Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.

If you work for a micro-manager or with a controlling colleague, just remember that this is not a reflection of your inadequacy.

It is their own inadequacies that they fear.

Don’t allow their need to control everyone/thing to make you feel any less competent than you are!

Next time they look stressed and are breathing down your neck avoid sighing heavily, snapping at them or being defensive. All they will hear (even if your explanations are rational) is: ‘I will not comply, you’re screwed.’

It may seem counterintuitive as they are pushing your own button of inadequacy, but what they really need is REASSURANCE to bring them out of the state of panic and back to a reasonable space. Like you would do for a child who was scared.

Remember my saying: ‘We’re all little kids in big people costumes.’ ;)

Next time you’re confronted by your irrational micro-manager or controlling colleague, try these 5 steps:

1. Take space by yourself for 2 minutes. (try the stairwell, the bathroom or go outside)

2. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and think of something that makes you feel really good. A place, a person, a memory. Focus on this for a minute and get yourself feeling good feelings :)

3. Next remind yourself that you’ve got this and that your manager/colleague is likely in a state of panic and fear due to their own insecurities.

4. Next put on your warmest smile and go back and reassure them that you will get what they need done and not to worry. You’ve got their back.

5. Give them a few options they can choose from that still work for you so that you’re not stuck working over time or saying yes to something that you can’t deliver.

Also avoid the words You and But to steer clear of conflict.

You’ve GOT THIS!

Sam, your ‘No BS’ Life Coach 

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Feeling inadequate at work or in general?

inadequateOver the last 3 days I’ve spent time with clients who are struggling with strong feelings of inadequacy, especially in the workplace. These are intelligent, articulate, capable professionals who from the outside, appear quite confident.

If I had a nickel for how many clients share how inadequate and disempowered they feel about themselves professionally and overall. These feelings tend to affect their ability to communicate assertively in the workplace and in general.

I’ve catalogued the 4 most common contributing factors they’ve shared:

1) Hierarchy: Many work environments still place a lot of emphasis on hierarchy and job titles. If people treat you as though you’re at the bottom of the ladder and your pay grade reflects this as well, this can be a real confidence squasher for some who otherwise really enjoy their work. Most of us want to feel validated and important and not as though we’re expendable.

2) Poor Leadership: People usually offer up their best selves when they feel supported, valued and liked. Great leaders foster supportive environments by both inspiring staff to think creatively and invite them to express themselves without fear of judgment or reproach. The problem is that this isn’t the norm. Most managers follow a traditional command-control style that is reminiscent of the industrial revolution. The boss was at the top, gave the orders and supervisors ensured compliancy. This isn’t conducive to innovation or expression. If you happen to work with or for a controlling manager, it may contribute to your feelings of inadequacy and influence your ability to express yourself openly for fear of negative consequences.

3) Poor Role-Models: The command-control method underscores traditional parenting and teaching styles as well – ‘do as I say because I’m in charge’. Therefore some of us learn to fear or rebel against authority from a young age. The feelings of inadequacy we felt as children when were shot down by a parent or teacher tend to come up for us as soon as we face authority figures as adults. Even if the authority figure happens to be supportive, we still freeze. If we grew up with role-models who were passive, aggressive or passive aggressive and didn’t model healthy assertive expression, then we tend to communicate in much the same way as adults.

4) Poor Self-Esteem in general: Our overall self-esteem, that is a feeling of trust in our abilities, directly affects our potential to express and carry ourselves with confidence. Some of the most brilliant thinkers and well educated clients have trouble advancing in their careers as they lack the confidence to share their expertise. Often they expend more energy on comparing themselves with others and withhold potentially brilliant ideas. Sometimes it’s the opposite. Some will over-share to feel validated and are then avoided and labelled as know-it-all’s.

It’s no secret that developing our self-confidence is key to living a fulfilling life. ‘But where do I start’ is a common question.

Here are 8 tips I share to help boost your self-esteem:

1) Make a plan. The more in control of your life you are, the more confident you will feel. Choose 4 to 5 core life areas that matter to you and then set realistic short-term goals that you can achieve for each one to help build your self-esteem.

2) Keep a journal. What are your common hot-buttons that set you off into a downward spiral? Make note of them and then dig deep to uncover what limiting beliefs you harbour about yourself and others that are allowing these buttons to be pushed.

3) Decide how you want to feel. Make a decision to change your perspective and turn these beliefs around into more empowering statements. E.g. I’m not smart and will never succeed vs I’m capable of learning what I don’t know so that I will succeed.

4) Act the part.  Work on your overall body language. In other words, act the part of a confident individual even if you don’t feel it. Think of how confident people carry themselves and emulate this. Eventually you’ll start to feel differently.

5) Create a support system. Just because you have a life partner or good friends does not mean you have a proper support system. Immerse yourself in confidence boosting courses, blogs or books and find friends who will build you up and not weigh you down. A good place to start is to join groups of like-minded individuals. Meetup.com can be a good resource for this or join in local community activities.

5) Choose not to buy into social constructs such as hierarchy. Why allow poor leadership or role models to define your value?

6) Practice even if it’s scary. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. Make small realistic goals for yourself such as:

  • Today I’m going to compliment a colleague or manager that intimidates me or
  • Today I’m going to ask at least one clarifying question at the meeting or
  • Today I’m going to offer at least one comment or recommendation or opinion at the meeting.
  • Today I’m going to stand and sit up straight.
  • Today I’m going to start a journal of all the things I DO get done on my to do list rather than always focus on what I don’t.

