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Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #50

How to serve without self-sacrifice.

Mat Daniel


As doctors, we all want to help patients and make a difference. We all want to serve others. But this attitude may not be without problems. In this episode, James tells me that sometimes the focus on others means that we neglect ourselves, and end up resentful, burnt out, or exhausted. If we are to be of service to others, we first need to be at our best. This means that in order to help others, we also need a focus on our own wellbeing. So this is not about sacrificing ourselves to help others, it’s about looking after ourselves so that we can be of service to others.

(watch on if you prefer)

James Williams is a Certified High Performance coach who’s primary focus is to support leaders, teams and high achievers to serve without self sacrifice. Before going full time as a coach James had a 12 year career in live television for British Sky Broadcasting and left in 2015 to peruse his coaching career. Since 2015 James has supported his wife and her team in building a 7 figure coaching and lifestyle business – I Heart My Life.  He has worked within various serviced based companies, to teach and coach their communities, their teams and leaders to thrive internally so they can succeed in realising their lofty goals. You can find him at or on LinkedIn.

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Mat: Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name’s Mat Daniel, and this podcast is about doctors’ careers. As doctors, we all want to help patients make a difference. We all want to serve others, but this attitude may not be without problems. In this episode, James Williams tells me that sometimes the focus on others mean that we neglect ourselves, and we end up resentful, burnt out, and exhausted. If we are to be of service to others, we first need to be at our best. So that means that in order to help others, we also need to focus on our own well-being. So it’s not about sacrificing ourselves to help others. It’s about looking after ourselves So that we can be of service to others. I hope that it’s useful.

Welcome, James. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

[00:00:58] James: Thank you, Mat. So my name is James Williams. I am a certified high performance coach. Basically, in 2015, I finished a twelve year career in the fast crazy pace of live television And entered into the world of coaching primarily high performance because up until that point, health fitness mindset was a personal interest. But then when I met my amazing wife, and she was a budding entrepreneur at the time, and I could see the downwards turn of entrepreneurs and new thing of being an entrepreneur burnout and stress and not paying attention to yourself. I could see how what I was doing naturally just wasn’t something that a lot of people were thinking about. And so I took it upon myself to learn and be certified in a fantastic model of performance. And I’ve spent the last eight, nine years really studying what it is to When I say by performance, what it is just to be a thriving, happy, connected person who, can throw all of themselves into their career and have everything they need left over for their personal life and their family and their loved ones and be happy which is what this is all about.

And so since then, I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve been living in Austin, Texas right now with my wife, my daughter. And it’s upwards and upwards from here.

[00:02:13] Mat: It feels like I ought to ask a follow-up question to that introduction. So what does it mean to be a thriving, successful person that’s got an amazing career and the rest of their life as well.

[00:02:24] James: It’s a great question. For me, it’s about momentum. There’s I think for me, an ultimate high performer is someone who bounces back quickly and knows how to do that, which means having stress management strategies, which means there’s a concept which I think I’m working toward, post resiliency, which is called antifragile.

And antifragile means that When life gets hard, when things you know, life tries to kick you in the butt and really challenges you, you actually get stronger from that. And that’s really about perspective. And so I’m at a point now where no matter what happens outside of me, I’m confident I can figure it out because I’m not worried about outcome as much as I used to be. My focus is Me showing up the best I can so that I can be a great dad. I can be a great husband.

I can be a great coach. I can be a great friend. Whatever life throws at me, I don’t have control over that, Mat. I have no control over things outside of me.

The only control I have is how I respond to the world. And so that for me is what a life fulfilled is owning what you have Control and responsibility over and being accepting and ready for everything else.

[00:03:49] Mat: That sounds A very powerful position to be in, a position where you accept that there are things that you can influence and things that you can’t influence and things that you accept. So how do we get to that stage when we’re able to say actually, this is stuff that I have no influence over. This is stuff that I do.

How do you get to that stage?

[00:04:08] James: I think the first stage with any kind of personal development, the first stage is awareness. if I work with a client who’s never been involved in coaching, maybe has never done any personal development before, they have a lot of what I call, and you probably heard these terms, Unconscious incompetencies and unconscious competencies. There’s a lot of stuff they don’t know about themselves, and they don’t know about the way they see the world.

