Create a Career You’ll Love with Dr Claire Kaye
Creating a career in which you can truly thrive is tough, especially if you do not know where to start. But fret not; even established professionals find it daunting to find the opportunities they want. But with the right attitude, motivation and networking skills, doors will open up for you.
In this episode, Dr Claire Kaye joins us to discuss how we can make this possible. 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.
If you are a career enthusiast, professional or someone curious about how to find a career you love, stay tuned to this episode.
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Get specific tips on how to find a career you love.
- Find out how to get better at networking.
- Discover the three Rs and how they can help you get on the right track.
[04:16] Claire’s Journey on How to Find a Career You Love
- As a GP trainee, Claire knew that she didn’t want to be doing clinics nine times a week.
- She started teaching medical students once a week. This experience made her realise that she can do other things in her GP career.
- Claire won numerous awards as an educator at UCL and was affiliated with BMJ Masterclasses.
- She and a colleague once planned to open a company to train GPs, but it did not turn out well because the government cut off their funding.
- Claire went on to other areas of education. Listen to the full episode to learn more about Claire’s thoughts on taking opportunities and putting yourself out there.
[09:25] Following Your Interest vs Your Passion
- Knowing where your interests lie open up doors.
- Claire identified working with people and developing projects as her interest, so she models her career around this.
- You don’t necessarily need to do what you love.
- Work out which of your skills give you joy or motivation and find a suitable career.
[12:13] Getting Out There
- Reflect on your current career. Where are you at, where do you want to be and where are you going?
- Then, ask yourself where you would like to be.
- Afterwards, you can network to get there.
- Simply put, you need to reflect, reinvent, rebuild.
- These simple steps teach you how to find a career you love.
[13:36] On Networking
- Talking to friends, family and colleagues is a good starting point for networking.
- When you’re contacting people, ask for advice. People love giving advice.
- Networking is a conversation or a chat, not an interview.
- It’s important to stay motivated when connecting with others. Sometimes, you don’t get a good lead.
- Connecting with others helps you know how to find a career you love.
[18:33] More Tips on Connecting with People
- Don’t overthink conversations.
- Instead, find out who the person is and see if you can establish a connection.
- Think of the conversation as having a chat with a friend.
- Most people love giving advice because it becomes therapeutic.
- People appreciate being listened to and to reflect on stuff.
[20:30] More Tips on How to Find a Career You Love
- To know how to find a career you love, start with the little things.
- Take any opportunity as they come.
- Watch people that inspire and motivate you. Try to emulate that.
- You can’t become an expert without practice.
[23:34] The ‘Yes, But’ Block
- We all have a ‘yes, but’ block. That is, we’re too busy making excuses when faced with something new.
- You can’t address how to find a career you love without first getting over this block.
- What’s important is getting out there and getting better.
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You learn a lot from failing.
- To learn more about how coaching can help you know how to find a career you love, listen to the full episode.
[28:04] On Transferable Skills
- You don’t know how to find a career you love because you may feel like you have no transferable skills.
- However, if you reflect on what you’re currently doing and what interests you, you find that more doors open up.
- Doing something different with your current role expands your horizons.
- Sometimes, the answer to how to find a career you love is in doing what you love.
- Listen to the full episode to learn more about why it’s important to let people know where your interests lie.
[37:01] Final Thoughts and Top Tips
- To answer how to find a career you love, Claire restated the three R’s: reflect, reinvent, rebuild.
- Reflect is the biggest and most important part.
- To know more about the questions you need to be asking yourself, listen to the full episode.
7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode
[07:31, Claire] ‘And every opportunity that I have created has created even more opportunities that I did not know existed. And I started to look back on my career and start to say, “Oh, how did I get into that? Did that happen?”’
[09:13, Claire] ‘It’s about taking opportunity and putting yourself out there. And even if it doesn’t look like it’s there, it’s about creating those opportunities where you can even if it’s tiny, tiny ways.’
[16:29, Rachel] ‘So you’re making these connections, but you’re not selling yourself at all; what you are doing is asking questions about themselves, aren’t you?’
[20:55, Claire] ‘You take the right rate, you start small, you just take opportunities they come and take any opportunities.’
[24:43, Claire] ‘And it’s just about learning where it’s gone wrong, getting feedback and thinking, “I’m going to keep trying because I know I’m passionate about this”.’
[32:30, Claire] ‘Actually, you still got a choice. There is still choice out there and being able to stand up and say, “I have a passion, I have interest. I want to take on things. But I would like to choose this.”’
[40:10, Rachel] ‘So be intentional about your opportunities that you do choose to take.’
About Claire Kaye
Claire Kaye is an executive coach who specialises in the field of career coaching and career development. She has been a portfolio GP for 16 years and is also a multi-awarded educator at UCL. She spent 20 years expanding her career portfolio, highlighting her vital role as a Lead GP Advisor for BMJ (British Medical Journal) conferences. Her career also includes being an Advisory board member of a health tech company and a CQC inspector.