7) Consider further support from a life or executive coach or therapist who can help you build your self-confidence in the following 4 ways:

1. Help you identify limiting beliefs you may not be aware of and turn them into new ones that empower you.

2. Enable you to succeed in attaining short-term achievable goals that will in inspire you to achieve long-term dreams.

3. Encourage you to identify your passions and strengths.

4. Assist you in creating a life plan and achieve a more meaningful and rewarding life overall.

5. Provide you with tools to improve your overall interpersonal skills.

8) Less thinking – more doing. 

I hear many people say ‘I’m working on my self-confidence’. But ask yourself what that really means? Thinking about something and doing something are 2 different things.

Pick one thing. One of the tips above and start today.

My wish for you is that you not only end up believing that you are adequate but discover that in fact, you’re pretty damn awesome.

If you like this post, please share it. Thank you. 

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How I go about making important life decisions

fact-based-decision-makingI thought I would share the process by which I come to many important decisions, at least for the last decade of my life, when I feel I’ve made some of the best decisions yet.

It’s been such an interesting process chatting with so many wonderful women who have inquired about my upcoming empowerment retreat in Costa Rica this April and I’m excited to work with the many courageous women who are eagerly anticipating our rejuvenating week together.

That being said, my thoughts are also with those who were eager to join but pulled out. What’s been interesting was that in each case when someone pulled out, (and there have been many), the reasons weren’t financial but rather that these women felt they should take care of someone else first – a strong instinct for most women to put their needs aside – the model of a classic caretaker, something I was raised to be myself, with a hearty side dish of guilt.

One woman said she had never been away from her husband in 26 years and became so stressed that he might get ill while she was away she pulled out despite her initial enthusiasm to finally do something for herself. I was admittedly most sad for her.

As a life coach, I’ve been asked many times to help people decide on whether or not something is right for them. Of course I can’t decide for anyone, this is such a personal decision and only you can determine what’s right for you at this juncture in your life.

I do however often share my own decision-making process in the hopes that it might help them become comfortable with whatever they decide.

When I’m faced with a decision that will impact me emotionally, financially and time-wise, even if it’s a new pair of shoes, I ask myself the following 3 questions:

1) If I knew that I only had 6 months to a year left to live, would I regret not doing/buying/moving forward with this thing?

If the answer is no, I don’t proceed and I put it out of my head. If it is yes, I would regret it if I hadn’t done this thing, then I ask myself this to be sure:

2) Why do I want to spend my time/money/efforts on this? (sometimes when making a larger decision, I write out the benefits to get my thoughts on paper)

3) How will I feel once I have done this thing? (I write down the feelings)

It is rare that any decision has absolutely no down sides to it, even beneficial exercise can cause us injury at times. But if the benefits outweigh the downsides, and I know in my heart that I would always regret it if I didn’t do this thing, I go for it, even when I have fears because I don’t want to manage my life from a place of fear. That, and because time is all I have and I will never get it back.

It’s also probably why I don’t own that many pairs of new shoes…  John-Fluevog-shoes

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Do You Feel Safe?

Safe

Do You Feel Safe?

I’m often asked to define what I do for a living. There are several popular responses: I’m an empowerment coach. I’m a corporate trainer. I’m a motivational speaker. And technically I am all those things. But really, what I strive most to do is this: I create safe spaces for people to allow themselves to feel and express without judgment. Once they feel safe, together we strategize and move forward towards helping them create a life of value.

Safe spaces are sometimes hard to come by.

Have you ever confided in someone that you were feeling sad or upset about something only to be met with a response such as: ‘Well at least you have your health!’ or ‘At least you have a job!’ or ‘Think positive!’ Let’s face it, many of us have responded this way ourselves at some point, typically when we’ve been at a loss to know what else to say.

There are 3 reasons why these responses, however well intended, are problematic:

  1. They aren’t empathic.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. There is very little understanding going on when attention is diverted away from a sad or frustrated emotion to something happier. Non-empathic responses are often a result of our own discomfort around sadness.

  1. They are judgmental in nature.

Otherwise known as the ‘iceberg effect’ the underlying implication is that the person who is sad doesn’t really have the right to feel the way they do because they should be focusing on something positive instead. It’s as though they should be guilted into feeling happy. The individual not only now feels badly about the original situation but also about their inadequacy to maintain a positive attitude.

“When you are guilty, it is not your sins you hate but yourself.” ― Anthony de Mello

  1. It does nothing to address the issue at hand.

Telling someone ‘well at least you…’ in any situation is equivalent to telling someone standing shirtless in sub-zero temperatures that ‘at least it’s sunny outside.

Although we want to encourage positive thinking, we also want to create space for sadness and allow ourselves and our loved ones to just FEEL.

In a recent talk by acclaimed author and lecturer Marianne Williamson, she explained that as a society, we tend to have an obsession with feeling happy, hence the rampant use of anti-depressants and smiley emoticons to mask feelings of sadness, despair and frustration. ‘Let’s not be negative’ tends to be the mantra du jour. But as Marianne so eloquently puts it: ‘There’s nothing more negative than complacency. We must go there and discuss what’s important’. She then shared one of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King: ‘Your life ends on the day you stop talking about the things that matter most.’

