Eight Strengths that Will Change Your Life

Soldiers bootsFor a couple of months when I was seventeen, my days were anything but typical. They began at 5:00 a.m., when I would bolt out of bed to run in formation with a number of other people. For the rest of the day, I could expect to be yelled at by drill instructors, and to perform endless repetitions of push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. I also learned how to hang my uniform properly, spit-shine a boot in seconds flat, and make my bunk up flawlessly.

I spent those months in basic training in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. It wasn’t easy—in fact, it was more challenging than anything else I had experienced before—but that was the point. We needed to toughen up so that we’d learn the discipline, the skills, and the courage to serve in the Canadian military. The experience that I built up as a cadet certainly helped, but it still took a lot of determination to stay tough through the grueling physical and emotional demands of boot camp.

It was a surprise to me at the time, but the emotional challenges were harder than the physical ones. We had to learn to follow orders without question, even when those orders didn’t seem to make sense. We learned to respond to the harsh words of our drill instructors with a simple “yes, sir”. And we had to adjust to an entirely new way of life with very limited contact with our families. I know now that emotional challenges are almost always tougher than physical ones—whether you’re at boot camp or building a family.

Not everyone could handle the challenges of boot camp. Even some of the people who excelled at meeting the physical demands had to go home because they couldn’t handle the emotional toll. As I began serving full time in the military, I started watching people closely, paying attention to the actions of people who failed and those who succeeded. I began to keep track of what worked and what didn’t, and I started making a mental list of traits that seemed to lead to success.

After I married Lana, I noticed that these same traits also seemed to benefit people who were building families and businesses. These characteristics make up what I call “The Eight Strengths”:

• Attitude
• Courage
• Character
• Duty
• Honour
• Relationships
• Passion
• Tenacity

Remember when I wrote about my definition of toughness? I explained that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re physically strong or resilient. It means that you continue to work towards your goals, even when the going gets tough. But to pull that off, you need some very specific skills. That’s where the Eight Strengths come in.

These traits may like obvious ingredients for success, but they’re emphasized less and less these days. And in many cases, they’re disappearing because people never have the chance to develop them. Out of love, more and more parents are trying to shelter their children from challenging circumstances and experiences because they want them to have the easiest life possible. While this is an admirable goal, it doesn’t necessarily give children the opportunity to build these Eight Strengths. And those lost learning opportunities can make life difficult for children later, when it becomes impossible to shelter them.

But if you work to build these strengths, in yourself or your children, you’ll accumulate the tools needed to toughen up—no matter what happens.

Do You Need to Toughen Up?

Toughen UP Book by Claude Hamilton

Think about the toughest person you know. What makes them tough? Are they physically strong? Are they able to deal with a lot of stress without showing emotion? Or do they know how to get what they want, no matter what the odds?

When I was in the military, we thought of “toughness” as a purely physical characteristic—how well we could handle physical demands and keep going, despite the challenges. But as I’ve moved through the various phases of my life—as a cadet, a diver, a husband, a father, and a business owner—I’ve redefined the word. I’ve watched those around me build businesses and families, and I’ve noticed that the difference between success and failure seems to come down to one, simple skill: the ability to take punishment and keep your original intentions. That’s how I define “toughness.”

If you’re a parent, think about your goals. Likely, you want to raise a healthy, happy child, guiding them with as much love, patience, and compassion as you can. But what about those long nights of teething and ear infections? The days when you can hardly keep your eyes open? Do you still manage to crawl out of bed when you’re needed and spend the night cradling and soothing your child?

Maybe you’re a business owner. If you are, you probably have a mission statement and a long-term vision for your company. But every business has its own challenges. Whether you’re experiencing an unexpected financial issue, a supply shortage, or a customer service complaint, how you handle it is often the factor that determines the outcome. Do you stay true to your mission statement? Do you continue working toward that ultimate vision?

True “toughness” is shown by the parent who makes it through stomach bugs and teething and still provides all the love and comfort their child needs, night after night. It’s demonstrated by the business owner who, in the face of a customer complaint, keeps their overall goal in mind and addresses the complaint in a calm, respectful manner.

As I write in my book, Toughen Up!, “a truly tough person is gentle and caring most of the time but knows how to stand up for something, overcome challenges as needed, and keep doing his or her best even when the odds are overwhelming.”

