13th February, 2024

How to Get Moving Again When You Feel Stuck

With Nicola Rylett-Jones

Photo of Nicola Rylett-Jones

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On this episode

We all experience moments of feeling stuck. Sometimes we have the motivation, but something’s in our way. On other days the simplest things can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill. Now matter how competent we know we are, that feeling of inertia can wreak havoc on our self-confidence. If we’re going to get unstuck and move forwards, we first need to find out what’s blocking us.

The solution is to take a conscious leadership approach. This means shifting our mindset and becoming more aware of our reactions and thought patterns. By recognising when we’re “below the line” and stuck in victim mode, we can consciously shift “above the line” and take control of our actions and reactions.

This week, Rachel is joined by executive coach and conscious leadership expert, Nicola Rylett-Jones. Nicola offers practical steps you can take today to embody the role of a conscious leader – even if you don’t consider yourself as having a leadership position.

Living below the line makes us feel frustrated, demotivated, and without the ability to make progress. It can also make us less effective leaders and colleagues, more prone to agitation. But by becoming more aware of our triggers, we can work better together with less effort.

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About the guests

Nicola Rylett-Jones photo

Reasons to listen

  • To learn practical steps to overcome feelings of being stuck and gain control of your actions and reactions.
  • To discover how to shift your mindset and become more aware of your reactions and thought patterns.
  • To find out how to embody the role of a conscious leader, even if you don’t consider yourself in a leadership position.

Episode highlights


How we demotivate ourselves


Conscious leadership


Becoming unstuck


Getting a different perspective




Tackling anxiety around complaints


It’s time to take action


Guilt as a motivator


Nicola’s top tips

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Rachel: Are you stuck in firefighting mode? Do you find yourself encountering the same frustrations again and again, and are you ready for that next stage of growth in your life, but you just can’t seem to get there?

[00:00:13] If I need, this sounds like you, then you’ll want to hear from my guest Nicola Rylett-Jones is an expert in conscious leadership with a wealth of experience in the medical field. She knows firsthand how debilitating it can be to feel stuck and unable to move forwards.

[00:00:28] If you feel like you’re missing out on opportunities, not making progress or feeling overwhelmed or stressed, then use this episode to take some time out, get a fresh perspective, pick up some actionable tips and manage yourself on your own reactions, which you can apply today, and start taking control.

[00:00:47] If you’re in a high stress, high stakes, still blank medicine, and you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, burning out or getting out are not your only options. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, and welcome to You Are Not a Frog.

[00:01:05] Nicola: Hi, my name is Nicola Rylett-Jones. I’m from Cardiff, uh, originally from the north of England. And I am an executive coach and a business consultant. I am also the deputy chair and trustee of the Institute of Leadership, a non-exec director with Swim Wales, a school governor, and also an angel investor in lots of different types of businesses.

[00:01:24] Rachel: How do you find the time to do all of that?

[00:01:27] Nicola: Well, probably like lots of your listeners, you know, I’ve worked with doctors for many years and you know, number one, we don’t stop do we? We don’t do a 35 or a 37 or a 40 hour week. You know, doctors are very used to working very hard. So I’m, I’m like, I’m like that. I love working. It’s my passion. I, it doesn’t seem like work to me, I just love it. Secondly, I’m very lucky. My husband’s very similar in the sense that he loves what he does and so we are very happy to spend time apart and we don’t have to be in each other’s pockets all the time. And thirdly, I don’t have any kids, so I think that actually helps quite a lot. All I have to do is figure out getting myself outta bed in the morning and getting myself to work in the morning, and I can work till whatever time at night ’cause I don’t have to feed the kids.

[00:02:05] Rachel: Well, I, I just, one of mine has just gone to Australia traveling actually, so it is like a third less work in the morning. Actually. She looks after herself usually, but yes.

[00:02:14] So, Nicola, I know that you’ve worked extensively with doctors and other senior leaders and people who think very like doctors. And when we’ve spoken before, you’ve talked about the fact that we get so focused in the action and the to-do and just getting on this treadmill and working and working and working. And so sometimes we just get completely stuck and we dunno how to take action or, or what to do. And I’d love to know what is it that doctors and other people like them predominantly get stuck over? Is, is there a theme or is it loads of different things?

[00:02:47] Nicola: Well. I think the theme is that we get stuck actually, and, and doctors, you know, doctors are, are no different to others in, in a leadership role, uh, or in a senior role in a, an entrepreneur, a founder of a business. And, and, and the reason why I think that’s the theme is because it’s a positive thing to think that actually I’m really focused on the thing I have to do. And doctors are very, very good at focusing. Senior medical people are very good at focusing on the thing that has to happen, the thing that’s got the most impact or the thing they’ve got to look into or what, what has to happen. And because you’re so singularly focused, often that means sometimes we’ve got blinkers on. And we’re not open to other opportunities or to other creative solutions because we’re so fixated on that action piece that we actually forget that there might be a different way of doing this.

[00:03:39] Now the other thing I think with medical professionals, particularly let’s say a consultant, somebody who’s very used to actually saying, this is the way it needs to be, this is my expertise, you know, when you’re making life and death decisions, you have to be that confident. You have to be that focused on, you know, weighing up the pros and cons, making those right decisions. And because of that, then you’re very, you know, very determined and singularly focused in making those decisions. And sometimes that just means that we’re not open to other opportunities.

[00:04:07] Rachel: Right. So in a minute we’re gonna talk about, you know, some ideas that you have about actually how we can get into action and overcome that. But before we go there, I’d, I’d like to ask, what issues does this being stuck cause?

[00:04:19] Nicola: Well, the first thing that would obviously happen is you’d get frustrated. You know, as I say, high achievers, people that want to move things forward, the driving success. Those guys want progression and progression we know in terms of a motivator, is the number one thing you can do for people. You know, imagine going to the gym, right? We go to the gym day in, day out, you know, six months. I did it a couple of years ago, started on Christmas, boxing Day, got to the 26th of April, and put on two dress sizes and gone up, you know, a stoning weight. How had that happened? I’ve been to the gym every day. I’ve been burning calories, you know, this is ridiculous. How can that be happening? Well, actually it’s demotivating and you give up in the end.

[00:04:57] So the first thing is if you, if you’re coming to a barrier and you just can’t seem to solve it, we get demotivated by that. And that de-motivation can actually have knock on effects to the way we treat people, the way we manage our teams, the way we actually talk to ourselves, our self-talk. You know, we just, why can’t I solve this? I’m just not good enough. You know, why, why am I losing the plot? What’s going on here? And so, a decrease in confidence could also be a point from there.

[00:05:20] But as I said, also by being stuck in this perspective and, and not necessarily being able to see there are other options, you, you actually might take extra long time or extra effort to get to the end goal that you actually could have maybe resolved much quicker if you’d been open to opportunities. So it could be a waste of energy, it could be a res, a waste of resources, you know, be because you’re just not open to that way of thinking or a creative solution.

[00:05:46] And of course, that also then leads to that whole sort of dissatisfaction that you, you’re not progressing at the rate you want to, and it could stop you an opportunity loss cost, it could stop you from doing other things. So say for example, you’re frustrated, you’re not feeling confident, you’re taking your time, it’s, it’s really stress, you know, putting pressure on you, it’s stressing you out a little bit. I’m not saying it’s completely stressing you out, but you know, there’s, there’s a little pressure. You’re trying to work out why you can’t get this thing done. That then affects how you treat other people. That could then affect progression in the organization or with the people you’re working with. And they, they could then be a bit of a spiral in terms of their frustration. But ultimately, all that time, you’re spending extra time and extra effort thinking about that item means that you are actually not moving on to the next thing. And so that could then mean that you lose an opportunity, uh, you just don’t see something coming that you could really maximize for your organization or your particular team. And that then means you’re further back on your success that you want to be.

[00:06:44] Rachel: And I can think of examples of all of those at the moment. There’s a lot of doctors feeling very frustrated at the moment, feeling like they’re running as hard as they can on a hamster wheel, only to do it the next day and the next day and the next day, and they’re certainly not seeing any progression no matter how hard they’re, they’re probably actually seeing some, some backwards steps because they’re not just not getting through stuff.

