The call for depth

Typical teenager of my generation (in France), I fell for Luc Besson’s movie The Big Blue. For the longest time, I resisted to the phenomenon until a friend dragged me to watch it at Le Grand Rex on a cold Sunday. While I had not been impressed with lining up for over 3 hours, I got swept away by the creativity, the work and the presence of the crew at the end of the projection. I was sold, no doubt, and more so, I was inspired. Maybe it was the water, maybe it was Eric Serra’s music, maybe it was Besson’s cinematography. Regardless, less than ten years later I was scuba diving in the Red Sea, and got hooked.

Like the waves crashing in Roatan, Maui or Pointe-Noire when I surf, the call for depth came and knocked on my door this weekend. I discovered and learned about the CIPA and got drawn to deeper considerations. The idea of risk management, constant training, passion, exploration, concentration and breathing tickles my personal and business senses. Watching CIPA’s trainings reminds me of mine in Martial Arts: novices and experts train together without distinction. The beginners get to learn firsthand, and senior students constantly sharpen their teaching skills.

Following free diver Guillaume Néry on his quest to break another record at the Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas, got me thinking. In an interview, he underlined his strategy, which has become a way of life: “anticipate, visualise, remain present, and do not project yourself”. Pretty straight forward and that simply follows some basic discipline he got taught when starting to train. Claude Chapuis, Néry’s mentor, is very strict with his students: if the schedule stated the boat was leaving at 09:00, showing up at 09:00 was a mistake. If one team member is late for the kickoff (the boat departing), it affects the rest of the teammates’ mood and sets a bad atmosphere around. When the basic values of respect, care and promptness are ignored, Chapuis never negotiated: best way to learn, and remember.

As a project manager, I get to learn a lot from free divers too, to a point: to reach the depth (some may call it the bottom) of a goal, a team has to focus on the same target, together. It is a two-way exchange: one cannot succeed without the support of her/his team, whether s/he is the manager or not. Watching these athletes play with their thoracic cage, with just a pince-nez, deeper than – 100 meters can easily qualify for a “crazy division”. It is about pushing the -human- limits to reach the Zone, that space where time and other elements usually measured take the back seat to let both aspirations and inspirations unfold.

I may have some amphibian talents, I am no MayolNitsch or Trubridge. Digging for depth in constant weight or no-limits calls for a strict discipline: it takes work and practice to reach any edge. I have a great respect for these athletes’ dedication and passion. I just tend to stay away from scientific statistics, whenever possible.