Skipping Rocks . . .

By the river skipping rocks,
Is where I spend the currency of my worries and toss them with a devilish grin.  -Eddie Cabbage

Here we are on holiday for a week on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  We are renting a cottage on a small bluff just above the ocean and next to a picturesque lighthouse.  Very quaint and this time of the year, the off-season, there is hardly anyone on the beach.  Imagine the opportunities presented by a deserted beach!

“What are you doing, Dad?”

“Well, you probably can’t hear them, but the rocks on this beach are crying out for skipping.  Rocks are made to be skipped!”

So began my daughter’s adventure in learning how to skip rocks.  Skipping rocks was a big part of my childhood as my younger brother Jim and I would practice for hours seeing who could get the most consecutive skips out of a single rock.

Skipping rocks across the surface of the water is not just child’s play. There are lots of big stuff involved, like the physics of the proper spin on the rock.  The mechanical alignment of arm, hand, trajectory and of course the shape of the rock.  Too light and it doesn’t have enough momentum (Force=Mass*Acceleration), too heavy and it reduces the number of skips.  Too thin and it can turn the wrong way and sink; too thick and it creates wind resistance.  Lots of adult things to consider.

But those things never crossed our minds as kids.  It was just fun to skip rocks.  I think it’s in our “young” DNA, which unfortunately gets replaced with “adult” DNA as we get older.

So, it was great to relive my youth with my daughter on the beach and teach her how to skip rocks.  After trying to explain the proper way to hold the rock, the best type of rocks, the best angle to throw, I finally gave up explaining and just watched her, made a few coaching comments and finally, an excited shout from a delighted 12-year old. “I did it!  Did you see that?  I’m a genius!”

When was the last time you skipped rocks?

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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1 Response to Skipping Rocks . . .

  1. Jody says:

    I just throw them like a Frisbie and watch! My husband, on the other hand, uses the more technical style. I think we have the same skipping average!


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