Mindset, Resilience, Leadership and Human Potential
“Beware of dream busters! They’re generally the ones who have given up on their dreams…” Kathryn Orford
Her dad was a former Australian Cycling Champion and by the time she was adopted, he was an entrepreneur with a huge vision.
He was her very first Mindset Coach.
“Give up was not part of my father’s vocabulary. That along with my sports mistress in 3rd class recognising my athletic ability and giving me opportunities that my fellow classmates had to wait till Year Five to try out for, had a massive impact on my self-esteem, self-worth and confidence as an athlete,” Kathryn explains.
Defining Moments – Falling Into Depression
But by far, the most transformative experience that shaped the woman she is today was also the most painful. After a failed marriage in her 20s, in her early 30s, she thought she’d met the man of her dreams. To say he turned out to be her biggest nightmare would be a gross understatement. He triple-timed her, lied to her about the nature of his relationships with the two other women, dumped her, and went on to marry woman #3 within three months.
“And to make matters worse, we were on a six-month course training to be professional trainers, and guess whose study group I was in? Yep. You guessed it! Theirs. So there they were, the happily married couple constantly in my face” she recalls, ruefully.
Taking Notice of Red Flags
One of the biggest lessons she learned was to trust her gut. Every time she questioned what was exactly the nature of his relationship with the other two women, he lied. And every time she lied, she’d get a twist in her gut. But she was in love with him, so she wanted to believe him.
Since then, she has learned to take notice of the red flags and to trust what Oprah refers to as her “Inner Compass” or Intuition.
“In my experience, it’s never wrong. In hindsight, I can honestly say that my biggest nightmare turned out to be my biggest gift. The Breaking of Me… was definitely the Making of Me! It set me off on a totally different trajectory.”
At that time, Kathryn had a highly successful school of performing arts, and her clients expected her to keep producing amazing results. So, she put on her ‘Superwoman Cape’ and pretended that she was okay. But in reality, she was far from okay. Eventually, she couldn’t sustain the act and fell into a deep, dark hole of depression. She was suffering from anxiety attacks and didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone teach her classes. And when she did manage to get out of bed and go out into her garden, all she could see were the caterpillars eating the flowers. “My previous rose-coloured glasses had been replaced with a murky grey pair. All I could see was what was wrong in the world.”
The final crunch was when she turned on music – and felt numb. What had previously brought her so much joy choreographing winning pieces had completely vanished. So she decided that if this was life, she didn’t want to be here. Thankfully, two of her beautiful students’ mums were there for her in her darkest hour, – and, as they say, the rest is history.
Defining Moments: Choosing Life
Prior to this, she’d dipped her toes in the water of Louise Hay’s best-selling Book “You can heal your life.” But she’d found it too confronting to look in the mirror and say, “I love myself.” Her inner critic would pipe up and say nasty things like, “With a nose like that?”
“When I chose life, I vowed to never allow anyone to rob me of my self-esteem and self-worth again. And that’s when the work really began. I became a course junkie and also studied NLP. That’s also when I realised that I wasn’t the only one who had an inner critic and that I could re-program it. This was a huge game changer. Ten years after that incredibly dark time in my life, I found out that I had been adopted. So him dumping me had triggered abandonment issues that I didn’t even know I had. That’s when everything made so much more sense.” I knew I was heartbroken at the time, but I couldn’t work it out why I felt so useless and worthless.
Defining Moments: Covid, Back to the USA
In July ’22, Kathryn was living in Colorado when COVID hit and her speaking, coaching and training gigs disappeared in the blink of an eye. So she returned to Australia on a repatriation flight, deciding to make Noosa her home. But with the state borders shut – and her peak performance coaching clients all down in Sydney – she totally lost her MOJO. And because the coaching work she does is quite deep, she finds it is much more powerful when done in person.
Fast forward to July 2022. She was catching up on Zoom Call with a close friend in the US, who said “Kathryn, I’ve never seen you like this.” Kathryn agreed, and her friend said, “Well, what are you going to do about it? Where do you want to be?” The answer was back in the U.S. So, she sold her house in Hawaii and moved back to Colorado in late January ’23. She’s BEYOND excited to be back. She recently attended Influence, The National Speakers Annual Conference, and felt like a child counting down the days to Christmas till she could get to see her speaking buddies that she hadn’t seen since July ’19.
“Lots of people tell me I’m so courageous, packing up my life and living in all sorts of different places. But honestly, I don’t see it as being courageous. I just see it as me doing what my heart desires and listening and acting on my intuition,” she explains.
Feminessence Is About Being Yourself
Kathryn believes that Feminessence is about embracing who we are, warts and all. “Stop playing what I call the ‘compare and despair game.’ That’s the only way we can really tap into our feminine essence and be our authentic selves in any situation. In my personal and business life, I love wearing elegant feminine clothes. It’s an expression of who I am. Even when I turned up slightly overdressed to an event recently, I held my head high and walked confidently into that room. And, interestingly, several people commented on how beautiful I looked. And because I’m finally comfortable in my skin, I feel confident being my creative, sometimes zany self in business settings.”
