creative ways to design online meetings that energise and infuse rather than drain and demotivate. And John shares some simple exercises on limits and boundaries that can radically improve our problem solving and creativity. If you want to know how to make the most out of online meetings, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 118: How to Manage Upwards (and Sideways) with Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy

Dr Claire Edwin and Dr Keerthini Muthuswamy talk about their experiences working within a hierarchical system as junior doctors and share what they have found to be essential if you want to build trust and foster good relationships with your seniors, your juniors and your peers. If you want to know how you can build trust and influence your workplace, and manage upwards and sideways this episode is just for you!

Episode 116: What I Got So Wrong About Mindfulness And How It Might Transform Your Life with Dr Steve Pratt

Dr Steve Pratt joins us to discuss what we really mean by mindfulness, and how it could work for you. He'll debunk some of the myths of mindfulness and how you can make it worth your time and effort. We'll discuss how certain techniques can help us live happier, be less anxious, and harness our resources to make better decisions. Finally, Steve shares his mindfulness practices and takes us on a quick three-minute breathing exercise! If you want to learn about mindfulness, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 114: How to Get an Appraisal that Doesn’t Suck with Dr Susi Caesar

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’.

Previous Podcasts

Join the community

Fill in just a few details to hear about the latest tools, services and resources designed to help GPs and others members of the Primary Care team become more resourceful and resilient in the workplace.