Claire also shared her expertise as a speaker and chair in large national and international conferences on coaching and clinical topics. She currently enjoys providing fruitful seminars and workshops. She also provides services centred on public speaking, workshops and content creation.
To know more about Claire and her projects, check out her website. You can also connect with her through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
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Dr Rachel Morris: Are you totally happy in the career you’ve chosen? Do you sometimes wish you could do something a bit different? Or something completely different? And if so, how do you even begin to find out what that might be? And what if you don’t want to leave your job, but just want to do more of what you love in the role that you’re in?
In this podcast, I’m talking to Claire Kaye, a former GP and executive coach specialising in career development. She’s been on a fascinating journey herself and helps others who want to develop their own path. We talk about how to reflect on your career so far, and how to work out what it is you actually want. We also talk about how to create your own opportunities where nothing seems to be out there, or obvious to you. So listen, if you want to find out how to diversify and create a career you’ll love, even without leaving your current job, how to network in a non-cringy way, which you’ll actually enjoy, and how to start small, and spot the opportunities that will lead you on a journey that you could never have imagined.
Welcome to You Are Not A Frog, life hacks for doctors and busy professionals if you want to beat burnout and work happier. I’m Dr Rachel Morris. I’m a GP, turned coach, speaker and specialist in teaching resilience. And I’m interested in how we can wake up and be excited about going to work, no matter what. I’ve had 20 years experience working in the NHS, both on the frontline and teaching leadership and resilience. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, worried about making a mistake, and one crisis away from not coping.
2021 promises to be a particularly challenging year. Even before the coronavirus crisis, we were facing unprecedented levels of burnout. We have been compared to frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, working harder and longer. And the heat has been turned up so slowly, that we hardly notice the extra-long days becoming the norm, and have got used to the low-grade feelings of stress and exhaustion. Let’s face it, frogs generally only have two choices, stay in the pan 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 working life so that you can thrive even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Through training as an executive and team coach, I discovered some hugely helpful resilience and productivity tools that transformed the way I approached my work. I’ve been teaching these principles over the last few years as the Shapes Toolkit Program. Because if you’re happier at work, you will simply do a better job. In this podcast, I’ll be inviting you inside the minds of friends, colleagues, and experts—all who have an interesting take on this. So that together we can take back control to thrive, not just survive in our work and our lives and love what we do again.
Just to let you know that we’re now taking bookings for our Resilience Training for late spring and summer 2021. During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been delivering our training online and we’ve been able to deliver the Shapes Toolkit to managers and their teams in high-stress organisations, to doctors and allied professionals, such as the additional roles in general practice, and also to GP training hubs for practice managers, admin support staff, GP fellow schemes, and GP training schemes. We can also help you to set up a peer group support scheme for your organisation. So do get in touch by booking a call to chat with me about how we can help you and your organisation. Also, don’t forget to sign up for your podcast CPD reflection forms for use in your appraisal.
On with the episode.
It’s really great to have with me on the podcast today, Dr Claire Kaye. Now, Claire is an executive coach, and she specialises in career development. She’s also a former portfolio GP and an educator amongst many different roles. Claire, welcome.
Dr Claire Kaye: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Rachel: So I really wanted to have Claire on the podcast because of her expertise in career development. Because I really believe that actually, being able to craft your job and craft your career is one of the ways that we can stay really resilient in our work. And I wanted to pick Claire’s brains about it, particularly how we get ourselves out there and find what’s good for us. But Claire, I’d love to know, first of all, like, why did you get into career development?
Claire: So, it’s quite a sort of interesting and protracted story, really. I started out as a trainee GP many many years ago. And I knew that I didn’t want to be doing clinics nine times a week. I knew I wanted to do something else but I kind of didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I just knew that I had an interest in education. And one of the partners in the practice was teaching medical students in the practice. And she said, ‘Okay, do you want to do a bit’? and I thought, ‘Okay, I just qualified. And I thought, why not’. And that was kind of the starting moment. I thought, ‘Oh, wow, actually, I’m teaching medical students one day a week. It’s really fun, I’m really enjoying it’. And actually, it makes me feel really good on the other days, as well as the day that I’m doing it. And that was kind of one of my aha moments when I thought, ‘Actually, I can be a GP, but I can do other things as well within my GP career’, and that will be motivating all around in every aspect of my career. And that’s when things started to springboard.
So I started teaching medical students. I won lots of awards for UCL and I thought, ‘Well, this is great, I’m really enjoying this’. And I started to do more and more medical education and was looking at other opportunities. And that’s when a colleague of mine sat down. We sat down together, and there was some money at the time. And this was probably about 15 years ago, put some money and time for newly qualified GPS to train. We thought, ‘I know we’ll set up a company training GPS’. So we did this. And we decided we were going to do a spiritual rehab and training etc. And it was all ready to go. And it was a complete disaster because the government removed all the funding.
And we suddenly realised that actually, we’d failed. But in a really good way, in the sense that we’ve learnt a lot from that failure. And that moment, again, taught me a huge amount about—again, that I had this entrepreneurial streak in me, but really didn’t have an understanding of what I wanted to do.
