We had the good fortune of connecting with K38 Shawn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi K38, what role has risk played in your life or career?
The natural order of all organisms and patterns in life are risk filled with tragedy, opportunity and errors or problems. Even our conception, in utero growth and birth are risk filled. It is a way of being for all living things. The greatest risk I face is another human being. You and I can live with a beloved for 20 years and one day ‘wake’ up and see a stranger of front of me or you, or be the stranger on that stage. That is the mystery of my or our spirit, soul and awareness of perception of what I or we attach our opinions, experiences and evidence towards weighed against personal values. Every action and decision I have taken is apropos to the current awareness, education, knowledge or understanding of where I was in that moment. The wisdom of this is reflective, its cumulative, not a finite description. My mistakes are born in my optimism that ignored risk because I was not able to determine or foresee how I would contribute to the actions. The failures of risk as we say, are part of my development as a human, and my accountability of my mistakes is the real struggle I face. This bears measures of regret and a renewed optimism to not repeat but to explore another direction. Pass/fail as we say. Risk itself does not have affiliation with loyalty, reward or approval. Risk is the natural order of things and how I wrestle with that order. When I go to work I have a simple method, think like the survivor, act like the responder. Know my equipment. Listen to the weather and the water. Do not compete with the forces of action. Trust my intuition, be thoughtful in prayer, and peaceful in motion. Be comfortable in the danger, be comfortable with the emotions, be comfortable with the spiritual awareness and be respectful of a thousand contributory influences that are all competing for an audience to gain an action for a reaction. Risk is a pattern, life is a game, and I play my hand, win or lose. So far I am still alive, so I have not made that final critical mistake when dealing with risk in my work environment. My personality works well with risk, as I understand from my conception that I must be careful what I ask for, and be mindful of the consequences, then have the courage to live with it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
K38 is the art of water safety training, knowledge and action. I cannot claim it as my own singular determination as many people; companies, instructors, survivors, agencies and military personnel have contributed to the path of this amazing work as a collective of goodwill. I will claim the structure and determination of goals and enforcement of the principles of trust, study and actions that I formatted and placed into motion. What I did differently is I listened to nature and my mentors, my parents and friends, water and my Jet Skis. I started when the Jet Ski was first introduced by Kawasaki Motors Corporation in the 1970’s. I grew up with the Personal Water Craft industry. I am a first-generation operator. We were saving lives before formal programs were constructed with my friends Brad Southworth and Steve Stricklin driving the rescue methods as the founding pioneers. I went to work in 1989 to structure safety training and determined that I would continue to learn and lead. People and businesses are predatory. Humans have a strange behavior to be noticed and to be the ‘first’, the ‘only’, the ‘creator’, we all do it. I’ve done it, but it’s only an initial sales pitch for attention. We need the audience to notice us to be relevant, most sales pitch are drama filled, I tend to take the responsibility warning in my presentations. Our audience is our ‘client and the survivor’ and we choose what audience we want and how we will engage with them. I have not chosen the traditional business hustle. I wait to see how important our company solutions are to a prospective client. The first test is will they suffer for what we suffered for? Will they keep trying to get in our audience because they recognize they don’t quit and neither do we. Are they seeking to take content and repurpose it in a predatory way or are they looking for a partner to develop as a team a strong and sure solution based on a sacred trust, from those who are on the boat on the water, not learning it from a textbook? Do they have an active conscious or are they and their managers ego driven and dangerous? I choose my clients. Is it surprising that training as a behavior is rift with academic fraud and dishonesty in all education industries? It sure was a shock to me. Fraud is growing as we influence the negative and individually dismiss the positive. The newest trend is getting bogged down with layer upon layer of standards. So many standards that it’s almost impossible for an operator or a company to adhere to every one of them in the processes required. Even the products and equipment we use has standards and use terms, inspections and determinations, this is time heavy and documentation is required for the litigious nature of all actions and