What Fiona didn’t know when I met her for the first time that I was broken. I went through a large change in my personal circumstances that changed my outlook on life and how I had pursued my career pathway to that point. I had become a GP for specific reason & sacrificed my true dream of becoming an A&E doctor. It worked out relatively well and I had the woman that I loved in my life but that changed when she left me. I now was in a career that I really liked but had chosen based on what was best for our relationship.
I accepted a partnership at a practice and had applied to do a masters in Public Health. For all of my friends and work colleagues this was a decision that was strange and they felt that I was making a wrong choice. I had always wanted to work abroad for a Non-governmental organisation to help those less fortunate and travel the world in the process. When these concerns were raised I realised that I had never really made an important decision for myself. My family had steered me towards medicine and I based my true career path by listening to my heart. I honestly felt lost & scared as I was about to make a decision in my life that would be mine and I would have no-one else to blame but myself.
I was recommended Fiona by my boss whom had spoken to her previously and I felt an instant connection when we spoke during the initial telephone consultation. I felt that she could help me as she listened and was forthcoming that she would not accept my case unless she felt she could help me. The goals I had to start with were to decide whether the masters would be appropriate and whether settling into a partnership (at a practice I dearly love) would be best for me.
We met over 3 sessions one month apart and it was hard work. You have to delve within yourself to complete the personality exercises as well as make the changes in your outlook and thought processes over the sessions. We worked through what would be the best career and personal life plan over the next few years. I find it very difficult to praise myself and list my strengths but that became easier as the process went on and it has allowed me to take on and reject tasks based on what my skills are. This has allowed me to improve my time management skills as well as reducing stress levels at work and in my other areas of interests.
I have now accepted a salary position at the practice for a year with the view to work for a NGO when I complete my masters in 2019. The process allowed me how to juggle the masters as well as plan for the future including my personal & work life. I am able to manage stress better with my job as a GP, Masters student as well as a management role in another organisation. I am on top of my paperwork as a GP, I am enjoying the job more.
Throughout the process Fiona didn’t make any decisions for me. I had to weigh up all that was happening around me as well as within me to make a huge decision. I am earning less as a student but I am enjoying life as a learner as well as a part time GP. I just needed the support she gave me which was invaluable.
Whatever your goals you will come to a decision that will make you happy and content with your life and she is there to guide you through that difficult period. I am so grateful to her & I will never be able to thank her as much as I want to.
Good luck with your journey.
(Updated 18 months later)
I couldn’t recommend Fiona enough. She is very personable and non-judgmental which is key when you’re trying to make changes in your life. Since she coached and mentored me, I’ve become the youngest Chair of a Faculty in the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK. I’m moving ahead on schedule through my 5 year life plan and I am preparing to go on an expedition as a doctor shortly.
She supports you through a journey of self discovery, helping you realise your aspirations.
General Practitioner Partner and Medical Leader
It was suggested that I had a professional coach. I was somewhat intrigued having heard about it from non-medical friends but never heard about it in my normal day to day work as a GP. As I’d taken on a leadership role in my locality of 7 practices I thought it would be helpful although I was a little worried it would add to my, then, heavily congested life. My initial goal was ‘to become a confident, resilient leader, who is taking better care of myself.’
Fiona was able to calm my slight trepidation at our first meeting. She was very calming as we explored what coaching was about and what my initial goals were. I remember being asked how challenging I wanted it to be and she enabled me to set my own level.
Fiona took me through some initial exercises, such as the wheel of life that allowed me to start thinking more clearly about who I was and what I wanted from work/life. We explored my values, which I continue to tweak and review. This has enabled me to steer myself through some of life’s challenges with a better compass than I had before. I previously felt like a ship at sea dependent only on the currents. She enabled me to find the wheelhouse and get the engine restarted. She introduced me to several books and articles to read, including the classic ‘Flow: The Psychology of Happiness,‘ by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. This engaged me to read more widely than I have done for several years reawakening a passion for reading that had previously been misplaced. My confidence grew and my anxieties dissipated as I explored more mindful and compassionate ways of thinking & working. I became more organised and I started to say no, something I had previously found difficult. I was introduced to the NHS Leadership Model of 9 dimensions and asked to undertake the 360 degree assessment. It was at that moment I knew I had bloomed as I would have previously run a mile away from anything like that. She facilitated me going through my results which I looked forward to (!) as I now appreciated the value of honest feedback. A colleague later on complained to me that I was too positive!
I now relish challenges, although they can still be quite difficult trying to influence others. I enrolled & completed the fellowship course of the Leeds Institute for Quality Improvement. I have looked into applying for non-executive directorship posts, and have made many connections. One of which became an offer of a job which I have taken.
Six months later, I’m still making progress on my personal & work goals. I’ve read 6 novels and 6 non-fiction books. I’ve started a blog. I remain positive and am trying to pass this onto my patients and colleagues through my knowledge on mindfulness and showing leadership. Several locality projects are ongoing and I’m about to set up a locality diabetes team. My leadership skills are being utilised in my new role as a bridge between community care and primary care, exploring new models of care. I’m also helping to lead my practice in a merger with another large practice. I’m confidently engaging with others and exploring new relationships. I know see life/work as a constantly changing picture but now I am at the controls enabling clarity and vibrancy.
Six months further on. What difference a year makes! With Fiona I had discovered that outside of my comfort zone is where the magic happens. I hadn’t appreciated how magically though! 18 months ago, I would never have contemplated applying for a job, never mind away from my role as a GP. But I’ve just been successful at interview for a senior management role at the local trust.