And from there, things lead on to other areas in education. And I was asked to go to a meeting at the BMJ when they were first thinking about setting up a BMJ Masterclass. And I hadn’t—I just had a baby, I was—I think I had a six-week-old baby, I didn’t even know what my name was, nevermind, I couldn’t understand why I was going or what I would contribute. But in that meeting, they started these first conversations about setting up a BMJ Masterclass, and from there, and I was asked to help them set it up and deliver it. And that was about 14 years ago. And that led to me being involved with BMJ Masterclass, BMJ live speaking seminars, presenting all sorts of things from that.
And every door that I’ve gone to, has led to another door opening. And every opportunity that I have created, has created even more opportunities that I didn’t know existed. And I started to look back on my career and start to say, ‘Oh, how did I get into that? How did that happen’? and start to look at the patterns of my own behaviour and patterns of other people’s behaviour and say, ‘I just did something in this, what else could I do? What else could I achieve? How am I achieving it? How did I get that role’? and started to look at patterns.
And I suppose, to answer your question, those are some of the initial moments that I started to realise that career development comes from lots of different things and patterns of behaviour, but particularly networking. And that’s when I kind of got that—again—another aha moment that you actually need to understand that process in order to get that variety in your career to help with burnout and motivation.
Rachel: Wow, that’s such an interesting journey. And I’m really fascinated in what you just said because when you said, ‘I was asked to go to the BMJ to talk to them’. My initial thoughts were, ‘Wow, how lucky was that’. But then you’re absolutely right, that you got asked to because you put yourself out there all that time, before then, or even just starting to teach medical students. And because you did that, you then started to do the other thing, and because you did the other thing, you then decided to do this, and everything that you did opened another door, which you walked through.
And I think that’s the mistake a lot of people make is that they are waiting to be asked to do something or waiting for an amazing opportunity to come, as opposed to making good use of the little things that are coming up and taking that journey, even if they don’t quite know where it’s going to lead.
Claire: It’s about taking opportunity and putting yourself out there. And even if opportunity doesn’t look like it’s there, it’s about creating those opportunities where you can even if it’s in tiny, tiny ways.
Rachel: Because I think so many of us think that when we want to do a career change, or we want to sort of diversify our career or add to our career in some way. We have to wait till there’s a role that’s fully formed and ready for us to just jump into that we know exactly what it’s going to be. But I would say that 99.9% of the professionals I speak to—that are now doing things that I would consider really interesting and everything didn’t start in that role. It came to them because of other small things through following their nose and following their interest.
And it’s interesting, I read an article on LinkedIn recently about following your interest, not following your passion. What do you say when people say, ‘Oh, you just got to follow your passion’?
Claire: Well, I think you raise two interesting points. The last one first. I mean, I saw that article as well. I think it was really very thought provoking because I think he said something like, ‘If you’re an accountant, you don’t necessarily wake up thinking I’m desperate to be an accountant’. Not that it’s nothing wrong with being an accountant. But maybe that’s not your passion. But he said, ‘Follow your interest’. And I think that is really true because and knowing what sort of the, what is the crux of that interest that I know, that I love working with people, and it almost and I love developing projects. So it always doesn’t matter what the project is, or who the people are, as long as they’re people that I have sort of a common interest with. So actually, and that kind of opens up doors in itself. So I actually do really agree with him.
And I think the follow—do what you love is really challenging because I mean, I love flowers, but I would make a terrible florist. So it’s—you don’t necessarily do what you love. You let work out what your skill is that you really enjoy, or what motivates you. And then find a career that gives you that.
And it’s really interesting what you were saying before about the other aspects about how you get jobs. When I look back at my career, I think I’ve only ever applied for a job once. And very minor, probably a bit worked in multiple practises. I’ve been a CPC inspector, I have done media, I’ve done—I work for a health tech company, all sorts of things that I’ve done. But actually, most of them are from networking and putting yourself out there and thinking, ‘Well, actually’, even a GP practice, I’d say why I’d like a training practice, it needs to be 15 minutes from where I live, it needs to be this amount of patience, I want to be working this amount of time or whatever. And then I would contact the practices that might meet my criteria, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, hi, can I come and have a chat? Or can I come in and ask you advice? Or can I come and see what you’ve got to offer, maybe I can share what I’ve got to offer’. And that’s how most of my roles were given to me. So I think it is really important just to get out there.
Rachel: Yeah. And I think you make such a good point. I think if people know you, then they’re gonna—if they already have met you, they know that you’re a reasonable human being that things are gonna be in pretty safe hands, that you’re trustworthy or personable, then actually, they will often just—you’ll find that they’re stuff that hasn’t even been advertised and hasn’t been out there, but there’s something they’ve maybe thinking of doing.
What would you say to people that are thinking, ‘Well, that’s all very well and good. But I’m in my little area. I don’t really know that many other people. I don’t really know where to start’. What would you say that people should start when excited—I know that you, I get the impression that you’re quite a confident person, you’re quite happy just phoning people up going, ‘Can we have a coffee or whatever’? But what would you be talking to your coachees about how to do that?
