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Report on the intervention programme

soul talk seminar for nurses

  1. PREAMBLE

There often arises the need to change attitudes, behavior and therefore quality of service delivery to improve the quality of life in the workplace as well as in society. Change is constant and change is inevitable, but it can be managed to produce desirable change, instead of being left to chance, which is unpredictable and is likely to produce undesirable outcomes.

Change must be managed not on behavior but deeper inside where values and belief systems reside.  For that reason, Soultalk’s approach in changing the quality of work and life is through changing mindsets, as the most effective method. To that end, we have designed a remarkably powerful programme, we appropriately call Self Mastery and interpersonal Skills, which helps organizations by engaging individuals within these to develop awareness of their personal power to overcome life’s challenges. The Department of Health benefits because, just like a building relies on the strength of its building blocks, the bricks, for its own strength, the Department finds its strength in its building blocks, the individuals constituting it.

Purpose

The purpose of Self Mastery and Interpersonal Skills programme is to change mindsets in order to change behavior and influence team work and therefore generate a healthy organisational image. To that end, the training in Self Mastery and Interpersonal Skills is an appropriate method, especially because it is really about thinking skills, the mother of all skills. The Self-mastery and Interpersonal Skills training programme is designed to engender a spirit of personal responsibility in people. This is done through raising awareness about the power that every individual has, to shape her own life.

The programme recognizes that many people, irrespective of gender, race, creed, levels of education, career or any other group differentiation are unaware of the ultimate power they posses over their circumstances. Such people go through their lives blaming or surrendering to things that happen around them, such as other people’s actions, poverty, family background, physical disability, abuse and many other forms of challenges; many people fail in life, not because they are not smart but simply because they do not believe in themselves. Such people are in the blaming game, instead of taking responsibility.

By creating awareness of existing personal power, Soultalk’s programme goes on to explain the principles that govern life; it offers techniques that enable people to use those principles as well as equipping them with coping skills and techniques of emotional sustenance to go through the process of personal change.

The person going through the programme is offered adequate information to realize his or her innate power to create his or her own destiny and achieve his or her goals, designs and desires in life and aligning these with the mandate, mission and values of the workplace. This training also equips the individual with methods of understanding their relationships at home and outside their homes. Because individuals are building blocks of any organization, once the quality of their life changes, the quality of life of the organization changes as a consequence, when the critical mass is achieved. For nurses, this programme is spot on because the nursing profession requires people who take responsibility while placing value and worth in other people’s lives. Patients would therefore benefit from the empathy and compassion that arise from those attributes.

Scope and Alignment

Self-mastery and Interpersonal Skills programme, as developed by the African Institute for Personal Excellence and Leadership (AIPEL), addresses paradigms that people live by and, among other attributes, seeks to instill the spirit of interdependence and shared values to help in the promotion of team spirit. The programme does this by facilitating a regime of effective personal management and personal leadership skills. AIPEL recognises that there are empowering and limiting paradigms and in the programme’s seminar, the participants are guided towards discovering their own basic paradigms and values. They are shown how to independently determine which of those empower and which disempower them, thus affording them the power to modify them accordingly.

Background

Because many people imagine, wrongly, that circumstances (things that happen around them) are responsible for producing the outcomes that we experience, such as happiness and misery, this programme establishes the relationship between circumstances, the response that an individual makes on those circumstances and the outcome of that interaction. It becomes clear to the participant that response, and not circumstances is the decisive of the two elements in producing outcomes, which can either be pleasant or miserable. The programme is therefore designed to demonstrate to participants that whether an individual experiences happiness or misery, he or she is actually responsible for that outcome. It further gives them lessons as to how they can exercise choice

Participants are made aware of the fact that the reason why people fail or deny that circumstances can eventually submit to effective response is that they use static thinking, as opposed to dynamic thinking. Static thinking looks at the present frame of events, without noticing the previous related frames and how the previous and the present actually determine the future events. Dynamic thinking looks at the present events as configurations that are an outcome of previous events between circumstances and responses and then allow these configurations to play out mentally into future events.

Static thinkers become prisoners of past frames, while dynamic thinkers allow themselves the freedom to review the past, live effectively in the present and steer themselves consciously into the future, giving themselves the power to shape that future.

