The unexpected grabs their attention.

When we are contacting the same people, appearing at the same events, posting to the same venues, we need to shake it up – do something UNEXPECTED. This makes us memorable, relate-able and shareable. Recently a friend’s dad died. He’s been posting lessons from his dad on LinkedIn. I already have a few in my bio from my own dad, but he reminded me of some lighter moments that are stand out memories.

As a kid of the 60s and 70s we spent a lot of special holidays with my sister-in-law’s family. They were nearby and have been in our lives since I was two. They were fun, too. Labor Day meant Hillcrest Park in Fullerton, CA. We didn’t document as freely as we do now, so my word pictures will have to suffice.

7:30 am was set up for a BIG breakfast. Lots of grills, griddles and syrup. In between breakfast and the huge lunch were activities. The park is different than it was then. The hill behind this structure in the photo isn’t nearly as steep as the one they used.

Typical picnic games were in order – water balloon tosses ergo fights, egg toss, three-legged races, sack races. There were less structured activities with Frisbees, and … BIG WHEELS. Yes, Big Wheels on grass. Did you notice the name of the park? YES! HILLS! The little kids – my five nieces and nephews, their extended cousins, all brought them and would drag them to the top of the hill and careen down into the group at the bottom. They did this over and over. The roar of kid laughter filled the air and everyone was caught up in it, including my dad.

Dad¬†inspired me to do what I do today. Dad was in his late 60s at this event, avid golfer, former prankster as a teen, from a huge Midwest family. He was daring and always willing to try something new – something unexpected. He asked one of the kids if he could borrow their Big Wheel. Of course they said yes! He hauled it to the top of the hill, with all of us watching how far he would go, even though we already knew! He crammed his body into it and proceeded to gleefully roll down at rapid speed. This was WAY before helmet safety. It was just Dad, the hill and a big wheel. He laughed and whooped all the way down. ALL eyes were on Dad. ALL witnessing caught his joy. This included my mom, who was usually competing with Dad for the “fun” spotlight. Not to be outdone, she too borrowed the Big Wheel, hauled it to the top and rolled down at rapid speed. By then we were all trained to be watching the hill, so her attention was somewhat derived from riding the wave of Dad’s. It worked – everyone cheered her, too, including my dad, and all the kids went wild.

UNEXPECTED, INFECTIOUS, INSPIRING. THAT’s the memory I have while hearing my dad’s laughter echo in my ears.

Shake it up, folks. Do something unexpected, even silly. Why not? Will it inspire? Will it delight? DO IT! I dare you. Then, see what lessons you derive from it. Oh, and be sure to get SOME sort of photo or video.

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