Claire: So I mean, it’s a whole process. First of all, work out what you want and where you want to go. But once you’ve—I mean, I tend to sort of think about it in three ways. The first is to reflect on your current career and to think about where you’re at, where you want to be, where you’re going. Then to sort of do the sort of fairy godmother bit and think about reinventing yourself, like, where would you like to be. And then when you’re at that point, you can start to then network to try and get to where you want to be and rebuild. So it’s that reflect, reinvent, rebuild is where I tend to focus on.
And on the rebuild bit, the networking, you’re right it’s the key. And that’s actually often the scariest bit for people. But the way that I do it or say to people to do is to just think about the people that you know, so it might just be colleagues at work, it might be friends, but anybody you know, it doesn’t even need to be someone medical.
Let’s say, for example, you want to get into medical journalism, for example, ‘I’d love to be writing for’… whoever. Then what I suggest to people to do is to talk to people and ask questions like, ‘Oh, do you—have you ever written an article for anybody? How did you do it? What did you enjoy about it? What did you find difficult? Can I ask you advice about how I might get into it’? And then the key question is always, ‘And could you tell me one person that you think that I could speak to that maybe would be able to help me further or could give me further advice’.
And it’s very important that when you’re contacting people that you’re not—you were basically ringing for chat, you’re not asking for a job, you’re asking for advice because people love to give advice. They love to be able to tell you their story and to share their thoughts. And actually asking people for advice is actually quite easy. Just starting with friends, family and colleagues is a brilliant starting point for networking and helps you build your confidence.
Rachel: I think where people fall down on this is like you said they worry that they’re being presumptuous. They’re trying to sell themselves, etc, etc. But it’s your mindset, isn’t it? If you go thinking, ‘I’m trying to get a job here, I’m trying to get a job’. That’s you’re gonna fail from number one. But if you go and you just say to someone, and I did exactly this when I was thinking of my doing a career change, ‘Do you mind if I pick your brains for 15 minutes about X, Y and Z’? And pre COVID days, you could say, ‘Can I buy you a coffee? And pick your brains please? Do you mind’? And nine times out of 10, they go, ‘Yeah, sure’. You have a chat and then, even if it’s somebody that you’re—you don’t really want to do what they do, they often have some really interesting stuff to say about the thing.
So it’s exactly how I started coaching because I was sort of thinking, ‘What else could I do’? And someone said, ‘Oh, you should talk to this chap’. So I phoned up this chap, he was really kind. And he said, ‘Well, actually, we’re doing a health coaching course soon. you’d enjoy it. You’re a GP, why don’t you come along’? So I went on the health coaching course. I chatted with him at lunchtime. He said’, Oh, you should go for team coaching because that’s what the NHS really need’. And I went, ‘Okay, yeah, fine’. It’s engaging.
And it’s all just because I’ve been put in touch with one person that it then went from there. And even the people that I’ve gone to have coffee with that I had almost no interest in doing exactly what they were doing. They’d all go, ‘Oh you know what? You should talk to so and so that’d be interesting’. And interestingly, those people that I talked to have often come back to me at a later date and said, ‘Actually, can you speak at such and such a place? Or can you do this for us’? So you’re making these connections, but you’re not selling yourself at all. What you’re doing is asking questions about themselves, aren’t you?
Claire: Well, actually it’s a conversation, it’s a chat, it isn’t an interview. It’s literally just asking somebody for advice. And just think about getting, for example, into medical journalism. ‘Do you know anyone or do you know who’s done it? Have you ever done that? Or what would you suggest? Or do you—what would you think the next step might be’? Yeah, literally, and it’s amazing like you were saying, Rachel, people know other people. And then they say, ‘Oh, you should speak to John, he’s done it, or I met somebody at a conference. Let me see if I can find the name of him’.’ Hey, why don’t you go on that writing course? I heard somebody did that. And that was brilliant’. Or you know it and that sort of conversation, as you say, it starts to make connections so that when you are at a later date in your career, people as you say, so, ‘Oh, we met. Do you fancy coming to talk? It opens doors. And that’s what it’s about just opening the doors and the conversations.
And I think it’s really important to say as well, that if you’re trying to—if you’ve got a specific goal, and you’re speaking to people, it’s okay if people either can’t speak to you, or they don’t have any further advice, and it kind of gets to a dead end. You might speak to 10 people, and there’s only one good lead from it. That’s fine. But you’ve got to stay motivated to keep thinking like ‘Speaking to 10, I need to speak to another 10’. And that’s fine. And just think, ‘Who else do I know? Where else could I speak to people about this? How else can I make connections’? And obviously, you can do it these days as well, which is amazing—remotely like on Facebook. And there’s so many brilliant groups.
So again, if you’re a bit nervous about speaking to somebody face to face or on the phone or whatever, you could put something out there in one of the groups. And often people will say, ‘Direct message me, and I’m happy to have a chat’. And that’s another way that you know that that person is happy to give you advice, and suggestions, etc. And they might even be in the field that you want to. So if you felt more comfortable doing it that way, it’s another really good way that people say.