Of course, dynamic thinking is not possible without the knowledge about the attributes of all and any circumstances, the basic of which are the character of the circumstances, the process that must be observed, awareness about the existence of a limitless number of options available to one and the ongoing changes that occur in the circumstances. Added to that knowledge is the understanding of the range of events that together constitute response, from thinking to action.

Many people know about the importance and potency of attitude in our lives but do not know where it comes from or that it actually generates the action that eventually produces the outcome; that is the reason they cannot take responsibility for either their attitude or indeed the outcomes of their actions. This programme eliminates that tendency.

  1. SITUATION ANALYSIS

Challenges

The apparent challenges in the workplace arena are multiple, combining historical, economic, attitudinal and other factors associated with transition.  Isolating any of these factors, and attributing our problems to it, is less than satisfactory and would simply place us in a vicious cycle. What is needed is a holistic approach that penetrates to the core of all human dynamics- thinking. Since everything starts with thinking and the quality of any outcome in human endeavor is the function of the quality of thinking, it goes without saying that there is a need for the enhancement of our thinking skills, as the mother of all other activities in all areas, including the nursing profession,.

It is pivotal that individuals step out of the crippling past, free themselves from blame and blaming. The thinking patterns that are required now should empower the individual. Empowerment means that each must know his or her area of operation and take full responsibility for what happens in that area. 

Goals and Objectives

The overarching objectives of the Self Mastery programme are:

  • To eliminate the perception that circumstances are more powerful than the persona
  • To orientate participants for reception of programme
  • To create a foundation for exercising sense of responsibility
  • To create awareness of where focus ought to be placed in resolving the source of the problems in organization
  • To understand the reason for all action
  • To appreciate the source of emotions and feelings about situations and other people in one’s surroundings
  • To create a sense of purpose and realize value in other people
  • To understand personal power
  • To understand how perception is created in the mind.
  • To understand the patterns of the mind to avoid guesswork
  • To appreciate the place of choice in one’s life
  • To understand focus of control, for effectiveness and peace of mind
  • To use the formula that ensures successful performance
  • To understand the techniques for identifying values that mislead
  • To understand the underlying motivation
  • To expand understanding of disempowering beliefs for better recognition
  • To use universal values in decision-making.
  • Achieve rapport through the use of values and beliefs
  • To understand stress, cope with it, manage it or prevent it instead of trying to escape from it.
  • To discover purposeful living that enhances quality of life and establishes balance between work and private life
  • To take responsibility for what happens in one’s life
  • To determine the impact of the programme on individuals

Outcome

The training on Self-mastery & Interpersonal Skills results in change of attitude and therefore behaviour. The result is measured in terms of a comparison of the beliefs that participants have, regarding their environment (circumstances) and their comments about what the programme has had on them, after the training.

Conceptualization

Pre-training and Post training comments by attendees

Illustrated in the tables below is a summary of comments from attendees relating to their lives both inside and outside of their working environment:

  • Pre-training evaluation: This exercise is conducted to determine the participant’s self-image and what relationship they have with their environment. The aim is to later compare these pre-training inputs with the post-training comments by the participants themselves. This procedure of comparing the pre-training beliefs and post training self-assessment also assists in determining whether learning transfer has taken place in the training seminar. Each participant was asked to list all the things that make her miserable at home, work and in life generally. Their response is summarized in this table.

Remarkable is the fact that in their post training evaluation of the impact of the programme on them, all, except one participant, commented that they would not mention these issues as causing them misery because of their realization that all these issues fell under the province of circumstances and that it was response to circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves which cause misery. This is an indisputable indication that the programme has the effect of installing the spirit of responsibility in participants.

QUESTION 1 RESPONSE
Things that make you miserable at home.