[00:07:05] Nicola: Well you, well you say that, Rachel, actually, there’s, there’s another good point that you, that I haven’t mentioned, but you’ve absolutely brought my attention to it, which is actually when we’re in this cycle, we are often in the white water, as they call it, or the washing machine as I call it, which is you’re constantly just firefighting. You come back to it day after day after day. And when you’re in that mode, you are not generally solving the root cause problems. You’re solving what’s in front of you. We call it putting a sticky plaster on it, don’t we? But actually that’s what happens because you’re so blinkered, you, you haven’t got time. You’re so frustrated. You, you know, behind the curve, whatever you wanna say. But actually you’re not taking that extra second to say to yourself, why? Why is that happening in a minute? If you ask the question why five times? I like to give practical tips.

[00:07:48] If you ask the question, why five times, you’ll get to the root cause. So why has that thing happened again? Well, I didn’t really fix it yesterday. Why didn’t you fix it yesterday? Well, I didn’t have time to fix it yesterday. I don’t know what the root cause is. Right. Why didn’t you ask yourself? You know, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And, and, and only when you actually find yourself that time to try and get to the root cause is when you’ll buy yourself that time back to really progress and focus on the things you need to focus on.

[00:08:16] Rachel: That, that five, the five whys technique is one of my favorite actually. It’s, it’s really helpful, isn’t it? I’d love to start with the elephant in the room though, Nicola, ’cause this is what, you know, lots of people in healthcare would be thinking, and actually somebody asked me this in a, in a training session we did the other night. What if it’s the system that’s making us frustrated and we have no control over the system?

[00:08:38] So there’s lots of people probably stuck in these ster wheels and the washing machine thinking, yes, but I cannot change the NHS funding or patient demand and stuff. And one of the, the whole tenets of my work is you stay in your zone of power. You only try and do what you can control and what you can change. And if the problem that you’ve got is something that is unsolvable or completely out of your control, then, then what do you do?

[00:09:03] Nicola: Okay, so I, I, I completely agree and slightly disagree at the same time if I’m allowed. So let me, let me explain what I mean by that. I completely understand that, uh, particularly in your, uh, uh, you know, way of working and being a medical professional, you have to work within your competency, okay? So I, I get that you have to work within what you can, uh, reasonably understand and have control over. So I get that. I understand. I’ve got no control over this. However, actually, I think we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. And let me explain that in a conscious leadership sort of model.

[00:09:38] So there are four aspects to conscious leadership. The first one is to, to me. So it’s the bottom of the, and I’m gonna come above, above the line and below the line. I’ll come back to that in a second. So, below the line, we’ve got. To me, things are happening to me. I can’t control them. You know, children are often like this, you know, my nieces often say, mom’s done this to me again, and I don’t know what, you know, there’s, you know, they feel un uncontrolled. You know, they can’t control anything. So to me, things are happening to me.

[00:10:05] The second point, uh, a bit, a bit evolved from that is by me. I’ve got a little bit of control. I do have some things I can control and actually I can’t control that, but I can control my reaction to it or I can control when I do that work or I can control. So things are by me, I can control certain things. They’re both below the line. I’ll come back to that later.

[00:10:25] Above the line, we’ve, we’ve then got through me. So what can I make happen through my actions? What can I act? I might not be able to control the NHS budget, but what actually can I do? So changing that can’t into a can and looking at that, might you, you might not be able to control the budgets, but you might be able to ring somebody about the budget and find out who has control over the budget. So, okay, it’s taking a couple of steps back, but that is what you can do.

[00:10:53] And then finally, conscious leadership. It’s as me. So basically actually you and I, Rachel are the same thing. So if I, you know, with the same human, you know, one body of humanity, and if I do something to you and you do something to me, then it’s gonna affect each other. So actually it’s, it’s, we are as one and we should treat people in a conscious way as one. So we, we are treating people in the right way and we all have a part to play within that.

[00:11:17] So, so looking at just, I mentioned below and above the line, just very quickly on that. Basically, lots of people when they get into this sort of blinkered mode, very frustrated, don’t feel they’re making progression, it goes very, very below the line. And we use the words victim and feel threatened and, you know, they, everything’s a problem. Um, everything’s a worry. You know, it’s, it, it’s, it’s, it’s very negative. What we all need to do, and as professionals, we need to be able to recognize what triggers us to be in a bit of that, uh, below the line mode, we also should ask our colleagues and friends to, to sort of feed back if they ever think that we’re in that mode. And our job then is to get a back above the line. So if you can help your colleagues see things differently, be more solution orientated, be more open, be more curious, ask more questions. I mean, I suppose that’s a key here, what I’ve said with the control and the not control, is actually, you know, to find out what you can do, ask some questions.

[00:12:10] So I agree with you absolutely understand the, the, the place in where you’re working and working within your competency and what you can control and what you can’t control. I understand there’s a, there’s a, a legal aspect to that and a regulation aspect to that with medicine. But actually there are things you can do, so change the can’t into a, can, ask some questions and figure out then actually what you can control and what you can make a difference on.

[00:12:31] Rachel: And I love the, the conscious leadership thinking. And, uh, I recently read the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, the Jim Dethmer book, which I just recommend to anybody ’cause I absolutely loved it. And it, it took me a while to work out what do they mean by, by conscious leadership? And I think I’ve finally got it. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, Nicola, but the conscious leadership’s about being conscious of where you are in relationship to this line. So if you’re below the line, it’s like everything is happening to you. You’ve got no, yeah, no control, no power, uh, you know, and, and, and you are just the victim of your thoughts. You’re being very defensive. You’re being, you are, you’re stuck in the corners, I would say. You’re being ruled by your amygdala, and you are not noticing what your reactions are.

[00:13:11] But if you’re above the line, you’re actually, no, you’re self aware. You’re noticing what your reactions are. You are noticing when you’re being defensive. You are noticing when you are feeling like you’re not in control or, or you are. So that for me is the essence of what being a conscious leader is. Am I, am I along the right lines there?

[00:13:26] Nicola: Yeah, that’s exactly where it should be. And I think actually just to be aware that actually it’s, it’s quite a female trait to want to be more conscious as a leader. Now I’m not saying both male men, men and women can’t do this. Of course they can. But, uh, you know, just as a bit of a, a confidence booster to us ladies out there, we find this reflective, conscious sort of way of being much more in tune with maybe our, uh, nurturing and motherly side. So yeah, so a bit, a bit easier for females to do some of this stuff, but it’s absolutely not gender specific, I’m just saying it actually comes a bit more natural. So think about those natural c qu qualities and characteristics that you might have as a female leader.

[00:14:07] Rachel: So if we go back to this line, ’cause it’s really helped me and we teach a lot about the drama triangle and so for me it’s like, If you’re below the line, you’re in the drama triangle, you’re stuck in the drama, you either feel you’ve gotta rescue people, you’ve, or you’re a complete victim, or, or you are blaming other people, you feel like a victim, but you are blaming. And when you are blaming someone else, you are the, you are the persecutor. And oh my goodness. I mean, and no matter how much I learn about this, I find myself below the line and stuck sucking the drama triangle constantly.

[00:14:34] Like even just in a meeting earlier on today, I came at the meeting and thought, oh, my word for half of that meeting, I was, I was below the line. In fact, I literally left a voice message from someone earlier going, I was below the line in that meeting. Can we have a chat? So I keep doing it, and I don’t wanna do it. So what I wanna know is, why is it important to be a conscious leader and how does that help us get unstuck?

[00:14:58] Nicola: Okay. So the, the first thing I would say is that in terms of your particular example you gave there, when many of your listeners probably have had similar things happen to them, really do spend a bit of time this evening or whenever it happens, just reflecting on what triggered you, because it sounds like something in that meeting set you off. Not to put it to, you know, too bluntly, but something triggered you in that meeting. Now it could have been somebody being disrespectful. It could have been somebody touching one of your light points. So for example, if somebody questions my intelligence, ’cause I, I don’t feel I’m, I, I personally, I don’t see myself as an intellectual. I’m quite quick and I’m very intelligent, but I’m not an intellectual. So if somebody touches that fuse point with me in a meeting, sometimes I get a bit, oh, I’m not good enough. You know, I might, I go below the line and become a bit of victim.

