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.