It’s not uncommon for my corporate workshop participants to breakdown and cry and share personal feelings even in front of their peers. At first I thought that this was because of the stories I would share or some of the sensitive issues I would touch upon. However with time I came to realize that what people often really need before they can truly grow and move beyond a challenging situation is a SAFE SPACE to FEEL. A place where they can openly share, cry or vent whether they are feeling:

  • overwhelmed,
  • stressed,
  • lonely,
  • inadequate,
  • sad,
  • frustrated
  • and even angry,

Regardless, knowing that they will be acknowledged without judgment and supported can be a very freeing experience.

It is amazing how much more receptive people are to solutions or tools to help them become more positive and grateful once they feel that they have been heard and acknowledged as having normal feelings and reactions to what life can throw our way.

Here are 4 genuine responses of warmth that typically go a long way are:

  1. ‘I can imagine just how difficult this must be for you’.
  2. ‘I can appreciate how (sad, frustrated, lonely etc.) you must be feeling’ or ‘how difficult this must be for you’.
  3. ‘What is the best way to support you right now?’
  4. ‘What do you feel you need most to face this challenge?

There seems to be a silent pressure upon people to BE HAPPY already and that those who aren’t are somehow failures. This is such a crock of the smelly stuff. ;)

Just because you may have a gratitude or meditation practice or generally think positively, that doesn’t mean that you will always feel deliriously happy and fulfilled. Sometimes life can just come out of nowhere and smack us in the head, regardless of how positive we are. Read the stories of any successful people and you will find that failure has been a part of their success. Even George Clooney has occasionally starred in a box office flop.

My greatest moments of growth have not come from my happiest times but rather from my saddest because that is when I have been forced to look within. And sometimes my growth has come from supporting others. It’s sometimes hard to find the answers from within on our own. There are times when we need to hear: ‘Hey, it’s okay that you’re feeling the way you do. This sucks. You go ahead and feel it.’

If you or anyone you know of is in need of a safe space to share, to grow, or to strategize on how to create a more meaningful life, consider joining me on one of my upcoming workshops or retreats.

Coming up March 4th: An Evening for Women Only

From Little Girls to Women – The Art of Creating our Happily Ever After 

For women who give a lot but don’t often feel they get as much in return particularly in their relationships. How to break the cycle and take the steps to become empowered and get what YOU want!

Cost: $25

Location: THE SPACE @ 139 Bank Street, Suite 200

To register email: samantha@motivationallearning.ca

Coming up April 21stto 26th:

‘Pura Vida’ Empowerment Retreat in beautiful Costa Rica!

For cost & details see the next blog post here at www.samanthabiron.com

Photograph from Cosmopolitan.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Join me in Costa Rica for a transformative life experience!

April 21 – 26, 2015

Pura Vida Empowerment Retreat on the beautiful Nicoya Peninsula

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Recognized as the #1 Happiest Place on Earth, Costa Rica is rich in natural wonders and extraordinary biodiversity. On the wild Nicoya Peninsula you’ll find yourself far from tourist hordes, on miles of unsullied beaches.

What better place for you to recharge and come home incredibly empowered, happy, focused, and unstoppable?

Pura Vida is the profoundly optimistic life philosophy of the world’s happiest people – a Pacific jungle version of “hakuna matata.” Pura Vida translates as “pure life”, and Costa Ricans use the phrase as a common greeting that roughly means life is wonderful no matter what challenges you face; enjoy it to the fullest.

Join Life Strategist Samantha Biron for her Pura Vida Empowerment Retreat where you’ll experience living a peaceful, simple, uncluttered, and purposeful life with a deep appreciation for nature, family and friends, and learn how to bring the pura vida state of mind home to your “real life” in Canada. Samantha will give you the tools to live out your dreams – read more about course content in the Empowerment Program Synopsis below.

Spend 5 nights immersed in pura vida living by the wild and peaceful Playa Buenavista beach at the whimsical Flying Crocodile jungle resort, with ample opportunities for bird and monkey-watching, and relaxing in the surf and sand. Enjoy daily yoga, delicious meals made on-site from fresh local ingredients, nature hikes and epic sunsets, and activities including canopy ziplines, surfing, horseback riding and more!

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Pictured here: The relaxing Flying Crocodile Resort with its whimsical, totally unique architecture.

 

What you can expect from your empowerment:

  • 5 nights lodging in the architecturally impressive Flying Crocodile Resort, nestled in a tropical nature reserve surrounded by mangroves and monkeys
  • Expert guidance in your empowerment journey:
    • daily workshops that provide powerful individual and group processes, targeted to your needs and goals
    • a safe, confidential environment in a beautiful and peaceful setting
    • a small number of participants to ensure individualized attention and personal support
  • All meals, including:
    • On-site breakfast of delicious fresh local fruit & traditional options
    • Gourmet buffet-style lunches offering a variety of healthy choices
    • Dinner offered in a variety of locations (on-site, in the nearby beautiful village of Samara and in a surprise rustic location with special wild guests
  • Daily sunrise Yoga classes will be offered in view of the stunningly untouched and relaxing Playa Buenavista beach
  • Daily beach time after lunch
  • Charitable Activity – making a contribution locally

You may also choose 2 of the following three exciting group activities during your stay:

  • horseback riding
  • jungle canopy exploration (zip lining)
  • or a wild river kayak adventure!