So they have an experience. My daughter’s a great example of this. She’s ten months old, and she has none of the filters and stories. But as adults, we’ve learned and put on ourselves, which have built a perspective and a view of how we see things. She’s, I’m happy.

I’m hungry. I need the toilet. That’s about it. And so she doesn’t judge herself for crying.

Is not she’s not she doesn’t think she’s weak if she cries. She doesn’t judge herself for any of her emotions. And so The first step is awareness. It’s becoming very aware of, okay, what are the things in my life that I’m doing The serve my health and happiness.

That’s a great first question to ask yourself. What are the things I’m doing that serve my health and happiness? Write it down. And then ask yourself the opposite. What are the some of the things I’m doing in my life that if I really focus on them, if I really diagnose my days That does not serve my health and my happiness.

For example, a lot of people avoid feeling emotions by distracting themselves with Scrolling on Netflix or scrolling on Instagram, um, or having a drink. Rather than feeling emotions, a lot of people distract themselves. Maybe people aren’t working out as much as they’d like to or could do. Maybe people’s die diets aren’t As great as they could be.

But step number one is just being aware of those things. And what’s very important about awareness in that step one, Mat, It is utilizing what I call the non-judgmental observer. You’re not saying it’s wrong or it’s right. You’re just saying, I’m diagnosing What am I doing that’s helping?

What am I doing that’s not helping without any judgment involved? That’s really important.

[00:06:13] Mat: Okay.

That strikes me as a really powerful position. So if we think we started off, we’re talking about what does it mean, to be a thriving, high performing professional that’s got an amazing career and everything else. Yeah, I see what you mean about, people come to when people haven’t done any of that personal development, they perhaps don’t even have the language of some of the things about, Self-insight and Yeah. Ideas. And you can you also said that we judge ourselves, and I’m sure, this happens in all professions and in, in doctors also, but why do we judge ourselves?

[00:06:46] James: it goes back to my ten month old. We you know, when If anyone listening has got kids, your kids are watching you, and they’re learning how to be an adult. So if you think about when you’re a kid and you are learning how to be an adult, Did you witness your parents judging things? That should be like that. That should be like that. You should be like this. You should be like that. Right?

You heard that growing up, judgments. And so what does that do? That creates you know, we duplicate that, and we mirror that, and we and that becomes our language, and language is very powerful. And so if we start judging the outside world and then we start seeing ourselves doing some of those things, we’re gonna start judging ourselves. And we’re certainly living in a world, not even a society, a world that is very judgmental.

So First tip of the day, once you recognize that, ask yourself what would happen If you replaced all of your judgments with curiosity so case in point I One someone might say, I I’m not very nice to my partner when I get home from work. Judgment. So instead of judgment, how about we say, I wonder why I’ve not been very nice to my partner when I go home. And why is that important?

Because a judgment ends in a full stop and ends in a period. There’s no it doesn’t go anywhere else. Whereas curiosity asks Questions that lead us to find out new information. And how are we gonna grow? How are we gonna improve unless we have more information And some kind of motivational benefiting factor to be bothered to do something to move forward. It’s not gonna happen if we judge. It will happen if we’re curious and we find out more information, more data.

[00:08:37] Mat: And we judge each other as well as ourselves because I’m thinking as you’re saying that.

So my judges say that person, they can’t organize a meeting, that person can’t operate, that person’s slow, that person’s only interested in money. And as you were saying that I’m thinking they’re all judgments. So I’m making all of those judgments about the people around me all the time. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:08:58] James: Yeah. So I wonder why they run meetings differently to me. I wonder if there is a way that we could have a conversation about My thoughts on how to run a meeting. I wonder if see how collaborative those questions could become.

And then you are satisfied because there might be understanding and improvements to the meetings, and they get to have a conversation. During the pandemic, the world was more curious rather than judgmental. What a different experience that would have been.

[00:09:33] Mat: how do we develop that curiosity? Because I think, we’ve all learned to judge.

We judge ourselves. I certainly judge others. You can judge me for judging others if you like, James. You can say I’m a terrible person because I’m very curious about it. Sure.

So you’re curious. Okay. I’m judging myself thinking I’m a terrible person because I judge all my colleagues. So what how do we move away from judging ourselves and others Into that position of non-judgmental curiosity and awareness.

[00:10:01] James: Right now, we’ve now got an intellectual of the concept of replacing pure judgment with curiosity.

Intellectually, we get that. So why isn’t it a light switch? Why don’t we suddenly change that?

If any of the medical professionals listening understand about, habitual behaviour and neurological change that takes time. There’s a really great concept in high performance called RWID, which stands for relative weight of importance and duration, which explains how you learn new behaviours and physical actions as well. So the relative way of importance that we give any thought or action. And then the duration, the amount of time that we think that or do it, the brain thinks you’re doing this so often.

Let’s just make that automatic. So if I’m always saying you know, when it’s raining, for example, I’m always saying, oh, it’s horrible that it’s raining Rather than just noticing that it’s raining, if I say that enough and I feel a sense of negativity when I say it and I do that regularly, that’s gonna become a habitual pattern in the way that I think. It will be subconscious. I won’t even have to imagine about whether I’m feeling good about it. It’ll just be a bit too.

So if we understand that and we understand, okay, by feeling something and repeating it over and over again, I’ve created a story about things in my mind. Now I created it, which means that I can create something new. So just like going to the gym and learning to do a new exercise or learning to dance, it’s clunky at first. Sure. But if I, for example, write down okay.

So you said a few things, If I write down on some paper, what are some of the judgments that I make that I would like to be more curious about naturally? You write them down. Oh I naturally have judged how people run meetings. I’ve naturally judged myself about these areas and write them down. And we can call these, Jud stories on our mental dashboard that we wish to write over, we wish to replace.

Now right underneath, what do I want to replace those stories with? Curiosity. I wonder how we could improve meetings. I wonder how I could improve in this area of my life and write them down.

Now you wanna come up with a trigger. When you start catching yourself in judgment, and it’ll happen slowly, but it’ll gradually get better at it. When you start catching yourself in judgment, have write that trigger down that’s gonna help you say kinda say to yourself, can I think back again? Can I get a do over? And you’ll say this to yourself, and I get a do over.

So now it’s okay. I just judge myself for being late, for example. I’m gonna replace that with, I wonder why I was late and how I can limit the amount of times I’m late next time. and you remember, Relative weight of importance. So I need to give that it’s not an intellectual pursuit alone.

It’s emotional. Your emotions are what create Those, chemical goodies in your body that really solidify behaviour. So if I’m if I Really feel curious and empathetic and understanding of myself for being late, for example, and say, listen. I really want to know how I can be better. I give it some emotion.

If you do that regularly, it’s gonna change your behaviour. But we’ve gotta you gotta write things down. If anything in our left if there’s anything we’re learning in life, we’ve gotta write it down. We’ve gotta make sure we don’t just rely on our memory because Habitual change is tough. It’s why people have coaches because you need something or someone to hold you accountable to change, Especially when it’s something you’re doing habitually. But it again, it comes back down to let’s just be very clear about what I’m doing that I would like to change I’m very clear about what the change is and where I’d like to be the goal, and how I’m gonna get there and how I’m gonna support myself or get someone else hold me accountable to getting there. That make sense?

[00:13:55] Mat: Absolutely. And I’d also link that to a comment you made earlier about Asking how is this serving me? Whatever it is, how is this thought behaviour, this way of thinking, How is that serving me? And if I think maybe if I have a thought that says, I’m not a very good leader and, and I struggle with leadership, and I’m thinking, okay. How is that serving me?

And it creates a story where I tell myself I’m not a good leader, and therefore, I’m not gonna be a good leader

[00:14:20] James: That doesn’t that Statement doesn’t do anything No. To help at all. It’s like worry.

The emotion of worry has zero benefit to it, Unlike fear actually has some benefit in the right context. If I’m stood in front of a lion and I’m afraid that’s useful. But worry doesn’t raise my adrenaline and help me get stronger to get out of there.

It does the opposite. It makes me weak. So the statement of judgment around something that’s negative, Even, whether it’s true or not has no use to it. Literally, if you’d said that to yourself, Mat, and then one day you noticed it and then replaced it with, I wonder how I can become an even better leader. Let’s look at what I’ve done really well and areas that I could improve.

[00:15:10] Mat: It actually also translates to others. If I used example saying this person can’t organize a meeting or this person is slow and then, again, that’s judgment. And if I think how does that serve me if I think of somebody as slow as somebody who can’t organize a meeting? Actually, that’s not serving me at all, really.

No. It’s not. It’s because no matter how much I judge them, they’re not gonna be any faster, and they’re not gonna be any better at all

[00:15:34] James: No. They’re not.

It just makes you feel frustrated. And it’s you know, words are an important part of our diet, And we’ve got to be really conscious of the words that we consume from ourselves because they’re either gonna have a good impact Or bad impact. There’s a great book, actually, for all people listening called conscious language logos of now. It’s an old book.

And it’s really great, Brooke, at getting you to realize that the words you’re using, your subconscious is recording doesn’t forget anything. And so you’re the way you’re talking about something, even if the intention is good I’m British, and British people can be quite sarcastic. Even if the intention is good when I’m mocking someone, subconsciously, there’s information going in that’s probably not good.

[00:16:23] Mat: I hope you’re enjoying the show.

If you are, please click subscribe so you will be notified when new episodes come out. This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too By forwarding this show to any one person who you think might benefit from listening. Thank you. Now on with the show.

I actually invited you on the podcast because you talked about serving without self-sacrifice. And in the medical context, serving without self-sacrifice, that really resonated with me. Can you tell a bit more about serving without self-sacrifice

[00:17:00] James: It’s a this is probably the thing I’m most passionate about. I grew up with a mother who had some health issues but was still a really great mom. I’ve worked in environments where I’ve had wonderful leaders who burn themselves out being wonderful leaders. And it was probably what got me into coaching as I thought to myself, because I’m naturally a giver. In fact, I hold a metaphorical coin here.

And I hold this because for a long time, I did. I put everyone before myself Because I thought that was the good thing to do. Be a good boy, James, and do everything for other people, which sounds like a good thing. Until I realized after a while, I was starting to feel resentful of people. I Was starting to Get to a period where I’d be drained. And even though I’ve always looked after myself physically, I would be mentally drained, and I wouldn’t understand why. And then I get resentful. I’ve been giving this personal this situation all of my attention, and I’m not getting anything back. And this cycle continued.

And I was like, what is going on? And I realized something very important. And, again, this lesson from youth that we’ve been taught with a language that seems good, self-sacrifice, Such you know, be selfish. Be selfless. Sorry.

Be selfless. Sounds so good. Yet if I’m actually gonna be a really great father and a really great husband and a really great coach knowing that the world could throw challenge at me at any time, how am I gonna be those things if I’m putting everyone else Before myself. How am I going to know that I’m gonna be able to show up with full strength tomorrow If something challenging happens tomorrow and I haven’t fuelled myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, so Especially in the medical industry. The industry is about service.

It’s about saving lives. It’s about treating people. Those people, those patients, they need you to be at your best because anything could happen at any time. Something where you’ve gotta respond or react And pivot on a dime. If your focus, your energy, your self worth, your influence, if any of that stuff is compromised, You can’t pivot as well as you could have done if you were fully fuelled.

And, actually, that’s a very simple but regular process of knowing who you need to be each day to be at your best, Having practices that are fuelling you before you do anything else. Almost to the point of selfishness. Does that make sense?

[00:19:44] Mat: It’s blowing my mind, and I think it’ll blow minds to an awful lot of listeners thinking, hold on a second.

Are we saying that it’s wrong to try to put other people first? And if they get most of us in medical profession, Patients come first. Patient comes first. We always do everything for the patient. They always come first.

We put them before us, so too we’re there to serve, but they come first. But you’re telling me there’s a problem with that?

[00:20:07] James: Yeah. I would argue to say, Mat, that putting other people first is the most selfish thing you could do. What do you mean?

Because if you Put other people before your own health and wellness. Those people are not getting you your one hundred percent. Your patients need you to be the best you can be. No matter how much, you’ve learned in your industry at school to be full of knowledge, If you can’t show up fully focused and energized, you are incapable of being the best version of you that those people need In order to save their life or your kids need for you to be there for them, you can’t do that Unless you are starting the day thinking, what do I need right now?

And it might be as simple as I need to have some water. I’m thirsty. I need to stretch. I Just need a moment to calm my mind and get myself in a good place.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. But the concept of if you don’t put yourself first before other people, those other people will be never gonna get you the best you could be. Why do you think when you get in an airplane, what do they say when the oxygen masks come down? What do they say?

[00:21:24] Mat: Say, Put your own mask on before helping others

[00:21:27] James: Why do you think they say that?

[00:21:29] Mat: Yeah. Be because I guess if you’ll be dead Before you manage

[00:21:32] James: If everyone was trying to put someone else’s mask on, they’d all just be passed out. Yeah. Maybe the old person would get it right.

Yeah. I have a ten month old. And if any of you listening remember what it’s like to have a ten month old, when I get up in the morning because, I don’t know, what the morning is gonna hold.

I, as a father, started getting up earlier so that I can get at least thirty minutes to myself To do what I need to do to be there as a dad, to be there as a husband. I’m up at five, five thirty every day So that I can do the things I do. I, I hydrate. I move.

I stretch. I do my qigong. I make myself a nice drink. If I get if there if she’s sleeping in a bit, I might read a little bit.

But I do what I need to do that so that when she gets up, whatever happens, she may have a bad day. I’m ready for it because I’ve made myself ready for it. I don’t wanna have to get ready. I wanna be ready. And so by lots of little things throughout my days, throughout my weeks and years, I will put myself first so that I can be everything I need to be for the people that I love and the people that I serve

[00:22:41] Mat:

So in health care context then, what you’re saying is That as doctors, we have to look out after ourselves, and we do have to make time for ourselves in order That we can be our best for the people that we want to serve. So Completely. Yeah. We look after ourselves and we serve the Exactly. Together.

So it’s not that we serve and self-sacrifice, but we look after ourselves, and that enables us To serve.

[00:23:10] James: And there a lot of you know, a lot of the misconception there, Mat, in all industries, actually, has come from guilt. It’s I can’t take a break because I could be helping out, and other people I might how are people gonna judge me if I take break? So we need to support each other in this, man. Everyone in the medical industry needs to support each other in Taking breaks in doing what’s necessary to be fuelled. Encourage it. Don’t make people wrong for going on a break or leaving on time.

All the things that they need to be filled because, I have a client who’s who works in the ER, And that’s not a predictable environment, and she’s doing great at putting herself first. So when she’s up to she’s up to work, She’s the most consistent person on that staff. She’s consistently energized, not running off adrenaline energized.

Energized. Which means that when she makes decisions, she’s not making a decision out of adrenaline Craziness and reactive behaviour. She’s making it from a calm, confident place. Because those in the medical industry that understand about, hormones and adrenaline, if you’re running off adrenaline, what that does to your decision making ability and your ability to be creative.

And I think in the medical industry, sometimes you gotta be creative. Things aren’t cut and dry. Your brain cannot be optimally creative if you’re stressed. It doesn’t work. That part of your brain will not function as well. And so what does it do?

It just makes the same decision over and over again, which is why often people make Same mistakes over and over again if they’re stressed. Even amazing experts who are used to stressful situations. I’ve not experienced ER, but I worked in live TV for twelve years, which is pretty intense in its own way. And I learned there the difference between good leadership and bad leadership And people who looked after themselves and people who didn’t.

And it’s cut it’s so clear. IT’s so clear. That’s what inspired me to get into this because, I would like my gift to the world to just to help people realize and open their eyes to. They get To look after themselves, to be happy, and be massively of service.

