Doing the best we can

I’ve been exploring why I lost my professional joie de vivre.  Have you got yours?

I don’t meet it as often as I would like to but I encountered lots of it this week in the classroom with senior practitioners studying post-graduate studies. I was so impressed with their energy and enthusiasm – I had begun to think that care in the NHS was being delivered by jaded folk who had lost their mojo a while ago and were simply treading water until their pension. That wasn’t I observed – I delivered an arts based session this week on a Practice Development module – what a joy the session was. The practitioners were cautious to begin with – they knew it would be about arts based approaches BUT I don’t think they realised it was to be an action packed session – experiential learning not a PowerPoint presentation – we made a folded book that involved decisions about paper colour, words and embellishments – we made an artefact that represented values in practice – they ALL were involved and they all created a beautiful folded book that they felt proud about and feedback was positive.

It was an interesting experience being back in the classroom at level 7 after a gap of a year – how do you elevate play – cutting and sticking – to critical analysis? Well you just do – all the students were reflexive and insightful – they could all make connections between what they were doing and what they might be thinking about in their practice – their relationships in practice and the knowledge they need to undertake their roles effectively. It was impressive stuff and I realised that I really enjoy working with senior staff, experienced and seasoned professionals – they need nurturing, nourishing and they deserve recognition of their worth.

It has made me realise that I have been in exactly that position – feeling undervalued because of longevity in post and years of experience – you get overlooked, you are invisible to management and the hierarchy – if you are good at your job, don’t take sick leave, don’t call attention to yourself, don’t jump up and down fawning attention from senior staff you melt into the background and disappear. I left the University in June 2014 – people think I still work there; my name is still on the office door. When I turned up on Thursday to do my session the lecturer introducing me thought I still worked there – that’s how alienating it can become – no wonder I had to leave – that erodes your well being and self worth.

The penny has dropped about why it was so important for me to leave that job. It’s a painful lesson but an important one – nothing could have prepared me for the next job experience but it seems to have been essential for my development and self knowledge to have been through the mill a bit.

Writing this piece has presented me with some unexpected insights – writing is important and I need to consider how I can I utilise this learning to help others. I can’t help myself – for me to have purpose and meaning I have to help others learn and develop (I’ve been encouraging learning since I was 15 it’s a hard habit to break) – we can create a better situation for folk in their workplace. We can encourage better relationships, greater insight into what is our stuff and what is mythical organisational culture that needs attention from others. I believe that if we need to give folk a space to think about their self worth and appreciate their key contributions – that way we can all start to take responsibility for own sphere of influence and use our expertise and energy to change the world around us. I’m starting now – stop metaphorically licking my wounds and instead leave it alone and move on and let go. I am going to turn down the volume of my inner critic, write some great courses and begin to explore how I can get out and about facilitating learning.

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