em>“You can make more money and more friends, but you can’t make more time. That’s why it’s the greatest gift you can give someone.” – Captain James Key

A couple summers ago, I was so immersed in writing a book, the weeks flew by, September came, and I never went swimming once.

Yikes. I promised myself that wouldn’t happen this year. I’ve vowed to swim at least 4 times a week – either in the lake or in one of the 22 (!) community pools in our community of Reston.

So, yesterday, I wrapped up a day of consults and went “pool shopping.” I found myself driving past an inviting pool, tucked back under some shade trees. I impulsively parked and went in, armed with my goggles for some lapping and a towel for some napping.

As soon as I walked in and saw the fountain in the shallow end packed with kids, moms and a few dads, I realized I’d found the “family” pool.

As I settled in on the only available chaise lounge, a father walked in, still in his business suit, and was met with a thrilled chorus of “Dadd-ee” from his 3 kids who ran-walked (lest the lifeguard tweet her whistle) to greet him.

He walked over to the woman on the chaise next to me, gave her a peck on the cheek and went to change into his trunks.

Five minutes later he was in the pool, surrounded by his adoring brood, playing Marco Polo. (How comforting to know people still do that.) The mom watched with a proud smile while the kids vied for their Dad’s attention, “Look at me, look at me,” showing the the strokes they’d obviously learned from their swim lessons.

It did my heart good to watch this Walton-like tableau unfold in front of me. This happy family basking in the innocence of a summer afternoon brought back fond memories of my sons and I reveling at Keawekapu.


beach during the “golden hour,” that magical hour while the sun set, the Maui trade winds died down and we had the ocean all to ourselves

Then, the father stopped and looked up at his wife as if something had just occurred to him. He said, almost in a state of awe, “Hon, Why don’t we make this our default? Why don’t we just meet here after work every night?”

I have to admit. I held my breath. I looked at her, thinking, “Please say yes.”

She looked at him, smiled in agreement and said, “Why don’t we?”

That simple decision to “change their default,” which took 5 seconds to make, could turn this into a fond family ritual everyone remembers as “the summer we met Dad at the pool every afternoon.” The summer of glorying in each other and the gift of time.

What’s your default? What do you automatically, mindlessly do – that’s not serving you?

What could you replace it with – a new behavior – that could reap a summer, a lifetime, of fond memories?

This casual visit to a local swimming pool reminded me that intriguing “material” is everywhere – if we just look around and keep our emotional antenna up for what moves us.

If something gets YOUR attention and captures your imagaintion; it will probably get your audience’s attention and capture their imagination.

Re-enact what happend so we’re there with you – and then “hook and hinge” your aha back to your audience so it becomes their aha.