D. 49 It’s the details that will throw you off your game

Chances are, I won’t ever drop in the water for a dive forgetting my tank. And even if I did, there would be someone to point out the problem. It’s not the big, obvious mistakes you’ve got to worry about. You know the drill, you run the show, this is not a challenge. But it’s the details that will throw you off your game. A grain of sand grinding a smooth mechanic of well shaped habits.

I’ve been diving here for a little over 3 weeks, so focused on working on my leadership skills, improving the way I divide my attention between finding interesting stuff, and keeping an eye on my divers.

Because I’ve been carrying extra-weight most of the time, in case a diver needs some extra during a dive, I’ve neglected my own balance in the process.

Three weeks. And I’ve let this issue completely under the radar, not noticing its impact on my general behaviour underwater.

When I was practising how to properly demonstrate skills underwater with Laura, I was thrown off balance so often it became frustrating. I could not complete a sequence properly, when I had to struggle just to keep kneeling straight at the bottom.

Laura suggested that I added some weight next time, and I did, this morning, when I had another go at the exercice, this time in front of an actual student.

Granted, the conditions were not ideal, because the current was much stronger. But again, I struggled to keep my balance, and failed multiple times, constantly falling forward.

Once you know it, it becomes obvious

Needless to say, I wasn’t at all satisfied of my performance this morning. Once out of the water, Laura pointed out the problem to me:

« You need to wear your weight at the back. Not in the front. This is why you keep falling forward ».

So I was wearing the right amount of weight, just not in the right place. Of course, once she had pointed it out, I couldn’t believe how I had not seen it myself. I’m wearing all 3.5 kg at the front of my belt, and the extra kilo in the side pocket, also forward. Nothing cancels out the upward pull of the aluminum tank strapped to my back.


Because it’s the details that will throw you off your game. The ones only an expert eye can see, the ones that creep up on you through « the habits that kill », the ones you can only get rid of by performing rigorous checks and asking yourself the right questions.

About those damn « habits that kill »

Interestingly enough, I did identify the source of the problem: it’s through what I’ve called « a habit that kills » that I came to wear my weights on the front, without even questioning why I always wear them there.

I am used to dive with a steel tank, which are shorter and denser than aluminum tanks. This is why I usually wear weights on the front, to avoid getting the weights pressed against my spine by the tank.

But when diving with an aluminum tank, I should have questioned this habit. It’s not the comfort that drives the decision, it’s the balance issue. Had I thought about that, I would have realised that I was wearing my weight on the wrong side.

But I didn’t. Force of habit. And I blamed external elements for my failure to master proper balance at all times.

Lesson one: you probably have the key to correct your own failure

So, two lessons must be learnt out of this experience: the first, is that I should look into my own behaviour for mistakes & potential improvements BEFORE blaming the elements or any outside influence.

It’s always so tempting to try and find an outside explanation for failure, even the little ones. But this is a dead end, when it comes to self-improvement. So what if the current was, in fact, making it difficult for me to keep my balance? Laura was managing perfectly. So it was achievable.

Lesson two: it’s the details that’ll throw you off your game

The second lesson, is the next step to follow from the first one: pay attention to details. It’s unlikely I’ll make a huge obvious mistake, with no one around to point it out to me. But I will look past an intermediary checkpoint, I will forget about the little things that pave out the way to perfection.

As my 11th Grade Drama teacher used to have us repeat every day:

« Excellence consists in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well »

You can hop on one leg while taking care of other people’s problems, because they matter more at the moment. But when your other leg gives way from exhaustion, a fat lot of good it’ll do you if you’re falling down too.

I should not have overlooked my balance issue for this long. When I really needed to be on my A-game, I couldn’t bring it. Worse, I couldn’t even figure out WHY I couldn’t bring it.

I learn a great deal from my failures, especially the smallest ones.

I moved the weight to the back of my belt for this afternoon’s dives.

My life underwater has just become a whole lot easier. Funny how much influence those little details can have…

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