[00:15:45] So, so have a reflection, first of all, about that point. And that’s, I suppose the first point I’d like to say in terms of how to get outta this, it’s understanding yourself. And that, whether that be reflection, you know, journals are great for this, whether it’s, as you say, asking a colleague to give you some feedback or asking them to talk through what it was like from their side when you were behaving in this way. Whatever you can do in terms of strengths and weaknesses to understand, uh, why you acted the way you acted, that’s really good.

[00:16:13] Now that understanding then of who you are and why you did what you did and how it came up, will then help you to, I suppose, develop a brief on what you want to get better at, what you want to grow within, how you want to change yourself. And so this conscious leadership. Point is that very point. It’s, it’s understanding who you are and being conscious of how you might be acting, how you might be behaving, your impact on others, and actually then doing something about it.

[00:16:42] Now, there’s lots of other things involved in conscious leadership, but I just think it’s really imp, you know, just keep it really simple, right? We’ve got plenty of other things to think about in the day. So, am I conscious of how I’m behaving? Am I conscious of how I’ve impacted on other people? Am I consciously thinking of my values and my principles and who I am? And actually are all those things that I’m doing in the day aligned to the morals and the ethics and the way I want to be?

[00:17:09] And, and there’ll be something, either something you’ve done is not aligned, which has made, made you move, or somebody’s hit a little bit of a nerve of something that you actually know you want to improve, but you actually just haven’t done it yet. And maybe you’re a bit embarrassed about it, or maybe actually you’re a bit ashamed of, of, of the characteristic. But either way, knowing yourself actually means that you can be more conscious of the way you behave, of the decisions you make, and make sure that those things are then aligned with what you actually want and what success means for you.

[00:17:40] Rachel: Because I think the, the times when we beat ourselves up the most or feel shame, stress, is, is when we have, we have reacted to stuff because it’s hard out there. Maybe we’ve been overwhelmed. I think, you know, something that happened in the meeting, I was feeling very overwhelmed. Someone asked a question that really they could have thought for themselves and sorted it out themselves, but they’re coming to me because probably I’ve been doing too much rescuing and thinking for them, et cetera. And then I, I think, oh, you know, and then I react ’cause I’m already feeling like that. And then, and then I feel bad because the way I reacted wasn’t congruent with me wanting to be supportive and helpful. Then I get to the corner even more and then I start, you know, so it’s this sort of ridiculous circle of stuff and you’re just reflecting on it now it’s, it’s ridiculous, but it was because the thing that I, that I felt really bad about was not that I had the reaction, it was how I behaved when I then had the reaction, actually, it was because that was incongruent with my values, and that’s what I feel ashamed about.

[00:18:41] Nicola: But fantastic, great that you got there. And actually, that’s a really good point that I didn’t mention, which is obviously being more conscious means that we actually can spend less time emotionally reacting to these things and help ourselves to just be a little bit more detached so we get a better outcome.

[00:18:56] ‘Cause what you were, what you’ve then happened to you there in that situation was you had a bad outcome for yourself. You felt ashamed, you felt, you know, you felt all those things and that made you even worse in the meeting and got you more upset in the meeting. But also you probably had a ne negative, well you must have done, ’cause you sent ’em a message, a negative impact on the other people in the room, and you were probably not very happy about that. So, so we then start questioning our behavior. Are we good enough? All those kind of things. And I’ll come back to that are we good enough In a second.

[00:19:19] But anyway, so the first thing I’d say is being more conscious of yourself, being more conscious of these helps you just to take a moment just to think, I’m not gonna do that next time. I, I’m gonna make that note. I’m gonna learn that lesson and, and move forward. The second thing is, just as a practical tip, again, I’m not sure if you’ve read the book the Chimp Paradox at all, but, uh, they talk about the monkey.

[00:19:37] When you are in a meeting and somebody’s asking you, you, you said it came because somebody was asking you to do something or make a decision on something that they should have known a bit better to do, or they should have been able to do for themselves. Now, that could be one scenario. Another scenario is somebody comes into your office and they start venting, no, no, no, no, no, no. This person said this and this person, you know, they’re, they’re just having a go, right? There’s two really, really great questions you can ask yourself to give yourself a little bit of time to be more conscious in the situation. The first is, as they come into your office, can I just ask you a quick question? What role do you want me to play in this conversation? Do you want me to help you fix it or do you want me to just listen ’cause you’re venting?

[00:20:16] ‘Cause what happens is somebody comes into our office, we start, we start trying to fix straight away because that’s the kind of people we are, right? We solve problems with, you know, we’re leaders, we solve problems, we want things to get better, right? Okay. So you go into problem solving. Sometimes people don’t need you to do that. Sometimes people just want you to listen ’cause they just wanna get it off the chest. So a really great question is, what’s my role in this, uh, interchange, in this conversation?

[00:20:38] The second thing is one of two things. As they finish their round till they finish their conversation and, and, and they, the person was asking you a question, at that point, there’s two questions you could ask is what are you going to do about it? And the second thing is, what do you want me to help you do about it?

[00:20:55] So, so bearing in mind what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to become that to person to them. You don’t. Well, you know, Rachel’s done this to me. No, Rachel hasn’t done anything to you. Rachel’s gonna help you do the thing that needs to be done to solve this problem. And again, you are then you are giving them a hand up into the above the line, finding a curious problem, solving in a way of looking at the problem they’re giving you.

[00:21:17] So, so sometimes we know, we always ask our teams, don’t we come to us with not, don’t come to us with problems, come to us with solutions. And sometimes people are just not that conscious about it, and they just wanna vent. That’s fine. Let them vent. Say, okay, great, I’m gonna give you your monkey back. Now what are you gonna do about it? And then other times they might come with a problem and they don’t know the answer. And so we as coaches, as leaders, have to help them say, okay, okay, fine. That’s okay. Let’s look at this. How am I gonna help you find this? solution. So you, you, again, putting the control back in their uh, hands so that next time they know how to do it themselves.

[00:21:51] Rachel: And it is so funny as you’re saying that I’m just gring my to myself, Nicola, because we have a podcast episode called, I think it’s called How to Hand the Naughty Monkeys Back. So we’ve done

[00:21:59] one on the Naughty Monkeys. So listeners check that one out. It’s absolutely brilliant. It was from quite a while ago, I think a couple of years ago. But it is, um, based on the One Minute Manager book about the manager and the monkeys where, and it works for patients as well or or or people that you’re supervising. They come into the room, they want to give you all their naughty monkeys for you to take and deal with, but your job is to look at them and play with the monkeys with them and then give them back to them so, so that you go out.

[00:22:22] And, um, the second reason why I’m grinning is because we teach this, we teach this, the Shapes Toolkit, you know, how do you get out the drama triangle when you change from rescuer to the coach asking what can you do to solve this? How are you gonna solve this? And it’s so funny, and, what, why is this Nicola? Even when you know it and you teach it, one constantly falls into this trap?

[00:22:42] Nicola: Well, let’s just say that you, like lots of other doctors and lots of humans are all the same, okay? So please don’t anybody listening, beat yourself up about this.

[00:22:51] I was, I was once of the opinion that actually it’s because, uh, we are all medical personnel, or you’ve had to work very hard your whole life to get to where you’ve been, whether that be, you know, very shortlist at medical school, having to get the top grades, having to work all the hours, learn all the stuff you’ve got to learn. I mean, this is, you know, this is a very driven profession. You’ve got to do the next thing. And, and even then, when you get qualified, you are not qualified. You’ve gotta do this many years to be a consultant, this many years to get to this level, this many, you know, you’re constantly on the move, moving forward. And so when you are in that mode, it’s very difficult for the brain just to go, hold on a minute, put the brakes on. You know, so, you know, your, your habit, your routine is to, A, solve the problems, and B, do that quite fast, I would’ve thought in most circumstances.