maintenance needs. Rescue activity has a timestamp to it. It requires serious funds. Most teams are underbudget and undertrained but have a stack of standards used in an investigation when a mishap occurs against them, then it becomes real. Our training is effective in comparison to others, because we train mindset with retention of knowledge, not handing out certificates for mere attendance. That is a reckless practice. The public partnership does not want to fund these agencies adequately, they are not good partners in safety, because it’s not cheap! The challenges are priorities, funding, need and partnership. Real risk discussions are not addressed, the backside cost of these standards must be enforced, so the safety standards are diminished, the crews are at risk. Let’s get real on the challenges; we need to be careful what we ask for, because we have to represent and defend it. The greatest challenge is myself and my shortcomings and government requirements that intentionally destroy small business opportunity. The facet of that challenge is my creativity, willingness to suffer, ability to live with less, be cold day and night, sleep in harsh conditions, miserable temperatures, sacrifice the comforts that most seek, my mercurial mind, my ancestral strengths both physical and spiritual, and compassion and altruism in action. I’ve given away more information for free, advice and support for others worldwide to help agency personnel, to help society and to save the life of a person who may otherwise have perished. All because another person had a similar spirit to my own and was willing to go. Our training evidence is the volume of work conducted by myself and our K38 instructors over 32 years. K38 is serious on safety, our instructors and myself train elite, we don’t waste our time with people who do not have an active conscious. We are selective in our clients; we don’t work with people who are seeking the lower response capability. We work with those who will go the distance, and are not afraid to hear what they need to be told, instead of what they want to hear, which is usually below the status quo. Zero capitulation. Nature does not care about our ego, it’s the boss. Nature requires the right people, vetted properly, trained strongly who will enforce and listen to the truth, because they know that value of lifesaving. It’s not a patch, vacation pay or certificate, it’s in their soul and its visible in their ways, words, deeds, thoughts and actions. They may not be the masses, but k38 qualified operators are elite, they know who they are and they professionally represent the international water safety and rescue society with an active conscious of service to others. Keep in mind I started as a recreational boater, then a professional competitor. I had no formal training. The greatest solutions in water safety and rescue come from folks like myself, we are the vanguards. Practices are rarely created by public safety agency personnel because they are burdened with layers of skills, they must provide but cannot master them due to funding and time restraints in service. One must be in the wild facing the dragon of a wave or the behemoth of the river, or the kraken of a flood to tell the truth of those moments translated for others to learn from. It’s a mutable relationship realized as a partnership for solutions, united we solve. The question is who do you want to rescue you? What does that response look like to you? How do you visualize a trained, funded and equipped rescuer? Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My ancestors who lived long enough without tragedy to have continued our family line are the reason why I am alive today. I’ve never done anything on my own merit or effort. My family and parents experiences encouraged hard times, rewards, and serious discussions on warnings and suggestions to navigate experience, even with severe outcomes of their own. My mother Diana for always telling me ‘Shawna Get over yourself’. My sister Andrea’s death became my spiritual reward, albeit the pain of her death lingers. My beautiful sister Kara’s spirit inspires me everyday. My daughters courage and sacrifice for my work, deserve more attention than my own, they are the gatekeepers of endurance and have suffered the greatest for my work decisions, and absence when away. Virgil Chambers, my mentor for boating safety education, Rocky Darger from Yamaha and Roger Hagie, John Donaldson from Kawasaki for their dedication to safety education. Our K38 Instructors who suffer worldwide to mentor others for lifesaving, and their families who suffer with them. K38 students worldwide who are actively responding to those in peril night and day. All the men who have taught me how to face a dark night, a horrible storm and to endure the pain of it. Most importantly those we have rescued, the survivors, they are our greatest mentors. The Bible is my great roadmap of success; our human owner’s manual has never disappointed my own contributory mistakes and admissions of fault and repentance of wrong. Semper Spero.
Other: Our sister website: www.RescueCanada.ca Our forum: www.k38International.com
K38 and David Pu’u