October has always been my favorite month.
I was born in October and married not once but twice within the span of its 31 days. My son’s birthday is October 11, and where I live in southern California, the weather is as beautiful as it gets straight through: The first hints of winter’s chill chase away the late-summer heat, sweeping the air as a calling card for cooler days ahead.
I love October because it calmly anticipates the holiday season just a few weeks ahead. It’s also the first full month back at school for most kids, football season is still fresh, and in many places the ski season is already beginning. In a word, for me October has always been perfect.
Forgive my waxing poetic here, but there’s a point: Ours is an industry defined by extremely hard work, aesthetic energy, technical skill and levels of creativity that call on something new and different from watershapers in each and every project. It’s a tough business – one that by its nature would challenge the strength, will and ability of almost anyone, but especially those who never take a foot off the gas or step back to breathe deep and reflect.
In last month’s issue and again here in October, the ever-insightful Brian Van Bower has in different ways talked about this very need. In September, he did some waxing of his own on the importance of taking breaks and recharging the creative batteries; this time, Brian advances an adjunct argument, urging fellow watershapers to get out and attend trade shows and other industry events as a means of gaining perspective and renewing enthusiasm for the work.
As we enter another trade-show season, I want to echo Brian’s sentiments about the power and value of taking time to renew stores of energy, inspiration, ideas and product knowledge along with a sense of camaraderie with industry peers. I’d argue that finding the time to renew yourself on both the professional and personal fronts is the best investment any of us can make in ourselves and in our businesses.
This is especially important now, at a time when things are changing rapidly. The lines that once defined those who designed and installed pools, spas, fountains, ponds, streams or interactive waterfeatures were sharper and more exclusive than they are today. Now, some people are building pools that look like ponds or ponds that are made for swimming; interactive features have found their ways into myriad settings well beyond the confines of waterparks; and a whole new profession for watershape-design consultants has emerged. The old rules and categories don’t apply, and the future seems most welcoming to those willing to break out into new definitions, new territories and new ways of perceiving and approaching the tasks at hand.
To be successful in such a dynamic business environment, you must stay right on top of your game. I don’t know anyone who can do that while working in a bubble, and for me, there’s no time like the early days of fall to seek out the kind of rebirth and renewal we all can use on a steady basis.
Brian reminds us of the fundamental need we have to take stock, figure out what we’re about and take steps toward a dynamic future. Speaking for myself, my eyes are clear and my walking shoes are all ready to go.