[00:23:35] So, so first of all, it’s probably just you’ve got into a habit of, of instantly reacting. And so let’s come to the solution. I was once a, a head of, uh, communication, sales and marketing for a society. And I had a, a sales team, very extroverts, very out there going, selling, selling, selling, sell, sell, sell, you know. I had a marketing team that were very creative, and I had a PR team, actually they were very introverted ’cause we were a science society. And I remember being in a meeting with the three of the, uh, PR people, introverts, and they, we were doing a, a new strategy. I knew exactly what we’re gonna talk about. I knew exactly the questions that were gonna give me ’cause I prepared myself. I’ve prepared what I was gonna say. And in the middle of this conversation about strategy, they said, well, Nicola, but if you consider this, this, and this, this, this, and this? And before they’d even finish the sentence, I was speaking the answer, ’cause I knew exactly what I was gonna say. I’d already prepared. And as you say, Rachel, like yourself very quick. I, you know, I joined the dots very quickly.

[00:24:31] And, uh, they went away duly and listened to what was said. 10 minutes later they came back. And I said, we can’t, you, we don’t think you can possibly have considered all the ramifications of what we were talking to you about. You couldn’t have possibly been that quick to have answered that. You clearly had it already prepared. You didn’t listen to us. We’re feeling pretty vulnerable at this point, and we had a big conversation about it. And they said, in the end, all we’d like you to do is take a breath. I said take a breath? They said, yeah. When we finish speaking, can you just take a breath? Because that few minutes might A get us a, you know, we will think you’ve considering it. We take a moment, we’ll think you’re considering it, and B, you might consider it differently in those couple of minutes by taking a breath.

[00:25:13] Uh, and so yeah, we have to remember who we’re speaking to. The point, the couple of points of the story is that, yeah, okay. In that instance, remember who you’re speaking to. Sometimes yes, you can work really fast, but if you’re trying to be more conscious about your actions, if you’re trying to be different, then just acting and behaving the same way you’ve always behaved actually isn’t gonna be great because your routines there and your habits there. But if you can just break that up by saying, do you know what? I’m just gonna take a breath before I repeat, taking that breath might be enough to just say, hold on a second, be a bit more conscious here. You don’t have to react this way, or you don’t have to behave that way. Or, actually, there’s another question to ask here. Being curious and asking questions is actually a really great point as well to get out of this point.

[00:25:53] So, so yes. The reason why you do it is because you’ve gotta habit. You’ve been doing it all your life. You’re, you’re a personality that’s driven. Those things will happen. So don’t beat yourself up about it. But if we now know that, if we are now reflecting on that, okay, what can I do to stop myself from reacting that way? Well, the first thing I can maybe do is either ask a question or take a breath, and that might just give me the second to remember, I need to do something differently here.

[00:26:17] Rachel: So often we are triggered, aren’t we below the line by just our assumptions? So I’m assuming that you haven’t thought for yourself and you’re just being lazy. Actually, no, they probably have, they just wanna check in with you because if you, they, you know, et cetera, et cetera, so they’re, they’re those assumptions as well, so the asking the question is really helpful and it buys you time and it helps you explore things.

[00:26:38] But also when you’re talking about habits, this habit of instantly reacting. And I think that is so true for doctors. We are so quick to react to stuff just because we sort of have to do that all our lives. But it, it doesn’t help particularly when you’re trying to be a conscious leader or a conscious teammate or, or whatever.

[00:26:55] And by the way, side note, I just want to say to listeners, please don’t be switched off if you don’t think you’re a leader. ‘Cause I think anybody who’s working at a senior level in healthcare, whether you are in charge of people or not, you are a leader, right?

[00:27:07] Nicola: Actually, Rachel, I’ll go further than that. Actually, leaders can be in any single level of any organization. You do not need to have a title. You’ll know them in your company, in your, in your organization, in your, in your group. You’ll have those little wild canons that are telling everybody to go and do x, y, and Z, and people are following them. That’s a leader. It doesn’t matter what, what title you’ve got. It doesn’t matter where you are in the organization. You can be a leader. And in fact, you probably are if you’re thinking a certain way. So, no, you’re absolutely right, Rachel. Anybody can be a leader.

[00:27:38] Rachel: Thank you, quick side note, but I’ve been listening to, I think it’s, it’s Adam Grant who’s been written a lot about, I think, Think Again and stuff like that. And he talks about what position you get yourself in for and setting yourself up for success. And when you talk about habits, yes, there’s habits as well, but there’s also how you set yourself up.

[00:27:55] So I think about when I went into that meeting today, it was off the back of two other back-to-back meetings. And I have been in meetings all day with sort of very little time. And actually, often we are not set up for success. We are gonna react quickly because we’ve been so overwhelmed or we haven’t had a break or we are just trying to fire fight the whole time. And in that case, you know, if in any other situation if I’d just like come off a lovely lunch and I was all relaxed, I probably wouldn’t react so defensively or, or or so quickly. So quite a lot of the time, we don’t give ourselves a fighting chance in the first place anyway.

[00:28:29] Nicola: Well, bringing that back right to the beginning of our conversation about being blinkered and getting frustrated and getting stuck, let’s combine those things. Driven people needing to make fast decisions, often, you know, because we’re, uh, people that achieve because we, we think progress is everything, you know, people ask me, how do you fit it all into the day, Nicola? I said, well, I just do actually, I have becoming, starting to change my thinking on this, which is actually sometimes we have to go slower to go a bit faster. And that point about being blinkered and being frustrated and not seeing the progress and being stuck in the middle of the forest, as you might say, and not seeing the helicopter view, sometimes by just taking 30 minutes out, you will have more success in terms of consciously thinking of your problem, looking at it from a different angle.

[00:29:16] I always tell the tale. I used to run events and I used to, uh, help people run events and quite big ones, like 5,000 people, big, you know, multimillion pound events. And we were having a problem in Copenhagen with the events hall. You know, going to medical conferences, you have to walk around the exhibit hall, right, to get to, to get to your lectures because actually the exhibitors are paying for the conference and, and various sort of things, so they expect to be able to talk to some people that might be able to help them. And we were having a problem with Copenhagen. We couldn’t get the fire stewards to let us walk the delegates through the exhibition hall because of some fire regs. And uh, I asked them to send, this is before we had sort of much sort of stronger computers, I said, just, just fax me the plan, will you? I was on the call with them, fax me the plan. Now they faxed me the plan. It came to me upside down. So where there was a door here on the bottom, on the bottom right. It came back to me on the top left. I’d never seen this door before. And I said, what’s that door top left? They said, oh, it’s a door I said, right, can we use that door? Yes, of course we can.

[00:30:17] So, because I’d been looking at the plan constantly trying to figure out how I was gonna get this door to to open, and I was looking at the bottom right, completely focused on the bottom right, I completely missed, there was another door. So sometimes just even moving the piece of paper, taking a moment not to rush in just to say, okay, I’m gonna look at this a different way, I’m gonna ask a different question. I’m gonna turn this piece of paper upside down. Or I’m gonna look, I’m gonna sit.

[00:30:40] I often sit in meetings in different chairs. I never park in the same car parking space because by changing your angle, by changing your view, you might just switch something in your brain that makes you think about it a bit differently. So I am starting to come round to this sort of conscious leadership point of taking a little bit of time now might help me later on.

[00:31:02] Rachel: And are there any hacks that you’ve got for taking a bit of a different view? I know that some people talk about the Edward de Bono’s different thinking hats, but is, is there a way that you can, yeah, a quick thing about, okay, what would I do if I was so and so? Or you know, what, what do you do to take a little bit of a different view so you can spot that door in the left hand corner that you hadn’t noticed?

[00:31:19] Nicola: Yeah. I, I, well, I think actually sometimes just writing, you know, getting the piece of paper and writing, you know, writing it out differently. You know, write the facts of the matter in a circle rather than just as a task list for, so doing something with a visual. Upside down paper, whatever is great.

[00:31:33] I also try to think about it in different ways. So I will often, if I need to, I always schedule some time for me if I’ve got something I’m thinking about. So I know that might be difficult, but you know, if it’s in your bath or if you, if you can get you five minutes in the bath. I like walking, so I will take a few calls walking, or I’ll have my lunch walking and that being outside sometimes just relaxes my, ’cause basically what we’re trying to do, you know, all this, the medical bit, but you know, it’s, it’s the subconscious, right? We’re trying to relax ourselves down, so the subconscious makes connections for us. And so if you’ve been thinking about something, it’ll be in your brain. You don’t need to actually think about it. That’s why they say, you know, there’s some academic papers all about idleness actually being great for problem solving and creativity. So just stopping sometimes might be enough.

