Some time ago, I was teaching a scientific diving course in Southern California. My class and I all met at a dive site on the Palos Verdes peninsula for two dives identifying fish species and conducting transects. The sea was angry that day, my friends. We could see very large overhead waves crashing on the beach as soon as we got out of our cars. The students were already dismissing the diving as a wash (see what I did there?), but I told them we always do our due diligence when assessing a dive site on any given day and that we should sit for a while and watch the conditions. After about 15 minutes, I called the group back together for a discussion. Everyone was silent when I raised my hand and said ”I’m in. Who’s with me?”. They looked around at each other in disbelief, but after a short time, another hand went up. “I’m with you”, he said. And then another, and then another. I overheard one student say to another ”Well if he’s going, we should go too”. It seemed no one wanted to miss out on the action, despite the obvious risks. Upon reaching the last student, she looked around and at everyone else and said ”You can all go, I’ll stay on the beach with the clipboard and check everyone in and out”. ”We have a winner!”, I exclaimed. And then I proceeded to teach the rest of the group the hardest thing you can ever teach any diver: when to say no.
I’ve been thinking about this story amidst the various pressures we are all facing right now. Please, be sure to exercise your right and instill in all of your divers the ability to say no, for any reason, without fear of repercussion. Having this balance will make the decisions to say yes all the more meaningful.
Hope everyone is doing well out there. Don’t forget to vote by June 30th!
University of Washington