Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scuba is suffering because of a lack of professionalism, diminishing integrity, and leaders that don't care. It's time to change this perception.

Although, I've only been in scuba for ten years, eight of them as an instructor, I've seen many things that I find troubling in the industry. First and foremost, I love scuba diving. When I left a ten year career in banking, I did not know where I was going or how my life would change. With that said, scuba diving should be fun. I'm not writing this because I have a grudge to pick or stick up my ass. What I'm seeing is a lack of professionalism in many dive instructors, integrity disappearing from the dive shop, and dive leaders that are poorly trained. If the numbers are correct, it is said that 80% of divers fail to continue diving after their open water certification dives and a dive shops closes everyday. Scuba cannot survive if those statistics are accurate and continue.

There are numerous reasons why one would want to learn how to scuba dive. I had friends that dove, and I wanted to dive with them. Some learn so they can dive in an exotic location. Many learned as kids then pick it up again when they have the resources and time to do it more often. Whatever the reasons, it is often because of the mystery, the animal life, for some its the risk value, and for others it could be to overcome fear or adversity.

I teach scuba diving full-time. I don't own a dive shop. All I want to do is teach. Teaching and diving fill a once empty part of my life with incredible fulfillment and joy. I love sharing my experiences with students and other divers. I want diving to be all they do in their spare time. Teaching full time is not a 40 hour a week job for me, either. I probably work 16 hour days finding students, teaching students, and writing about diving (finding and gathering scuba and marine life related articles and information to share with those that follow me). I dive a lot. I run dive trips. I dive for pleasure. I never take for granted that I am incredibly fortunate to be making a living doing what I love in a field that is a luxury for many, out of reach for some, and only a far off dream for others. I've worked hard to get where I am. I am a professional in this field and have finally found something I will not give up doing. There is no retirement in my future. I will not give my students less than they deserve. I always give 100%.

For those that teach part-time, they probably do it for many of the same reasons. They love diving, they love traveling to exotic locations, they love the people and the animal life... Because their time and careers are occupied in other areas, it's easy to not put as many hours into it. They probably dream of retiring one day and teaching full-time, maybe opening a small dive shop on a beach on a tropical island somewhere. Just because it is part-time, one should not put in part-time effort.

The one thing that I do not believe is that the Internet has killed scuba! There has always been competition, and competitors that cost more can still be profitable. Target exists in a world of Walmart; Saks Fifth Avenue exists in a world of Macy's, and so on... Coming from banking and finance, I really do understand the business model, profitability, margins, cost of doing business, being paid for one's time and efforts, as well as not giving your product away for free. Every business deserves to be profitable, every employee deserves to make a good living, and every customer deserves a great product at a great price! Whether or not you believe that the world we live in is a great one, I do...

I'm not going to be single-handedly responsible for world peace, I probably can't save the whales, there's going to be over-fishing, and I can't rescue baby seals... but, I can change one person's perspective at a time. My goal is to illustrate to all of my students and customers that it doesn't matter that I am just a scuba diving instructor, but that I am a person that cares about them, wants them to be safe, wants them to have a great time diving, and that scuba diving is about community! I don't use clever jargon to get them to buy something before buyer's remorse sets in, and I believe that you get what you pay for. The Gucci family is famous for saying, "Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten."

There are a million "feel good" books and videos everywhere you look... Most of have seen at least one of them and think that they just don't apply to us. To get back to foundation of why we teach students to dive, we can't forget that every student is that feel good story that hasn't been written yet. It is our job to make that story come true, but not by dreams that are out of reach, but by investing in those that come to us to learn...

Jim Carrey, in a commencement speech to Maharishi University, said, "that [he] learned many great lessons from [his] father, not the least of which that, 'You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love'."  



Scuba has a long way to go to get back to the prosperity that it once had. It is going to take every diver and every instructor making a concerted effort to make it happen. There has to be support from the agencies we choose to partner with and if our community is going to grow, the time to change is now.

Please stop portraying scuba instruction as joke...





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