Buenavista beach

 

Pictured here: Buenavista beach – our wild and beautiful retreat location!

 

 

Empowerment program synopsis:

This life-changing program is designed to enable you to create the life you most want! The premise of the Empowerment Life Coaching program is that our beliefs create the conditions in our life. If we wish to change our life, we need to reframe existing perspectives, envision new possibilities, transform limiting beliefs that create our current situation and then come up with a realistic plan.

This multi-day program will take you on a transformative journey through a variety of liberating group, written and visualization exercises.

You will be given the opportunity to explore the 7 core areas of your life in a supportive, non-judgmental, space. They are:

1.    Emotions

2.    Relationships

3.    Health, Sexuality & Wellness

4.    Work & Career

5.    Money & Finances

6.    Recreation & Play

7.     Spirituality & Personal Growth

You will also leave with the following 4 transformative life tools:

•   a stronger vision of your ideal self and how to create a life you value by designing your very own Personal Life Map!

•   learn how to better nourish your body and mind to feel healthy and be at your very best.

•   gain communication tools to assert your needs to loved ones to convey the changes you wish to sustain going forward.

•   learn how to better manage stress and get into the driver seat of your life!

You will also be given the opportunity to give back!

Happiness Studies at Harvard show that giving of our time and resources makes us happier.

In addition to replenishing together, we will also be giving back by volunteering a few hours with a local group in need.

A personal message from Samantha

Hi, I’m Samantha Biron. I live in Chelsea Quebec and my work is helping ordinary people reclaim their power, self-love, and belief in themselves. I am the founder of The Motivational Learning Company and a Life Coach Certified by the internationally renowned Empowerment Institute in Rhinebeck, NY – though I prefer to think of myself as a Life Strategist.

I’m also a professional speaker and workshop facilitator, mother to a 7 year old daughter and part-time singer/songwriter. So I really understand busy. I also understand the difference between good, excited, happy busy versus exhausted, dragging my ass, dreading each day kind of busy.

About 18 years ago I made a decision to start my life over from scratch. I found myself divorced and depressed, without any real support – so I moved to a new city and began a new life. Needless to say there were many ups and downs. I loved and lost several times. I fell into a deep depression. I wanted to end my life. I tried a wide variety of careers that failed before I found the right one. Worst of all, I lost a child I was carrying in my 5th month of pregnancy. Through all the pain, I learned to persevere – and I learned valuable life lessons that I’m grateful to be able to now share with others facing their own obstacles.

These life challenges have not only shaped the woman I am today, but they also enabled me to create a meaningful life for myself and for my daughter. I’ve been gifted with the opportunity to empower others to create their lives by design and overcome even the most heartbreaking of challenges. In other words, odds are pretty good that I get how you really feel.

It’s funny because I often hear from participants who had no idea what to expect from my workshops – sometimes they are even forced to attend by their managers. But ironically, it’s often the participants who least thought they needed it that end up benefitting the most!

I so look forward to spending this life-changing week with you!

Warmly,

Samantha 

 

Register

The cost of this amazing experience is $1,900+HST.  Everything from April 21st to the 26th is included minus your airfare. (you can message me for recommendations on this) A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to retain your space with the balance due no later than April 15th.

As the Flying Crocodile is a boutique resort, there are a limited number of spaces available so you will want to act fast.

To join Samantha on this retreat, simply email: samantha@motivationalearning.ca with the subject: I WANT TO JOIN! :)

You will then receive a detailed program agenda along with more information to help you book your trip.

If you are unable to join Samantha in Costa Rica but are still interested in attending a program with similar content in the Ottawa area, simply reply with Local Info instead and we will forward you information on the next upcoming local retreat. 

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Here’s what some of Samantha’s clients have had to say about her coaching program:

‘Coaching with Sam was the best investment of my time and money I could have made to forward my life. (…) Empowered, I feel that I now have the tools to overcome the challenges that lay before me and to live out my dreams the way I have always envisioned my life could be.’ Nathalie, Cornwall ON, Police Services

Sam took me on a journey that I will never forget. (…) I cannot express the gratitude and respect I have for Samantha. A. Baillie, Cambridge, UK – Manager, Engineering 

There are so many words to describe Sam…kind, energetic…fun, amazing!  I’ve had the privilege of participating in both her training workshops and life coaching.  I don’t think there is a single person I know that has had such a profound influence on my thinking, and overall purpose in life.  She engages you in a way that you can only embrace and love.  Her wit and wisdom are so contagious, you can’t help but share with others.  Anyone having the opportunity to learn from her will no doubt feel empowered and benefit.” Jennifer Ferris, Canadian Federal Government 

For more testimonials about Samantha’s workshops, please visit: http://www.samanthabiron.com/testimonials/

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A Mom’s Rant about so-called ‘Empowerment’ Messages for Girls

I knew this would happen eventually, cause I’m a Mom and well, I’m going to have a bit of an old Mom rant now. ;)

Ashiah (my 7 year old daughter) casually announced to me recently that Katy Perry was one of the best singers and most beautiful girls she’d ever seen. I asked her why she thought that and she said it was Katy Perry’s shiny black hair and blue eyes and long eyelashes etc. Ashiah discovered Perry awhile back at a friend’s house watching MTV. So I did a bit of research on this star my 7 year old is admiring, silently grateful that it wasn’t Miley Cyrus. ‘Overall, pretty tame compared to a lot of other singers, catchy songs, not so bad I guess… oh a few racy videos but since we don’t have TV, I’ll download her songs’ I thought to myself. I think my first singer crush was Rick Astley. Bahahah

As I read about Perry, I happened upon this quote by her in GQ from January of last year: “I’ve never had any plastic surgery. Not a nose, not a chin, not a cheek, not a tit. So my messages of self-empowerment are truly coming from an au naturel product,” she claims to the magazine.

