About Jo and Coaching from the Inside Out

Jo Leahy

I am a retired GP and former Clinical Chair of a Clinical Commissioning Group, and I have been coaching, mentoring and appraising colleagues for the past 18 years.

I have spent decades of my life following various self-improvement gurus and reading personal development books, always thinking that I was on the way “there”.  I just didn’t realise until I discovered the “inside-out” nature of experience that there is no “there” to get to – we are all “there” in the here and now – we just need reminding of it.

This is why the snow globe is such a potent metaphor.  In the throes of daily living, it is only when we quieten down and allow the snow globe to settle that we connect with the inner peace that is our natural state and access the inner wisdom that was there all the time.

Over the past 6 or 7 years I have become increasingly aware of the “inside-out” nature of experience and the transformative impact of this awareness on my own life and that of my clients.  When we think that all we need is a good “talking to”, what we really need is a good “listening to” and to be gently pointed back in the direction of our inner wellbeing.  We are so much more effective when we come from a settled place.

The past 3 years have been challenging for all of us, but in health care especially, and many of my colleagues are exhausted and feel emotionally “wrung-out” by dealing with the pandemic and delivering an amazing vaccination programme.  Since we have emerged from “lockdown”, the demands and expectations from patients have soared and the clinicians’ reserves are low. 

It is well recognised that at some point when the adrenaline “high” is over, the danger is that exhaustion and burn-out will take over.  This is the point when it is crucial to connect with the inner wellbeing that has been there all along – but so overshadowed by all that is going on that we have lost sight of it.

In the background, the relentless pace of formation and development of Primary Care Networks, that has not really slowed down to take account of dealing with the pandemic, and the current round of seismic changes in the structure of the NHS in England all take their toll, as long as we work on the assumption that what we experience from the outside is what makes us feel so worn out and stressed.  When we truly know that it is our thinking about what is happening that causes our stress, it no longer has the same power over us.

The conversations that I have with my clients help to point them in the direction of that understanding, allowing them to connect with their innate wellbeing and to live a purposeful, effective life, despite all that is going on around them. I mostly work with clients from health care backgrounds, especially those in Clinical Leadership roles in Primary Care, although my clients come from all walks of life.   

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"Spending hours trying to think your way out of your problems is like walking east looking for a sunset - no matter how smart you are and no matter how hard you're willing to work, it's never going to happen that way."
Michael Neil