My name is Georgina Kirk and, if you sliced me like a stick of rock, what you’d find written there would be ‘Teacher’. My background is in teaching languages, alongside personal-development skills such as public speaking and how to succeed at interview. For many years I ran a language school and then decided to focus exclusively on the personal-development side. These days, I divide my time between stand-up psychology/motivational speaking and coaching clients in effective communication.
I’m based in Manchester and work throughout the UK, both speaking and coaching.
What sort of character goes around lecturing people on how to be perfect?
In my youth, I had a zealot’s clear vision of exactly what ‘perfect’ looked and sounded like in a person and, while I never went as far as giving talks on the subject, on an individual basis I felt it my duty to tell everyone what they were doing wrong. An exchange in The Big Bang Theory (Season 5, Episode 21, The Hawking Excitation for the cognoscenti) reminded me of this: Penny tells the superior Sheldon, “You love correcting people and putting them down”, to which Sheldon replies, “Au contraire. When I correct people, I am raising them up”. This is how I used to see it too.
As I got older, my certainty began to waver, and with it my zeal. My system wasn’t working. I was doing, saying, thinking, feeling everything I’d grown up believing was perfect, yet (oddly enough) it wasn’t always well received. Worse than not being able to persuade those around me that I was perfect and they could be too if they followed my instructions, I began to suspect there might be a problem with my paradigm. I was getting sick of throwing myself into a new group of people, expecting them all to love and applaud me, only to find myself marginalised. And inconsistencies were emerging in my template for perfection, which left me feeling confused and insecure.
Finally, the strain of all this took its toll and I slid into clinical depression. Then, of course, the pendulum swung right to the other extreme and I went into hiding, every social interaction I had to make potentially giving me many sleepless nights of shame and regret. (How could I have said that? What must people have thought when I did that?)
As the dark times dragged on, I began to assess what on earth had gone so horribly wrong. I needed to understand what had brought me to this low point in order to work out how I was going to rise up again. I enrolled on a 4-year part-time course at the Manchester Institute for Psychotherapy to study Transactional Analysis. I worked with several different therapists, I learnt about Mindfulness, I researched the theories around Locus of Control, I read books about mental health and life coaching, I listened to motivational speakers… I did everything I could to get to grips with the psychological processes that had sabotaged my life, and to rewire myself for success.
Gradually, as I developed and implemented the strategies I describe in this talk, my recovery gathered momentum. One of the main elements I clung to was the idea of reframing ‘perfect’ to mean, for me, aspiring to be the perfect me. I found this immensely liberating and empowering.
But this is not really about me, it’s about you.
The reason I give this talk is not to tell my story, as such. I use my experience to illustrate the points that will illuminate your life. Your life, of course, is completely different from mine but there are, it seems, universal guidelines that apply when it comes to how we see ourselves and our place in the world.
The techniques I share in this talk work. I know that not only because they have transformed me, but because they transform the clients I coach and because audience members have contacted me to say how much happier and lighter they feel and what great strides they’re making through life now that they’re approaching it differently.
I’m on a mission to create a perfect world! This is one where we all have healthy levels of confidence and self-esteem, so we can be happy as we are and enjoy the present, and where we can also learn, explore, experiment and improve without feeling defensive or fearing failure, so as to build a fulfilling future.
When I’m not working on psychological theories, some of my favourite activities are swimming in the sea, dancing, cooking, travelling and exploring. By nature I’m an urban chick – I love a couple of hours in a café with a large latte and a juicy novel set in Africa or Scotland – but I also enjoy pushing my physical and mental boundaries in the great outdoors. OK, ‘enjoy’ is not always the word I would use at the time, but it gives me huge satisfaction when I rise to a challenge. I’m getting better and better at wild camping and in July 2016 I walked the circumference of the Isle of Arran, 65 miles of varying gradient, in a week, carrying all my gear and sleeping wherever I could find a safe, dry patch of ground.
Something else that fascinates me is magic. I’ve always found it uplifting to watch and, over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve got to know some magicians and learnt the art myself. In June 2016, a dream came true when I became a member of The Magic Circle.