Remember, a positive attitude can be the difference between success and failure. If you stay positive and stick to your beliefs and your goals, good things will start to happen for you. If you let the challenges bog you down, your attitude will suffer—and you’ll lose focus on your vision. Positivity keeps you on track, while helping you defeat challenges and obstacles in a way that leave your integrity, your confidence, and your mission intact.

Over the coming months, I’ll be writing more about what it means to stay tough as you navigate life’s ups and downs. Have you had a recent challenge? What did you do to toughen up?

The Power of What If

This article was originally published on one of my closest friends Phil Wall’s blog. Being involved in Phil, Catherine and Manaia’s life, on an almost daily basis, I have seen them go through this struggle from the first moment of finding out the news that Manaia may have a heart issue to seeing her in the recovery room after the operation. I cannot imagine watching Wyatt or Gryffin go through this, but I hope I could handle it as well as the Walls did. Pay attention to how Phil was able to adjust his attitude to help him get through this difficult time.

I have a four year old girl, her name is Manaia – a name from my home land New Zealand (pronounced just like the singer Shania except with an M). About two years ago her family doctor was doing a regular checkup and listening to Manaia’s heart and heard something that did not sound quite right. It was faint she said, but certainly something we should get a cardiologist’s expert opinion on. An ECG and a sedated echocardiogram confirmed a diagnosis of atrial septal defect or ASD.

Manaia’s Heart

Phil Wall's daughter ManaiaLook at this picture and think back to high school when you studied the components of the heart, the aorta, the four chambers etc. Between the upper two collecting chambers is supposed to be a wall that separates the two chambers. Manaia’s heart had a 2.78 cm hole which could not be plugged because of the size and had to be patched.

The cardiologist suggested that because Manaia did not need the operation immediately it would be better for us to wait until Manaia reached a certain weight to lower the chances of needing a blood transfusion and therefore lowering the risk factors during the operation. That wait was 2 years. We found out in late October that her surgery date was set for November 12, 2013.


During the 2 weeks before the surgery, my emotions were swirling…….is Manaia going to be okay? What if something bad happens? What if an air bubble finds its way into her blood stream? What if? negative statements. I’m fairly certain these self-degrading negative assaults on my thinking were not helping me or the situation.

I was recently listening to an audio by LIFE Coach Chris Brady, he was talking about the power and the use of “what if?”. Not just using “what if” in the negative BUT in the positive use of “what if”.

What if we get the best surgeons?

What if I have nothing to worry about?

What if hundreds of friends are praying?

What if everything is going to be just great?

What if Manaia lives?

What if God answers our prayers?

I’m here to tell you he did answer your prayers and ours.

Tuesday 12th, 2013 on our way to the IWK Health Centre

8 am We arrive at the IWK – Manaia is excited about her surgery.

9:30 am Manaia heads down the hall with the nurse, heading to the OR. hahahaha Manaia blowing us kisses as she heads to the OR. Obviously you can tell she’s soooooo upset leaving us. Catherine and I, well we weren’t doing so awesome. Our next interaction would be with the surgeon once the surgical team had completed the operation. They said they they would call us to the office outside the OR as soon as they were done.

1:30 pm We get called to the office outside the OR. The next 15 minutes for me were the most intense 15 minutes to this point in my life. We knew nothing. We were just waiting for the surgeon to come out and tell us how the operation went. My stress level was increasing dramatically. It’s fascinating how negative self talk (unless it’s checked and dealt with quickly) so easily finds its way into our heads and starts to mess with our thinking. Versus positive self talk, like success, MUST be forced.

After numerous futile attempts to side-track my thinking, I pulled my phone from my pocket and started reading through the numerous texts of well wishes and great verses from the Bible that family and friends had kindly sent. One verse in particular slowed the pounding hammer in my chest, and the extreme gnawing pain in my stomach. It was this: Isaiah 41:10 version #1 “Do not fear, for I am with you: do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you; surely I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” version #2 “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I am your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”

The report from the surgeon was everything went great. Waaahooo!!!!

Phil Wall's daughter ManaiaThis photo was taken 24 hours after Manaia exited the Operating Room.

Phil Wall's daughter ManaiaNovember 15th, 2013 on our way home 3 days later.