Rachel: How important do you think is to remain really goal-focused in these conversations, like, ‘I want to be a medical journalist, therefore that’s all I’m going to talk to you about’, etc. Or how important is it just to keep a really open mind when you’re talking to people?
Claire: I think you have your goal in your back pocket, and it sits there. And you think in the back of your mind, ‘That’s where I’d like to go with this conversation’. But actually, ‘I’m just having a chat, I want to find out who this person is, what they’re about, where they’ve come from, what they enjoy, and then just see if there’s any connections or thoughts’. And you might think, ‘Actually, when I’m a medical journalist, I’m going to write about you because you’re really interesting’. People are such a resource.
So I think, as I say, you have it in your back pocket, you’re not going there saying, ‘Tell me about medical journalism. I want to know about medical journalism’. You’re just asking the person in a conversational way about them, about any connections they have, any advice they have, about their career, what they’ve loved about their career, what they wish they knew then that they didn’t know it. All those sorts of questions that would have helped them, and to know that at that early stages in their career, and that will all help. So I think that’s really important. So it’s a chat, but like you and I are chatting or if you’re chatting with a friend, it is a conversation. It’s a chat. It’s not an interview.
Rachel: Yeah. And actually, I found the journey of doing this was just so joyful because it was so lovely just talking to loads and loads of different people getting to know them. And people actually really appreciate a chance to be listened to and reflect on stuff. And if you can demonstrate that you can listen and ask good questions. And that’s a real service to that person. Like, you just said, ‘Tell me three things you really love about your job’? That’s a good question. Let me have a think about that, you said, so you really sort of helping them as well. I think sometimes it’s a two-way thing.
Claire: Yeah. 100%. And people love giving advice. People is quite therapeutic, as you say, on both parts.
Rachel: Yeah. And what do you think about—if you’re going to talk to people about—to do volunteering to do little things and start small. So I’m just thinking some of us have these massive careers, ‘I’m going to do this in my career’, ‘I want to be a medical journalist’. But then how about starting off by writing an article for your local CCG or PCN news newsletter, for example.
Claire: Yes, anything you’ve taken are right, Rachel. You start small. You just take opportunities, as they come and take any opportunities. And the other thing I did, which I found really useful is I watched people. So if I was at a conference, and I saw an amazing speaker, ‘What is it I love about you? What is it that makes me really inspired and motivated by hearing you speak’? And then I would try and emulate that.
So I was—one speaker, who’s a cardiologist who I once had a talk. And he was doing a really complicated topic in cardiology, which I always found hard before. And he broke it down into bite sized pieces and made it really logical and really simple. And he used real plain language. And yet he was really motivating and exciting to listen to, ‘I wanna be like you’. And I thought, ‘What is it’? It’s just breaking it down into small pieces. And it’s being logical, and it’s being motivated and out there. So the next time I did a talk, I tried to make it really simple and logical and do the things that I’ve learned that way.
So watching people is really useful. If you want to be a medical journalist, we’d ask and say, ‘What is it about this that’s really interesting? Why did it catch me? Why did I read it? Was it the headline? Was it the content? Well, how can I present my piece of work to the local LMC or to the local rehab or to even my—what was it called? The newspaper, the news leaflet, that you would have an epic GP practice that just sits on the reception desk and all those sorts of things? You can just start writing, and start getting yourself out there. The little things are really important.
Rachel: Yeah, I think you’re so right. I think you can’t wait until you’re a complete expert to start doing what you love doing. Because you can’t become an expert unless you’ve had practise. I mean, when I first started doing the Resilience Training, I just said to the guys that are local GP networks, ‘Hey, can I come and do an evening on resilience’? I think I’m quite interested in that. So I read a book did it. It wasn’t very good. But I’ve learned a lot of ways not to teach resilience, that’s for sure.
But unless you start doing it, and I think sometimes as doctors and other professionals, we can get a little bit perfectionistic, perhaps. And think that we need to be fully trained up and thoroughly, fully fully competent before we start doing what we’re doing. And I guess there’s pros and cons of both. I mean, obviously, to do medical work, to do legal work, you need to be competent. You need to be fully trained up.
But when it’s in these—some of these other things to teach, it’s like you said. You can’t learn to teach just by doing a course about teaching, you have to actually do it and get out there. Likewise with writing, you’ve got to just do it and reflect on it and do it. So how much does the whole perfectionism thing and having to be excellent stops us from getting ourselves out there? Do you think?
Claire: I think we all have this block. And I don’t know if you’ve read the book by John Lee’s and he always says is the yes block thing. So when somebody says, ‘Oh, why didn’t you write an article’? ‘Oh, no, here’s what—I can’t. I don’t know enough about that’. ‘Well, yes, but I would have been too busy or that yes, but block’. And I think we do have a yes, but blocking us. And it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, as you know that I, actually—I need the course, I need the qualification in order to do it’. And I have to say I haven’t got a single qualification in education, but it’s 50% of my career. And it’s just about—I think just getting out there and getting better and learning from your mistakes.
