When was the last time you challenged yourself, within diving or within in your daily life.
We as humans have an urge to explore and challenge. We can look back at some of the great explorers, who discovered new parts of the world, and at scientist who invent new drugs. It is everything from great accomplishments to smaller thing in our daily lives. I can look at family members and friends, who utters statements such as: “I will refrain from eating candy for a month” or “I have to lose 10 pounds”. And I meet friends in the diving community, who wants to beat their own personal limit: “I want to do a dive to 100 + meters” or “this summer I am taking a Cave speciality”.
Do we have a need to do these things? Not necessarily, some of it benefits us all while other things are just for the pleasure and satisfaction of the individual. So who sets these boundaries for what we must or must not do? It should basically be up to the individual to set the limits.
During my more than 20 years in the diving industry I have sometimes experienced, that some instructors and Divecenter owners have set the boundaries for what students and customers should or should not do. It might be a conscious or unconscious act. For instance when a customer asks about specialities, then the reply has been: “What do you want that for” or “You don’t need that”. I did the same when side mount became mainstream and people started diving with it in open water. Here the response was: “You don’t need that in open water, side mount is intended for narrow passages and caves.” But who was I to decide, whether somebody should take a side mount course or not? The truth is, that we as recreational divers do not have to jump in the water, we do it for the fun of it and to challenge ourselves.
One could pose the argument that it is possible to learn it on your own. But then again just like one, who has driven his car with a small trailer for many years, still needs a certificate when he wants to use a bigger trailer, it does make sense to educate yourself when you broaden you horizon. And I for one think, that there are many reasons for taking a speciality. Some people do it because the divebuddy does it, others do it to try out new equipment, some people do it for the social part of it and some do it to challenge themselves. I personally took my specialities to challenge myself, and this also continued after I became an instructor, where I took Tech courses, courses directed towards buoyancy and Rebreather courses. Perhaps I could have taught myself a part of the curriculum that we went through on the courses, but there is something special about being challenged by others and furthermore getting the background for why we do as we do.
This might be worth taking into consideration, when customers ask about a speciality, regardless of whether it is a Dry Suit speciality, a Boat speciality or something else. Then we as instructors and Divecenter owners should not act as a barrier for students and customers, but rather support each of them in their curiosity and desire to explore.
When was the last time You challenged yourself?