You can have both. And in fact, I would argue to say the only way to truly be observed is to look after yourself in all the ways that means.

[00:25:45] Mat: And, certainly, you talked before about this idea that I serve. I put others first all the time that over time, that leads to burnout and resentment, Doesn’t it? You get more and more resentful, and then you end up opting out.

And you think I want to serve the world. And through what I’ve done, I’ve actually ended up not doing any of that. So it’s so far from if the idea is I want to serve the world, far from doing that in the long term, I’ve created the way of being that has actually sabotaged the very aid.

[00:26:13] James: It can be the case, Mat. And let’s be really understanding, though, that it’s you know? That sometimes is a hard thing for people to hear because there’s a lot of people listening that are working so hard, and they don’t want the Thought that they’re not being of service because they are. And when we go purely into curiosity, you can do it even better and feel better At it. I don’t wanna make anyone wrong here.

I wanna help the medical industry understand that, they’re needed, and they really get to be happy, thriving, healthy individuals as well. There is a way. There really is. And anything that I can do to support that, I’m in. But the toughest thing with my job, Mat, is that the problem that I solve is a problem that a lot of people don’t know they have.

And so they who’s gonna budget For a problem they don’t know they have. Even though it’s very clear, because it’s an intrinsic problem And not an extrinsic problem like an SOP or a new strategy. Now we’re talking about human emotions. Now we’re talking about someone being vulnerable. That’s tough.

Vulnerability is a is a is something that we all get to be better at.

[00:27:28] Mat: What do you mean people don’t know that this is a problem that they have? Can you tell me a bit more?

[00:27:33] James: So let’s say we’re let’s say let’s go to a different industry. Let’s just say we’re talking about Corporate America.

Leadership in this country, probably in the world, really needs really needs a shake-up. There’s a big difference in leadership and dictatorship, and I don’t think a lot of leaders realize that. A leader is a role model.

A leader is someone Who leads by example. So if you go into a company and things just aren’t running The profits aren’t coming. Even though the product’s amazing, things aren’t flowing. The teams keep making mistakes. People keep quitting.

There’s a stressful environment. There’s blame happening around the office. People a lot of people think that isn’t a systems problem. Oh, we need new SOPs or, we need to do better at, some strategies of how we run team meetings. Right?

If you actually look at it and diagnose at the start of the top who’s the leader? Who’s the person with the most amount of influence? Let me look at how they’re running their life. Are they do they have a good home life? Are they happy?

Are they healthy? Are they fit? Are they secure? When they get faced with a problem, is their first reaction to blame someone? Judge.

Or do they curiosity does curiosity lead the way and They bring people together to try and work as a team to collaborate in solving a problem. Where you find Stressful work environments and problems that just don’t seem to go away, that’s a people problem. It’s not a systems problem because guess who creates the systems. The people. But no one wants to take responsibility. That’s not real leadership. If you’re not willing to take responsibility for everything that you are leading and everyone that you are leading, you’re not a real leader. And it’s the same with us. My core concept program is the business of you.

And it’s the same with us. The first step is we have to take full responsibility for how we perceive the world. Your life is the way that it is because of you. It’s no one else’s fault because you have complete agency to do something about it. You can leave or you can change your perspective.

[00:29:52] Mat: It’s always fascinating for me how, in health care and I think this is certainly, it’s the same in US as it is in UK, I suspect elsewhere that we come together as a group of altruistic individuals who want to make the better place. And somehow, we created this toxic pressure cooking environment Where we have, burnout and people are leaving, and, certainly, that’s, probably even worse in US than it is in UK. And it really is amazing how That happens, but you but, you’re right that it’s something that’s created by the people. Yeah. And one of the things that’s really resonated with me when you’re talking about, both leadership and also how we behave, Um, thinking now as a relatively senior doctor is how I role model some of that.

If I go home at five And I make it clear that it’s very that it that, yes, I’m going home at five or six or whatever it might be, and it’s okay. Yeah. I don’t really want to have a meeting at six o’clock, seven o’clock, eight Nine o’clock, about work. And then, that tells other people that actually, yeah, we finish work at six, and we go home at six.

