The Power of Reinvention

Eric Herman Headshot
photo of a man by a pond at sunset
Flickr | James Bebbington

Many years ago I knew a guy who had a severe drinking problem. It was so bad that we parted company as friends and completely lost touch.

Two years ago, I was out for a walk near my home when I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and there he was. I almost didn’t recognize him at first. He had lost about 50 pounds and looked 10 years younger than I remembered. The swollen features and glazed eyes had been replaced with a person wearing the look of vitality and health. He was proud to tell me that he had been sober for several years and had gone back to school to finish his degree in engineering. He had managed to save his marriage and reestablish positive relations with his grown children.

In short, he completely reinvented himself and very likely saved his own life. He had taken a very sad story and completely turned it around.

My point in sharing this story is simply that anyone can start anew if they have the will to move in a positive direction. In fact, his story has served as a powerful inspiration as I too have faced some fairly nasty health issues in recent years, nothing as severe as the demon this fellow faced, but challenging nonetheless.

In preparing material for this issue focusing on innovation, my thoughts turned to that guy and how even someone afflicted with a terrible addiction can start anew. It occurs to me that when we think of innovation from a professional standpoint, the greatest type innovation is, indeed, the power of self-improvement.

In this addition of AQUA Architecture you’ll find two stories by men who have taken it upon themselves to reinvent their careers through extensive education.

In the first story, “The Digital-Design Evolution,” Doug Johnston chronicles his journey into the world of computer-aided design and presentation. About 10 years ago, Doug realized that to succeed on a level he desired, he needed to develop an entirely new set of skills. The results speak for themselves as he now works on projects that are among the finest found anywhere in our industry.

In “Heat Source Innovation,” Douglas Cook covers his innovative work with geothermal heating and how a swimming pool can be used to heat or cool a home. His expertise in that highly specialized area was the result of his journey into the world of HVAC technology. In Douglas’ case, he was prompted to educate himself by the need to weather the tough years of the recession and find work outside the industry. With those tough times in the rearview mirror, he has a skill set that puts him on the cutting edge of heating technology.

Both of these professionals stand as powerful examples of what can be achieved when you invest in learning new skills – but their stories are from unusual in our industry.

In fact, some of the finest builders working these days are people who had modest beginnings. Throughout their careers, they all pursued greater levels of knowledge and incrementally moved toward greater and greater levels of achievement. Today, each is enjoying the fruits of their investments in professional growth. Throughout their careers, they all pursued greater levels of knowledge and incrementally moved toward greater and greater levels of achievement. Today, each is enjoying the fruits of their investments in professional growth.

Reinventing oneself, professionally, personally or both, requires courage and a level of personal fortitude that not everyone has. Change can be scary for a lot of people, and it’s human nature to want to stay inside a comfort zone. Heading down new paths means facing uncertainty, and it takes faith in the future to take those first difficult steps.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with spending your life working in service, or any other job, so long as it provides you with satisfaction and a sense of purpose. If, however, you find yourself wanting new challenges and increased prosperity and the satisfaction that comes with it, there’s never a bad time to assert your ambitions by learning something new.

When I look at people who have made meaningful changes in their lives, I can’t help but admire them and think that improving yourself is innovative thinking and action at its finest.

Just a few days ago I received an email from the friend I mentioned at the start. He was happy to report he’s still sober and is starting his own consulting firm. I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.

Facing change can be tough, but it also can be the best thing we do for ourselves.

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

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