“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters

“Wow” hollers grandson John (JR to his siblings) as he pulls a strip of paper off of one of his Christmas presents. Even though the contents are not visible, his elevated enthusiasm for the yet to be seen toy is highly contagious to family members engrossed in this scene. Each strip of paper, revealing more and more of the gift, is followed by another “Wow”.

Later during the day, in a quieter moment – which is difficult to find on Christmas Day packed with family members opening packages – my wife Carol makes a remark about two-year-old John and his ‘Wow’ exclamations. The obvious truth is that JR is excited about anything. Carol’s message is that we can learn from John about the importance of having passion about simple things in life.  In the unfiltered noisiness of Christmas Day, with multiple conversations ongoing, I am uncertain if the adult crowd is hearing my wife’s message. I do and embrace immediately what she is saying.

We can learn from anyone, including those that are much younger in age. Without knowing, John is teaching us today a simple principle. Enthusiasm makes a huge difference in our lives. In that moment when we are completely immersed in a young person’s joy, the excitement is transformative. One person’s joy becomes our joy.

Opening a package is a simple task, pretty routine by the time we are an adult and been through numerous birthdays and other gift occasions. To John, it is nothing routine. Not even close to boring. Even the stripping of paper is exciting. Strip. Strip. Strip.  And John has his own vocabulary, it’s called the wow language.

In the sixties, best-selling author Tom Peters talked about the wow factor in his books and presentations. In the business community, he taught us the importance of exceeding customer’s expectations and dazzling them with your next innovation.  But, as John so vividly teaches us on Christmas day. . .

Wow can and should be about our life.

As we travel on our life’s journey, we often create regular routines to accomplish daily tasks. Things like taking a bath, brushing our teeth, eating meals, driving to work and going to the grocery store. These routines may become boring habits. At some point, the wow disappears. The sameness drives away any newness. The excitement is gone. The package we open is the same package we opened yesterday and the day before. Sound familiar? Where is the wow I use to enjoy? Is there a way to get it back? Should I even try? Yes, and yes. We can resurrect the passion of the past and it matters to our future success. How? It involves simple success principles that we already know and use.

  • Choose carefully the company you keep. Stick around Wow persons. While very young persons often exhibit great enthusiasm, passion has no age limit. Some folks just have an internal compass that is set on excitement. Look for positive persons. The company that you keep is going to have a huge impact on your own approach to life. Be sure that you interact daily with many positive persons. Choose to be around happy people.
  • Live today expecting something great. This moment is unduplicated. Today may turn out to be the most important day in your entire life. It certainly may be the most important one this year, this month or this week. You do not know in advance how what happens today may affect the rest of your life. Your response? Live today expecting something great. Today is a special gift to be opened by you for the first time. Open it with John’s wow enthusiasm.
  • Adopt your own positive statement. Eliminate any tendency or bad habit of espousing negative statements. The great motivational speaker and author, Zig Ziglar, urged his followers to say multiple positive statements to counter each negative statement. Find your own sentence that represents you. Mine is Mondays are great. I follow this proclamation with the belief that all days are better than Monday. So, if I start with a great day on Monday, I will end with a great week, great month, great year and a great life. One single day, lived with passion, can change your whole life. What is your personal positive statement? Permanently seal it into your daily vocabulary.

But, not every moment is positive or good. Bad things happen. Persons we love get sick. Some die. We have sadness. We are not going to be positive in some of the sad moments of our lives. But, we can and should have some balance. Even when we lose someone we love, there is also joy. Their memory is a positive thing we can hold onto in the present and future. I have been to many funerals in my life and have witnessed much laughter in the midst of great sadness as relatives and friends remember special moments with their love one. In my heart, I believe the person that has left us would want us to be happy. They would appreciate our sadness, but would want us to remember them with laughter and joy. Does this make sense to you?

Balance your life. For every negative, find multiple positives.

“Wow”. There he goes again as he tears into one more Christmas present. He is impossible to ignore. The excitement is contagious.

Thank you, Carol, for reminding us to remember a child’s joy in our own lives.


I will embrace enthusiasm.

I will be excited.

I will just say Wow.

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