Considering what I do for a living, this comment stayed with me. Messages of self-empowerment for girls … hmm, I must look into this.

Although not having surgery may be true, I checked out Perry’s ‘au naturel’, pre-fame look. KP YoungI think she was naturally pretty and sweet looking don’t you? But Katy doesn’t remotely look like this since she became famous. (see attached again) She’s naturally a dirty blonde, like my daughter ironically, and I had to explain to Ashiah that Katy wears a lot of makeup and glues on fake eyelashes to look the way she does. It’s not ‘au naturel’ at all.

KP Now

This prompted me to look into some other famous peeps. Guess what Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Beyonce, Blake Lively, Cameron Diaz, Nathalie Portman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston, Kim Kardashian, Winona Ryder, Sandra Bullock, Dianna Agron, Keira Knightley, Tyra Banks, Megan Fox, Hillary Duff, Christina Aguilera and Scarlett Johansson have in common other than being considered beautiful celebrities?

They’ve ALL had nose jobs. What?? Sweet faced Keira Knightley had a nose job? (see pre/post shot here)Keira

I know plastic surgery is prevalent in Hollywood but I had no idea that all of these women changed their actual faces despite not having had unsightly honkers before, just normal noses and they were beautiful as is. (at least I think they were)

I’ve also noticed recently that fake eyelashes are everywhere. Where I used to see them as a special occasion accessory like wearing eyeliner or a pretty dress and jewelry to a party, there are now lash bars in malls – and they’re full of teens, perhaps trying to look more KP on an everyday basis.

I’m not saying I’m against physical enhancements, I like to dress up sometimes, have fun with my hair, be creative with fashion (think costumes at a festival I co-manage called Harvest Noir) and I like makeup when it doesn’t look cheap.

Here’s what concerns me though.. (okay now I know I sound like my mom ;)  That my 7 year old thinks that what is ‘naturally’ beautiful is a look that is typically achieved by going under the knife or applying glue to her face. The stars mentioned above are on every cover of every magazine at most check out points whether we watch TV or not. Originally I was more focused on making her aware of the body image stuff like starvation diets and encouraging her instead to eat healthy, exercise and be kind to others because this is what makes someone beautiful.

But now I’m going to be damn sure to point out that it isn’t ‘natural’ for everyone to have a ski jump nose and eyelashes up to their foreheads. I think we need to remind ourselves and our kids that even what ‘appears au-naturel’ really isn’t, or before you know it all our kids will end up looking like clones capable of fanning their overheating old moms with their long fake lashes while balancing celery on fake pointy noses. Minaj

 

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Are you a Parent who worries about their Teens future?

Do you ever feel concerned about your kid’s future, level of self-confidence, relationship or communication skills?

Do you ever find it challenging to listen to your kids and really understand what they want and need in order to become well rounded, happy adults?

If so, I invite you to read this letter for some exciting news!

After 7 years of teaching, coaching and motivating adults in the areas of greater self-confidence, assertiveness, communication and time & life management, I’ve come to realize that we are failing our kids as a society when it comes to equipping them with the tools they really need to succeed in the workplace and in their relationships.

Schools focus a lot on IQ but I have seen some of the brightest, most educated adults to be struggling in areas of self-esteem and the ability to express themselves in a compelling manner. The MAJORITY of people I have met (which are in the hundreds per year) seem to have fallen into unsatisfying careers that don’t align with their values and passions and are ill-equipped to communicate confidently in both their personal and business relationships.

We must do better.

Instead of sending adults with years of bad habits and for whom change is very difficult to workshops and retreats in their 30s, 40s and 50s, I believe we need to start giving our kids these

fundamental tools in their adolescence, BEFORE they forge their life path.

Therefore, I am VERY EXCITED to announce a new partnership with the brilliant folks at ‘Generate U!’  We are now offering 4 separate coaching programs for 4 YOUTH beginning this August!

iStock_000008174184MediumIntroducing:

  • Kids aged 12 – 13: How to Earn Money – August 11 – 18 in Chelsea
  • Kids aged 14 – 16: Teens Taking Charge – August 25th – 29 in Ottawa
  • Kids aged 17 – 19: Generate U – 6 Sundays beginning September 21st in Chelsea
  • Kids aged 17 – 19: Generate U – 10 Wednesdays beginning Oct 1st – Nov 12th & Jan 14th – 28th in Ottawa
  • Young Adults 20+: 20 Something’s – Dates to be determined

 

These coaching sessions are designed to be:

  • FUN!!
  • Help your Teen identify their PASSIONS for their future Careers
  • Give them greater Self-Confidence
  • Provide them with tools for greater interpersonal skills including confident Body Language & non-aggressive Assertive Communication

Your child will also partner with older peers, complete a pilot project and benefit of a year of continued coaching!

