As pool industry professionals, we are always learning, always expanding our skills. Whether your company installs a huge volume of manufactured pools or creates a handful of custom poolscapes, you learn something new with each job.

With the never-ending flow of new products and techniques, the learning curve is more like a spiral, a continually expanding cycle of learning that takes everyone in the industry up a notch with each turn.

Yet as professionals, we are often expected to be the go-to guys for our customers and others in the business. In that role, we must exude confidence to be credible.

It can be a tricky balance — staying open to new ideas and new information while at the same time being confident in our own skills so we can speak with authority.

As our "Ask the Pool Guy" brand has become more popular, my team and I often find ourselves in the position of being mentors to others in the industry. And I will tell you, it's a humbling experience to know that the words I say have meaning to someone else. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was a rookie in this industry, soaking in all the knowledge I could and often learning the hard way.

Somewhere along the line I turned that corner and became a trusted source. Yet I'm always looking for ways to improve on my skills.

What's helped me continue to grow is to continually look for mentors in my own life. Some of these mentors are well known in the industry. Many of our well-known leaders in design and construction of pools and water features have inspired me — and probably many of us — by building amazing careers around their own unique style of projects.

There are the people I consider "industry mentors," and I am so grateful for what I've learned from them. Just as important are the mentors that changed me just by doing great things in their own industries — they showed me what works, and I was able to apply that to my industry and my craft. Other people have influenced my life on a more personal level, helping to form the person that I am and influencing the underlying approach to my work.

These kinds of mentors show up in every life; we just have to be aware of them and open to what they have to teach us. I truly believe that we can learn something from everyone we meet if we only allow it to happen.

Continuing to grow in your craft requires a dedication to learning and evolving, and there are so many people you will meet along the way who can help. You never know who your next mentor is going to be and how they are going to change your life. All you have to do is slow down and listen.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail editors@aquamagazine.com.

Al Curtis is AQUA Contributor of AQUA Magazine.