How can coaching open your eyes to new ways of seeing?

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I have been asked to deliver a keynote speech at the annual dinner hosted by Abbotts Medical Optics as part of the European Society of Retina Specialists conference. This global conference is the biggest event for eye surgeons.

As an art student in the 1980s I read John Berger’s classic ‘Ways of Seeing’ as part of my art education. Its’ principle aim was to start a process of questioning about how we look, interpret and judge images. It really opened my eyes to seeing and interpreting pictures with new insight and perception.

And interestingly, that is what happens in the coaching conversation. So that is what I’m going to talk about at the conference dinner next month.

I think the following factors are critical in supporting people to see things differently.

Time – Exploration – Ease – Honesty

  • Time Committing time to think through what and how you are doing things is time well spent. It’s a valuable commodity and something few medics are rich in, but it’s an investment that will pay back over time. 
  • ExplorationDescribing what has happened, how you performed and what you feel is how most coaching conversations start. Often, talking it over can be enough to see things differently, but crucially, this is only really effective when the listener is non-judgemental and impartial. 
  • EaseThe pace of modern life is frantic and so taking time out to pause and reflect is important. The ‘ease’ of the coaching environment plays a big part in creating an atmosphere where people can relax and think things through properly.
  • HonestyIn a coaching conversation honesty is vital. If you continue to do and see things the way you have always done, you will get the same results. If you are honest with yourself and are prepared to ask yourself challenging questions, then you can make the change you want to see. 

After all, the true seeing is within.”

George Eliot, Middlemarch.

If you would like to talk over a change you would like to make, call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at


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When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. Roy E. Disney

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 08.08.09I’ve been writing these blogs for two years now. Looking back over the subjects I’ve covered, it strikes me that I’ve never written about personal values. Time to put this right. It is important because if you can identify what really matters to you, and how you want to lead your life, then it makes the choices and uncertainty that you will inevitably face, easier. Most of us assume we know roughly what our values are, but rarely do we actually think it through and identify why those values are vital for us.

When I do this with Doctors I use multiple values that are written onto cards and ask the them to gradually edit down to around five cards. The process of doing this means that the person is reflecting and internally discussing what those words mean for them and why they are important. Of course we will all have different interpretations of these words. One person’s ‘Happiness’ could be another person’s ‘Health’. But what matters is that that person knows what it means for them.

It can sometimes be quite an emotional experience for people because if identified correctly, these words hold great personal power. Like a compass, they help guide and ground you at times of uncertainty, but they can also help you overcome anxieties or fears that are unhelpful. For example, I’m scared of flying, but one of my core values is ‘Courage’. It is this value that gets me on the plane because it is more important to me to live by this, than to succumb to my fear.

Values influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day. Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner

Sometimes this process highlights for people that they are not living by some of their core values, or that some values contradict each other. This insight into our personal drivers can help us identify why we are unhappy or uncomfortable with decisions or situations. It’s worth thinking about.

Tips for identifying your values:

  • 1. Find as many value words as you can and write them down individually on post it notes or scraps of paper.
  • 2. Gradually edit them down so you are left with 5-6.
  • 3. Talk them through with a friend who can test and challenge what those words mean to you.
  • 4. Test them out when faced with a decision and see how the values play a role in your processing.

If you would like to talk over your values call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at