A defining moment about living life on her terms came at Robert Kiyosaki’s Business School for Entrepreneurs in Hawaii in 1989. Terry Cole Whittaker wrote on a flip chart, “What everyone else thinks of me is none of my business.” And then she said, “Let me repeat that again.” Kathryn realised in that moment that she’d unconsciously picked up her mother’s insecurities and had placed way too much value on other people’s opinions. So she vowed to stop being a people pleaser and just be herself. It didn’t happen instantly, she had to catch herself and interrupt the pattern.
And now, thankfully, today she can honestly say she lives life on her terms. “I know I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s just fine,” she says.
Lighting Up Her Clients – & Becoming A Mother
Kathryn is a speaker, author, coach and trainer and her expertise is Human Behaviour, Human Potential and Human Performance. Everything she does is about lighting people up and giving them the tools to make their dreams a reality. She was formerly a professional trainer and became a master practitioner in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). She is also a writer, and for many years she facilitated a Self-Esteem and Life Skills Program for young people called “All of me,” running that in the school holidays while her school of performing arts was on break.
But once she became a mother, adopting her daughter from Ethiopia when she was 48, she didn’t want to bring her daughter to the studio every day. She’d waited too long to be a mum to turn into an absent mum. She wanted to take her daughter to after school activities, not to the studio. Kathryn had already achieved everything she set out to achieve years beforehand, so she trained as a life coach and decided to specialise in working with athletes and performers because of her own background. “I understand their psyche, and what can stop them from reaching their true potential.”
Around the same time, she attended an event where Tony Robbins’s two head trainers were speaking, along with three Australian male speakers. Tony’s trainers were brilliant, which made the Australian speakers pale in comparison. And, to make matters worse, one was a male chauvinist pig, when two thirds of the audience were women. A friend was doing the AV for the event, so Kathryn went up to him and said “Paul there’s something terribly wrong with this picture. Five male speakers with a predominantly female audience, and one of them is up there bagging women!”
He knew her background as a trainer and Master Practitioner in NLP and said “Kathryn, we need women like you on stages.” She told a friend she was going to start speaking. He’d just joined NSAA and invited her to the next chapter meeting. When she found out their annual convention was the following month, she thought to herself “If I’m going to do this, I need to be there.”
That was about 15 years ago, and it was the best decision she has ever made. She now has speaking friends scattered all over the world.
Being A Leader, Making A Difference
Nothing lights her up more than seeing her coaching clients achieve goals that they previously thought of as pure fantasy – to witness them taking charge of their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours and re-imagining their deepest desires. It’s why she gets out of bed every morning. And audience members thank her for sharing her mental health journey, or saying something that really resonated with them,inspiring them to make positive changes in their lives or in their organisations. “It’s the best feeling!” she exclaims.
“The pandemic impacted us all, and lots of people are still suffering. Now more than ever people need authentic, empathic leadership sprinkled with a huge dose of hope and inspiration. I refer to it as Transformational Leadership. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to inspire and empower our people to Re-Imagine, Re-Design and Re-Invent their lives based on what their highest values are right now in this post pandemic climate.
“I refer to it as Re-Choreographing your Life.”
Kathryn’s vision is to become the Number One Mindset/MindShift Coach in the world for the sporting, performing arts and pageant industries, and to train other coaches to do likewise. She aims to be the most sought-after Transformational Leadership Speaker and Trainer for innovative organisations and companies, sports and the performing arts industries, and colleges. She also plans to create ‘The Inner Game of Winning Accreditation Program’ to leverage her expertise and provide sports and performing arts coaches and teachers with the tools to create outstanding results.
“I’m passionate about empowering people to break free of the boxes and labels that society is fixated on putting us in. When I was sixteen and announced that I was going to become a professional dancer, I was told on numerous occasions, “You’re too old, too tall, don’t have enough turn out in your hip sockets, and have flat feet… forget it.” So I gave up on my dream, but thankfully, my dream didn’t give up on me! At the age of twenty-one, I finally found a school that believed in me, proved my critics wrong, and turned professional. And guess what? Tall dancers are the highest paid in the world.
“So beware of Dream Busters. They’re usually the ones that have given up on their dreams.” Kathryn’s SERVICES at www.kathrynorford.com
CORPORATE/ BIZ INDUSTRY:
She has two keynotes that can also be delivered as longer Deep Dives:
- Choreographing your Company’s Culture
- Clear Out Your Mind-Shit by Creating a Mind-Shift.
- Three keynotes that can be delivered in person or online:
- Remember who you were… BEFORE THE WORLD TOLD YOU WHO YOU SHOULD BE!
- Riding the Resilience Train.
- Mindset Make-Over
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY
- Online and live programs based on her bestselling book “Become your #1 Fan ~ How to Silence Your
Inner Critic and Live the Life of your Dreams.”
PERFORMING ARTS AND SPORTS INDUSTRIES
- “The Inner Game of Winning.” One-on-one and team coaching (in person or virtually.) See https://www.kathrynorford.com/exceptional-performance-coaching-for-professionals
- Sport: https:// www.kathrynorford.com/the-inner-game-of-winning