Learning to Recognize WOW

The wow is all around us. It occurs more often than we think. However, if we are going to get good at creating wow experiences for others, then we need to learn to recognize them when they occur.

just pretty

I started thinking of some of my wow experiences while on a run a few days ago. In just a few minutes I wrote down this list of 20. I’ll bet I could have gotten to a hundred or more if I had spent the time. My goal here is to ignite your thinking, so that you can come up with a list of your own.

These are in no particular order:

  • Catching giant halibut with my dad and brother off the northern coast of Elizabeth Island, Alaska. We caught seven!
  • Playing Augusta National Golf Club and seeing my friend, Tom, get a hole-in-one on number 12, one of the most famous holes on the planet
  • Kissing my wife, Gail, for the very first time, more than 31 years ago.
  • Swimming through the underground rivers in Xcaret, Mexico (outside of Cancun) with Gail.
  • Walking on the beach with my family in Búzios, Brazil, a little village about two hours from Rio.
  • Catching more than 100 Crappie with my dad when I was about six years old. We ran out of minnows, and my dad resorted to using pieces of his t-shirt. The fish kept right on biting!
  • Having dinner on the porch with one of my daughters and son-in-laws, enjoying a few hours of being fully present.
  • Driving through the Western Highlands of Scotland on our way to the Isle of Skye while listening to Dougie MacLean’s Who Am I album.
  • Fishing for rainbow trout in a mountain stream in Eleven Mile Canyon, Colorado—and actually catching several!
  • Watching the giant elk graze and bugle at sunset in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
  • Unboxing my first iPhone and being stunned by the attention to detail in the packaging.
  • Reading the Tom Swift, Jr. books when I was a young boy, hoping that the series would never end.
  • Watching The Fellowship of the Ring movie (the first in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and forgetting that it was just a movie.
  • Seeing each of my five daughters born—and then holding them in my arms.
  • Seeing Les Misérables performed in the Globe Theatre in London.
  • Looking down at the Aegean Sea from the balcony of the Simonas Petras Monastery on Mt. Athos, Greece.
  • Getting a call from my publisher, telling me that my first book had hit the New York Times list. It was initially rejected by more than 30 publishers. It stayed on the list for 28 weeks.
  • Sitting on the patio of the Skamania Lodge on the Columbia River Gorge in Washington, listening to an audio recording that Gail and my friend, Dan Meub, had prepared just for that day.
  • Finishing my first half marathon and coming across the finish line to the cheers of my family.
  • Talking with two of my sons-in-law on the porch during a mountain thunderstorm while attending a Wild at Heart Boot Camp.

And this is just the start. It is amazing how many wow experiences each of us has had, if we just take time to notice them. I was wowed all over again, just thinking about these!

Question: What are your 3–5 all-time favorite wow experiences? Share them with us here, so that we can all get better at recognizing wow.
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  • http://ajhawke.blogspot.com/ A J

    There have been so many WOW moments from the plain silly to the most profound.
    1) When I was baptized and realized I would never be alone.
    2) The awe of sharing the story of the Christ and watching another soul being baptized as a results of my sharing words from a book, the Bible.
    3) Realizing that God has given me the possibility of helping change the population of heaven.
    4) The gift of standing on top of the Alpes and looking at God's painting.

  • http://ajhawke.blogspot.com A J

    There have been so many WOW moments from the plain silly to the most profound.
    1) When I was baptized and realized I would never be alone.
    2) The awe of sharing the story of the Christ and watching another soul being baptized as a results of my sharing words from a book, the Bible.
    3) Realizing that God has given me the possibility of helping change the population of heaven.
    4) The gift of standing on top of the Alpes and looking at God's painting.

  • http://www.karenevans.blogspot.com/ karen evans

    1.Kissing my babies and grandbabies with their newborn smell.
    2.Hugs from my son after stepping off the bus from his tour in Iraq.
    3. The smiles of pure love at my children's weddings.
    4.The day God kissed my heart, and saved my soul.
    5.My husband for putting up with me.