When you do not have control over certain events in your life what do you do? I put my faith in God. God calmed my fears and answered your prayers and mine.

God is great my friends. I am blessed and highly favoured to have him in my life, and great family and friends to share my life with. Your love, prayers and support mattered. It mattered to my family, it mattered to me and it made all the difference.

Thank you.

Toughen Up: Keep Your Helmet On

Toughen UP Book by Claude Hamilton

Imagine that you’re travelling from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Victoria, British Columbia. You’ve got a travelling companion—someone younger and more vulnerable than you. You’ve been on the road for a couple of days and your bus stops at a restaurant so that everyone can grab a bite to eat. As you’re eating, you and your friend get lost in conversation, and when you look up—your bus is gone. What do you do?

What if you were only thirteen years old? If it happened today, you’d probably use your cell phone to call your parents.

But when it happened to me, it was long before cell phones or the Internet existed.

When I was twelve, I joined the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets , the junior training program for young people who want to develop their naval skills, learn more about their maritime environment, or someday join the Canadian military. One component of the program was cadet camp, which took place in British Columbia. The summer after I joined cadets, my twelve-year-old friend and I were sent to camp for the first time. We boarded the bus and spent the next couple of days in the back seat. I don’t remember how well behaved we were, but we must have been loud, because the man who was seated in front of us certainly didn’t hesitate to complain about us to the bus driver.

The bus stopped regularly for bathroom breaks and food, but I’ll never forget the day we stopped at the restaurant with the coin-operated video games. My friend and I made a beeline for them and quickly lost track of time. We didn’t even notice when the rest of the passengers filed out of the restaurant to board the bus. By the time we looked up from our games, everyone was gone. It was just me, my young friend, and a restaurant full of strangers.

A wave of panic swept over me as I fought back tears. My friend also realized we were alone—and he immediately burst into tears. I was terrified, too, but I knew I had to hold it together for my younger friend. I had to toughen up. I still remember making a conscious decision to reign in my emotions and do what had to be done. When I speak in my seminars now, I call this behaviour “keeping your helmet on”.

I acted quickly, running into the middle of the restaurant and shouting, “Our bus left!” I sounded panicked, but I felt calm. People stopped their conversation to look at us, and one man jumped up offered to take us to catch the bus. It was a risk, getting in a car with a stranger, but at 13, it seemed like our only option. We hopped in the car and our Good Samaritan did as he promised—caught up to the bus and flagged it down.

By keeping a cool head, I was able to get my friend and I out of a scary, difficult situation. I had to judge whether or not to take a risk and I needed to make a quick decision. I kept my helmet on and it all worked out.

This was one of the earliest times in my life when I had to toughen up, but it certainly wasn’t the last. As I grew up, and eventually joined the military, “keeping my helmet on” became a mantra for me; it’s a phrase that’s gotten me through a lot of challenging situations. And in business, it’s no different. If we want to achieve our professional goals, we need to stay focused and keep our emotions in check, every time.

This is an excerpt from my new book, Toughen Up: Basic Training for Leadership Success.

Momentous LeaderShift To Significantly Alter Our Twenty First Century

Momentous LeaderShift To Significantly Alter Our Twenty First Century

Momentous LeaderShift To Significantly Alter Our Twenty First Century

Hey Everyone! Just got back from the amazing ”Chart Topper” weekend, what great speakers we have!! The Fun in the Sun meetings were some of the best talks I have ever heard in the industry. The tweaks that were introduced at the Chart Topper function are very exciting and all the leaders I spoke to felt the weekend was life changing. And all my friends from Michigan got to see some sun!

Also, very proud to give a shout out to Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille’s  new book, LEADERSHIFT, for hitting #6 on the GLOBE & Mail BESTSELLERS List.  Check it out! 

Leadershift hits best seller lists in first week of sales Continue reading

Orrin Woodward – Leadershift Book Signing

Orrin Woodward – Leadershift Book Signing

Orrin Woodward – Leadershift Book Signing

I am so proud and excited to share this article that was posted just recently by my friend Wayne MacNamara – these are exciting times! The LeaderShift Book Launch is certainly making a buzz in many places, I am so stoked for Oliver DeMille and Orrin Woodward. Great job to the 2 of you! Continued success…!