 

Financial Problems
Troubled children
Spousal problems
Communication problems
Unsupportive family
Extended family members problems
Infidelity
Socio-economic problems
Spousal problems
Loss of loved ones
Problem with neighbours
Insecurity (crime)

Lies

  Noise
  Immaturity of adults
  People who do not verbalise
  Lack of time to spend with family

 

QUESTION 2 RESPONSE
Things that make you miserable at work. Lack of Communication
Disobeying protocol
Absenteeism
Grapevine/Gossip
Lack of teamwork
Poor performance
Lack of commitment to work
Poor working conditions & Lack of resources
Insubordination &rudeness
Unfinished duties
  No incentives
  Shortage of staff
  Doctors undermining one’s authority
  Overtime
  Unauthorised leave
  Lack of team work
  Lackl of support from top management
  Unfulfilled promises
  Low morale
  Work attitudes, e.g., “I don’t care”
  Low salary

 

QUESTION 3 RESPONSE
Things that make you miserable generally in life.

 

Foreigners in the country
Incidence of HIV/AIDS
Traffic jams
High rate of crime
Competition with friends
Failure by government to protect citizens
Drug abuse by teenagers
  Children with  no morals
  Unemployment within the community
  • Post-Training Comments: The exercise of post training evaluation is conducted to evaluate the extent of the learning that has taken place during the seminar. This is measured by the participant’s response to the content of the training.
Question 1 Participants Responses  
How where you feeling about your life before attending this Programme Participants demonstrated an insight of understanding and seeing life differently as compared to when they started participating in the programme. Most responses show that the participants life was characterized by what surrender to circumstances.

On how they felt before they attended the programme, the participants responded in the same vein, almost as if they were consulting with one another.  They all admitted to having had a negative feeling towards life. Words such as overwhelm, were associated with responsibilities they have and the circumstances they face.  Some felt anger and some felt life was unfair, that time was inadequate some were unable to approach those situations confidently and fearing to attempt certain actions, and stressing in confusion and becoming miserable. One said that she thought maybe her manager had identified negative attitudes on her, hence sending her to the course. One admitted that she used to think that she knew better.

Analysis: Responses are characterised by words such as fear, confused, overwhelmed, depressed, angry. People often experience these feelings because they let challenges control them instead of they controlling their challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Question 2 Participants Responses  
Do you think the information you got will help you manage yourself better? Explain your answer briefly.

 

This second question sought to determine if the participants thought the information they got from the programme would help them manage themselves better than they could before.   

The trend was the same, showing that a change had taken place in the way they see the future in terms of their behavior and attitudes, saying things such as now having the ability to apply values in behavior and towards circumstances and having control over outbursts in behavior. Attitudes towards other people appear to have benefitted as some say they would now relate better with themselves, children and other people. Because this programme is about the persona, rather than the “nurse” or “the worker”, per se, it is not surprising that members of the family as well as those of the communities the participants come from would benefit from the manifest change of attitudes.

The programme emphasizes on the differences between circumstances, response and outcomes in order to instill the sense of responsibility in that it is not the circumstances but the response of the person that determines the person’s quality of life. The intention is to cause people to change from blaming people and things other than themselves, when things go wrong. When statements such as “I can now differentiate between a circumstance, response and outcome” come from the participants, it is clear that the programme has achieved its aim of raising that kind of awareness.

Self-awareness is crucial in people managing themselves effectively in life and that fact has reached the understanding of the participants, as one says, “I think I have grown intellectually and spiritually”; “… also knowing or mastering myself completely will help with self awareness”. 

 

The following statements demonstrate that the awareness of the important difference between the three aspects of life, circumstances, response and outcome, has truly risen:  “I  can identify the circumstance and how I respond”; “I am more responsible”;  “It made me understand myself and others better, I am now able to mind my language and control my emotions” ; “I know exactly what to do when I’m faced with a circumstance”; “ now I know I first have to identify the problem, know who I am and apply the skills that I learned accordingly”.

 

Focus on the interests of other people in the minds of the participants has now improved as all the participants mention the importance of other people in statements like, “I need to better improve my knowledge so as to empower others; I have realized that people value things differently so people cannot be treated badly; Yes, now that I know that I can add value to people’s lives and how I will do that; I will be able to communicate and relate to people around me including my subordinates.

 

 
Question 3 Participants Responses
What do other people in your life mean to you? Mention examples of categories of people that come to mind in this regard. Hope are you going to relate to them, if that way is different from how you used to handle them before?

 

Because people are important in self-development as well as how an individual leads her life and conducts herself at work, the third question asked, as to what other people in their lives meant to them.