  • http://www.karenevans.blogspot.com karen evans

    1.Kissing my babies and grandbabies with their newborn smell.
    2.Hugs from my son after stepping off the bus from his tour in Iraq.
    3. The smiles of pure love at my children's weddings.
    4.The day God kissed my heart, and saved my soul.
    5.My husband for putting up with me.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/wendysaxton wendysaxton

    1. When I first discovered that God never minimizes the circumstances that break our hearts, we do, when we deny Him access to our pain.
    2. When I realized that He (Christ) had freed me from the pain.
    3. The first year of sobriety for my husband after thireteen years of drug abuse.
    4. When I realized that God can use anyone mightily who will concede that they are not the center of the universe.
    5. The day I conceded that I am not the center of the universe…God truly became God in my life.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/wendysaxton wendysaxton

    1. When I first discovered that God never minimizes the circumstances that break our hearts, we do, when we deny Him access to our pain.
    2. When I realized that He (Christ) had freed me from the pain.
    3. The first year of sobriety for my husband after thireteen years of drug abuse.
    4. When I realized that God can use anyone mightily who will concede that they are not the center of the universe.
    5. The day I conceded that I am not the center of the universe…God truly became God in my life.

  • http://wadetower.com/ Wade

    1. The first time I saw my wife (to be) across a restaurant. I walked over after my meal and introduced myself, I couldn't help myself and we were married 11 months later.
    2. The first time I saw my two adopted daughters. We were there at the hospital both times and they brought them in immediately after birth…
    3. Singing a solo at a AME church in the inner city of St. Louis. It was my first experience attending an African-American church and it still ranks as my all-time favorite place I have sung.
    4. Baptizing my 10-year-old daughter at church earlier this year. Knowing that she understood what giving her life away meant and seeing her smile was humbling.
    Micheal, thanks for taking me down this road this morning. It made a great day that much better. Keep doing what you do.

  • http://wadetower.com Wade

    1. The first time I saw my wife (to be) across a restaurant. I walked over after my meal and introduced myself, I couldn't help myself and we were married 11 months later.
    2. The first time I saw my two adopted daughters. We were there at the hospital both times and they brought them in immediately after birth…
    3. Singing a solo at a AME church in the inner city of St. Louis. It was my first experience attending an African-American church and it still ranks as my all-time favorite place I have sung.
    4. Baptizing my 10-year-old daughter at church earlier this year. Knowing that she understood what giving her life away meant and seeing her smile was humbling.
    Micheal, thanks for taking me down this road this morning. It made a great day that much better. Keep doing what you do.

  • Robert Hyatt

    WOW! You were one of my first!

    WOW, Mike I think you have started somethng.

    Love ya,
    Dad

  • Robert Hyatt

    WOW! You were one of my first!

    WOW, Mike I think you have started somethng.

    Love ya,
    Dad

  • http://www.cheerupnation.com/ brian papa

    As I always say, "Don't be a HOW? person. Be a WOW! person. http://www.cheerupnation.com/the-wow-effect/

    Also, my wife's Brazilian and I know the place you're talking about outside of Rio. Love it! Have you also been to Paraty? Amazing!

    And, yes, being from Kansas, I've caught quite a few crappie. They might just be one of the most fun fishes to land. :)

  • http://www.cheerupnation.com brian papa

    As I always say, "Don't be a HOW? person. Be a WOW! person. http://www.cheerupnation.com/the-wow-effect/

    Also, my wife's Brazilian and I know the place you're talking about outside of Rio. Love it! Have you also been to Paraty? Amazing!

    And, yes, being from Kansas, I've caught quite a few crappie. They might just be one of the most fun fishes to land. :)

  • Pingback: The WOW factor « brad lomenick :: on the journey

  • http://www.godmessedmeup.blogspot.com/ Pam Hogeweide

    (we just returned from a camping trip today just down the road from skamania lodge.)

    ok, three of my life's WOW moments:

    - when my husband proposed at Queen's Pier in Hong Kong in 1988

    - when we had dinner with our kids and closest family friends on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand in 2007

    - when jim henderson texted me and asked me to collaborate with him on his new book project. I was driving south on I-5. After I read it, I said out loud to the highway traffic around me: Wow.

  • http://www.godmessedmeup.blogspot.com Pam Hogeweide

    (we just returned from a camping trip today just down the road from skamania lodge.)

    ok, three of my life's WOW moments:

    - when my husband proposed at Queen's Pier in Hong Kong in 1988

    - when we had dinner with our kids and closest family friends on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand in 2007

    - when jim henderson texted me and asked me to collaborate with him on his new book project. I was driving south on I-5. After I read it, I said out loud to the highway traffic around me: Wow.

