Updated: Sep 26
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett
Life is a funny old thing. On my 48th birthday, I surprised my fellow walkers by going inward. I spent a good part of that day not talking (which is not my default state). I did a lot of reminiscing over my life, all the highlights (some of the lowlights) and mostly just being super grateful for all the incredible opportunities I enjoyed. I did all this while enjoying incredible views, ice-cold swims in pristine pools and rolling hills in the Amatola mountains that fed my soul.
We tend to reframe the past in a quite positive light. It is easy to think about how amazing it was at 32, when I was in my physical prime, I was learning the guitar and playing frisbee on the beach every Monday and I was building my business brick by brick. I was working hard and having fun and playing hard too. I traveled to the Oktoberfest, I did some part-time teaching, I was trying to write a book and I was busy on the social circuit.
I was also uncertain. I didn’t know if the business would be a success. I couldn’t quite land in a fulfilling relationship, and I felt conscious of the years ticking by and my peer group “growing up”. My efforts at guitar playing met with modest success, and I never really managed to get the book past draft 1. I felt like a kid in a man’s body and wondered how I could transition.
The transition was not easy. A few things needed to happen. I crashed and burned romantically, I felt at odds with family members, and my business seemed the only thing that I had, but it wasn’t much of a business at that. So I did the only reasonable thing. I looked inward and found some help.
The Mankind Project was one thing. The other was walking the Camino de Santiago. The third was hiring Yolanda Bekker. These three events, undertaken in 2011, would form the trifecta of lasting change. I took ownership of my actions, cleared my head and took the plunge to hire my first A-player, and we never looked back.
The one thing that saved me in that time, I think, was that I rediscovered being thirsty. A thirst for knowledge. A thirst for understanding the world, understanding my role in it, figuring out who my authentic self is and what gives me joy.
I think we are all thirsty, but we don’t really take the time to drink. We let the thirst just build up, and when the fatigue and the frustration set in, we end up drinking from the wrong fountain (yes I’m talking about you, Mr. Glenmorangie).
Talking about alcohol. Have you ever noticed that beers, whiskey or wine don’t sate your thirst? In fact, you end up thirstier than before? It’s a great hustle, but I think the quest for understanding self is quite similar. With the possible exception of Echart Tolle, the Dalai Lama and that old lady with the knowing smile outside of the Spar, we are all doomed (?) to the truthism of: The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
So cheers to being thirsty, and taking frequent sips from the right taps. 2011 was a great run and led to a rollercoaster of growth and events and happiness and adulting. I met Caroline, I started the safari venture, I re-engaged with teaching. And about six years ago, I started pursuing my own executive education again. This has led to multiple courses through the EO, and the result has been spectacular. Understanding the Enneagram, publishing two novels, becoming an international business trainer, and still being able to craft exquisite experiences for folks in the tourism and safari space.
In some ways, 2022 feels again like 2011. In the post-pandemic world, there are a lot of good things happening. But there is also a lot that leaves me uncertain. And to step up to my next level of adulting requires drinking from the right taps. I think I’ve found the fountain, and I’ll report back in a couple of months whether it has delivered the goods…