Yeah. And, and that’s okay. It gives other people not only does it give other permission to look after themselves, or I might talk about my own healthy eating or my own exercise. That gives other people not only permission that this is what we do but also role modelling that, if you are gonna be a successful senior doctor, senior leader, whatever, then the these are the things that you do. What does a senior leader look like? They go home at six healthily, and they go for a run. That’s what the scene looks like.

[00:31:24] James: Yeah. Even you are doing this podcast, Mat immediately, just you are doing this, You’re part of a solution.

You’re trying to bring forth okay. Let’s start a discussion now. Let’s be honest. Let’s try and invite people in with different perspectives and put something out there because you obviously care enough that you want to help heal an industry that’s primary responsibility is healing. And so that alone is huge leadership because it’s not an easy problem, but there’s one thing you can fix.

And then are we talking about the NHS? So I work within the NHS. Yes. So it’s a huge challenge.

So let’s focus on what we can affect. We can affect people. Ignore the budget for the moment and ignore, staffing and systems and just focus on the people. Imagine for a moment that every single person in the NHS Experienced you know; the world and their work was as it is right now but imagine for a moment that they were in it and it didn’t stress them out. It was exactly the same as it is.

How would that affect workflow?

[00:32:29] Mat: Wow. That sounds great. How do we do that?

[00:32:32] James: So but just like I want you to all of you, just think about that for a minute. Nothing changes, but you but everyone’s can everyone’s happy And acceptance I want some of that. Yeah. So now what happens is, okay, this is just happening.

Acceptance. Now we’re coming at problems from a not a stress place, but okay. Let’s be curious. I see how this area could be better. We’re not gonna argue about it.

We’re gonna talk about it. Because guess what happens when you go to senior members and start an argument. If you start a conversation with Stress and anger and resentment and blame, that’s not gonna go anywhere. Part of high performance studies is influence and persuasion.

I teach a whole session on how you have a conversation that is productive. If you wanna persuade someone to take an action you know is mutually beneficial, how do you have that conversation? How many times do people plan for conversations of persuasion? Plan it out rather than just go in there like a bull in a China shop, Screaming and shouting saying this is terrible. It needs to be different.

No. Nothing’s gonna change. When it’s planned properly and strategically and logically and people feel like they’re Collaborating. You’re bringing on board the person who it is hard for them. They don’t know how to make this up.

They might have a budget. But if they’re if you’re all onboarded together, Things start moving better. If the environment’s happier, people know how to manage themselves and their health better, then, What that does to time and efficiency is incredible. And I think that is what I’ve tried to do in my little pocket of the world is I Can’t control what goes on around me.

I can’t even control my own reaction sometimes, But I can learn to control my response because that’s everything. How I respond To a situation dictates the likelihood of success of that situation. So what I call my responsibility. My response ability.

My responsibility is to be the best person I can be so that I can respond in a way That increases the chance of any situation being productive. That’s all I can do. If I Set. That’s all I can do. And if every single team member accepts it, that’s all they can do.

And they just aimed To be the best they could be in any situation to respond from the highest version of themselves, that times everyone in the industry would make an improvement. Am I wrong?

[00:35:12] Mat: I completely agree, and I’m hearing that so responsibility. So that’s not about Controlling my emotions or, being some ice cold person that doesn’t feel anything. And it’s not about having to like everything that’s going out to agree because, because who knows what I do with my emotions, and there’s a stack of stuff out there that I can’t control.

But what I can do is I can choose how I respond? You can choose.

[00:35:37] James: Emotions are really important. Feeling angry is an emotion.

It’s important. Fitting in, upset. All of these emotions are important. And you’re gonna ask yourself, okay. How long do I wanna be angry for?

Give me a time limit. Then when you’ve done what you need to do to be angry, scream in the pillow, whatever it is, now it’s okay. What’s a productive way to go about this? I’m gonna use that emotion, I’m gonna turn it into passion. I would rather than worry about a problem, I’d rather turn that into caring enough about being part of the solution by being an example.