  • Pingback: Wow! | Kyle Chowning

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulWallis PaulWallis

    Francesco Bernadone (known to the world as Francis of Assisi) quickly attracted thousands of young people from their comfortable middle-class lives to sharing with him in a life of poverty and radical compassion. How? In large part it was because Francesco had a gift for enjoying the WOW experiences of human life. Plants, animals, solitude, friendship, giving help, receiving none – Francesco had a knack for finding the WOW in all these things. He was known for having nothing and yet being able to find the WOW in that! It's because of that inspiring attitude that so many of all creeds and kinds find inspiration from Francesco eight centuries later. A friend once told me of the joy his baby girl found in discovering triangles in the world around her. Oh for a child-like, Franciscan ability to suck on the simple joys life! For Francis it took a war, time in prison and a breakdown to give Francis that new perspective. And for us…?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulWallis PaulWallis

    Francesco Bernadone (known to the world as Francis of Assisi) quickly attracted thousands of young people from their comfortable middle-class lives to sharing with him in a life of poverty and radical compassion. How? In large part it was because Francesco had a gift for enjoying the WOW experiences of human life. Plants, animals, solitude, friendship, giving help, receiving none – Francesco had a knack for finding the WOW in all these things. He was known for having nothing and yet being able to find the WOW in that! It's because of that inspiring attitude that so many of all creeds and kinds find inspiration from Francesco eight centuries later. A friend once told me of the joy his baby girl found in discovering triangles in the world around her. Oh for a child-like, Franciscan ability to suck on the simple joys life! For Francis it took a war, time in prison and a breakdown to give Francis that new perspective. And for us…?

  • http://www.ecoquestintl.com/jmhandi jim oberschmidt

    Thanks Michael, My 3 top wows, are kissing Tammy, even the last time, The birth of my sons, and today, the emotion and the tears, that these bring to me.

    Great reminders of the blessings all around us. Jim

  • http://www.ecoquestintl.com/jmhandi jim oberschmidt

    Thanks Michael, My 3 top wows, are kissing Tammy, even the last time, The birth of my sons, and today, the emotion and the tears, that these bring to me.

    Great reminders of the blessings all around us. Jim

  • http://recoveryourjoy.blogspot.com/ M. Louise Gallagher

    Okay — so I am 20 weeks after the question, but I just found you today linking from the Blog Carnival.

    One of my WOW moments was sitting in a canoe, alone, at midnight on Gardom Lake in the interior of British Columbia. The water was absolutely still. The stars reflected so deeply upon the ink black surface that I felt like I could dip my hand into the water and pluck a star. Truly magical.

    Another WOW moment, hearing my daughter's cry while still inside my womb. She was a caesarean birth and I had an epideural. As the physician cut, she started to cry. Magical. Mystical. Miraculous.

    And one more, standing on the beach at Tofino BC after a rainstorm. The surf roared in. Clouds scattered across the evening sky. A crescent moon was just visible. A rainbow arced above it — and then, a star shot through the rainbow. It seemed too unbelievable and yet it happened. Magical. Mystical. Miraculous.

  • http://recoveryourjoy.blogspot.com M. Louise Gallagher

    Okay — so I am 20 weeks after the question, but I just found you today linking from the Blog Carnival.

    One of my WOW moments was sitting in a canoe, alone, at midnight on Gardom Lake in the interior of British Columbia. The water was absolutely still. The stars reflected so deeply upon the ink black surface that I felt like I could dip my hand into the water and pluck a star. Truly magical.

    Another WOW moment, hearing my daughter's cry while still inside my womb. She was a caesarean birth and I had an epideural. As the physician cut, she started to cry. Magical. Mystical. Miraculous.

    And one more, standing on the beach at Tofino BC after a rainstorm. The surf roared in. Clouds scattered across the evening sky. A crescent moon was just visible. A rainbow arced above it — and then, a star shot through the rainbow. It seemed too unbelievable and yet it happened. Magical. Mystical. Miraculous.

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    Two WOW moments;
    1. The moment I realized God would not stop loving me no matter what I did
    2. Traveling across the middle east, walking in the footsteps of Jesus

    Joshua Hood
    2020visiononline.org