When going under (water) can be referred as a guideline

Sport and education are great ways to learn, no doubt. Interacting with one another at school, a seminar or in a tournament teaches a lot. Over my years of being involved in sports, recreationally or in various competitive settings, I noticed scuba diving is one that stands out in my business life. Learning and going under (the water surface, that is) calls for some crucial life skills which can benefit the “non-divers” too.

Unlike an MBA program whose quality varies based on which school is offering it, all PADI programsentry level through scuba instructor training, fall under strict educational standards monitored for worldwide consistency and quality. When it says “strict”, it is meant to relate to Life, sometimes survival, as long as it is fun too. Because, really, if it is no fun, then why bother!?

Think of quality management, random surveys with certified divers to check that their training actually matches with both their expectations AND the program standards, anywhere in the world. It is not how shiny the awning of the dive shop is: bonus if it is, however, if I want to rely on the teamwork and effort created with my dive partner, coming back to the surface breathing normally comes high in my life expectations, shiny website or not. Reliability and integrity are not just about customer satisfaction: they are part of PADI’s commitment to a quality assurance process. I must say: I purely dig it.

Diving turns out to be a lifestyle, a way of approaching Life in a relaxed, yet knowledgeable, way. I have just returned from Oak Ridge, a remote hamlet off of Roatan Island, in Honduras, where I spent an exceptional week at the Reef House. Beyond the remarkable level of service offered by his staff, Mike, the manager of the place and my dive instructor, demonstrates and represents calm and passion for the local underwater gem. When the breeze first picked up, I anticipated my being seasick on the boat: chatting with Mike reminded me of how pointless it is to worry before getting on the water. Same in business, and Life: worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it does not get you anywhere. Plus I did not get seasick.

I have been diving for ten years, and thanks to Mike, his talent at sharing his knowledge through the PADI’s values, this recent dive “retreat” opened my eyes on much more than the sharks, spotted eagle rays, turtles or blue eels (yes, I got THAT lucky). Being introduced to a multitude of (aquatic) species, being able to identify them, with time, learning how to behave around them made me think: through practical experience, observing my surroundings, getting the best experience from each (dive) project or gathering information and improving my navigation skills, all this sounds very familiar from a business point of view.

Adjusting to the environment, like controlling my buoyancy, regardless of the depth I have reached, especially when my life depends on a regulator makes me more humble and aware. And sharks can spawn good memories too.