Remarkable and inspiring answers were generated by this question, demonstrating that this crucial aspect of life now takes pride of place in the participants’ lives.

 

All categories of people feature in the participants’ responses, children, husbands, superiors and subordinates at work, colleagues and patients.  All participants indicate that their behavior towards people are now going to change, and some actually saying that the behavior of people towards them was a reflection of their own behavior towards people!  The following input is telling: I have peace with myself right now as I think some of the other things that I do may be the cause of their behavior towards me. My superiors at the workplace, I sometimes would not meet the due date and I found myself lying to them as if I was busy with something else as in wasting time doing unnecessary things. When they become hard to me at least I will have that respect by apologizing not as if I degrade myself.

 

Participants recognize that people are “my helpers e.g. source of information and comfort, colleagues, children, subordinates, patients”. I will be more compassionate and empathetic. I am the one who is in control; if I have a problem I can consult other people who have more knowledge and experience than me. I can also get more information from the internet.

While acknowledging that there arrogant people in their lives, some participants undertake to “educate them about attitudes so that they know how to respond to situations so that they can produce positive results” .  There are inputs that undertake to “ show respect even when dealing with conflicts and learn not to be emotional and listen to myself when I speak.”

 

Humility straddles the comments of the participants, such as, “Also, I would like to associate with people who know better than me, who have got knowledge, experience and will encourage and support me to see things differently and to accept change as it comes. I like to be transparent with everyone that I come across and be a good listener”.

Question 4 Participants Responses
What Topics covered in this programme are most important to you or have made the greatest impact on you?

 

It was important to ask the participants what topics interested them most; it is interesting pleasing that the topic on the Map of Life tops the list. This topic is actually fundamental because everything falls within it. We are all looking for a place called “happiness” in the “Territory” called life, yet most of us find ourselves in the place called “misery”. This means we get lost. Of course we get lost because we do not have the Map of Life or the one we have is incomplete or we use the wrong map.

For the participants to refer to this topic as important is truly gratifying.

 

The next in line of the important topics according to the participants are the success method, life’s purpose, and the principles that govern relationships.  Alongside these mentions, are the topics on FEAR and the fact that all the topics were equally important.

 

The Success Method, in the context of the programme, is about the progressive realization of steps towards achievement of anything material intellectual, emotional and spiritual and is therefore all encompassing. It is thus pleasing to note that the participants noted this, especially in our society, which is so materialistic in its approach, that success has come to mean possession of material things.

 

Life’s Purpose stands out too because we all have a purpose in life and if one follows one’s purpose, one become harmonious with the universe and therefore with other people, which is important from the point of view of work, where team spirit is crucial not only for service delivery but for organizational image as well.

 

Fear is important to understand because it stands in the way of success; it is therefore very pleasing that the participants appreciate its importance in our lives. That awareness will help overcome it and ensure effectiveness in the participants’ lives. What is sad though is that information, as a topic, is way down below the rest of the other topic mentioned by the participants, whereas it should have taken first place. Only one participant mentioned it as being an important topic.

 

       
Question 5 Participants Responses
How you intend changing your life and working style and what do you think you are to achieve in life because of that?

 

The fifth question required the Participants to indicate how they intended changing their lives and working style and what they thought they would achieve by changing these. Just as the question intended, the participants spoke positively about almost everything in their lives and work, family, colleagues, friends and so on. It became clear from their inputs that the programme had opened up mental files that the participants had hardly ever opened and used for a long time.

Comments are about “relating much better with my family and relatives”, and “deal better with difficult staff members” as well as become “ an example to my leaders and … to my peers and my subordinates” and  “I intend on following the principle that governs the relationships in all that I do I’m working with my family friends and my community”. We have agents of change here.

 

Exactly what the programme is designed to generate, the participants indicate that they would now easily take responsibility for their actions and what happens around them and desist from “blaming others for what is happening in my life” and “be more responsible, add value to my seniors, as well as “add value to everybody, including patients”, and become “conscious of what I do and say at all times”.

