Billy Boland: A lesson in perseverance

billy_bolandIt did not feel like the end when I submitted my portfolio for the NHS Leadership Academy, and sure enough it was not. I’ve been asked to make amendments, and there is also the submission of my closing statement to do, the final piece of written work on the journey. Any celebratory talk had been premature.

I’d already been through a cycle of peer assessment of work earlier in the programme. Looking people in the eye and telling them I thought their work wasn’t up to scratch had been draining, and I hadn’t been looking forward to repeating it. I was more prepared this time round, in the battle hardened sense. I entered our set meeting steeled for robust conversation. It was during our last residential on the programme, one where we had been under the microscope more than at any other time. I felt like I was hungover from the cocktail of feedback I’d been given the night before. I was still trying to regain my senses and understand what I’d been told. A round of passing and failing colleagues was the last thing I felt like doing.

We got through it. The residential came to a muted end as we said our goodbyes, and drifted off home to mull over the outcome of our assessment and the work we had yet to do. It’s taken me a while to bring myself round to writing again. I felt like I needed a break from reflecting for a while, and the brief turnaround time for the additional work meant I needed to focus on that.

I’ve now resubmitted and completed my closing statement. Resubmitting was hard, but the closing statement was rewarding to do. It was another chance to review my journey, from a different angle than before. But also it did bring a sense of finality that was missing from my portfolio submission or the end of the residential.

This final push since my last blog has been a lesson in perseverance. I’ve certainly found it the most difficult period to stay motivated through, and I’ve needed to dig deep to deliver this time round. I know from experience courses are often hardest at the end, when you’ve worked hard and you’re fatigued. Drawing on that experience and the support from others on the programme has helped me with the final push.

In line with this, we took a break from our reflective Twitter chats on leadership over the summer. However, we’re now really looking forward to our next chat around inclusivity and diversity in leadership. Anyone who is interested in this area is welcome to get involved and reflect with us this Wednesday, 10 September, at 7 pm GMT. The hashtag is #ReOTD.

Billy Boland is a consultant psychiatrist and associate medical director for quality and safety at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

Competing interests: I declare that I have read and understood the BMJ policy on declaration of interests and I have no relevant interests to declare.