[00:32:15] But yes, I, I try to put myself in a different position or I put the information in a different way to myself. Or as you say, Edward de Bono’s, uh, Six Hats is a fantastic way of thinking to myself, hold on a minute, I’m thinking about this too positively. What’s the negative here? And just asking yourself those six questions perfectly way of looking at it.

[00:32:33] And the other option, of course, ask other people. Get somebody else to say to you, just, can you give me a bit of a brain on this idea for me? Or actually, can you just tell me where I’m going a bit crackers on this idea? Because you’ll get their perspective. And that’s a really good thing to do, isn’t it?

[00:32:48] Rachel: Yeah. And, and I heard recently, I, I dunno who it was, suggested that whenever you say something you always just say, what am I missing? What am I missing here? People tell me what I’m missing. And it’s interesting what you say about idleness as well. Um, I have my best ideas I am always in the shower or washing my hands or making a cup of tea because our brains do and, and our brains switch off and we have different types of connections when we’re just making a cup of tea or looking out the window.

[00:33:12] And I think quite often as doctors, we try and solve a, a problem in the same, in the same linear brain ways. We just keep going rather than thinking, right, I’ve got a problem here. The best thing to do would be to walk or something else ’cause the problem, the answer will probably come to me. And, and sleeping on, sleeping on things as well can be really helpful. ’cause we solve problems in our sleep, don’t we?

[00:33:32] Nicola: Hundred percent. So know yourself. Again, coming back to that authentic point. Actually, when am I best at my creative As you say it, Rachel, for you, it’s in this sit situation state. I’m a, I’m a bath girl and a walk girl. So, you know, if I, if I, if I’ve got anything to think about, I’ll be in the bath or I’ll be going for a walk.

[00:33:47] But yeah, no, absolutely know yourself. For some people it actually might be going and sitting in a bar when it’s really noisy ’cause they switch off from the day and actually that’s when it comes to them. Well, oh, that’s what I need to do. So, yeah. Know yourself, know yourself.

[00:34:00] My dad’s got a bit of dad wisdom. My dad’s a maintenance manager in that, you know, you, you know, hasn’t had a professional career in the, in the likes that you might be aware of. He’s literally worked in, uh, health institutions and painting a decorating and maintenance kind of roles for all his life. But he’s quite good with his dad wisdom, he is. And he always said to me, stop worrying. 95% of what you worry about will never happen. And that worry, that energy that you are wasting on worrying actually is not gonna help you. It is taking away from the energy you need to be able to solve the problem if it happens. So rather than thinking of the 95%, you know, we, you know them probably your patients are the same, they spiral, don’t they? Spiral. Start up here, end up there, the whole world’s collapsing, right? But actually, 95% of that’s never gonna happen. Maybe the first two things they said might happen. Okay. Spend your energy on fixing those two things and then it doesn’t happen anyway.

[00:34:55] So, so again, from that point of view, being above the line and below the line, below the line, often people will be worried about things. But actually one of the biggest things you can do to help yourself get above the line is actually say, hold on a second. No, no. Is that a fact? Is that actually going to happen? You know, if I, if I’m, I’m going, I’m going, um, to, to one of those surf park things in a few weeks and I’m convinced I’m gonna hit my head on the concrete and, you know, kill myself type thing. You know? My husband’s been doing this for many years. He goes every other week, you know, he said to me, Nicola, I don’t think that’s ever happened. It might be a bit of an urban myth. Maybe somebody somewhere in the world maybe had it happen to them once. But you’ve just gone from having a nice time in a water park, learning to surf, to actually be ending up dead in the bottom of a, a concrete mess, you know?

[00:35:39] But he said those two things are not connected. They’re not fact. That’s not a fact. People don’t do that. It doesn’t happen. Yes, of course there could be a freak accident, but rather than worrying about that happening ’cause you can’t do anything about it anyway, why don’t you worry about the things you can do to make yourself safer in the water, which is be stronger, you know, swim better, be aware of those people around you? All those kind of things. You get my point with the example I’m making.

[00:36:03] Rachel: Yeah. and if you’re really worried about it, the one thing you could do is like, I dunno, wear a head protector or something, you know, if that’s, if that’s the thing. So you can do what you can do. Yeah. And worrying is awful. And I think it stops us doing so much, particularly in, in healthcare.

[00:36:16] The, the, the one thing that people worry about, particularly with the saying no and prioritizing their time is what if I get a complaint? Complaints just absolutely terrify us. And the problem with complaints is they are completely out of our control. And actually the complaints that we think we’re gonna get, we never get. And then the ones that we don’t think we’re gonna get, we get. You know, even when we’ve been the most brilliant doctors, so, but we are so, so scared of getting complaint or, or something going wrong, and that, that terror just keeps us paralyzed. You know, I love the quote from Mark Twain. I’m an old man, I’ve known many troubles, but most of them never happened. And, uh, that worry and fear keeps us on that hamster wheel, definitely.

[00:36:53] Nicola: well, again, linking all this together, um, you’re probably aware of the Maya Angelo quote. Um, and to paraphrase, people will never remember what you said to them accurately. People will never remember what you did to them in reality, but what they will remember is how you made them feel.

[00:37:12] So actually as a group of people that has lots of interactions with individuals, the one thing that you could probably do to try and reduce that complaint level, and again, I, I appreciate, you know, a different situation, but actually if you can, if you can actually always remember I’ve just got to make this pe this person feel different. And that’s all about trust, credibility, reliability, and the personal relationship. You build up with that, which I know as, as medical professionals get training on that kind of stuff, but probably not enough. If you can just think about how did I make that person feel, or how can I make that person feel as good as possible in the given circumstances?

[00:37:51] You know, you’ve gotta give some bad news. I appreciate that. Sometimes that’s not easy, but being, you know, understanding, putting yourself in that she’s being empathetic, being compassionate, all the things that you probably taught along the way. Remembering just, did I make that person feel as good as I possibly could? That will reduce your complaints down no end, I’m sure of it.

[00:38:10] Rachel: Yeah, yeah. And the, the defense unions talk constantly about the fact that a lot of complaints are due to communication rather than anything that you did. And, and I always think if you’re communicating from a place of fear, when you’re below the line, you’re communicating much worse than you are, you know, open and honest and just expressing what’s really going on, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:38:27] So, let’s go back to, to being stuck. What, what else do you tell people in terms of how to get out of that, that, that stuckness? So I sort of sent this off on a bit of a tangent by asking what, what you can control and what you can’t control. But, you know, what else do you do? You talk to people about?

[00:38:44] Nicola: I am gonna say one answer, but in two parts. Actually, it is action. So just go, go, go do something. And, and, you know, whether it’s building a new habit or whether it’s getting out of a position, actually just take one step. To say, you know, eating an elephant that what, how do you eat an elephant? Well, one, one bite at a time, right? So, you know, at least 10 minutes on something. Whether it’s 10 minutes of asking questions or whether it’s, um, 10 minutes of, of, of, of developing yourself or looking at the problem in a different way, you know, action is really important.

[00:39:16] So if you stuck on something, so let, let’s say you were trying to develop a new protocol or a new pathway, treatment pathway or something, and you were stuck on something, you could actually, what else could you do instead? So, you know, you might be stuck on X position, but actually could you start asking other people about what you’ve done so far? That’s, that’s some action. And as long as the action has an, an output related to where you’re trying to get to, it all helps. It’ll either make your argument more robust or it’ll make your thoughts so far much more comprehensive, or even just actually speaking to somebody about the thoughts will help you make those thoughts more concise and maybe even simpler in terms of its explanation. And the more you do that, the more you refine that actually as that’s just moving you forward.

[00:40:00] So you might not be moving yourself forward in the part you want to move forward on, but by moving other parts around it actually often the bit, uh, in the middle or the bit that you’ve, you’ve been missing or not quite being able to get out of, something will click into place, or actually you’ll find it’s actually not that important and the other things actually can help get you where you need to be in the end. So I always say, do something. Doesn’t matter if you can’t do the thing that that’s, that’s, you know, creating a barrier, then do something.

