Do what it takes

Do What It Takes

Take a long, hard look at the below photo…

If you look carefully at this photo, you’ll see a man on his belly digging through a public fountain for quarters, dimes, and nickels.

I know because I took the picture.

Last week we found ourselves on the waterfront in downtown Seattle on a miraculous sunny day. We came to a fountain and the girls threw in a couple of pennies after making a wish.

Then I saw a man approaching the fountain with his eyes set on it the way a lion stalks a gazelle.

As he got near, I watched in fascination as he, without hesitation and total disregard for those around, dove his hand into the cold water and rummaged for shiny coins.

I noticed the other bystanders staring in disbelief but nobody said anything besides a few murmurs to each other. At first, I was borderline appalled.

But as I continued to watch the man, I was intrigued and then totally involved in what he was doing. And, as you can tell, I even had time to whip out my phone and snap a picture.

After a few minutes and a soaking wet arm, the man stood up and walked away with a fist full of coins, probably a few dollars worth. It was one of those situations that kind of makes you think, “Did that really just happen?”

As we talked about it, I realized that somewhere inside me, I felt a sense of admiration for the guy. OK, so I know going around stealing other people’s “wishes” probably isn’t the best thing to do.

Besides that however, think of what else he did and what we can learn from it.

Singularity of purpose

He walked straight up to the fountain and dove right in. I love his clear focus. He wasn’t there to chit chat with others. He was there to collect money.

How focused are we on our goals? Really! Do we achieve them?

No shame

There were a lot of people around. He didn’t care. He achieved his goal regardless of what others were thinking about him.

Are there things that you would love to do but perhaps fear what others might think? Do you hold yourself back because you think you have a family who won’t understand?


Fountain man (as I’m now fondly calling him) had a goal in mind and executed perfectly. He didn’t wait for the right time. He walked straight up and dove his hand right in. He didn’t even take the time to roll up his jacket sleeve.

How often do you hesitate with a goal you’ve set? Maybe you think it’s too big or too hard. Maybe you want to wait for the “right time” to get started.

Risk versus Reward

I’m not sure the laws in Seattle about taking money out of public fountains but I’m guessing it’s probably frowned upon by city officials.

Fountain man would probably have had a rough time explaining himself if a cop were nearby or a nosy citizen had piped up. There was a large group of people nearby but he proceeded anyway.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that it’s ok to steal. I’m simply saying that too many times we are more afraid of a perceived risk and don’t go for the reward.

Do what it takes

This is the biggest lesson. I don’t know fountain man’s entire story. It’s not my place to judge. But I do know for some reason he felt it was necessary to rummage through a very public fountain with the intent to leave with money.

What he was going to use the money for is again not my business. I do know however, that he did what it took to get what he wanted.

With the goals you’ve set, are you doing everything it takes to achieve them? Are you desperate to see more of the world but are still stuck at a job? Are you anxious to meet a special someone but are afraid to get out and meet people? Are you trying to find a way to make more money but coming up short?

When my wife and I decided to make a drastic change in our life, we went big. We sold pretty much everything we owned and became intentional vagabonds. That was what needed to do.

What about you? What steps do you need to take to do the thing? The bottom line is this, when you think about your goals and the things you want to achieve, do it what it takes to make them happen!

So to Fountain Man, wherever you may be now, I salute you. Thank you for the strange but potent inspiration to the rest of us.