Already helped thousands of people increase their confidence and improve their performance
Call Kate: +44 7779 646 976

This Saturday, 5th March, I will be both a coach and a mentor for those attending the Cambridge WOW Festival, supporting International Women’s Day.  You can book your place here: Cambridge WOW

In just over a month’s time I will be speaking at Cambridge AWiSE event on Moving into Management.  Open to non-members, bookings can be made here: http://camawise.org.uk/taking-on-management-responsibilities/

Happy New Year everyone!

Now we’ve entered into 2016, how many of you have made new year resolutions? There is, of course, some value in the making, reviewing and following resolutions, but as I’m sure you’re aware it doesn’t have to be a new year focus. However, this message isn’t about whether or not to make a resolution, but more about whether you have included one vital factor in your resolutions.

Most resolutions tend to be of the “lose weight”, “get fit”, “earn a big bonus” or “get new clients” type – of course if you’d made those, yours will be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. BUT are you missing a factor which will impact on your long-term happiness and mental as well as physical well-being?

If you’ve followed the research on happiness you are probably already aware of this factor… social connections.

Have you specifically decided to take action in this area? What resolutions have you made to stay in touch with friends?  How will you enhance your one special personal relationship (if you have a significant other).  What can you do to create more fun time with work colleagues?

There’s a wealth of research on the importance of social connections and relationships, and the link between these and longevity, happiness, mental and physical well-being.  Here’s a link to just one study, a TED talk about a longitudinal study lasting 75 years (wow!), which shows how valuable relationships are.

Enjoy watching, it’s only 10 minutes long… and create fun, love and laughter, and quality connections in your relationships during 2016.

Kate

Ps if you’d like to meet up for a cuppa to create a personal connection, just let me know 🙂

Kate Atkin

Corporate Public Speaking Challenge

As I mentioned in my last post, two years ago I discovered the theory of the Imposter Phenomenon while studying for a masters in positive psychology. This led me to realise that my own internal voices, which for years have been telling me that “I wasn’t good enough” or “if I didn’t do things 100% perfect it was a huge failure”, are actually false and quite common.

Now, I knew that intellectually before I came across the psychological term, but learning more about the phenomenon has helped me to understand and work on overcoming the feelings. So when I was offered the chance to compete in this year’s corporate speaking challenge I said yes, before really thinking about the consequences.

The finals were held in Bloomsbury House in London, last week and I gave a well-received 6-minute speech on the given topic of “everything needs to change so everything can stay the same”.  And I came second. So does that mean I failed? Well, if I listened to my Imposter talking I not only failed, but I AM a failure.  But is that really true? Most people would probably rather visit the dentist than take part in a public speaking competition.

It is true that I failed to get first place, but I also know the judges took ages over their deliberations between first & second place, and I know that I did my best on the night, and I know from feedback that others thought it was a very good, and informative, speech. I also know that justifying the second-place position is another of my imposter traits!

Michael Ronayne, director of the College of Public Speaking said “The Corporate Speaking Challenge brings together a wide range of accomplished speakers from all walks of society in a contest to test the fluency and credibility of the individual speakers. To be the runner up in a very strong field is a great achievement and Kate’s performance, talking about control, connection and purpose was worthy of the prize. She has great poise and a very relaxed and relatable manner. She engages naturally and draws the listener in with ease.”

Then this Friday I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 in the car about the BBC New Comedy Awards. Guess what struck me? A number of now highly successful comedians came second.  Did those placed second view themselves as failures and give up, or did they go on to pursue their craft? Some of our best-known and well-loved comedians came second, or weren’t even placed, when they entered the Awards. I’ll take solace from that.

So is second place a failure? No, real failure would have been finding an excuse not to take part at all.

If you find yourself making excuses not to speak in public, or find yourself reluctant to speak up in meetings or wish to brush up on your skills, then join me on 7th December at 6.30pm at St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge for a glass of wine, a nibble of cheese and some sharing of presentation tips.

To book, sign up via Eventbrite and make a donation on the night to help raise funds for Arthur Rank Hospice.

Impostor Syndrome dealing with the imposter phenomenon

reveal your imposter for what it is, a mask, not reality

How to banish your impostor or cope with imposter feelings

Having spent the past two years studying for a masters in applied positive psychology, and completing a dissertation on the imposter phenomenon and self-efficacy I should know enough about it by now to write a blog.  Yet my own Imposter rears its head when I go to put my fingers to the keyboard…. You probably know the sort of stuff, an internal voice which says “there are so many writing about this already, why you?”, “who’s going to want to hear your take?”, “are you sure you’ve got anything to add?” or “what if you write something that’s incorrect?”, “make sure there aren’t any spelling mistakes or typos” and “do you really know what you are talking about?”

Well do I?  I have read a few (ok, several!) books, numerous research articles and interviewed successful entrepreneurs, six men and six women, for my dissertation on the subject.  So does that qualify me to write a blog post?

What really qualifies me is my own experience of dealing with what I now know to be an Imposter for many years. Something which pops up every so often, or rather very often!  On coming across the term two years ago in the early part of my studies I realised that this is what I had been dealing with.

 

It wasn’t exactly a lack of confidence, more a crippling

“don’t put yourself out THERE as you’ll be FOUND OUT” feeling…

For those of you who, like me, can relate to the imposter feelings, there is often a huge desire to be successful, to do well and make a difference in the world, which contrasts big time with the internal struggle of what to do if you are successful, if you do make a difference because then you really have to work hard at not failing. To fail, so the imposter tells you, negates the success you have achieved and proves that you weren’t worth it after all.

