The Resilience Myth

My friend, Dr Sammy Batt-Rawden knows only too well the dangers of just keeping her chin up and carrying on. In this beautiful, but heart-wrenching TEDx talk, she tells her story.

 

Staff in the NHS (and indeed all our public services) are working against a tide of a huge rise in public demand, funding constraints and dangerously low staffing levels for what is required. The old edict to ‘keep calm and carry on’ simply misses the point. There isn’t a culture of shirking responsibility in the NHS. People are going way above and beyond every day, and it is taking it’s very real toll. Yes, we need to increasingly develop cultures of joy and kindness in how we work, but there must be determined change by leaders in the Government to ensure that the buck is not passed when it comes to who is responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of our clinical teams across the UK. Teams are already doing much to take care of each other and themselves, and yet staff surveys across the UK show that absenteeism is increasing, along with burnout and morale continues to decline. Do the maths!

 

Listen to Sammy’s story and let’s change the tone of the conversation so that we can work on practical solutions together. Those solutions will include everyone. Part of the solution lies with learning to work radically differently with our communities. Some of it lies within our choices of how we use the health service. There is of course work to do in how we care for people who work across the NHS and set good working patterns. But there is still much work to be done by those in power to think more carefully about where and how budgets are spent. The new spending plan for the NHS pays very little attention to safe staffing levels or staff development – it needs much more care and attention.

 

I’m so grateful to Sammy for changing the nature of this increasingly important conversation:

 

 

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A Fallow Year

This coming year of 2019, I am letting my garden have a rest – letting the ground be fallow. It gives space for the soil to replenish and to have its nutrients restored.

 

I am personally trying to allow much more space this year for contemplation, silence, reflection and the deeper work of stillness. I’ve sown a lot of seed over the last few years and now I need to take stock and see what is emerging, what is growing, what has life. There will probably be fewer blogs, though not necessarily, as I may use it to journal. There will definitely be less social media (starting with a complete 6 week hike from it form January 1st). I am so aware how often we focus on the activity, but do not do the deeper work needed in our lives.

 

As a Type 7 on the Enneagram, I know I can easily run away from pain – I am learning much more to sit with it. I know I can easily return to gluttony – not just for food, but for anything – new ideas, an idealised future, dreams, experiences……. I know that my natural defence mechanism is to rationalise everything, so that I don’t have to deal with the complexity of ‘feeling’ it! I know that I can so easily fill my time with so many fun and exciting adventures, always looking to the next possibility rather than sitting in the present and just being. Although, in many ways I feel more healed and more whole than ever, I am painfully aware how easily, I trap myself back in my ‘7 prison of escapist behaviours’ rather than living out my life more fully and freely, in the deep knowledge of being unconditionally loved.

 

I have personally found the enneagram such a useful tool, not to box me in, but to help me understand the box I am already living in and how to be free of it to become the best version of Andrew James Knox that I can be. I would say, in my clinics and in my leadership work in the NHS, that my greatest sadness is seeing people who never really do their ‘deep work’. They never really get to grips with their root issues, never really face up to their deep needs and resultant behaviours which leads to all kinds dis-ease. In fact, the world is run by such people and the effects for all of us and the planet, are devastating. If we are to embrace a kinder future, in which empathy, love and compassion can really come to the fore, then we have to be willing to do our deep work ourselves (from which no one is exempt), letting go of our anger, pride, deceit, envy, greed, fear, gluttony, lust or sloth in the process.

 

So.……what’s the deep work you need to do in 2019?

 

This year, my deep work is to embrace contemplation, to pause and reflect, to listen and to be present. I hope I learn more the secret of doing nothing. The Christopher Robbin Movie has given me much cause for thought (not least about inverted pyramids!).

 

After all, as one of my all time favourites, Winnie-the Pooh, reminds us:

“Doing Nothing Often Leads to The Very Best Something.”

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