Be blessed as you read on.

Fight Fiercely,



Wow! Last night was a HUGE success for the opening night of Leadershift in Madison Wisconsin. Over 1000 people showed up to buy Leadershift and have it signed by the co-author Orrin Woodward. That same evening in Los Angeles, CA co author Oliver DeMille also had a fabulous turnout.

Both locations sold out before the book signings even started. It was an exciting event for sure.  

Tonight Oliver Demille, is going to be in Sacramento, CA which is sure to be just as big of a turnout as Los Angeles. Also tonight, Orrin Woodward is in Lansing MI which is going to be such a large book signing event, that the book store is coming to them at the Lansing Centre. It has potential to be a record breaking book signing.

Orrin Woodward will sure be fired up before he gets to London Ontario, Thursday April 18th, which is the only Canadian location. We are very blessed to have him coming here. Come on out and show him that we Canadians want to be apart of this Leadershift.  

See you all in London tomorrow evening, it is sure to be an evening we won’t forget.

Wayne MacNamara



Oliver DeMille and I are hitting the road for a series of LeaderShift book signings across North America. I have never been so excited for the release of a book because I know this book addresses head-on the challenges facing Western Society. Oliver DeMille and I spent days discussing the challenges and developing proposed fixes based upon checking the ubiquitous Five Laws of Decline.

If you are anywhere close to one of these locations, we would love to see you there. If you are not close, the good news is Hachette has committed to do another round of book signings if we pack out the current locations. It’s time to launch the LeaderShift for peace and prosperity ensured to posterity!

Sincerely, Orrin Woodward


ADDED BONUS: Orrin Woodward is going to do a LeaderShift Speaking Engagement after the book signing – $10 for general attendee, $5 with book purchased at book signing.

Thursday, April 18th
London, ON – Orrin Woodward
Book Signing: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Chapters, 1037 Wellington Road, London, Ontario N6E 1W4
Speaking Engagement: 8:00pm, On Stage 8:30pm – 9:30pm
Best Western Lamplighter Inn & Conference Center, Crystal Ballroom, 591 Wellington Road South, London, ON N6C 4R3

Friday, April 19th
Salt Lake City, UT – Oliver DeMille
Book Signing: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Barnes & Noble, 1104 East 2100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Speaking Engagement: 8:00pm, On Stage 8:30pm – 9:30pm
South Towne Expo Center, 300CD, 9575 S. State Street, Sandy, Utah 84070
Columbus, OH – Orrin Woodward
Book Signing: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Book Loft, 631 South Third Street, Columbus, Ohio 43206
Speaking Engagement: 8:00pm, On Stage 8:30pm – 9:30pm
Columbus Convention Center, Ballroom 4 & 5, 400 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215

Monday, April 22nd
Camp Hill, PA – Orrin Woodward
Book Signing: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Barnes & Noble, 58 South 32nd Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011
Speaking Engagement: 8:00pm, On Stage 8:30pm – 9:30pm
Christ Community Church, 1201 Slate Hill Rd, Camp Hill, PA 17011

Be sure to check out the LeaderShift promotional video at http://www.tenpercentleadershift.com.   [/box]


Rest in Peace Rehtaeh

Rest in Peace Rehtaeh - Claude Hamilton

 Rest in Peace Rehtaeh

Hello Everyone,

The past few days have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, to say the least. A young 15 year old girl named Rehtaeh Parsons living here in Halifax, was at a party about 18 months ago and gang raped by four boys. They took pictures with their cellphones then passed them around at their school. This girl was then labelled a slut and shunned. Many other boys started approaching her for sex as if she wanted more and treated as a willing participant in the gang rape. Sickening. Continue reading

LIFE – Old Fashioned Primer on Education

Old Fashioned Primer on Education

I hope everyone is enjoying the first few days of spring! Judging by the weather I am not sure everyone feels like it’s spring yet. 2013 is shaping up to be a huge year for the LIFE business. I am excited to watch my friends moving on and building a strong and profitable business’s. Soon the LIFE leadership will be gathering for a meeting we call Chart toppers, these are all the people who have hit the 50% level in the LIFE business. Wayne Macnamara and I are heading down a few days early, it will be a lot of fun. Continue reading