“What the heck is she doing here at an ice cold arena at 6:30 a.m.” I thought to myself as I saw my girlfriend run up to the glass on the other side of the arena and wave at me. My girlfriend never came to hockey practices so this was weird …….. something was definitely wrong.

authenticityI jumped over the boards and skated up to her and saw her tear streaked eyes. My heart jumped into my throat as I sensed that what I was about to hear was not going to be good.

“What’s up babe?” I asked with a lump in my throat. “Wayne has been in a car accident and is being medevaced to Toronto General Hospital.” My blood ran cold as my mind tried to grip the implications of the news and the impact it must be having on his wife and daughter, particularly his daughter “Ta” who was not quite 3 yet.

We got to the hospital as quickly as we could from the Toronto Area arena and in fact, beat the chopper who was bringing him in. As the family gathered, the horrible truth of the severity of his injuries became clear. It was a massive head trauma and he was in a coma.

The next 4 days were hell for a family as tight-knit as my girlfriend’s (who is now my wife of over 30 years) as the agonizing hours slipped by and his condition continued to deteriorate. Finally after four long days, his wife decided to pull the life support plug and Wayne slipped away.

My world was turned upside down. Even though I was not yet married into the family it was a forgone conclusion for me and my girlfriend that it would happen and we were all very close. I wondered how and why this could happen, questioned my faith, my belief in God and considered quitting University. I was a mess.

As upset as I was about Wayne’s passing I was just as upset about the impact it would have on his little girl Natasha. I didn’t think it was fair that she would grow up without a daddy to protect and nurture her. See, she had really gotten under my skin ….. in the best of ways ….. in her numerous visits to my girlfriends house. I was terrified of little kids as I didn’t understand them and didn’t want to do something wrong to scare them or hurt them… so I pretty much avoided them.

Until Natasha came along.

The first day I met this little blond bombshell as an 18 month old I knew she was special. She was so full of life and love and so unafraid to just be herself that I instantly fell for her. She warmed my heart and completely changed my view on children …… which was a good thing since my girlfriend was clear she wanted a big family 🙂 Not sure if I have ever thanked “Ta” for that so let me do it now.

The day of the funeral was hard on everyone. I had never had anyone that close to me pass on and I was wrestling with all kinds of emotions. Despite all of the emotional clouds of the day I did have a moment of clarity. It was at the side of the grave as everyone else walked away to the vehicles and I knelt down beside Wayne’s tombstone and promised him that I would do everything in my power to help raise his little girl. Not to ever replace him, but to try and ease the sense of loss this beautiful little girl ……. the one who had melted my heart ….. would feel as the years went by.

My wife Shelley and I chose to be very involved in Natasha’s life when she was young and we took her to the zoo, amusement parks, county fairs, to sporting events and included her in every part of our life we could. As she got older we asked her to stay with us in the summer and eventually babysit our own kids. We were very involved in her wedding and continue to be very involved in her and her families lives.

There is something about a graveside promise that stays with a person. Perhaps it is the strong emotions that are commonly coursing through you at a time like that. Maybe it is the “glimpse” into your own mortality, but whatever it is I continue to use the power of that as a frame of reference when I make a commitment to myself or someone else. I am careful with what I commit to but once I have committed my word ……. I am all in.

I ask you to reflect on the commitments you have made in your life. Do you honour them all with the same power and conviction you do a graveside commitment? Can people count on you to be “true to your word” and therefore learn to trust you? Since life is holographic, “how you do anything is how you do everything”, and the ripple effect of true commitment in your personal life will definitely be felt in your business life as well.

Raise the power and integrity of your commitments and watch your life and business soar to new heights. Start by committing to yourself and your own success right now, you can help so many more people this way.