Like when I set up a business, teaching first GP like I was saying at the beginning of this podcast, it failed. I learned the most from that. And that’s how I went forward. And when I’ve delivered a really bad talk. I think ‘Oh God. What went wrong? What can I do better’? Like you were saying with your resilience the first time you taught that and now you’re an amazing resilience educator. And it is about just learning where it’s gone wrong, getting feedback and thinking, ‘I’m going to keep trying because I know I’m passionate about this’. So I think it’s about being okay with not being perfect, and I agree that as doctors, we like to be perfect. I’m a perfectionist and it’s quite hard to remember that it’s okay not being perfect. And if you deliver a bad talk, then nobody’s going to die. That’s why I keep saying ‘Nobody’s going to die’.
Rachel: You might feel like you’re gonna die.
Claire: Yeah, exactly. You might feel a bit rubbish, but that’s it. And if you go a bit and read on stage or trip up, so what? Doesn’t matter if you chip over your words, or you forget a phrase, or you can’t answer a question. So what? Nothing bad’s gonna happen. And that used to be my mantra when I was starting. If I get a bit flustered over something, it’s okay. Nothing bad.
So I think just having that sort of thing that was like, just give it a go. And whatever happens, happens, and I’ll learn from it, rather than it’s got to be the best. And if you need a few qualifications to feel happy, and you know, as medics like to, that’s fine. But don’t be like—that’s not going to give you the finished product.
Rachel: Yeah. And I guess the good news these days is you can do a course in anything online. Nowadays, there’s so many online courses you can find. People that have trammed the way before you, that you can just learn systems and ways of doing things and just sort of learning on the job and doing it. And there’s all sorts of other things you can do like joining coaching groups and mastermind groups and sort of getting along with other people who are sort of on the same journey as you, which can be really quite helpful.
Claire: Definitely, I would say that having coaching, and I know I’m biased because I am a coach, but having coaching is fundamentally life changing for lots of people. Because when you’re not sure, you don’t know how to make the next step. So you can’t—you’re kind of stuck on your conveyor belt and you feel like you can’t get off even though you’d like to, you just can’t—giving yourself permission to do it, almost. actually having coaching is really helpful.
And for me, that’s when I was able to change my whole career. I was able to give myself permission to say, ‘Actually, this is what I really want. And this is how I’m going to get it’. I think it does make you more courageous. So I think if you are somebody that isn’t focused, isn’t at the point where they’re rebuilding their career and doesn’t quite know what they want. And you’re kind of at the reflecting reinventing stage, then coaching is really, really valuable. And if you’re somebody that’s kind of done all that and has had either coaching or kind of a self-coach themselves and knows that you’re at the rebuild stage, and that’s when the networking bit happens. And so it depends where you’re at, really.
Rachel: Actually, I think you can do both at the same time. Because I think sometimes you find out quite a lot about yourself through the networking that you do. So they can—it can pass-run alongside each other.
Claire: I think it depends on your personality. If you are somebody that can put yourself out there quite happily and just see what happens. I totally agree with you. I think you can do both and kind of expand where you thought you wanted to go and you sort of explore other avenues. I think if you’re somebody that worries about things a lot and is nervous to approach other people, then maybe it’s easier to start by self-reflecting before trying to get out there. And it depends on your personality. But I agree, if you’re that sort of that way inclined, brilliant, do it.
Rachel: I think one thing that does stop a lot of professionals is—and it’s ridiculous, but I definitely had this—was this thought that ‘What else can I do? I’ve got no transferable skills’.
But I look back at it. It’s crazy. Because doctors, lawyers, other professionals have got so many transferable skills, but we still have been conditioned into thinking that the only thing I can do is to see patients. What else could I do? And what do you say to people who have that sort of blocker?
Claire: Well, I had a really interesting conversation with somebody just about a week and a half ago, and she’s in secondary care. And she said, ‘With everything with Corona at the moment, it’s really tough’. And she said to me, ‘Well, I’m trapped, this is me, I’ve got to do this for the next 20 years’. And I said, ‘No, you’re so wrong’. And she, ‘I don’t know anything else. I can’t do anything else. This is just me’.
And I said—and then we actually sat and had a chat about all the things that she does: her communication skills, her managerial skills, her organisational skills, her ability to cope and to strength, her academic skills. We literally wrote a list of all the amazing things that she does every single day, which she thinks is bog-standard.
And once you actually look at what you actually do as a doctor, you can see that it transfers into so many different areas. And it comes back a bit to what you were saying about before. Do what you love or what you’re interested in. That’s the point you say, well, ‘Which bit really motivates me? When I’m doing managerial stuff, I feel really excited? Or when I’m communicating with people, do I feel really excited and want to do more’? And then that helps you to develop it even within your current role. You have to leave a role to do something else. You can add to it. You can just develop an aspect of your career while you’re doing it.
