Perpetual Forward Motion

Eric Herman Headshot
photo of The Pool Company project
Photo courtesy The Pool Company

I’ve always thought that by standing still in what we know and what we do, we’re in effect moving backwards because the world around us, for better or worse, is always moving ahead.

In so many ways, success in most any aspect of life means adapting to constantly changing environments and circumstances. Call it progressive thinking, evolution, personal growth or just common sense: the ability to adapt is one of the key ingredients in any recipe for achievement.

The irony is that being able to roll with the changes and adjust your game along the way also means staying consistent with a system of personal values, standards and, I dare say, virtues. Hard work, integrity, planning and effective teamwork are almost always necessary foundations for effective adaptation, and for my part, I’d also add confidence, kindness and good humor to that list.

In short, for most of us, change is about making methodical adjustments in the way we approach common challenges on a daily basis, and doing so always with the big picture in mind.

If, for example, you’re unhappy with your financial situation because maintaining your standard of living has become more expensive, then institute doable cost-cutting measures and a program of saving money. If you don’t like the energy-sapping effects of aging, eat more healthfully, get more rest and exercise more frequently. If you don’t like what you do for a living, look for ways to expand your skill set and contact base that will support moving into a different type of work.

One aspect of the pool/spa/aquatics industry I find inspiring is the abundance of individuals and companies who have used change and adaptation to generate greater success for themselves. I can think of all sorts of perfect examples but for this discussion, I’ll pick on one of my closest friends in this business, Steve Swanson, owner of The Pool Company, a northern California design and construction firm. In addition to being one of the finest people one could meet in any walk of life, Steve’s career in the pool and spa industry could be used as a case study in how devotion to constant self-improvement results in professional transformation.

When I first met Steve, way back in the early ’90s, he was in the process of transitioning from service and repair work to construction. He already had a gift for really trick masonry work and was adapting and growing his skills to expand the scope of his business into more creative and financially rewarding realms. His ambition for greater and more challenging work, coupled with a rock-solid work ethic, steadily drove him to higher ground.

Through the years I’ve followed Steve’s career as he moved into pool and spa construction, then into designing and building high-end custom aquatic environments. Nowadays, it’s fair to say he’s on a short list of artisans who work at an extremely advanced level of skill and creativity. You can check out a prime example of what I mean in Steve’s story in this issue, “Pushing the Limits,” which profiles one of his most beautiful and challenging projects to date.

In his discussion, Steve candidly shares that this project presented a level of difficulty that in past years would have prompted him to defer to others. Now, after years of study through resources such as Genesis 3, travel, constant trial and error and generally expanding his acumen, he felt he was up to the challenge. The results speak for themselves in the form of a stunningly beautiful, yet subtle work of aquatic art and craft.

Knowing Steve as well as I do, seeing him hit such a high mark is both personally and professionally gratifying in the extreme. It’s work that reveals in the most tangible of terms what can happen when you constantly apply yourself to the challenge of self-betterment.

There are many upsides to embracing change, one of the most enjoyable being that when you commit to a path of professional and personal enrichment, the process becomes addictive. It’s a life-sustaining habit that can transform the drudgery of the workday into an ever-unfolding pageant of imagination and curiosity. Not only is the active pursuit of adaptation part of the formula for professional success, it’s also a path that leads toward a life of personal fulfillment.

Whether the changes you make are seemingly miniscule in scope or all-encompassing, moving forward is a lot more fun than wondering “what if” as you stand pat and watch the world go by.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

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