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The Easter Bunny, Die Tandmuis and Gifts That Keep On Giving

I have a consistent battle with Caroline, my wife/lover/boss/business partner/co-parent. 


You see, Caroline is a strict perfectionist, according to her Enneagram type. But she also has a strong streak of 4, the Creative. This is why she loves to lovingly curate and individually tailor each and every single luxury holiday proposal. My argument, and it is one that I still lose, is that we could be more template-driven: Create beautiful but standard building blocks that you can just put together, instead of “redoing” the work. It speaks to my need for effective simplicity and my type (the 7), which can’t be bothered with details. 


However, we do different things. My coaching and training business can be repeatable – right now, I borrow from the various tools and constructs learned from all that have come before. Once I understand what fits for my client, I can build out a composite solution that fits their needs. Then we put it in the dataset, and every time we help someone with a new custom solution, it adds to my templates. Already we are seeing the benefit of an ever-increasing toolset for future use. And that makes us more productive and makes it easier to scale.  


Theoretically, the same could be true for our luxury travel business. But what makes Caroline and her team so good at what they do is the authenticity of a custom solution. Every trip is an individual, beautiful, choreographed masterpiece. And as much as it frustrates me, I have learned to back off a little bit. True art is not scaleable. 


In much the same way, Easter holidays are a work of art, and there can be no formula. Every time we go up to Plett, our little Garden Route hideaway, it is a unique experience. Our small boys can now swim, which has opened up stress-free beach sessions, waterparks and boat action on the river. It’s a whole new ball game, and I was recently struck with the wonder of newness. My context, my lens, has shifted, and now a whole new set of opportunities (and challenges) have presented themselves.  


The Easter Bunny made an appearance, as usual. What was different this year is I think the boys are onto the game. They pretend that they’re not, but the way we repeated the Easter Hunt (with them rehiding their stash over and over) all through Sunday left Dad exhausted, the kids oversugared and the Easter Bunny long gone, having abdicated his egg duties to the recipients of the bounty. 

I wouldn’t change anything, hey. And as with all organic constructs, the lads added on layers. They decided the Easter bunny needed brightly coloured beacons, and the red cold drink cups became like airport runway lights guiding their way to eggs. Later that day, on the golf course, they were less interested in hitting the ball than chasing down the 150m and 100m markers looking for more eggs – because, you know, markers. 


And don’t get me started on the Tandmuis (the tooth mouse, in Afrikaans). Matie lost his first tooth, so now there are two fictional gift-givers in the house. And immediate appreciation for hard cash has also reared its head. Santa must have some FOMO. 


I have a point, although I am meandering to get there. Old things still have value. Traditions, constructs, rituals, ways of doing things. And we should be wary of discarding them in favour of newness. Plett over Easter has become a wonderful set of traditions, such as boating the Keurbooms, fillet on the Webber and Easter egg madness. We are also layering on new and exciting things every time, and the combo of old and new is what truly creates the magic. As my grandma used to say: “My child, try everything, and keep the good stuff.” 


Having said all that: One shouldn’t overemphasize “the old way that works.” Sometimes it’s ok to break things. Elon Musk, in his biography, insists on making big changes. He would rather backtrack than not try. That’s pretty ballsy and must be exhausting for his teams. But one can’t deny that it does get results. Steve Jobs decided on a total rework of the iPhone casing before they released it, to spectacular results. We all make mistakes, and some of them are pretty big. In this excerpt from my new book, here’s how I think our coach’s dreams went before he made his biggest “mistake”, back in 2021, with the famous leaked video… 


“I know you!” said the Coach.  


The other man gave a thin smile. “Most people do,” he replied. He turned back to his cell phone, ignoring the Coach. He seemed to be playing a game. 


The Coach felt bewildered. It had been a while since the last time he had one of his dreams. And so much had happened.  


A voice said: “Hy’s ‘n poepol, ne?” 


Startled by the Afrikaans, he turned to the new voice. This man was older and had a calm presence about him that was in stark contrast to the furtive gameplay happening in the other man. 


“Jy’s Afrikaans? (you’re Afrikaans?)” asked The Coach. 


“Yes. But for the benefit of this chap let’s speak in English. As I said – he’s a bit of a dick, isn’t he?” 


“I can hear you,” said the younger man, not looking up from his phone. “And you’re not the first one to call me that. Nor the last one.” Then he looked up, his eyes shining with a feverish zeal. “But I am changing the world, old man. Can you say the same?” 


The older man turned away towards the Coach. “My name is Koos. Not quite sure what I’m doing here – I have a pretty full schedule, as I’m sure he does. We’re both still very much in it.” 


“In what?” asked the Coach.  


“In business. I chair the biggest listed company in South Africa. And him… well, you know. Electric cars. Rocket ships. We all know the story.” 


A lightbulb went up for the Coach. “Ah. Koos! Now I know who you are. Well, it’s an honour.” He turned to the other guy. “You too. The two of you… man! Great things. Great things.” 


The younger man put his phone in his pocket and turned to the Coach. “I need to leave. What do you want?” 


The Coach scratched his head. “I think you’re here to help me figure something out. But I don’t know what. There’s so much going on.” 


“Well, out with it son,” said Koos. “As the man said, we’re pretty busy.” He was kinder, but still not someone who liked his time wasted.  


“I’m in a massive crisis right now. We’ve just lost the first test of an important series, this COVID pandemic is playing havoc with our preparation and planning… and I’m finding it impossible to get good feedback or align with the referees. It’s like they just don’t want to talk to us. And it’s making an unfair playing field.” The Coach thought for a second more. “If we lose this series, we will kill all our momentum from winning the World Cup. People will say this team is no different from the others, a one-trick pony.” 


The younger man became animated. “Sounds like you need to do something drastic.” 


“What do you mean?” 


“Oh, it’s a thing I do. When I want to galvanize the team, I get stuck in. Set impossible deadlines, ask a million questions. It’s amazing past which perceived blocks you can push if you just give insane focus.” He paused. “The other thing that I do is to make really controversial public statements. It makes me super unpopular with a lot of people, but it does get people’s attention.” 


The older man chuckled. “Yes, that is what he does. And it’s effective, for sure. But I’m different. I’m the same in that I also like to ask lots of questions. I like to stay out of the limelight, though. But that doesn’t mean that I-we, along the way, didn’t take some big risks. We went from a traditional media company to an international tech and media conglomerate. But we did need to break some eggs along the way.” 


The younger man piped in again. “And don’t talk to me about unfair. That’s such a South African thing to say. Oh, I want equality. Oh, I want to be treated the same. Oh, I want to blame everything on others. No. That’s why I left, man. Life isn’t fair. If you want something, you need to go after it.” 


Once again, Koos came in to calm things down. “As you know, I also left. But I came back and built out this company. But I used all the resources at my disposal, and I thought beyond our borders. If the situation is unfair, how can you change it? What needs to change? I heard you saying you’re not aligned on feedback. Well, if that is critical, how do you force the change? It doesn’t sound like playing nice is getting it done.” 


The Coach thought about it. “There is something I can do. But it would be breaking all the rules. I would come under immense pressure and criticism, maybe even lose my job.” 


The younger man smiled. “Great. Great. Be unpopular. Take a risk. If you failed, your reputation would be shot and you would lose what you’ve built. Welcome to my life.” He pulled out his phone. “But if you succeed… man, the stars are the limit. Literally.” He went back to his phone. 


The Coach turned back to Koos, but he was no longer there. They were both gone. 


He woke up with a start and checked his watch. The clock was ticking, and he didn’t have a lot of time to make a decision. 


Screw it, he thought. Let’s roll the dice. 

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