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The C-4 Experience

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I have been enjoying the privilege of bringing my message of inspiration to schools and businesses. Inspiring audiences to blast past average and set their own personal standards of excellence. Most recently I brought this message to HP Canada’s head office and was overwhelmed with the wonderful feedback. But what’s even more enjoyable for me is bringing the message of improved mental health in the area of self-esteem to school’s through my presentation called “the C-4 Experience”.

The 4 C’s that we’re going to take a look at here are; Clarity, Consistency, expanding your Comfort Zone, and Celebrating your victories. I learned the hard way that wishing alone never accomplished anything, DOING is the only way to get things done. But understand that it’s a process and if you gotta take baby steps to move forward, then do so. So let’s get into it shall we? What is the C-4 Experience really about? Let’s take a trip to Niagara Falls and find out…


THE FIRST  “C” — CHARACTER: (who’s showing up?)

The first C refers to this idea of Character, the type of person that you decide you’re going to be. I believe that this is always the most important place to start. You see, the one thing that is always in your control is the decision you make about what version of you is going to show up each day and to each event that life brings to you. You ALWAYS get to decide. Now it doesn’t mean that you will always make the right decision, I certainly haven’t, but the fact remains that you are in control. Are you the type to bully someone else or the type to stick up for the person being bullied?

True story, when I was in grade school I got in trouble and sent to the principal’s office twice for beating up bullies. There were these 2 separate instances where guys were beating up on someone that wasn’t strong, wasn’t popular and was typically picked on. This one time in particular, I was at Westheights Public School in Kitchener and this one kid who was pretty weak was pushed onto the ground and getting beat up.

I saw it happening and I wasn’t having it and I wasn’t going to stand by and watch it happen. I was maybe 7 or 8 at the time. So I jumped in and started beating up the bully, punching him in his back, really beating on him like I was the caped crusader or something (without the cape of course). Now I’m not telling you to go and do that, in fact I really advise against it.

The teacher that was supervising recess came and broke us up and me and the guy that I was beating on got sent to the principal’s office. I plead my case that I was just helping out, doing what any lawful citizen would do…he didn’t buy it. Although he probably understood why I got involved, I still got into big trouble for it. But the question it raises is: are you going to stick up for your fellow classmates? Not by fighting for them physically, but by being the type of person that can be counted on.

In terms of taking care of this planet, what version of you is showing up in this regard? Let’s face it, as adults we haven’t done a great job of leaving a healthy planet for the next generations to work with. Some of you are going to have to clean up the mess that was made while the industrial revolution was getting us to this point in our history.

In creating the conveniences that we have now, the environment took a serious beating and as we pass on this globe into your capable hands we give it to you in rough shape. But I know and firmly believe that you have the potential to right some of our wrongs and be leaders for years to come in an effort to restore this planet to where it needs to be in order to thrive.

Another piece to the character puzzle is the idea of being the type of person that can work through tough times and still come out ahead. Let’s face it, life isn’t always going to be easy, and for some of you there seem to be more difficult days than good days. Continue to believe that the breakthrough is coming. Don’t give up on yourself and figure that there’s no point in even trying – the world needs your contribution.

I could give you different analogies about how muscles only get stronger after being under stress and how a golf ball flies truer because of all the dents and dimples, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Decide today that you’re going to be the type of person that will rise through adversity and be an example of what’s possible when you don’t give up. Be strong enough to ask for help if you need it. Believe me, you’re not weak if you need help, you’re human.




When you’re clear about some goals you want to accomplish or at least, which direction you’re headed in, you then have something to work with in your life. The more focused you are on an outcome, the less distracted you become by the negative things that will inevitably happen in life.

I learned that lesson early on when I was in grade school. When I was 12 years old I asked my gym teacher, Mr. Hooks, “how do you get an athletic scholarship?” He basically told me that if you’re good enough, they’ll find you. From that point on my focus was to earn a track and field scholarship to go to school in the U.S. Once I got into high school and especially in my senior year, drinking, drugs and excessive partying weren’t an option because they didn’t fall in line with my goal.

When you as a student can focus in on what it is you’re going for you get a type of tunnel vision that blocks out distractions and allows you to be more productive and to feel like your efforts matter. A simple example of how to apply this is in the area of taking a test. Maybe you have a test or an exam coming up, first off get clear on what outcome you want, what do you want to score on this test? Do you want an A or to just pass it? Once you’re clear on that outcome, then you know what steps you need to take in order to get an A.

You know you need to study diligently, each day. You need to block out distractions when you’re studying, maybe turn off the phone, leave YouTube till you’re finished or one of my time tested tricks, setting my timer on my phone for 30 minutes to an hour and only when my timer goes off do I allow myself to get up and take a break. But experience has taught me that if I’m unclear on what I want on that test and I decide that I just “want to do well”, then I’ll study a bit, get distracted and look at my phone, check my emails and next thing I know I’m out of the groove and putting it off til tomorrow.

Another thing that getting clear on small goals does is protects us from the naysayers and the haters. Maybe you’re being bullied at school and/or online. Although it will affect you, (you’re only human), being clear on some of the things you want to achieve make the comments less important because your mission/vision is bigger than some idiot’s opinion and insults. When I knew I wanted to earn a scholarship, it didn’t matter to me who thought I was too small, too short or whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, the comments did hurt, I wasn’t immune to them, but at the same time I was able to channel that inner hurt to make me work a little harder and prove people wrong and prove to myself that I could do it!! You can do it too. But first, get clear on some small goals; get focused on a little goal and then write what steps you think it’ll take to get there and then just follow your own steps. You’re smart enough to do this. I have faith in you!!

Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.” Muhammed Ali




Then next ingredient in our C-4 explosive is extending your Comfort Zone. This has been a tough one for me I tell you. I use the saying, “I’m willing to stretch myself, just within my comfort zone, that’s all.” So what is a comfort zone? When I Googled the definition it said; “a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

Now why on earth would someone want to leave their comfort zone? Well, it’s because if you don’t venture out of your comfort zone, you will miss out on some of the most exciting experiences that life has to offer. And if you’re in school right now, believe me, you don’t wanna stay stuck missing out for the rest of your life. I have to be honest with you, it’s not easy at first to step out of your comfort zone, so take baby steps. Maybe try a different food, a different topping on your pizza. If you’re a guy reading this, step up to the plate and ask her out already…okay maybe that’s not a baby step, but you get the point.

Look at it this way, life is waiting for you just on the outskirts of where you’re comfortable. I remember the first time that I got on a plane on my own and flew out to San Francisco to a music workshop. I didn’t know anybody that was going to be there, I had never been to San Francisco and I didn’t even know if I was going to enjoy the experience. I was scared, plain and simple. But I had to do it.

I knew that if I didn’t take this opportunity that I would miss out on what could potentially be a life changing experience, which it was. I knew that I’d look back and say to myself, “I should’ve gone, I wish I would’ve gone, I wish I didn’t chicken out…” All of those things that we’ve all said to ourselves before, all because we were too scared to take a shot, too afraid to step out and believe in ourselves and say, “what if it does work out?” Don’t get it confused now, I haven’t mastered this area of my life, not even close, but I step outside of my comfort zone way more than I ever have and I love it.

What could that be for you? What can you attempt that’s new or different? Something that you may not be good at when you first give it a shot, but over the course of a week, a month, a year you know you could really make some huge improvements and learn to love it. I’m telling you from experience, that when you stretch yourself you feel so alive and full of excitement and fear-kinda like a roller coaster ( a good one, not one of those slow toddler ones at Canada’s Wonderland).

Allow yourself to challenge your limits a little more, to aim a little higher, it’s okay if it scares you and it’s okay if you fail. Live a life that has more excitement. A great statement for you to finish is: “If I allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone, I would try ________.”




The final ingredient in C-4 is to CELEBRATE!! Celebrate what you may ask; celebrate your victories (large and small), celebrate your friends and fellow students’ victories, and celebrate the fact that you’re alive and well. It’s natural for us to get caught up on the things that go wrong, what we could’ve done better, who doesn’t like us, what we got in trouble for and so on.

Those things end up sticking with us throughout the day and we lose sight of the little victories that we had that could make us really feel good about ourselves. Maybe you got a test back and you scored better than you did last time, great, celebrate that. Maybe you ate a little healthier today, or didn’t have to hit snooze 5 times and sprint to catch the bus. Whatever you did, or whatever happened to you that was cool today, you need to take the time to acknowledge it and feel good about yourself.

Here’s why; when we allow ourselves to feel good about what happens to us it sets off a chain reaction in your body that finishes with a smile on your face and a warm feeling all through your body because of the release of certain chemicals into your bloodstream. The more we nourish this feeling, the healthier we are, the sharper our brains work and the more we enjoy our lives.

I mean, who wants to show up to school every day saying, “this sucks, I hate school, why do I have to go?” Ever said that before? I know I have. But when we’re in the habit of noticing the small and large things that happen to us, we can actually walk into school looking forward to what other cool experiences may come our way and when you approach things from this place of positive expectancy your life is 1000 times better. Oh, and it makes you more attractive too, because we’re attracted to people that we feel good around.

The idea of a gratitude journal has worked wonders for many people, me included.


Quick tip: if you’re a writer at all or want to be, whether it be song writing, script writing, poetry, journalism, an author; keep a journal. It’s going to help develop your writing skills so much faster and give you a tonne of ideas to draw from when it comes time to create different projects.


Now this idea of a gratitude journal is where you want to write down at the end of each day 3 cool things that happened or things that you’re grateful for, that made you smile, good news you got. For example: “I didn’t hit snooze…5 times, I got a better grade on a test that we got back, I had an amazing conversation with a friend at school, me and mom had a great laugh together after dinner today, dad promised to help me learn to drive, my little brother/sister didn’t annoy me today“.

Whatever it may be, write it down. What happens is that each day you get to stack cool thing on top of cool thing and when you read back over these pages, you get to see how amazing your life really is, especially on days that you may be feeling down and need something to pick you up.

Then there’s the idea of celebrating the victories of your friends, classmates and family members. Why you ask? I’m glad you asked. Let’s look at the other side for a minute. When we’re jealous of what someone else gets, or how well they did, how do you feel? Generally it feels ugly inside and is the total opposite of how we generally want to feel. We forget that sometimes we’re the one that is having the victory and another student or friend may be jealous of us, thinking that we’re the lucky ones.

When we can be happy for each other, it helps us to remember that everyone deserves to do well, everyone deserves to be happy, not just us. And when you can be happy for your fellow classmates, chances are they’ll be able to celebrate you too. I mean, it’s that old logic that if you want to have more friends, first you have to be friendly. Applaud your peers, cheer for each other and encourage each other. It feels way better to know your friends have your back and that you have theirs instead of being jealous and focusing on what you didn’t get. We’re all in this together, so let’s succeed…together.




So these are the 4 elements of my C-4. This combination can be used in demolition, to destroy our old negative behaviours and rebuild ourselves with these elements that can lead to a happier and more successful life in school and outside of school as well. Your mental health is just as important as your bodily health and these are just a few ways to help you protect it. As you experiment with some of these ideas, keep me posted on what you discover. Wishing you all the best.