See, you’re a leader literally, Mat, but, actually, we’re all leaders because every single one of us has the ability to show up in a way that affects the people around us. That makes us all leaders.

[00:36:20] Mat: Yeah. I was gonna say it’s thirty years too long to be angry, James, but You’ve paid me a compliment, so maybe I won’t go there. So or maybe even thirty five.

Actually, I wanted to ask about you talked about the business of you. What do you mean about the business of you?

[00:36:34] James: It’s just a model that I use to help to my whole career has been about trying to communicate Self-care. And communicate that in the way that busy professionals are gonna understand. Okay. It’s not something I can go through completely because it’s a whole model.

But, ultimately, it’s, imagining roles that we play within ourselves That dictate our behaviour. Okay? Roles, I think I talked about the first one, which is the observer. The non-judgmental observer of What am I doing in my life that is helping me, and what am I doing that’s hurting me? And we have roles within us that dictate our behaviour, dictate, what we’re choosing in our life, in our environment is affecting us from as simple as, what am I choosing to do when I’m stressed? Am I numbing out by having alcohol, binge watching Netflix, or binge scrolling through Instagram. What am I doing to manage stress? Because stress is the weeds in the garden.

If I ignore it And now, I’m out. I’m just burying something that’s gonna grow back stronger. Okay? Whereas if I have a strategy to look at it, be curious about it, and come to conclusion as useful, I’m getting stronger, and I’m maintaining a garden that is flourishing with healthy soil. So this model helps to bring about personal awareness to a really extreme degree that just gives you the information you need every day To learn how to show up in a way that not only you can be proud of, but that other people are gonna benefit from in a huge way. This is I can’t imagine now just going through a day And I’m waiting for the day to end. I’m on I don’t know what happens when you die, but I know that I’m forty four now. And I wanna be as happy and healthy and thriving now when I’m eighty four.

And if I’m gonna do that And I’m still gonna be of service then. I’ve got a real responsibility to manage this person and how this person shows up. I’m not gonna waste a day blaming, worrying, resenting, or just trying to get through it Because there’s just too much that I could do. There’s too much good that I could do, whether that’s something big, save a life or Just be an example for my daughter who’s gonna grow up in a world very different to the one that you and I grew up in. So I just take it very seriously.

[00:39:11] Mat: So I’m probably gonna bring us to a close, James, and I wonder if you could Summarize our discussion and maybe tell me what will be your top tips for doctors at work?

[00:39:20] James: So my top tip would first be very simple.

Stop For a minute, just stop and just check-in and ask yourself. Be the judge non-judgmental observer. Embody that role in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening, and simply ask yourself, What if I what am I doing right now that is serving my health and my happiness knowing that those things impact my performance? And what am I doing right now that is hurting my health and my happiness and therefore hurting my performance? That’s the first thing.

Really crucial. Second thing is if we’re gonna create an environment where Judgment is a thing of the past, and curiosity is a thing of the future as a culture or as a team. Be an Encouraging member of your team by being more curious with other people. Be to others What you would like others to be to you.

Because when we are in service, as a lot of people in the medical issue will know, when we’re off service, It fills us in so many ways genuinely of service. So do the same thing again. Stop. Approach that person that you know may be struggling or stressed a little bit, and just be curious.

Be the non-judgmental observer for them. Tell me what’s going on. Allow them to express themselves and not feel judged.

Allow them to be vulnerable. Because if we can encourage vulnerability from a place of strength and not victimhood, we encourage a detox of behaviours that are not serving us. Okay? And the last thing would simply be to any of the parents out there, and that is To really understand that how you’re showing up is you are modelling to the next generation what adults How adults look after themselves. How do you want to model that?

And this is not what you tell your kids to do or not to. It’s just them watching you. When mommy or daddy is stressed, they do this. Just think about that. Maybe gain some not shaming here, but gain some clarity on, okay.

Based on that information, it’s the end of the year. This is how I’m gonna decide to start showing up around my kids in 2024.

[00:42:00] Mat: That’s wonderful. Thank you very much, James.

[00:42:02] James: You’re welcome.

Thanks for having me on, Mat.

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