[00:40:28] The second part to that then is to take some action, but to take some action on the barrier. Identify what is stopping you. So again, asking questions, knowing yourself, I, I think there’s probably four or five barriers. That’s it. There’s, in my, in my, in my whole experience, there’s only four or five barriers that I think will stop you from really doing something.

[00:40:53] So the first one is, I actually technically can’t do it. So if I wanted to fly a plane, I actually couldn’t. There’s a barrier there. I don’t have the technical expertise. Now, the barrier is I couldn’t do it today. It’s not gonna stop me for the long term. What do we have to do? We have to develop skills, we have to get the experience, we have to go on a a course. We basically, we can do something about it. That’s what I’m saying. Take some action around it, and then you’ll find that you can do that thing you’re trying to do.

[00:41:17] Rachel: Or find someone else who can do it for you, right? Hire a pilot.

[00:41:20] Nicola: Hire a pilot, yeah, So, so, there might be a can’t, uh, which is a, you know, and again, in your, uh, professional competency range, there might be a can’t, but actually you can find somebody else, or you can get yourself trained up to do that.

[00:41:32] The second barrier is motivation. I just, I’m not bothered. I actually, do you know what I’m thinking about this. I’m trying to solve this problem for somebody else. I’m just not bothered. Why am I even thinking about it? You know? So actually our motivation so that it’ll be a misalignment. So there might be some misalignment there between your purpose or your mission, or your vision, whichever you call it. But the thing you’re trying to do and the thing you’re trying to solve might be misaligned. And so you just can’t be bothered, you know? So you have to find your mojo from somewhere. You have to find your motivation. So is it your professional career, reputation? Is it the fact that you like solving puzzles? What’s gonna motivate you to get onto that bit? But have a think. It could be that you’re just not bothered. You’re just not motivated about it.

[00:42:13] Um, the third one for me is, uh, fear. And obviously fear is a big subject, which I’m sure we not talk about today. I won’t go into too much detail. Needless to say, there’s three things about fear. One, it will always be with us, we will always have fear. If you are as, as you are driven individuals, you move outside your comfort zone all the time, and if you’re moving outside your comfort zone, you’re gonna have fear. And we know why we have that. The second thing is that actually most of us have had fear all our life, and we’re still here and we’re still standing and we’re still okay. So actually you can handle it. You know, you’ve handled fear before you can handle fear again. So those two things I think with fear, so there’s some people we’re, we’re frightened of. And of course, again, asking questions, what is it you’re frightened of? I say, why is this causing you a problem? You know, you’re fully grown adult, you know, you’ve got experience, you’ve got, you’ve got their knowledge. Why are you frightened?

[00:43:05] And then, and then finally, one that’s, it’s a bit controversial, but, um, people always say time, but it’s not time. It’s actually boundaries and priorities. We all have the same amount of time in our life, you know, so you said about fitting things in. Doctors, professionals in medical circumstances fit far more in than others because you’re very efficient and you work very quickly and you can do things really well. But, but you know, ultimately, people will say, I just don’t have time. Uh, we’ve all got 24 7. It’s what we spend that time on that causes an issue and or we allow our time to be seeped to others.

[00:43:44] So actually sometimes the most selfish professionals are actually the best at this though. And they don’t have any issues with time management. Actually, it’s some of you mentioned the vic, uh, the uh, the triangle. You know, some of us like to be a superhero. We let our time seep to other people ’cause we wanna help them solve their problems ’cause we wanna feel like we solved a problem, we wanna help our friends out or whatever it might be. But our boundaries just seem to seep away. And then we found we don’t have time for things. I’m a massive one for that in terms of, I’ll often put myself out to help somebody else ’cause I liked it, my, my whole remit is about helping people become the best version of themselves they can be and helping them reach their absolute true potential no matter what that might be. But of course, in doing that means I’m putting them often in front of myself. And so if they want a, A one-to-one or a quick question, or they’ve got a WhatsApp or they’ve got something they want, I, I can’t help myself, I’ve just gotta answer it. But that, then, that then means that my work basically gets shoved back into the end of the day, right?

[00:44:42] So, sometimes we have to be really very transactional about our time, and setting boundaries and priorities that align to your actions and align to what you need to do to solve these problems is really important. So the biggest thing I could always say it’s really be very protective of the value of your time for your mission, for your purpose, for your vision, and don’t let others rob it. You know, you’ve heard the, you know, whole people drains and radiators. You know, don’t let them drain your energy and your time. That is one of the most valuable things you’ve got. But it’s not time. People have all got the same time. We can put the time to what we want to put the time to. It’s the fact that you’ve either got a priorities issue, you can’t focus, or you’re not putting boundaries around what you want to do with your time.

[00:45:26] Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. So if you haven’t got time, what you’re saying is, it’s not my priority right now. But if it is your priority, then you’re obviously haven’t deprioritized other things enough. And, and this is the, this is the real thing that, that gets people. Because when we talk about how to get time and headspace, we, we help people prioritize and, you know, and actually anybody who could sit down and spend half an hour and work out what their priorities should be, it’s not actually that difficult, is it to work out the important things that are gonna have impact?

[00:45:55] But then what gets in the way is the fear. If you, if you deprioritize other stuff, what if you upset people? And then there’s that, there’s that guilt. And I was gonna ask you about this motivation piece as well, ’cause I think asking what will motivate me great, but lots of us are motivated not by anything we actually wanna do. It’s, it’s by feeling guilt for other people. Is, is guilt ever a good motivator?

[00:46:17] Nicola: God. that’s a great question. I, my answer my, my quick answer is no. So you can delete the rest of this conversation. The quick answer is no. I don’t think guilt is ever a great motivator. And uh, I’m gonna answer it by saying, when I was a little girl at school, I used to be a real people pleaser. I used to want to be in everybody’s gang. I used to want to be popular and I never really was, you know, I was the, I was the captain of this and the captain of that, and I was school prefect and I was a bit of a goody two shoes at school, but I was never really cool enough to be in the good girl gang, you know? I wasn’t, I wasn’t that kind of person. And so I found myself constantly trying to please people, to be in their gang, to be, you know, that kind of thing. So I would always do things out of either wanting to please somebody or guilt that I, I wasn’t good enough to be in that gang, right?

[00:47:06] And in some regards, that’s made me into the person I’m today. And I don’t ever think we should take away what’s happened to us, our experience, our values, our behaviors are all, uh, a, a culmination of work we’ve got to today, right? And that experience has made me work hard, has made me understand that my effort and my energy, I can outpace anybody. You know, I’ll outpace anybody with effort and energy. And that’s got me a long, a long way. So I’ll keep those strengths, I’ll keep those superpowers for want of a better word, because that’s great.

[00:47:38] but also it gave me a real guilt around actually doing things for other people, not myself for many, many years. And that whole, that might culminate in a feeling of guilt or it might culminate in a feeling of not feeling good enough. You know, lots of people don’t feel good enough, and that’s a, you know, I’d say a slightly form of guilt, you know? Um, so, so yeah, I, I think that it, no, I don’t think guilt is a motivator, it should, should ever be a good form of motivation. And I think it probably, again, ask yourself that question about why you’re feeling those things and try and understand yourself more, and then if you have to do something about that.

[00:48:13] So I, I’ve recently, uh, with the whole, I’m not enough, uh, sort of, um, or I’m not good enough, um, sort of mindset, uh, and burning in mind I’m an executive coach. I do a lot of mindset, do a lot of unconscious leadership, I’m like, this is, this is what I’m, you know, I’m the deputy chair of the Institute of Leadership. This is my, this is my bag, right? Yet I still don’t feel good enough. So, um, I actually went under some hypnotherapy to have a, to have a look at this. And completely, within a matter of what, 21 days, 30 days, changed my behavior so much that my clients started commenting on it.

[00:48:47] So the point is not to say to you, you know, you can all have it in the therapy. It works. What I’m saying is actually I realized something about myself and I realized I had to do something about it because it was, it was making me behave differently than I wanted to behave. It wasn’t aligned with who I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be doing things for other people or out of guilt. But you know, from, from that point, I realized that’s what I was doing, and I did something about it. I took some action. And, and as I said, it turned for me, it turned out fantastically. And, uh, I, I now know I am enough. There are things I need to improve. This is a, a lifelong journey of learning we’re all on, but actually I am good enough at the things I know.