Right from my early primary school days I have been subjected to ridicule, or “teasing” as it is often innocuously referred to. Harmless to many, for me it became something to avoid. If I didn’t do well, I would be ridiculed. If I didn’t succeed I was a failure. If I didn’t know something I was an idiot.  Not in other people’s eyes I might add…but in my own!  Others would tell me how well I was doing, how entrepreneurial I am to start a training business on my own (sixteen years ago), and how brave I am (to travel to Outer Mongolia on my own, for instance). Internally those comments only fueled the desire to work hard, to be 100% perfect… so as not to be found out.

 

Stop Hiding

Last weekend I spoke at the District 71 Toastmaster Conference and I let my Imposter completely out of the bag by pulling off my mask. I spoke about the ridicule, the internal angst, the perfectionism and also ways to overcome the feelings, which I confessed I was still working on.  Surprisingly (that’s my Imposter talking, to everyone else it wasn’t a surprise) I wasn’t ridiculed, I wasn’t run out of town for talking nonsense, instead I had people coming up to me to thank me for my honesty and to say how well I had connected with their own experiences.

Then just two days later I attended an event at the O2. A graduation ceremony for my masters in applied positive psychology. Again, I feel amazed that I not only now have a masters, but was awarded it with distinction!  Compare that with failing the 11 Plus, an examination all primary school leavers had to take in the UK to determine whether they were clever enough to go to the grammar school. I obviously wasn’t clever as I attended the Spilsby Franklin School, a secondary modern. But just two years ago, at the age of 48, at the same time as learning about the imposter phenomenon, I realised that I probably failed the exam as I took it at the age of 10 because my birthday is in August. How I hadn’t come to that realisation before I don’t know, but there it was staring me in the face.  My sisters both passed, I didn’t, yet I’m the only summer-born sibling.

 

What to do if you have experience imposter feelings

So what can you do to alleviate your imposter feelings?  The first step is to recognise them for what they are.  Feelings, not necessarily truths.  The second step is to start to talk about them.  You don’t have to go to the extreme of going on stage at a conference, but talk about them with family members or friends, or a work colleague you know you can trust.  Chances are they’ll go “yeah, me too”.

 

Further ways of banishing the imposter and boosting confidence will be the subject of subsequent blogs.  Meanwhile if you’d like me to speak at your conference, or to your staff or organisation, or for one-to-one coaching do get in touch. I’m on a mission to Banish the Imposter, my own included.

Contact me on kate@kateatkin.com or see www.kateatkin.com for more details.

Thank you.

  • Presentation Workout by Kate Atkin

    Signed copies will be available on the evening

  • How do you make your business, project or idea stand out?
  • Have you ever been asked to say a few words at short notice?
  • Do your knees knock or does your throat dry up when standing on your feet?

For many people making a presentation or speaking up in meetings is often feared, yet in today’s environment if you don’t make yourself and your idea, product or project stand out you’ll be passed over for the person who does.

Come along to network, learn and raise money for charity, suggested donation of £20 on the night.

Book your place via Eventbrite

This evening on presentation skills will address not only the skills to deliver powerful and persuasive presentations, but also the ability to deliver them with confidence and clarity.  There will be an opportunity to win signed copies of The Presentation Workout, donated by Pearson and also a chance to network over cheese and wine sponsored by Whitehill Pelham.  All finds raised on the evening will go directly to Arthur Rank Hospice Charity.

 

This is a rare chance to learn the skills from Kate Atkin, a world debating champion, #1 in UK & Ireland Toastmasters Speech Evaluation contest and runner up in JCI European Public Speaking competition, in an open event.  Normally Kate only runs workshops in-house for clients.

 

What will I learn?

Kate will cover the following areas

Planning a presentation                     Vocal techniques                               Controlling nerves

Body language                                         Beginning with impact                    Power Point tips

 

When and Where?

Monday 7th December 2015 hosted by St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge CB4 0WS

Network with cheese & wine from 18.30.  There will be a 60 minute interactive seminar followed by Q&A and the event will close by 21.00

 

How do I book?

Book online through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/presentation-skills-workshop-raising-funds-for-arthur-rank-hospice-tickets-19146035307

If you have any queries please contact Kate direct on 07779 646 976 or email kate@kateatkin.com.

 

yerkes dodson stress and performance

Yerkes Dodson Law: How stress can affect performance positively

Today, 4th November 2015 is the 17th national stress awareness day. Much of what is available on the internet about stress is about how to avoid it. The assumption is that stress = bad. But is that really the case?

For some people of course an overload of stress is unhelpful. But the focus on stress always being bad is in itself bad. There is such a thing as good stress, called eustress. Have you ever heard that being talked about? The term eustress was first coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye and can be helpful in differentiating between different types of stress.

A certain amount of stress, eustress, is good for you. Eustress can be a great motivator, provide challenge and purpose, both at work and in our home lives. The difficult thing is defining how much is good for you. It is different for different people. The level of stress I may be able to endure could be significantly different from the level you can cope with. It is also situational; we have different coping abilities and mechanisms in different situations. For instance a shouty work colleague may upset someone far more on one day than on another depending on what is going on elsewhere in their lives. Or the computer failing to pick up emails may be a blessing on one day allowing you to get on with other tasks, but a high stressor on another day when you are expecting an important contract to come through electronically.

The strategies for coping with stress, whether eustress or distress, are also varied. Mindfulness, meditation, playing squash (or other sport), walking or talking are all useful strategies. And there are many more. But remember, some stress is good for you and can help you achieve your goals. As can be seen in the Yerkes–Dodson curve when dealing with a difficult task, there is an optimum performance level. How will you achieve yours?