I have been developing my relationships, exploring new ideas and developing new locality projects but I have amazed myself at how much I’m relishing these new challenges. The excitement at being involved in change has been infectious as I’ve inspired others now to push their boundaries into where the magic happens. A couple of years ago I would like awake in the early hours, anxious, pondering the problems of the past or future. Now, I’m sometimes awake with the excitement of ideas. The serenity I mentioned previously is with me as a companion puppy, long gone the old black dog. Today I’m mindful of life, enjoying the twists & turns of the journey.
Doctor (Senior Registrar)
I had completed my final professional exams and as the elation wore off, I realised that I now had to think about my medium to long term future as a Consultant. As I started to talk to different people about the next steps I was overwhelmed by new terminology, by processes that I had never heard of, and by people’s opinions of what I should or should not do. My stress levels were high. Life was something that was happening to me rather than me being an active participant. I didn’t know who to turn to for an objective assessment because everyone at work seemed to have their own agenda. For the first time in many years, I felt lost.
When I was an SHO (junior doctor), I tried a session of coaching through the Deanery scheme and thought that it might be worth another go. I came across Fiona via an internet search and I was immediately impressed by how she came across on her website. The fact that she was also a Doctor was important. I wanted a coach who would understand the quirks of my chosen career and with whom I had some shared experiences. I contacted her the same day and arranged an initial meeting via telephone for that weekend. After our 30min conversation I knew I would be able to work with her and that she would be able to help me so I took the plunge and booked the sessions.
Setting my initial goals was extremely difficult given that I was at a bit of a low point. Was I aiming too high? Was my non-medical goal ridiculous? Shouldn’t I just be happy with what I’ve achieved? Was I failing because others seemed to negotiate the processes with ease? Fiona was there to challenge my preconceptions and thoughts in a safe and supportive environment, and it soon became apparent that choosing her to coach me was one of the best decisions I had ever made.
The specific actions generated throughout each session really focussed my efforts and made me accountable to myself. That not only motivated me but also gave me permission to try new behaviours which was exactly what I needed given how professionally disempowered I was feeling. I gained significant insights into myself and others in every session and all of it was immediately relevant to my day to day life. Things came up during sessions that I hadn’t even considered thinking about, and they were often the most revealing and useful. I looked forward to every session.
Four sessions later, what do I think? I’m still a work in progress but I am no longer lost or overwhelmed and I have come a long way since the first session. I am living a values-based life that is making me happier and more content. I meditate. I am a more confident and resilient person. I have pursued opportunities, professionally and personally, that I would not have felt able to previously, and my life is better for it. The array of techniques and tools I now have access to will benefit me throughout my life and I’m grateful. The future is one of my choosing, and I know how I want to grow and develop my career.
Coaching has been a life-changing experience and I would recommend it generally, and Fiona specifically, without hesitation.
General Practitioner Partner and Medical Leader
I am a GP Partner in Leeds with a practice population of 6500 patients. I have been a GP for 12 years, 7 years as a Partner in my current practice.
Over the past few years I have developed an interest in medico-legal work and it is this that I sought help from Fiona to develop further. I was aware of what I needed to do but with a busy day-job finding the time to develop this interest was nearly impossible. I realised that if I were to make this work and develop my interest further, which would include setting up my own company, I would need to make significant life-changes in order to make this happen.
When I first met Fiona I was apprehensive as to what coaching would actually entail and how I would benefit from it. If I am honest, I was sceptical that it would help me at all. I was able to discuss this open and honestly with Fiona who explained to me what coaching would entail, asked me the level of challenge that I needed (which is high!) and explained to me what work I would need to do and this would definitely be stepping outside of my comfort zone. We agreed a contract for the coaching – what Fiona would do and what I would do and went ahead with a number of sessions.
The sessions involved exploring my values and goals and relating this to my aims of developing my medico-legal interest and company. The sessions stressed the importance to me of needing to prioritise my time into what I wanted to do and taught me techniques of achieving this – something that is now engraved into my daily work.
Fiona was incredibly supportive throughout the coaching. I had to step outside of comfort zone a number of times to understand why I was doing what I was doing and how I could make the changes needed.
Through my coaching, I began to set up my own company and start taking on medico-legal work and 12 months later I have a successful medico-legal practice where I seeing 50 new clients a month. My problem now is having too much work – which is a great position to be in!
Fiona’s coaching enabled me to achieve this and it is unlikely that I would have achieved this on my own and certainly not at the speed at which I have done. Thank-you Fiona!
The goals I first went with related to completing milestones with certain projects at work but during coaching the goal shifted to something more fundamental about selecting and prioritising (as detailed below).
Fiona, by listening and patiently questioning me over the sessions, helped me to identify a new goal. It was not the one I originally came with and it is this that continues to drive me without having to try which feels very strange when I have been trying many different ways of doing this for years! That protected time to concentrate on issues and the gaps between each session were very valuable to allow the new thoughts and ideas to filter in and be tested. It is hard to absolutely pinpoint what it was that worked but one pivotal moment was asking me to score how compelling my original goal was and that enabled me to choose to shift onto what was the really important rate limiting issue for me (improving my system for working on and keeping sight of tasks was higlighted) and this also helped me to make a new link of how important it was to sort out this system. This results of this new goal are what continue to drive me without having to try (which feels very strange when I have been trying many different ways of doing this for years!)! The results are also enabling me to move towards the original goal I came with, too.
6 months later, I feel a lot less overwhelmed with all my stuff / tasks (including at home), am much clearer about what is and isn’t important to me which in turn enables me to be even more selective with what I do and don’t do. Overall, I feel that my approach has become more calm and level headed.