Monday, January 27, 2014

Living a life of purpose and passion - one dynamic young woman shares her story

Kortney Olson, empowering young women with self-belief
Kortney Olson is the founder of Kamp Konfidence, a programme that aims to help develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence within young people, and in particular to encourage the empowerment of teenage girls.
Kortney is a dynamic young woman who is passionate about making a difference and helping young people to find a true sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. 
I asked her recently to share some of her thoughts and experiences around her own personal development - as well as her work in encouraging and guiding young people in their personal development.
1. How would you describe your own personal development journey so far Kortney?

Well, I'd say a lot of it has been based upon having made a lot of "stuff-ups" along the way!  But these mistakes have eventually proven to be some my life's best instructors.  Without having experienced some of these deep despairs and having been in some terrible dark trenches in my life, I don't think I'd be where I am today.
I have learned to be grateful for all of my experiences, even those that included rape and drug/alcohol addiction. They have made me a more determined, stronger and a wiser person - and are all apart of my story, my path. However, I certainly don't  think that everyone has to experience crisis and trauma in order to learn more about themselves

2. Kortney, you’re a bit of a fitness junkie – boxing, martial arts, weight lifting, yoga to name just a few of your passions. What role do you think fitness plays in personal development? 

EVERYTHING!!!!!  Being athletic and embracing strength, has given me the edge I have today. I've been fascinated with muscle ever since I was a little girl.  I've discovered that having muscle and being female, has actually given me the exact opposite of what society, advertising and the media would lead me to believe.  
99 out of 100 people will much more likely have an automatic respect for you. It makes me feel empowered, and unstoppable.  When I walk down a street and make eye contact with any given man, I can look him in the eye, and mentally say either 1 of 2 things: A. you wish you had legs this powerful, or B. I dare you to act out of line-

Haha!! I'm partially kidding.  However, I really do value being able to go anywhere, anytime, and know that I have the ability to protect myself and those around me.  Sport and the fitness that is required to compete at an elite level has given me a better understanding of myself and the discipline required to achieve your goals in life.

3. You compete in international fitness events – do you think people can gain personal development benefits from competition? 

Personally I hate competing.  I can only speak for myself Brian, but I find that the extra pressure and expectations I tend to put on myself only stressed me out.  
It always gave me a sense that I needed to prove something to other people, and not myself.  I also am one of those types of people who are "a jack of all trades".  I'm not an expert in any one particular field, and tend to be good at doing a lot of different things. Competing in various sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, arm wrestling, and Body Building (even cheerleading and golf) is great for creating a need to practice, but it also created a need and drive to be the best. 
I've come to discover that life isn't about being the best- it's about ridding yourself of needing to prove anything to anyone, and showing up to have some fun. 

All up, I'd say the best outcome (because I do like to focus on the positive outcomes of ALL situations) from competitions is improved self-discipline.  

4. You run a personal development camp for teenage girls, aiming to strengthen self-esteem and confidence ...... Would you tell us a bit about this?  

Uh oh!!  I better just restrict my answer to a short one, otherwise we'd be here all day!  Kamp Konfidence is all about young women coming together to realise that we are all way more similar than we are different.  In a judgment-free, fun environment, we learn the 5 habits, principles, and lessons that lead to the development of self love, which translates to Konfidence.  At the end of the day Bri, if you don't have self love, life can become bleak.  It's all just a show.  A production- 

Furthermore, we learn about the mind+body connection.  Look- I'm going to stop there because I seriously can't sum up all of the things we do.  But I can tell you this - I believe that Kamp Konfidence has the power to transform lives - and when you get enough people who live their lives from a space of self-love and respect for others, but who refuse to allow themselves to be manipulated - then you can revolutionise the world.

5. What have you found to be some of the keys to living a happy and fulfilling life? 
I've spent so much of my 32 years, competing with everyone.  I have a massive ego, and I'm constantly needing to put it into check.  Eventually I realised that life isn't so much about winning, or being number 1, but more about showing up and giving things an honest go.  
When the expectations of being the best are removed,  I tend to find the ability to enjoy being in the moment, and focusing on what I'm doing right then and there, and not about a future outcome.  Don't get me wrong, this is not an easy task.  Especially when I've spent my entire life doing the exact opposite.  I've even gone as far as to get a small tattoo on the underside of my wrists.  On the left wrist, it says: "it's progress" and on the right wrist: "not perfection".  I think I look at that least two times a day.  

Also, I find that having the 3 A's (Awareness, Acceptance, & Assertiveness) in my life as on-going lessons, is critical to maintaining balance. Awareness is a must because without it, there is no problem to solve.  No need for improvement.  From body awareness (how my posture is, and how my weight is balanced as I stand and talk to you), to environmental awareness (is that a van parked next to my car now?, to am I helping play my part in helping mother earth stay inhabitable?).  
Acceptance is key because without it, life is very draining.  Accepting other people for who they are, is much better  use of our energy.  The only thing in this world that we can control, is our own reactions and actions.  We have absolutely no control over other people, places and things.  The moment we stop trying to control the outside world around us, and accept everything for the way it is, life tends to move along much more slowly.  
Acceptance is also a way for me to find time to live in the moment more often.  If I stop labelling everything and everyone as either good or bad, and that it just is- I tend to not think so much about the past, nor do I worry about the future.  I'm right here, right now, in the moment.
Lastly, Assertiveness.  Had I learnt assertive communication from a young age, I would have avoided SO MANY situations where I wound up being a victim and feeling sorry for myself.  Unnecessary guilt, shame and resentments are what come of non-assertive communication.  Being a people pleaser, and wanting everyone to like me, is something I still work on today.  But the fact that I accept myself, exactly the way I am, and I'm aware that I still struggle with it from time to time, allows me to move forward and continue my practice with assertiveness.  It truly is an art, but if learnt from a young age, can really help a person achieve what they want in life.  The world is already too full of people-pleasers and push-overs.    

6. Given all your experience working with young people – what final words of advice would you offer to people who are struggling to “find themselves”?  

Try new things!!!  Don't have any expectations on yourself, and don't let mom, dad, boyfriend, girlfriend, teachers, brothers, sisters- don't let anyone pressure you to focus on being THE BEST!, or being #1!
Life isn't about winning all the time.  It's about having the ability to be humble, and not worry so much about an outcome.  In my experience, I find that when you don't pressure yourself to win, be the best, or be #1, you'll find that you're able to enjoy being in the moment more often, and truly enjoy whatever it is that you are doing.  
I've found that the number 1 fear of so many people is worrying about being judged by others.  "What will mom and dad say if I don't win first place?  I really don't want to disappoint them…", or "what would they think if I couldn't hold a rhythm and sounded like a compete tool…"-  This fear of being judged is what holds a lot of people back from trying and exploring new things.  Just remember, the only opinion that matters about you, is your own.

Lastly, learn some form of meditation.  The less we "think", the more we grow.  I'm 32, and am only just now starting to understand how much potential each individual human being possess.  The power of the mind is truly fascinating stuff.  I have a mind coach, and am working on training my brain as much as I train my body.  The two don't work so well without the help of the other.  Now that I understand  my thoughts actually create my reality, and that it isn't some kind of peace-lovin' hippy-talk, I'm putting more focus on my brain training. 
My life coach has helped me understand how we create limiting self beliefs, and continue to operate off of those on a subconscious level throughout our life. Learning how to clear those beliefs, and replace them with the truth, has really been one of my greatest life lessons so far.  
Thank you for sharing some inspiring lessons Kortney ...... and for an insight into your own life and the positive philosophy that has enabled you to overcome some challenges that may have broken many other people.

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