Archive – Coaching Series

Below is a series of one-day workshops delivered by Dr Will Medd based on releasing your potential as an early career researcher.  Focusing on 4 topics;

  • Writing
  • Pause
  • Failure
  • Resilience

Write here, right now!

A writing workshop with a difference

Writing is a huge part of research and yet, as a skill, the focus of training is often assumed to be needed on how to produce scientific papers while retreats tend to focus on blocking out the time and space to write. That’s great and important. What about the experience of writing itself? How can researchers learn to be productive, to keep writing and even enjoy the process?

Hate it? Fear it? Dread it? Put it off?….What if you could enjoy your writing?

Like so many things we have to do, writing for your research is one of those things we rarely feel satisfied with. We come up with all sorts of distractions. Convince ourselves we need to read more.  Fear wasting time going down the wrong track. Worry we’re not doing justice to the complexity of the ideas we’re grappling with.  It can all get so heavy, so much is at stake. Rarely do we feel satisfied, like we’ve done a good days work!

“Write here, right now!’ offers a combination of ‘retreat’ to create space to write and live coaching ‘experiments’ to explore different approaches to the experience of writing.

While working on a current piece of writing (a paper, proposal etc) it aims to explore what happens if you unlock the possibility of enjoying writing!  The workshop explores confidence, fears, values, goals and habits while experimenting with different writing moods.

This workshop explores your writing experience to see what happens if you unlock the possibility of enjoying it!  Focusing on a particular piece of writing, in a playful way we’ll explore what our writing agenda is (what’s really at stake in this piece of work?), how we get in our own way (what pressure are you creating in your heads?), how we might write from different experiences (what perspectives might be helpful?) and what might be worth giving a go (what are the options for playing with here?). The day will include identifying new writing habits that you can start putting into practice.

So come prepared to try out and experiment with different approaches to the writing experience. With fun and frustration all thrown into the mix you will leave with some clarity about what works for you.

Participants will need:

  • to bring a laptop and power lead.  You will be writing throughout the day.
  • have something you are currently writing with you (chapter, article, analysis, conference paper)
  • to be curious, open-minded about your writing, and be willing to explore different ways of changing the experience.
  • be on time!  It makes a huge difference if we kick off to a good start

NOTE: this workshop will not involve assessment of your writing or engage with writing style, grammar or English. It is about the experience of writing.

Outcomes

Participants will come away with:

  • Dedicated writing time on their topics.
  • Greater awareness of what gets in the way of their writing and how to overcome that.
  • Learning from others about their writing experiences and strategies.
  • A commitment to new writing habits.

Pause with Purpose

Learn to take stock, let go and imagine what’s possible

  • How to generate clarity about where you are now and what’s important
  • Learn how to relax in ways that nourish your inner sense of well-being
  • Identify how to let go, in order to move forwards
  • Experience different perspectives from which to imagine what might be possible
  • Use a walk creatively to gain a fresh perspective
  • Learn from the collective wisdom of colleagues

When feeling rushed, under pressure and experiencing uncertainty, there is a tendency to feel the need to do more, to focus on the ‘urgent’ and to let the important things slip.  It’s all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.  This appears to be true in many walks of life.  Balancing ‘short-term wins’ with investing in longer-term gains becomes a persistent challenge, stress can feel overwhelming and appreciation of the present so hard to sustain.  Indeed, it can be hard to see clearly where you are now as well as knowing how best to move forward!

Pause with Purpose offers a unique format that invites you to pause, with a purpose, blending life-coaching, relaxation and meditation techniques.  Through a wonderful range of activities, the day invites you to step back, take stock, experience alternative perspectives, explore common challenges and identify a clearer sense of the way ahead.  The workshop is designed in a way that is adaptive to the questions and issues participants bring.

Holding together the paradoxical relationship of resting in presence while tapping into the power of imagining what’s possible, the day will involve a combination of experiential exercises while using relaxation and meditation to learn about the power of pausing while providing a powerful grounding to the reflective process.

Who is it for?

Pause with Purpose is for academics and researchers at any stage of their career, who could benefit from stepping back and seeing things from a fresh perspective.  The workshops have been attended by PhD students, researchers, lecturers and professors, sometimes at the same time.  They have been attended by people from all disciplines – from physicists to creative writers, sociologists to mathematicians, health researchers to economists.

Pause with Purpose is powerful when people feel overwhelmed, need to recalibrate priorities, want to learn how to stay relaxed in a stressful environment, or want to explore their direction with a fresh perspective.

What’s involved?

The day will meet you where you are and is designed in a way that is adaptive to the questions and issues participants bring.  We’ll start by establishing a shared agreement amongst the group.  Key elements of the day are:

  • Getting clear about where is now, exploring this through different lenses to identify what is important, map constellations of key relationships and tap into relaxation by accessing our inner resource.
  • Examine what we need to let go of while also shaping a sense of purpose.
  • Drawing on a range of techniques as appropriate, different perspectives will shed light on the challenges participants face, with an eye on starting to imagine what’s possible. Depending on the issues the group bring, techniques might include, for example: exploring presence further, thinking environment, present based transactional analysis, identifying internal ‘parts’, working from strengths, managing the saboteur, hero’s journey, or working with opposites.
  • Throughout the day mindfulness and relaxation exercises are interwoven that provide a powerful grounding to both individual and group reflective process.
  • Weather and venue permitting, participants will be invited on a short walk to gain fresh perspective.
  • Engage in personal reflection, focused writing time, group sharing and, when appropriate, individual interventions from the coach.

NB participants on the day can also opt out of exercises.

Outcomes

Generate clarity about where you are now and what’s important.

Know how to relax in ways that nourish your inner sense of well-being.

Identify how to let go, in order to move forward.

Experience different perspectives from which to imagine what might be possible.

Use a walk creatively to gain a fresh perspective.

Learn from the collective wisdom of colleagues.

Beyond the day

Through their own reflection, participants will identify insights throughout the day that they will want to take forward into their work and the rest of life.  Approximately 6 weeks after the retreat, participants are will be invited to attend a webinar to ‘check in’ on their progress since the workshop.  The webinar will be held in a coaching format working through themes that participants bring to the call.

“Really great – opportunity to think about where I am and where I want to go (and what next).” (Lancaster July 2017)

“I always love Will’s sessions – they leave me feeling grounded and refreshed.” (Lancaster July 2018)

“The course is powerful – I will be more productive!” (Lancaster July 2018)

“Flexible and non-invasive. Highly personal to the group.” (Manchester, Sept 2018)

Failure to Learn

What is your potential as a researcher? Imagine having the support of a group coaching process to support and challenge you to achieve those important goals. Dr Will Medd and NHS R&D North West will be running a series

How do you feel about ‘failure’ and ‘failing’? Does a fear of failure get in your way, hold you back, create stress, make you feel an impostor? We will be looking at what we can learn from the classic heroes journey when it comes to learning through failure. In folktales and Hollywood movies, there are universal codes of behaviour that heroes use when confronted with challenges. By studying these templates and applying them to our own research lives, we can learn to recognise the prospect of failure and new ways to overcome it. In essence, we become our own hero.

Resilience and Self Leadership in Research

Sustaining your resilience and being the leader of your research is not always easy to pull off.  This day offers an opportunity to examine your resilience, stepping back to re-align and plan the next steps in your research, recognising the need to keep the balance right with work and the rest of life.

If you are interested in any of these one-day workshops please contact Leanne Gregory at Leanne.gregory@researchnorthwest.nhs.uk.