PADI will be recognizing the outstanding achievements of the 2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge winners through an interview series, to find out where they started and how they elevated through the ranks to become a PADI Elite Instructor.
Alan Keller, a PADI IDC Staff Instructor in Alberta, Canada, is one of the fifteen PADI Professionals who won the Elite Instructor Challenge in 2015, and certified more divers during July-September 2015 than he did during the same three-month period in 2014.
Let’s learn how Alan’s path to become a PADI Instructor led him to this terrific achievement.
Describe your inspiration to become a diver.
I did a PADI Discover Scuba® Diving experience in St. Maarten when I was on vacation with three friends… and I was hooked!
Tell us about your decision to become a PADI Professional. What or who inspired you?When I attended a Go PRO Night at my local dive shop and saw the employment board at the PADI Pros’ Site, I realized that becoming a PADI Pro would give me the opportunity to work in a warmer climate.
How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks from Open Water to Elite Instructor?
Professionally, I have changed in that I am much more adaptive in my technique. I’ve learned how it to make things work based upon dive conditions, student experience, and my own limitations.
Personally, I’ve realized what’s important in life. Before becoming a PADI Pro, I was an accountant in the downtown office towers of a busy city. After 15 years, I had enough and went into scuba diving. While the pay is definitely not the same, the quality of life I have is so much more. Happiness is defined differently for each person—and that’s been the big lesson for me – learning what makes me happy.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?
Working with students who have a fear of water and getting them to the point where they get certified on their once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
What is your next goal related to scuba diving?
My next goal professionally is Master Instructor and personally it is to complete my Tec 45 and Tec 50.
Everyone has a certain style of teaching. When you’re teaching someone to dive, what do you put the most emphasis on?
Making the scuba diving as much as a transformative experience as possible. To make that happen, I adopted the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: I make sure their physiological needs are met, then safety, followed by self-esteem and belonging. By adopting this philosophy, my students have a greater opportunity to get to that transformative experience and we all have fun while diving!
Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now with your diving career?
The biggest challenge where I live is the limited dive season, so it became important to teach many different courses, be familiar with the various dive sites and take advantage of the best times to deliver courses over the course of the season.
Tell us what you enjoy most about teaching people to dive.
I love that it is different every time, with every individual, at each dive site and each and every day—it’s never the same!
Describe some of the encounters you have had along the way that inspire you to keep teaching.
I did a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience with two hearing-impaired teenage – twin boys. They were able to hear me with their electronic aids in the classroom but as soon we went into the pool, they had to remove them. With the assistance of their translator, they could understand me at the surface. Then, when we got under the water, we were still able to communicate directly.
The wife of a local diver was going on a trip to Fiji with her husband and she thought it would be a shame for her not to try diving while she was there. She was afraid of deep water: jumping into it and looking down into deep water while snorkeling. After working through her fear, she got her pool work done and got certified on her trip! She was so excited!
What does diving give you that nothing else does?
It’s a chance to escape—whether I am looking at something new or familiar; diving with a long-time buddy or a new diver; diving the same profiles or learning something new. Diving is what you make of it.
Do you believe that you change others’ lives through diving?
Yes, I do. I have seen families bond, fears conquered, and excitement ignited. It’s pretty cool when someone says that they don’t want to stop scuba diving!
How would you persuade a nondiver why they should learn to dive?
Learning to dive is more than about diving. Do things you didn’t think you could do. Witness things few other people will ever witness. Meet people you never would meet any other way.
Walk us though your most memorable dive experience.
My first ice diving experience. Initially, it was intimidating, descending past the thick sheet of ice, but cool to see the support crew on the ice. The underside of the ice was so smooth and clear that it looked like the exhaust bubbles were going up nothing as I watched them track their way to the vent holes. During the rescue scenarios, it was a unique feeling to be right under the ice sheet and have someone standing right on top of you… so close, yet so far away. I continue to ice dive and have become an ice instructor. Ice diving is a lot of work… and a lot of fun!
What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?
‘My PADI’ is a two-fold ticket to a new world: showing people how to access the other two-thirds of the planet by showing them how to access a new part of themselves – one that was never reachable before.
Check back and follow along with us, as we’ll continue to share stories of PADI Elite Instructor Challenge winners.