Rachel: Yeah, I 100% agree because I think the real key to resilience for—I guess particularly doctors through these difficult times is to craft your job within the role that you’re already doing because what I don’t want is doctors to leave, I guess that’s what You Are Not a Frog is about. It’s about, you can do small things to make a difference to where you are.
I think doing something different within your current role is so, so helpful because it helps you use different bits of your brain, it gives you maybe slightly different teams. So if you say you’re in a—you’re working as a consultant in secondary care. And then he also starts to do a bit of teaching on a particular course for the medical school, you have a different set of colleagues there and you’re using maybe a slightly more creative side of your brain, or if you become a—go into leadership in the department, you’re suddenly looking at sort of finances and different things. So I really do think a change is just as good as a break sometimes. So this whole thing about diversifying within what you’re already doing, and it doesn’t have to be much really does it? It could just be a couple of hours of something different a week.
Claire: Yeah, I think the variety really does help to motivate you in all aspects. Like I was saying right at the beginning, I suddenly realised that doing something else in my day job actually made me love my clinical side even more because it was a rest, it was a break, it was something different. And like you’re saying having the interactions with different people is very motivating. And I think—again—most people, as they go through their career do do different things. But they sometimes get allocated something, they might be told to teach medical students rather than choosing to. And actually, they might be someone that hates teaching. Whereas if they sat back and said something, ‘Oh, my colleagues actually do all the writing, I’d love to be doing the writing, I don’t want to be doing the teaching, maybe I can approach my superiors and say, ‘Listen, I’m really not great at teaching, I would love to be doing the writing you’ve got, is there any scope for looking at how we could share this out or switch it up’?
So again, it’s about doing other things, but also looking at what things are being allocated, and maybe saying, ‘Actually, I’m really… enough to do some managerial stuff’, or ‘I’d love to do whatever else’. And putting yourself out there within your role and say, ‘Can I take over all the compliance stuff? Can I take over all the consultant leadership stuff’? whatever it is. And actually saying, ‘I’d love to take that on. I have a real interest’ because people don’t know otherwise. And that in itself is so motivating because you feel like you’re achieving something, you got direction of focus. And then you start to feel invigorated. And that is really possible, even right now.
And that is actually really important that people in this horrendously traumatic time that everybody is going through to remember, actually, you still got a choice. There is still choice out there and being able to stand up and say, ‘I have a passion, I have interest. I want to take on things. But I would like to choose this. Is there any scope for that’? Is really important.
Rachel: Yeah, I totally agree. And I remember I had a coachee and he was pretty miserable in his partnership. And we talked a bit and it turned out he’d been allocated—I think he was audit lead or something for the practise, hated doing audit. ‘So what do you enjoy’? ‘I really love teaching’. And so he said, ‘But you know? I’d love to teach more, but there’s nothing being advertised’.
So I said, ‘Well, okay, do you have medical students in the practice’? ‘Oh, yeah. But one of the other partners says that’ okay, so what could you do? He said, ‘Well, I guess I could go and have a talk with them and say, Do you always do any’? And long story short, ended up taking on a bit of a teaching, managed to give the audit to someone who really enjoyed quality improvement, and ended up actually getting a job with the local university doing more teaching to the medical students, did a PG cert, became a trainee. And then when the last said of saw him, he was just loving it because he just made those few changes. And it really, really helped him. So think about crossing—doing what you love, so important.
Claire: And also, but nobody even knew that he wants to teach. We just sat there thinking, ‘I hate audit, I’d love to teach’. But maybe no one even knew he didn’t like audit because he just said he do it. So how would anyone know? So it is about just communicating in a very gentle way. ‘I love teaching, can I get involved’? In that instance.
Rachel: I think the other thing that possibly stops people is that they don’t feel the senior enough as well. So say if you are new to a practise, or maybe you’re in a portfolio or salaried role, or a locum or if you’re in another organisation, you may be sort of a junior partner or something. And you think, ‘Actually, I’m quite interested in people. I wouldn’t mind sort of managing something’. How about you go to the partnership and say, ‘I’m quite interested, would you like me to take on line management of a team of one of the healthcare groups or something like would you like me to supervise anybody? What can I get involved with’? And I think they’ll bite your hand off, quite frankly.
Claire: I mean when I was a locum—I did a long-term locum many, many months ago. And I love elderly care. I have a real special interest in elderly care. And there was a nursing home that came up that they taken on. And they were kind of talking to the salary doctors and talking to the partners about you know who is going to need this. And I went to them and I said, ‘If nobody else wants to, I’d love to run the nursing home. Please could you consider me’. And I know have not done it before, but I’d love to get involved and I could run ward rounds and be there, the lead GP for them and etc, etc.
And they kind of looked at me sort of half surprise, half horrified, half like ‘What? You’re the locum’. And I said, ‘I completely understand if you don’t want me to’, like very gently and then, ‘We’d love you to. Nobody else wants to do it’. I became my baby. And I loved it. I loved every second of it. And it was so invigorating and motivating for me. For them, they got a massive piece of work that they didn’t want to do, given to me. It was like a classic win-win.
