{AQUA} The Learning Curve — In the Pool Business and In Life

PORTFOLIO Hybrid Swimming Pool {SMA} Legendary Escapes (101)As pool industry professionals, we are always learning, always expanding our skills. Whether your company installs a huge volume of manufactured pools or creates a handful of unique custom poolscapes, you learn something new with each job.

With the never-ending flow of new products and techniques, the learning curve is more like a spiral, a continually expanding cycle of learning that takes everyone in the industry up a notch with each turn.

Yet as professionals, we are often expected to be the “go-to” guys for our customers and others in the business. In that role, we must exude that confidence to be credible.

It can be a tricky balance — staying open to new ideas and new information, while at the same time being confident in our own skills so we can speak with authority.

As our “Ask the Pool Guy” brand has become more popular, my team and I often find ourselves in the position of being mentors to others in the industry. And I will tell you, it’s a humbling experience to know that the words I say have meaning to someone else. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was a rookie in this industry, soaking in all the knowledge I could and often learning the hard way.

Somewhere along the line I turned that corner and became a trusted source. Yet I’m always looking for ways to improve on my skills.

The same is true for my personal life: Everyone I meet has something in them that I can learn from and grow on.

I have opinions — really strong opinions — and these are most often based on personal experience. Physically seeing something and witnessing the results makes it real for me, makes it “true” if you will.

And that’s what I tried to project to others. I want you to trust in what I say not just because I said it, but because it’s based on some amount of hard evidence or proof.

You see, truth is a sliding scale: An event can happen, and four different witnesses can report four entirely different experiences. We all see the world through our own set of filters, and this impacts the way our brains interpret things.

What’s helped me continue to grow and establish my authority is to recognize the mentors I’ve had in my life. Some of these mentors are well-known in the industry. Many of our well known industry leaders in design and construction of pools and water features have inspired me — and probably many of us — by building amazing careers around their own unique style of projects.

There are the people I consider “industry mentors,” and I am so grateful for what I’ve learned from them. Almost more importantly are the mentors that changed me just by doing great things in their own industries. I could recognize traits and apply them to my industry and my craft. Other people have influenced my life on a more personal level, helping to form the person that I am, and influencing the underlying approach to my work.

These kinds of mentors show up if you stay aware and open to learning. I truly believe that we can learn something from everyone we meet if we only allow ourselves to be open.

Continuing to grow in your craft requires a dedication to learning and evolving, and there are so many people you will meet along the way who can help. You never know who your next mentor is going to be and how they are going to change your life. All you have to do is slow down and listen.

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Al Curtis is the designer and builder for Legendary Escapes Pools. He has pioneered the hybrid vinyl liner/gunite swimming pool, and is known for his unique and innovative custom designs. Also known online as @askthepoolguy, he blogs, does video, training, and events for the pool loving public and fellow industry professionals. He can be found online at www.AskthePoolGuy.com.

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