At the moment we are now accepting enrollments for Teens Taking Charge for the week of August 25th – 29th! There are 10 spaces available so please try to enroll as soon as possible. If we end up with more than 10 kids, we will look at an alternative time to rebook, perhaps in a similar format to the Generate U sessions this fall.

To register please email training@samanthabiron.com.

So excited to meet your teen!

Sam

TEEN TAKING CHARGE 2014 – POSTER – PDF – June 29

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3 Reasons Positive People Can Be Positively Annoying

 

simon smallLast week one of my student’s said that she really appreciated the piece on expressing gratitude and being positive but that she was having trouble keeping it up. She went on to say that she found that many people around her were responding negatively to it. For example, she noted that she would receive many supportive comments if she went on a rant about something negative on Facebook but would barely get a like if she posted something positive. ‘Have you experienced this?’ she asked.

And the answer is yes, I have. And I think there are 3 main reasons for it.

1.  Positive People Are Not Always Relatable

Imagine that you have just eaten the best meal of your life and that you met an acquaintance in the street on the way home and start gushing about all the details.  If, unbeknownst to you, your acquaintance has been starving for weeks, what are the odds that they would have trouble sharing your enthusiasm?

The truth is, the majority of people are starving when it comes to happiness – they are in survival mode. Most kids are not taught to focus on the positive, to be deeply grateful, or to create a practice of helping others, which are three of the five keys to happiness according to Happiness Studies expert Shawn Achor from Harvard University. Instead, most kids are taught to fear and prepare for the worst in life; that hard work is more important than loving their jobs; and that happiness typically comes by acquiring a house and a car and a steady income. If these were the true keys to happiness, then Ottawa wouldn’t have been rated as depression capital of Canada for the last decade in 2010, since the majority of depressed people rated in the study were government employees with houses, cars and steady incomes.

Many are those who put themselves on ‘auto-pilot’ or ‘survival mode’ and begin to associate negativity with their own reality. That’s why you hear them say: ‘I’m not an optimist, I’m a realist’ – because their reality is anything but optimistic. Therefore, a positive person becomes ‘un-relatable’ and foreign to them.

2. Low Self-Esteem

Working with hundreds of people over the last 7 years, I have found that the majority of the population have low self-esteem.

Generally, people with high self-esteem focus on growth and improvement, whereas people with low self-esteem focus on not making mistakes in life. Low self-esteem has been shown to be correlated with a number of negative outcomes such as depression. (Silverstone and Salsali, 2003)

People with low self-esteem also tend to compare themselves to others as their benchmark of success rather than on being grounded in the knowledge that they are worthy because of who they are as an individual. Therefore, if they do not feel particularly successful or happy, it feels much better to surround themselves by others who are in the same boat. And when they do encounter someone who is positive, thriving and successful, it can make them feel like they are failing and worthless.

Rather than focus on the difference in attitude between themselves and the positive person, instead they have a tendency to focus on the ‘things’ the successful person has that they don’t, i.e. money, talent, supportive family, physical beauty or health etc. What they don’t realize is that it was the positive attitude to achieve these things that generally came first. According to Achor, happiness studies have found that ‘only 10% of a person’s long-term happiness is determined by their outside environment. 90% of a person’s long-term happiness is based upon their ability to view difficult situations as a challenge and turn it into a positive.’ (‘The happiness advantage’, TED Talks)

3. Comfort Zones and Change

It takes on average 21 days to change a habit. The older we get, the more engrained our habits are and if we’ve developed a habit of looking at life with a negative lens, to change this requires effort and commitment on our part. ‘The only way to make a man change something is to make him want to change it.’ (Dale Carnegie)

Unless someone sees the benefit to adopting a more positive attitude, odds are they won’t. It becomes much more comfortable to criticize those ‘self-righteous positive shmositive people floating on their pink fluffy clouds’ instead of having to admit that we need to put forth some effort to changing our mind-set in order to change our reality.

I should know. I was one of these people. I remember feeling very bitter towards all of those happy, successful bastards who kept telling me to ‘think positive.’ All I could think of was ‘how in the hell am I supposed to think positive when I’m alone, abandoned and feel like crap.’ It wasn’t until I decided to make a change for myself that I was able to begin to see the power of positive thinking, towards myself and the world around me.

So what’s the key to remaining positive without repelling most of the population?

Here are 3 steps to championing positive thinking:

1. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

No one is always positive. To pretend otherwise will make you un-relatable and lonely. Shit happens and we all have to contend with it. The difference is in the way we contend with it. So be willing to share your hurdles and tough times with others as well as the positives. Leading by example is far more powerful than what you say. Champion what it means to turn a negative into a positive, and show what is possible.

2. Be empathic.

I watched a documentary on the opening of Oprah’s school for girls in South Africa. The film showed how happy the girls were eating their first meal at the school which was a smorgasbord unlike anything they had ever experienced before. Interviewed later, Oprah revealed that what the documentary didn’t show was that all of the girls were very sick after that meal because their stomachs weren’t used to eating such an amount of food.

