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Editor's Desk - September 2009

Try Something New, Do Something Different

Last month, in the introduction to our annual Problem-Solver Guidebook, I talked about asking for help and being open to the advice that comes your way. After all, no one can know everything, and you never know when someone might come up with a brilliant idea you'd never considered before.

This month, I'd like to suggest another way to change things up, and maybe start doing things better. Even if things are going swimmingly for you, I think this can help by keeping your facility from stagnating. Because doesn't it seem like as soon as we settle in and start enjoying our success, something comes out of left field and whacks us, forcing us to reassess where we're at?

And that's what I'm talking about here. Doing something differently, changing it up, trying something new—even in a very small way.

It's kind of amazing to see how attached we can become to the things we do, whether out of habit or just because it's "always been that way"—both as individuals and as organizations.

Here's a small example: This morning, I arrived at work and the parking lot where I usually park was closed. Not only was the parking lot closed, but the street I drive down to get to said parking lot was closed. My brain immediately shifted into, "oh-no-what-do-I-do-where-do-I-park-I'm-going-to-be-late" mode, which is funny, because I generally arrive at work at least an hour before anyone else.

Now, according to scientists who specialize in helping people prevent their brains from aging badly, this was actually a good thing for my mind. These experts recommend shaking things up for your brain, advising people to try taking a new route to work, to try doing things like eating with your left hand instead of your right, or vice versa. And so on. They tell you to play games with your brain, play tricks on yourself. Doing new and different things helps you avoid treading those same old brain-circuitry pathways over and over again, and allows you to create new connections in your mind.

If you're like me, you take the same route to work every day, and park in the same spot. And once you're there, you've got a to-do list where D follows C, which follows B, which follows A. And this kind of keeps you stuck in a rut—in the same thinking and the same patterns. Breaking away from these patterns is essential to growth and knowledge expansion.

Now, take that same thought process and apply it to your facility and your organization. Do you have the same processes in place that were there when you arrived or started up? Do you periodically reassess how things are going, take a look at what's new, check out what similar facilities across the country are doing and try to adapt their practices and knowledge to suit your needs? Or do you rest on your laurels, trusting that the public will keep coming back for more as long as you keep offering the same thing.

How's that working out for you?

Wasn't it Albert Einstein who said insanity was "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"?

Why not take a page from some of the hottest waterparks and try changing something up? The most popular waterparks tend to add a new attraction every couple of years or so to keep the public's interest, but not all of their innovations focus on water. Check out our story on page 14 to see some other ways waterparks are shaking up their offerings, both in the water and on dry land.

Or why not take one small step toward making your facility a little greener this month? We've got plenty of green advice on our pages this month, with a Design Corner guest column looking specifically at solar power on page 10, and an entire feature focused on various ways to go green, with advice from architects from across the country who have plenty of proven experience building recreation facilities that are more sustainable.

There are plenty of other changes you can make: Check out new fitness programming, and see if there's a way to adapt it to meet your patrons' needs. Add an aquatic exercise program to your pool. Find an audience in your community who's missing from your facility and look for creative ways to target them and bring them in. The possibilities truly are infinite.

And the good thing about making one small change at a time is that if it doesn't work out, it's no problem. You can just go back to doing things the way you did before. But you might be surprised at how doing one thing differently can begin to open up brand-new possibilities.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director

For the Record

In the Problem-Solver Guidebook, there were two errors we'd like to correct here.

First, on page 30, the Web site for The Public Restroom Company was incorrect. The correct Web address is And on page 59, we misspelled the name of the company Zeager Brothers Inc.


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Recreation Management, 50 N. Brockway St.,
Suite 4-11, Palatine, IL 60067

OR fax to: 847-963-8745

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