Eric Herman Blog: Seasons of Change

Eric Herman Headshot

photo of Eric HermanI’ve always appreciated the old adage that “change is the only constant.” It’s one of those sayings that no matter how many times I hear it, the simple truth always seems to come busting through. To my mind, accepting change is one of the best ways we can become at peace with the world around us and with the passages that constantly unfold within our own lives. 

The journey isn’t always easy, in fact sometimes it hurts like hell, but through it all I’ve learned to draw comfort from knowing that nothing stays the same, or as George Harrison once put it in song, “all things must pass.” I say this knowing that in many situations change is a source of tremendous anxiety and uncertainty in the way it can erase your sense of control and cast shadows over the landscape of the future. 

That’s why I hold fast to the notion that, positive or negative, within every change there resides opportunity. The fact that tomorrow is sure to be different from today and yesterday – at least on some level, big or small – means we are always in a position to invent our future, to approach each day as a beginning. 

This whole philosophy was really put to the acid test for me in a huge way this past summer. It started on an especially positive note last spring when I married my beautiful bride Diane in a very private ceremony on a ridge in Big Sur, Calif., overlooking the shimmering Pacific Ocean on a heavenly sunny day. In that moment, change was the most hopeful and beautiful of life’s gifts. 

Shortly thereafter, however, I received some hard news. My job of 16 years (12 of which spent as editor of WaterShapes) came to an end. Due to financial pressures our publisher disbanded the staff, broke up the band so to speak, and I was out in the cruel world with no job in a market that has been decidedly unkind to writers and pretty much everyone else. 

Also at that time Diane was searching for a new job, as well. Working as an office manager for a real estate firm that had been hurting badly for the past three years, she had seen the handwriting on the wall and sensed that she had better find something else, lest the both of us would wind up on unemployment. On top of that, the lease for our home was up in October and our landlord had let us know he was putting the house on the market and we had to move. 

Suffice to say, the summer of change may have started well, but soon spiraled into a morass of uncertainty. I bring this all up to reinforce the point that we all face change and the challenges it so often brings. 

Nowhere has that been more true that in the pool and spa industry.  Through out the past three years of recession, I’ve talked to dozens of you who to varying degrees have told me how hard it’s been, how uncertain life has become and how in some cases you’re holding onto your business, and even your sanity, by just a thread. Yes, there have been some shining exceptions, particularly on the custom end of the design and construction industry, but even there the numbers of people who have felt the sting began to increase. 

Through it all, we’ve grown tired of pundits talking about what the government should do, or not do, or how lenders need to loosen up their practices and make funding more available. And people like me have banged the drums of hope by encouraging readers to think positively and use the down time to sharpen skills and position businesses for future success. But no matter what anyone says, words mean little when placed against to tough realities of this market that just hasn’t seemed to turn around in any meaningful way. 

Fortunately, according to many, this past summer did bring with it some welcome zephyrs of hope. Although we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, there seems little doubt that the ultra-hot weather coupled with marginally improved economic conditions and consumer confidence resulted in meaningful up-ticks for some businesses. It wasn’t a sea change, but for many the phones did start ringing with customers coming back into the mix and for the first time in a painfully long while, there have been some glimmers of improvement. 

Whether or not we’re actually in a recovery remains to be seen and make no mistake, some rather gloomy prognostications about the industry’s immediate prospects do seem entrenched as the common wisdom of the day. In due time, we’ll all find out one-way or another and there can be little doubt that those who have prepared for success will likely be those who find themselves on the upside of future changes.

As for Diane and me: she landed a job with Lighstreams Glass Tile (Santa Clara, Calif.) working for our good friend and bonafide creative genius, David Knox; I was hired by AQUA to write this blog and help make some progressive changes in the magazine; and on October 1st, Diane and I moved 400 miles north to the bucolic enclave of Capitola, nestled on the central coast of California overlooking the Monterey Bay. 

Although the future always remains uncertain, for now at least, the winds of change do again feel sweet. As always such passages reinforce the principle that if you approach change with a positive attitude and don’t let yourself get too far down, always work hard to improve your skill sets and think creatively about possible opportunities, things can and usually will work out in a positive way. Plus, a little bit of good luck never hurts either.

So, now that the sweltering and tumultuous summer of 2011 is in the books, how has the changes it brought been treating you? 

Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide