The Power in Keeping Your Promise
“But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep.”
American Poet — Robert Frost
I consider myself an ‘accidental’ professional speaker and author, since frankly, as a broadcaster, I didn’t set out to become a leader with a highly focused and absolutely driven mission. And yet, as it turned out, circumstances required nothing less of me; they demanded that I step up to the challenge.
Life has a way of throwing us curveballs.
With the news that one of my sons faced a life-threatening illness for which there is no cure – I faced the toughest decision of my life. It was then that I chose to leave behind the security of my job and the comfort of home to set out on an incredible 3300-kilometre journey pushing my son Jesse across Ontario in his wheelchair.
But this was just the beginning.
Three years later I was still working on keeping my promise to my son to find a cure.
And so, at the age of 52, I set out to walk across Canada. I spent 286 days on the road walking 33 kilometres a day. In those ten months my journey spanned six times zones as I walked more than 8300 kilometres. I found myself driven by inner strength and sheer determination.
I certainly never once dreamed that what I started would end up raising millions for medical research, targeted at finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
It was probably best that I didn’t think a lot about the challenges and enormous difficulties I faced over and over again.
Without hesitation, I can tell you I would make the same commitment and do exactly the same thing. Quitting was never an option.
Honestly, I felt I had no other choice. I was prepared to do whatever it took to help my son and others with the same life-threatening illness. There was so much at stake.
Now I share with audiences what I learned during those tumultuous times on the road. I have been honoured to share our story with thousands of people who have given me standing ovations every time I’ve spoken.
These are people who have adopted our story as part of their leadership template. They are people like you, who have been inspired by the insights from my journey. In their role as leaders, they have added a huge measure of determination to all that they do. Wherever that leadership path takes them.
My family emigrated from Scotland to Canada when I was two years old and now I live in London, Ontario. My first career spanned 30-years in radio and television in London and with CBC Radio and Television in Vancouver. My second career, the one I hadn’t planned on, began to unfold in 1995 when I went from being a news reporter to a newsmaker.
Along life’s road, my son Jesse and I have received several honours, such as the Order of Ontario, the Government of Canada’s Meritorious Service medal, a Guinness Book World Record and an opportunity to meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
But real leadership isn’t about awards. It’s about doing what’s right. And it’s about keeping your promise!
Here’s what I learned…
- Always begin with the end in mind. Do your research. Make your progress measurable on the road to your goal. And then – you must make a start!
- Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone. Growth and expansion are not found in the comfort zone. To put it another way, no one steals second base while keeping a foot on first base.
- Surround yourself with positive people who won’t always agree with you, but, who want to see you succeed. Realize that you have to be the strongest link in that chain of positive people.
- Persevere. Keep making the necessary adjustments as you move closer to your goal and you can see it taking shape. Strive to fulfill the view you had at the beginning even if the result is not identical to your original vision. Ignore the critics and never give up.
- Become a great listener. Learn that listening is more than waiting for your turn to talk. Deep listening without judgement leads to strong relationship building.
- When you fall on your face (and you will), just consider it feedback. No self-pity. Just get right back up and at it again.
- Make sure that you finish what you start. It is a real accomplishment in the changing fortunes of time. When you complete something, people can never take that away from you. And then – move on to your next project.
“Compelling and inspiring… a dedicated father demonstrates how a powerful commitment can make a difference.”
Former CTV National News Anchor
“This is a true blood, sweat and tears adventure! We all should jump out of bed in the morning and ask ourselves ‘how can I inspire others moving forward as John has done.'”
Bill Johnson – Former CEO
McDonald’s restaurants of Canada
“John’s keynote message of determination and his great story telling skill in encouraging people to develop a ‘stick with it attitude’ was a perfect fit for Domino’s. Our people felt they were a part of the ‘journey’ as they learned the true meaning of perseverance. They could feel the energy that was harnessed in building a winning team.”
“Our members and guests were very impressed! John’s keynote was extremely well done! Jesse was a remarkable young man, and his “Journey” was deeply moving. John is going to be very busy!”
Rotary Club of Kitchener
“John’s presentation is not just an incredible story but it’s the way he weaves his story to engage and challenge his audience that captivates.
For PricewaterhouseCoopers employees John set the stage for our conference.
This presentation is a winner!”
Tax Services partner PwC
“John’s captivating style and the power and passion of his message had us transfixed. His inspiring and deeply moving story about his experiences on the road across Canada was a magnificent opener for the DFK International Annual Conference.”
Executive Director DFK International
“The Sunshine Foundation of Canada was thrilled to have John Davidson as our closing keynote speaker at our annual conference. John’s presentation was a great reminder to all of us that there is no mountain too big or scary.”
The Sunshine Foundation
“I always believe that we meet people in this life not by chance but by purpose… John is one of those people!! The message of Jesse’s Journey will inspire you and create a stir deep within you to find your purpose and make a difference in the lives of others.”
Advocis Banff School
“John Davidson’s inspiring presentation was the perfect ending to our Red Cross Youth Leadership Conference. Between the tears and the laughter, we were all captivated. The audience felt the presentation was done specifically for them!”
Red Cross Youth Leadership Conference
“Many speakers will say their presentation is unique. Most are not.
John Davidson does have a ‘one-of-a-kind’ presentation.
Taylor made to fit the client’s needs, this skillful storyteller engaged all of us at Oriana Financial Group by igniting the spark of possibility within each of us. This presentation definitely brought new meaning to the words ‘corporate team.’ “
Oriana Financial Group of Canada Ltd
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Invite John to Speak
We can discover the ‘ordinary hero’ in you. Let’s look inside ourselves and ask what is that promise you’ve made to yourself, to those you love and to your business associates? Is it time to renew or re-connect with that promise? You are never too young to make a promise and you are never too old to see that promise fulfilled.
I’d be happy to speak at your organization’s conference or meeting. Give me a call at (519) 472-2536 or e-mail me at: John@OrdinaryHero.live