[00:49:27] My unique set of skills, my experience, my background, the way I look at the world, it’s very different to yours. That makes me an expert. And I, I am good enough to talk about these things, whereas actually some of us sometimes don’t think we are, or we do things out of guilt because for whatever reasons, there’s lots of reasons why people feel guilt isn’t there. We’re not going to that now. But yeah, I, I would say no, we, the answer to your question.

[00:49:49] Rachel: Wow, that was such an interesting answer. And I think, you know, the, the guilt of fitting not good enough is it manifests as shame a lot, doesn’t it? And, uh, that, uh, we feel that as doctors a lot when we can’t help people in the way that we want to be able to help people. Often through no fault of our own, but we, we blame ourselves. So it’s ’cause I haven’t worked hard enough or I, I’m not super human, et cetera, et cetera. Do you mind if I’m just a bit nosy? What, what in your behavior changed that they noticed?

[00:50:15] Nicola: Well, I, I had some feedback actually. So the particular point I went to see, uh, the professional about which I actually only had one session with them and they gave you a recording to listen to for then, uh, day after day after day. And the particular feedback I had was that in meetings sometimes I am a bit braggy and I show off a bit about theory and, the fact I know that person. Oh, and I’ve done this and I’ve done that and, and I used to come across a little bit showy offy. And it was really interesting me, that to me that I got that feedback.

[00:50:43] So I had the, had the sessions, as I said. And then the, the feedback was, uh, that actually, now it wasn’t about me showing off the fact that I knew this and I knew that and I knew the other. It was the fact that I asked great questions or I commented and I reflected with the individuals I was working with to get them to understand that they know the answer.

[00:51:04] So I knew, I knew all the stuff. I didn’t need to demonstrate to them that I knew the stuff. They trusted me. I would, they were working with me. They had, they had the session with me. And so rather than thinking of me demonstrating how I knew everything, actually, I used my actions and I used my knowledge to get them to understand the concept. And then I truly knew, I knew everything. And, and they’d spotted the change. So it might, it was probably a change in the amount of time I spoke. It was probably a, a change in the way I asked my questions. But yeah, literally two or three of my clients literally turned around and said, you’ve done something different. What have you done?

[00:51:38] Rachel: That’s amazing, isn’t it? That is really amazing. Just sorting out those sort of shame and guilt stories you were telling yourself. And I mean, I just find this so interesting because we constantly on this podcast return to this thing about guilt and shame. And I guess the answer to the question, I’m just thinking it through of can guilt ever motivate you is yes, it can motivate you really strongly, but towards the wrong goals.

[00:52:00] Nicola: Exactly.

[00:52:01] Rachel: Towards making everyone love you all the time or shame can motivate you to making everyone think you are brilliant.

[00:52:08] Nicola: Actually a in one board meeting, one group, board meeting, uh, individuals. I, I’d done this for three or four months. We had a board meeting every week, every month, sorry. And I, I, I, I tried these, these tactics for, for a good three or four months. And the, and the chief exec of the organization turned around and said, Nicola, you are completely different because you’ve stopped talking. You’re sitting back, you are reflecting, you’re not having to show off that you know this and you know that. And actually that space then is giving you more time, so linking it back around to our full conversation, giving you more time to think about these things creatively and come back with a brilliant answer.

[00:52:43] So rather than spending my time thinking, well, I know that theory and I know that theory, and I’m gonna say this and I’m gonna say that I was sat there just listening ’cause I knew I knew it all. And then using that skill to then respond back with a really great solution. And, and that, that was when I got that feedback, I was really chuffed.

[00:52:57] Rachel: Yeah. And that’s such a great example of how being conscious, conscious leadership can improve your performance in all sorts of ways, because you’re no longer, yeah, acting below the line, acting out of having to impress people or people please or whatever. You’re actually much, you are above the line. ‘Cause you know, you know that you might have a tendency in yourself and you’re, you’re conscious of how your actions are impacting on other people, which then actually makes you, makes you better.

[00:53:22] And, and it, it comes back to, to self-care as well, because I think we often think that self-care and looking after ourselves is, is, is quite selfish. And why do we need that if we’re, we are leaders or whatever? But actually you’re going to be so much better in your job if you are in a good place, if you are looking after yourself, you’ll make better decisions. So it will lead to performance, even if it leads to short term letting people down or dumping on colleagues or not being able to do everything all the time.

[00:53:47] Nicola: Uh, absolutely. And, and Rachel, the question I think we have to, I’ll, I’ll challenge your listeners. The question you have to ask yourself, genuinely number one is how well do you actually know yourself? And how, how well do you actually talk to yourself about knowing yourself? You might, you might know the faults really deep down, but what I’m saying is, how often do you say to yourself, do you know what? I’m sick of that fault. I am going to improve it. I am going to get better at it. It’s something I do. I do not carry this guilt anymore. I do not want to carry the shame anymore, so I’m going to do something about it. That’s why, you know, the being authentic and knowing yourself is really important, and then being aligned to your values and your behaviors and then taking some action about it. That’s why we, we have all those, and you finally, it’s accountability. So you, you can help with accountability, but, and whatever. But you know, that’s why these three things go together. You’ve gotta know what yourself, you’ve gotta know how you behave. You’ve gotta know your values. You’ve gotta know what’s important to you and what your mission is, or what your passion is, or what your purpose is. And then you’ve got to bring those things together and say to yourself, and this is why I’m doing it, and this is what I’m gonna do. And actually at the moment, I’m not helping myself. Obviously you are very used to reflective practice in the medical setting, so you do a lot of reflective practice, but actually how much of that is on you?

[00:55:02] Rachel: Yeah, I’m not sure we are that good at reflective practice. We’re very good at these, like, reflective, I did this and next time I’ll do that. But actually proper self-awareness, proper self-reflection, actual digging down and thinking, why did I do that? And, and the self-awareness piece, you know, we don’t do much profiling. We don’t understand our personality sites. We certainly don’t know what our strengths are. There is, there is not a lot unless you get yourself on a leadership program really, um, that just, just, personal development, reflection on your action reflector, on your, on your clinical practice. So yes, there’s a lot of that reflecting on the skills that you’ve done, like putting in a cannula or something like that, but, but reflecting on your own strengths, weaknesses, motivations, not, not so much and it’s really missing.

[00:55:46] Nicola: Then so that, just think about the percentage of people that will do that then. So your listeners have gotten a unique opportunity to actually put themselves in the top 5%, 10%, whatever number you want to say, but in the top group, because actually your mindset is a skill. It is a tool, it is something you can use. And you’ve just said it there. You can be the wrong mindset and make a mistake. And, and actually the right mindset will actually make you much more successful at what you’re trying to do.

[00:56:14] I listen to Steve Bartlet’s podcast and there was a gentleman there talking about the mind today. And he’s trying to make sure that people exercise the mind, understand the brain is an organ that needs to be exercised. And this is really important, obviously medically really important. But actually in our skills, in our job being, you know, the, the professional we are, the more that we improve ourselves and our brain and our mindset is a, a tool that we have just like putting the cannula in actually how to get above the line, if you can learn how to do that, if you can learn how to reflect, if you can learn how to make people feel amazing, but with brilliant communication, that’s gotta help, isn’t it? It’s just a, it’s just another, another thing you can do.

[00:56:55] Rachel: So, Nicola, we’re very nearly out of time. What are some practical steps that we can do to improve this, to know ourselves better, to, to change our mindset? I mean, you’ve already mentioned hypnotherapy. We’ve talked about the drama triangle. You know, I know we can have coaching and psychotherapy and all that sort of stuff. A lot of that costs money. Uh, can be, you know, takes time. But what else can we do?

[00:57:18] Nicola: Well, I think one of the first things that is really easy to do that costs very little is actually write down your thoughts. Reflect once a day. Now you might start off by just reflecting on things you’re grateful for. You know, gratitude is really important. Um, another thing you might be thinking of is reflecting of, well, actually what did I do positively in the day? If you’ve got a mindset that’s maybe below the line, uh, you’ll know the whole story. If you decide you’re gonna buy yourself a new mini, a new car, other cars are available. But say you decide you’re gonna buy yourself a new mini

[00:57:49] Rachel: Side note. I’ve got a mini set out there. I love

[00:57:51] Nicola: Ah, there you go. There you go. Um, but you know, you know, you’ll see minis the whole time. You’ll go out in the car and all you’ll see is minis. That’s because you’re so conscious, it’s trying to look for those things, right? So if you are below the line, or you’re feeling a little bit below the line at the moment, the best thing you can do is once a day, just literally like three things, three positive things that have happened in the day. Now, they might be positive to you, they might be positive to a patient, or they might be positive to something that’s just happened in the world. You know, maybe we, we won your, your revision. That’s a positive thing. Maybe we did, right? Okay. So whatever it is, three.