When people are enthusiastic about something, they become eager to proselytize others. And this can simply be too much. Instead, consider those you are sharing with and offer up ‘bite size pieces’ of positivity with a good dose of empathy and understanding of where that person is at in their life journey. Encourage and support rather than tell them how to think or what to do. You’ll get much further.

3. Refuel.

It’s hard to remain positive if you’re surrounded by pessimists. We all need to refuel. As much as possible, source friends and colleagues who uplift and encourage you rather than deplete your resources. Read and subscribe to uplifting feeds and articles and watch positive short videos throughout the day to keep your spirits upbeat. And look for positive opportunities for self-development such as workshops, coaching and retreats.

In the words of Winston Churchill: ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.’

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You make a living from what you get but make a life from what you give.

getting-out-of-bedI love this time of year. Everything smells rather fresh and I feel like cozy’ing up with a book by a fire with a cup of tea and a warm sweater. Little issue though: I don’t feel much like getting out of bed in the morning this time of year in my nice cozy bed.

This week was particularly challenging as I have a cold which caused me to lose most of my voice. This was exacerbated by my having to teach workshops for 4 days in a row. My daughter, a walking incubator of germs she picks up at school, asked me to cuddle up to her as she was coughing and feeling unwell. This time, I was ready! I snuggled up to her but cleverly lay my head just above her pillow so she wouldn’t breathe any evil germs on me. ‘Oh yeah’ I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got this mommy thing down now’…. by year 6. We were having a lovely moment when she suddenly looked up and with a sweet voice and her big blue eyes staring at me she said: ‘Mummy?’ ‘Yes’, I replied softly as I squeezed her tight. ‘I was wondering if … and suddenly it was like one of those slow motion moments in a movie as she began to ‘Ahack Ahack Ahack’, right in my face.’ Awesome. And this is how I became this week’s voiceless presenter. cough

This is decidedly one of the downsides to my job, not being able to call in sick unless you’re basically on death’s door as you have an entire audience waiting for you to show up at work. This said, I have to say that after this week, I’ve revised my perspective on this.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last month about why it is I do this for a living and what my purpose is. I’ve also been more conscious about my attitude and level of gratitude in my life. This was inspired by a great blog post by Michael Hyatt who talked about making a slight shift in how we vocalize what we do in a day. He suggested changing the sentence ‘ I have to do X today’ to ‘I get to do X today’. It really stuck and I immediately began to apply it. This week, I really noticed how this made a huge difference on my overall energy levels, even though I was sick. When I caught myself waking up and saying ‘Sigh, I have to go to work today’ I forced myself to shift my thoughts to ‘I get to go to work today’. I thought to myself: I have a job. Lots of people are out of work. I have an interesting job that I enjoy. Lots of people don’t. I get to influence lives for the better and this contributes to my overall sense of life purpose.

one-small-positive-thought

These positive thoughts energized me despite my flu and crazy voice, I laughed with my students and gave it all I had. I ended up meeting awesome people this week, shared many laughs and truly made a difference to them. I know this because of the beautiful comments several of them took the time to share, many of which I’ve attached below as inspiration of the kind of impact we can have on others when we decide to keep our focus positive.

This week made me think of the quote by Winston Churchill that leads this blog post.

I’m not just making a living, I’m making a life, and I love it.

Sam

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Samantha is a breath of fresh air! Her spin what takes up most of our time and how to protect our time really hit home. Her organic approach was a welcome change from the typical government workshops. I truly enjoyed it. Thanks for a job well done! Sherry-Lynn, HRSDC

Samantha is an excellent instructor with her zest and knowledge she is a fine leader. Anonymous

Thank you Samantha! This course is precious and should be offered to everyone, especially young people! Doris, HRSDC

Samantha made my day/what an excellent, straightforward expert and most effective facilitator she is! Absolutely enjoyed her enthusiasm and genuine approach to this knowledge!  Anna Di Medis, Medical Council of Canada

I really enjoyed how Samantha told/gave examples that related to her own life. My course expectations were definitely met and even exceeded! Hannah, HRSDC

This course is excellent as it is. Being an ex-teacher I can really appreciate somebody who is highly motivated and knowledgeable. Pierre, HRSDC

Samantha was a great presenter. The material was delivered in an effective and witty fashion. I’ll be very interested to take other courses from your organization. Lina

It was a great course. I really enjoyed the 2 day session. The instructor is awesome, it’s actually the best facilitator I had in the 3 courses I’ve taken with PMC! Thank you Sam. Lamia

I found this course very valuable and interesting. Fun instructor, knowledgeable, interesting, very applicable and easy to add to your life. Michelle Johnston

Samantha is very knowledgeable and such a great instructor. Learned a lot! Would definitely attend another one of her courses! Thank you! Sofia, DND

Loved the course and facilitator. The use of everyday concrete examples helped me absorb and understand the information. Very useful course both professionally and personally. Great Great Job Samantha! Manel

I enjoyed teacher’s openness towards herself and all of us – never made me feel uncomfortable au contraire she was very inspiring. Marie-Josee Berriault, Industry Canada

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8 Things I Practice to Stay Motivated

family

I love what I do for a living. It energizes me to motivate others and see beautiful people do beautiful things with their lives. At the same time, it also requires energy.

