Dark Skies In The Midst

By Chief Ed Castillo, CEO

After reading a blog written by someone I admire and respect a great deal prompted me to sit down at my desk and write this blog on similar experiences I have on a daily basis. As I read the other blog, I felt compelled to give employees, friends, colleagues and prospects a glimpse into my life here at Golden State Lifeguards only after looking deep within myself. I felt comforted by the fact I am not alone in my feelings of overwhelming failure and frustration as a business owner. I was made aware that it is OK for a man like myself to share his true inner feelings with others with no fear of being shamed for it.

For 11 years I have spent long hours in the office and in the field trying to put Golden State Lifeguards on the map through a variety of means and marketing initiatives only to face hardship and disappointments daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. It seems that no matter what I do, how much I do is never enough. There seems to never be enough time in the day to accomplish what I have set out to do in my mind. It is always taking that one step forward and being pushed back three steps along the way. I have pushed others away including my wife in this long journey to make this company a success. Is it too late to repair the damage, perhaps?

Just this morning I had to pull myself away from the desk, go outside to enjoy the sun and pray to a God I can’t see or hear in hopes of a breakthrough. Needless to say, I am in a constant state of frustration. It is this frustration that causes me to lash out at others who never deserved it. Sadly, I realize that I can no longer hold it all in however being a man in the position that I am in knows that I must be very careful about what I do or what I say. I must tread slowly. So what made me walk away from my desk this morning? It was the fact that I am not as busy as I would like to be. Bookings are down this year which begs the question how much more can I do to get the word out in regards to our lifesaving services? As is I do everything myself and when I ask for help, it always comes back to bite me in the ass. It is always “How much do I get paid?” or “What’s in it for me?” mentalities I have to deal with. I am always the one to help others and to above and beyond. God forgive me for asking for a little hand.

There are times when as a man and I publicly admit that I want to just scream, to cry and to pout because nothing goes the way I want it to. I know what I want but being dependent on others to help this company succeed often leads to being let down. I don’t like failure. Nobody does! I have to concede to the fact that no one will ever be as passionate about preventing needless drownings as I am. No one will ever take as much time as I do to educate people on drowning prevention. No one will ever have the same passion or spirit for volunteerism. The bottom line is that no one will care as much as I do! How many times have I had to turn away a good opportunity because my staff does not share the values or spirit of volunteerism that I have. How heartbreaking! How many Moms and Dads will never know that we exist? Too many.

My sadness is also a result of asking for help from the community only to be shunned. I have found that unlike firefighters or police officers, lifeguards are not held in high regards compared to them. People tend to think of lifeguards as young college or high school students looking to make fast buck and party all summer. That is a stereotype that again, makes me want to cry softly. Because of that perception, help is never offered or considered. How many times have I tried to crowd source for better equipment, uniforms, a vehicle and much more? Too many and with not one pledge of support for our mission. With the new Baywatch movie starring The Rock and Zac Effron coming out will surely not be a boon for us. For me it just means more damage control.

There are many days when I feel that I have no more to give and I want to give up. I often want to give up on recruitment of lifeguards because of the entitlement and “Me, Me, Me” attitude. I often want to give up on marketing. I often tell myself that this will be the last year. On and on again, it is such a vicious cycle.

So remember this, I am a human being with real feelings and frustrations. Just because I wear the uniform does not always mean I am the strong one. No, I am weak and tired yet I keep pushing on hoping for the breakthrough. I also have dreams and hopes. I have a strong passion to save lives. I have a passion to make a difference. Some days I just can’t.


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