[00:58:24] But now, if you do that day in, day out, I tell you, you will not fail to see positive things happening in your life after about four or five, six weeks. So you’ll put, you’ll put yourself above the line. So that’s a really practical thing you can do. It’s not gonna cost you any money, and it’s just gonna take you, probably not even five minutes. You can do it whilst you’re making a cuppa in the surgery. So that’s the first thing.

[00:58:44] The second thing I think is, by actually being more curious and looking at actually people that are role models that you think, God, they’ve got a really good way about them with their mindset, or they’ve got a really good way about them with their reflections, or they’ve got a really good way about them in their communication. Find that role model and watch them look at them. It could be a blog. It could be a podcast. It could be Rachel here. It could be a coach. It doesn’t matter, but whoever they are, you don’t have to hire them. You can actually just watch them. What are they putting out on LinkedIn? What are they putting out into the public arena for you to read? How do they communicate? Have you seen them speak? What are they, you know, somebody that you can get to know a little bit? And often if you do that and you chat to the person, mentorship is, is a, is a, is often a free service. You don’t have to pay for a mentor. So you know, that’s another way of doing that.

[00:59:33] So first of all, reflect pen and paper. Have a think, try and get yourself into that habit. And reflect on either, as I say, gratitude, things that are positive or things that I’d like to have done a little bit different. And say to yourself, okay, uh, I was gonna do that a little bit differently. And then finally, as I say, you go and be curious, and have a look at that role model and what they’re putting out there.

[00:59:56] On top of that, be more curious by, you know, anything you can do in terms of developing yourself in different ways. So, you know, you guys can read academic papers till you’re blue in the face, right? And you know what, what you’re reading, and you probably do that very quickly and you highlight the various points. But actually when did you last read something about psychology? Or when did, when was the last time you read something about leadership? You know, for example, I say I’m the deputy chair of the Institute of Leadership. We’ve got a website. We absolutely have lots and lots and lots of free resources on there. If you go to many, uh, leadership, uh, sort of type of, uh, websites, they’ll have plenty of free things for you to read. And again, that’s just gonna inspire you to think about something. It might bring you closer to something. You’ll go for a walk or you’ll have your shower and something. I’ll go, actually, I need to go and do that.

[01:00:40] And of course I would always say reading business books, uh, reading things are just a bit different. Those connections just might spark something in your mind that will help you to change or act in a different way from what you’ve been doing historically. But that’s the point. You know, change doesn’t come by chance. You know, it comes by actually doing something. You know, it wasn’t Arnold Palmer said, oh, I’m just really, I’m not really looking at golf. I just practice a lot. Or the more prac, the more I practice, the luckier I get, I think was the quote actually.

[01:01:10] Rachel: Yeah. I love that change doesn’t come by chance. And something else I always say is, you know, if you carry on doing what all what you always do, you’re always gonna get what you’ve always got. And people do just say, well, that’s just the way I am, but it doesn’t have to be just the way I am. We had, um, Dr. Chris Turner, the guy who founded, uh, co-founded the Civility Saves Lives movement, um, on the other week. And he was talking about the fact that it’s so important to give feedback to people because, or to receive feedback because you don’t want people just to go, well, that’s just Rachel, that’s just the way Rachel is. No, I want to know if I’m like that. I need to know about it. I don’t want to be just Rachel anymore. I want to be constantly making things better for myself and, and then it’ll be other people not being below the line and just reacting to stuff and being able to think of, of ways out situations when I feel, when I feel totally stuck.

[01:02:00] But gosh, Nicola, you’ve given us so much stuff to think about. Um, do you have the, the sort of summary of the three, the three top tips? ‘Cause we’ve covered so, so much ground. If you could just sort of summarize that into your, your three tips, what would they be?

[01:02:13] Nicola: Well, my first would be always try to do your best every day. And if you do your best, nobody can say anything against you. But to do your best, you might not necessarily have to be running from one thing to the next, okay? So actually, what does your best look like and how can you maintain your best every day?

[01:02:32] So it might be changing a few things up, but actually doing your best. So you know, if you’re sub par recognize you’re sub par and do something about it. And, and that’s a daily thing, you know, a bit like, you know, my name’s Nicola. I’m a Bookaholic. You know, I can’t stop reading books, you know, in this instance. The more you can actually say to yourself, I’m just gonna keep trying to do my best every day, and that constant improvement, that’ll be one of the things I’d say.

[01:02:57] I think the second thing is that I would say to celebrate everything. So we remember. one positive to about 10 negatives. So you are, particularly if you’ve got shame or guilt, or you’re hardworking, or you’ve got, you know, you, you are letting people down left, right, and center, you’ve had to give some bad news, we, we, we remember those things 10 times more than we remember the positive. So you have to flood your life with positivity. So celebrate everything, and I mean everything. Okay? And make sure you’re doing that with other people. So, you know, pat somebody on, on the back, catch them doing something really good. Tell them they’ve done an amazing thing for you. Congratulate them on helping you or whatever it might be. But it’s, it’s gratitude. You know, it, my understanding is it’s anywhere between 40 and 6%. 60% of your mindset can change. Quite a lot of it’s, you know, built in. I get that, but we can still change up to 60% of it. So by just focusing on positive things, you’ll keep yourself above the line more, which has got to have a positive effect.

[01:03:56] Uh, and then finally, develop the right routine and habits to get your standards continuously improving. So that long life, you know, growth, the long life learning, they’re always wanting to improve, that comes from routine and habits. So I’ve got five things I like to try and do every day. And as long as I do three of them, I don’t beat myself up. So I don’t try and do all five, but I, I’m trying to learn French, got a little, a little gittes in France. I’m trying to learn French. I read for 30 minutes every day. I have to do some meditation, I have to do some exercise, and I have to eat healthily or not drink or both. And as long as I do three of those, I’m fine. Because three of those in any combination is gonna move me forward after 365 days.

[01:04:43] Now I, you know, I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I, I feel I can do five, but it might just be one thing. What’s the one thing you’re gonna do in a routine and a habit that will get you to be improving yourself over the next 12 months? And of course, what that improvement is depends on how well you know yourself and what you want to change.

[01:05:01] Rachel: I’ve just written those five down. I love that. I’m gonna, I’m gonna try that. Some are gonna be easier than others. Better. There we are.

[01:05:07] Nicola, it’s been absolutely wonderful to have you on the podcast, but I have to get you back because there’s so much more we can talk about this. Um, if people wanna get a hold of you, access some of the resources, et cetera, et cetera, how can they find you?

[01:05:17] Nicola: Well, I’m on LinkedIn as most people are, are. Uh, my name, the Nic, uh, Nicola Rylett-Jones, you will come up me, you find me on LinkedIn. That’s the first thing. So LinkedIn. I have a website called the Nicola Rylett Group which has all the things on about the business book club and various other things. I also do a weekly, a weekly sort of digest, a weekly, uh, I don’t call it a newsletter ’cause there’s no news in it. It’s basically me getting on my soapbox talk, talking about something for a week. Uh, and, uh, we, we do that just by email. So if you’re interested in getting the Weekly NRG. So if you want to bit more energy, then just have a look on the internet at uh Nicola Rylett-Jones or the Nicola Rylett Group, and that energy will be there for you hopefully

[01:05:55] Rachel: Brilliant. Thank you so much. Uh, we’ll put all those links in the show notes and, uh, thanks for your time, Nicola. And go well.

[01:06:01] Nicola: No problem. Thanks ever so much, Rachel. Lovely to speak to you.

[01:06:03] Rachel: Thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it via the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@youarenotafrog.com. I love to hear from you. And finally, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you’re listening. It really helps. Bye for now.