So much enthusiasm in the their response, you could touch it, in words such as “I am so motivated, I want to further my studies e.g. to do management or public health” and “Improve and expand my knowledge base” and “will take responsibility for my actions, thoughts and emotions”.

Selfishness seems to be heading for the dust bin,  in expressions such as, “Stop considering myself only and involve everyone.  I am having a new perspective, including with different characters in my work situations” and “I intend changing my life by facing the challenges by learning to take criticism positively” as well as “Work strategically to keep and maintain relationships and conduct with people around me”, by working with people, sharing and treating individuals as unique and never expecting to be loved or hated by everybody”.   Not least, “I am going to read a lot and attend more seminars”.

 

Question 6 Participants Responses
At the beginning of the programme, you were asked to write down the issues that cause you misery. Would you still write them down the same way? Please explain.

 

Before delivery of the programme, the participants were asked to mention the “issues” that they thought “caused them misery” at home, at work and in life generally.  This was done in order to demonstrate that most people actually blame circumstances (people and things outside themselves) for their undesirable experiences in life; further, to demonstrate that this training  programme effectively disabuses people of the notion that other people and things outside ourselves create our destiny and it engenders the fact that we actually create our own outcomes –always.

It was not surprising therefore that all of the participants, except one, said that they would not say the same things now that they wrote at the beginning of the programme, because in what they wrote then, they were blaming circumstances, instead of looking into themselves.

For their comments in this regard, please refer to the APPENDIX II

 

 

Question 7 Participants Responses
How did the trainer present the programme?

 

For the sake of completeness, the participants were asked to comment about the manner and style of presentation of the trainer, Michael Muendane. For obvious reasons, you are kindly asked to read these comments in the APPENDIX II
  1. Measuring Impact

The success of the training will be measured by the change in behaviour. In the short term, change takes place within the individual; in the medium term, it takes place in the organization, the hospital, the greater the number of members that attend and consequently experience change. In the medium to long term, society changes too and when it does, it gives further impetus to both the organization and the individual to change, as he/she will be operating in a supportive environment. Each element influences the other.

  1. Conclusion and Way Forward

The illustration on the diagram above indicates that change need not only occur to employees only, but rather it is a circular phenomenon that requires involvement by employees, employer and society. Therefore in order to bring about change, as many nurses as can be trained must undergo the training to ensure that we reach a critical mass, which will be self-generating to guarantee widespread change in attitude and behaviour.

It is significant that in their post-training evaluation, that each participant demonstrated a powerful approach to life and acknowledging that though challenges will continue to exist, she was equal to facing and overcoming them by taking responsibility for the outcome of her thoughts and actions. This is quite different from the victim mentality exhibited in the pre-training comments, where everyone blames circumstances for how they feel.

The post training evaluation demonstrates the recognition that it is one’s response that matters in producing outcomes that become one’s quality of life. This is the major objective of the Self Mastery programme, namely, to place responsibility back in the hands of the individual.

Should every nurse (or at least a critical mass of nurses) be exposed to the same course and consequently everyone took responsibility for their actions and thoughts, there would be greater empathy and mutual consideration and the speed of change in the nursing profession would be accelerated and the former reputation and image of the nursing profession would be restored.

Since the change experienced in the above report is only after three days of training, the course three-day presentation all by itself does not necessarily guarantee speedy or even sustained change. As any psychologist or advertiser would tell us, new information has to be internalized, and internalization is the result of repetition and reinforcement. This is the reason, workbooks are supplied by SOULTALK, so that the participants can continue reading and by sharing with members of the family, would reinforce their learning through the support they would enjoy in the family.

We intend shooting a video, resources permitting, so that every participant would walk away with a copy of the DVD, which would help the them to revise this exciting programme whenever they desire and, in this case, together with their families and even friends. Reinforcement would then be achieved and the change would be permanent and the programme would outpour into the community at large.

This effectively becomes a holistic and lifetime learning experience. Moreover, if most of their colleagues, senior and junior, were to have the same experience, reinforcement and internalization would guarantee permanent desirable change.

In view of the above considerations, a rollout within the health service of this powerful programme is a recommendation that follows naturally.  We sincerely hope the recommendation will be embraced for the good of our country and its advancement in terms of health peace and prosperity.

                                                                  -END-

 

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