And it was brilliant. Because if I hadn’t have said anything, one of the poor partners would have got it, didn’t want it, didn’t have time for it, already got a massive workload, and I was there chomping at the bit. So again, it’s just you’ve got to let people know where your interests lie in a very gentle way to be able to explore the areas that you love. And that’s just another form of networking, isn’t it?
Rachel: Absolutely. We’re all different, right? So, sometimes you think, ‘Oh, no, I mean, they don’t want me to do that’. Because obviously, they will want to do it. Well, they might not want to do it’. And anything that you think, ‘Oh, I really don’t want to do that’. Well, there might be someone else who absolutely loves doing that’. So don’t assume anything. And I think you’re absolutely right, you need to tell people what you want. You cannot assume that they are just going to just gonna know because they know you.
Claire: But also in that situation, if a partner had wanted to do that nursing home, for example, I could have been said, ‘Oh, no problem. Can I shadow you a few times just to learn the tricks of the trade? Could I learn something from you? Have you got any tips for me about how I could do this really well? What have you found really useful when you’ve run up a nursing home’, so that when I did get my next opportunity, I could then say, ‘I’ve heard this works really well. Could I do this’? or you know, etc, etc. And that’s really—so every opportunity, even if it’s a rejection is also an opportunity.
Rachel: 100%. So, Claire, what would you say to someone who’s just sort of just at the beginning of their journey thinking, ‘I’d really like to diversify. Really like that of upskill, do something slightly different, but I don’t even know where to start’.
Claire: So for me, I find the easiest thing to do is to think about my three R’s, which is the reflect, reinvent and rebuild. So the reflect is actually the biggest and the most important bit is about really thinking about where you are. What’s great about where you are now? What you love? What makes you feel at the end of the day has been a great day? What motivates you? What makes you feel really positive about where you are now? And then what are the challenges? What do you find really difficult? What de-motivates you? What do you find that weren’t doing?
And then start to think, ‘Well, if I had a fairy godmother, in a perfect world with no COVID, or financial restraints, what would I do? What would I love to do’? And really try and establish what you really would want. And then once you’ve kind of done that, and thought about what good looks like and where I’d like to be in five years time, in a perfect world, then that’s the rebuild bit.
And then that’s the bit when you would say, ‘Right, how am I going to do this? Who can I talk to’? And just start small, start with friends and family. Start with colleagues. Think about social media, ‘Who I could contact from there’? And start talking to people. It’s not an interview, it’s just a conversation. Connect with people, connect with people, connect with people, connect with people.
And little by little, you put yourself out there a little bit more. And you trial things a little bit. Like if we were saying try and teach a bit, try and write a bit, learn from your mistakes, expect to fail. And then keep going. And little by little, you’ll find more and more doors start opening.
Rachel: Brilliant. That’s really, really good advice. I think for my chat today, I’ve sort of written down a few tips that I would tell people. I think firstly, don’t think of it as networking to sell yourself. Think of it as just finding out about other people and show interest in other people. And I think the second thing that you’ve said a lot, is just take any opportunity that’s going, for things that you’re interested in. And don’t worry that it’s not this massive opportunity. The little stuff leads to the biggest stuff, always. And I think my final tip would be and make sure you’re saying ‘no’ to enough other stuff. Because as a GP, or other professional, it’s very easy just to take on everything and then you end up with no time to investigate, and do the stuff that you really want to do because it’s quite a project, isn’t it? When you start really starting to investigate and it takes time.
Claire: Yeah, I think that the word no is a topic for a whole another podcast, Rachel, I totally agree with you, no is a fascinating word. And how you say no when you say no, and what to say no is another very interesting conversation.
Rachel: Yeah. We’ll have to get you back, Claire, we’ll talk about saying no. But I think you know, if you’re saying no to something then that means you’ve got time in to say yes to something else.
And that’s the thing where you’re sort of having your big goal in mind comes in, otherwise you just buffered by who—by what anyone asks you, you say, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’. So be intentional about the opportunities that you do choose to take.
Claire: Yes. It’s about allowing yourself to have focus, clarity and direction. It’s okay to have those things and to want them. That’s okay.
Rachel: Brilliant. Okay. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. If people want to contact you, find out more about your work, where can they go?
Claire: So lots of places. I’ve got my website, drclairekaye.com. I’m also on LinkedIn and, which is under Dr Claire Kaye, Instagram, which is @drclairekaye_executivecoaching, and also on Facebook, Dr Claire Kaye Executive Coaching. So I’m in lots of places, I’d love to hear from you.
If you just want to have a chat, not necessarily about coaching or just tell me about your journey or want to discuss how coaching might help you or if you feel like you want a seminar for your organisation, just give me a shot.
Rachel: Brilliant. Well, thank you so much, Claire. I think we’re gonna have to get you back then to talk about saying no. And over time…
Claire: I’d love that. I’ve got lots of say on that.
Rachel: As long as you don’t say no to me.
Rachel: Thank you and will speak to you soon.
Claire: Thanks for having me.
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