When you’re in the empowerment business, you can’t really afford to ‘slack off’ at work nor do clients want to hear things like ‘yeah well my day was worse’ or ‘sucks to be you.’ But of course like everyone else, you can’t always feel on top of your game. Life of course is unpredictable and there are stressful periods that require a lot more from us. And when that happens, we have to be careful not to deplete our own resources because then we become unable to give of ourselves, especially to those who matter most to us. I love the quote by Stephen Covey: ‘Have you ever been too busy driving to get gas?’

These past few months have been particularly taxing as our family suffered some huge financial setbacks due to cuts in the non-profit sector my partner works in. Although we love what we do for a living, we have had to come up with creative ways of supplementing our income this year as well as maintain a positive outlook and remain healthy. This is easier said than done, especially as parents. Most of us can relate to worries over providing for our kids and their future.

All of this has me thinking a lot more about balance and what I do to remain motivated. So here’s a list of 8 things, though not exhaustive, I hope it inspires you!

1) Be honest. It’s okay to be vulnerable & ask for help sometimes.

When I was in training to become a life coach, I learned a valuable lesson about the power of vulnerability. Although I felt somewhat embarrassed at first for having laid my soul bare before some 30 strangers, I ended up having the most important transformation of my life and made beautiful connections. I also still receive messages from them from time to time thanking me for having bravely shared some of my own struggles as it helped empower them to face their own. Sometimes it’s through our own challenges and successes that we become relatable and inspiring to others.

2) Jump on the trampoline.

Sometimes we can just get so caught up in the day to day stuff that we forget those important precious moments that could just pass us by. For example, I used to come home from work and immediately get to work on dinner and then the dishes and prepare for the next day only to realize the evening was gone and I wasn’t able to spend any quality time with my daughter. And then I realized: if I were to die tomorrow, would I regret not having spent more time doing dishes? So I decided to change my perspective on what really matters. I make dinner with my daughter most nights and we gab about her day. Either before or after we eat, that’s her time. Sometimes we go out and jump and giggle on the trampoline. Or we play hide and seek, or draw, or paint, or whatever is fun. We get to spend time together and I get to have some fun too. And after she goes to bed, if I have any energy for it, I do my dishes. And if not, they’ll still be there tomorrow ;)

3) Take time to laugh.

Did you know that the physical act of smiling releases endorphin’s to the brain? I love to laugh. It energizes me. I don’t know where I’d be without my sense of humor. It’s grounding. Here are a few things I watch, sometimes short clips perk me up throughout the day over the web or when I have time, I’ll catch a show in the evening:

– You Tube clips by favorite comedians such as Eddie Izzard & John Cleese:

– Favorite websites:

– Favorite shows:

4) Exercise for at least 15 mins a day.

We all know it but it sometimes feels so much bigger than it actually has to be. I definitely admire long distance runners or swimmers or any athlete but that’s not my reality right now. What I have found is that I do have 15 to 30 minutes most days to do something to get my heart rate going. Sometimes it’s a short run or a walk. Other days I’ll get the boxing gloves on and punch the bag outside – oh yeah, this coach just loves to punch the crap out of that thing, it’s very cathartic! :)

5) Fuel up wisely.

I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the food I consume in the last few years. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how much coaching or therapy or exercise you may get, if you’re fueling up with crap you’re going to still feel like crap. Gradually, I’ve made many changes to my diet. I went from a traditional Québecois meat-eating diet to becoming a pesco-vegetarian (still eat fish on occasion). Then I decided to eliminate soy, then wheat and then most dairy and replaced them with goat cheese and occasionally Halloumi cheese and goodbye bloating! Instead we eat a lot more of a raw food diet and way more nuts and whole foods rather than processed anything and it feels great!! I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in a healthier diet:  http://beautydetoxfoods.com/

6) Make time for what matters most.

‘We don’t find time. We make time by electing not to do something else. Once we do something, that is time spent that we can no longer spend in any other way, and that’s important.’ Randy Pausch

I know what it’s like to lose several loved ones all at once and it’s devastating. I have learned not to take friendship and loved ones for granted and therefore I always make time to connect with those I love, even a short message here and there. Remember to connect, with good friends, supportive family members and your romantic partner if you have one. Every time Greg and I make time to play (like going to see the fireworks last night and dancing outside to the tunes by the nearby DJ), I’m reminded of just how much fun we are when we aren’t just being ‘serious responsible big people’ and we connect.

7) Be grateful.

Every day – yes even on those crappy, soggy days when things don’t seem to be going so well – I remind myself of all that I have and what I am grateful for. Like not having to flee my home and my country and worrying about where I’ll sleep next and how I’ll feed my kid. And this puts things in perspective for me and reminds me that I have important work to do to help make this world a better place.

8) Make time for hugs.

It’s hard to stay angry at someone when you’re holding their hand or hugging them. I lost sight of the importance of affection after I lost loved ones. I built huge walls around my old, extremely affectionate self in order to protect my wounded heart. Bit by bit, I began to retreat and gave and received a lot less affection than what I had been used to. It’s sometimes easier to open ourselves up when there’s no risk of hurt. For instance, I have no problem smothering my daughter or the cat in hugs and kisses and I have a habitual French kiss kiss thing when I meet new people. But it’s still sometimes more challenging for me to consistently give good, genuine hugs to my partner and friends, especially when I have a lot on my mind. But I have learned that the rewards truly outweigh the risks.  So if you’ll excuse me now, I’m going to go give Greg a hug. J

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