When I worked at Deloitte in South Africa, I was privileged enough to have worked with many talented, knowledgeable and overall “special” people. One such person was our Business Unit Leader, Miles Crisp. When I first met Miles I was impressed by how down to earth he is. Equally inspiring, are his passion for South Africa and his passion for life. Miles is a “glass half full” kind of guy – somehow I think we need more of his kind in the world today.
We were recently discussing (via email) the issue of having a “work-life” balance when Miles sent me the following piece. It’s beautiful, it’s true.
So with Miles’ kind persmission, here are his thoughts:
I hear people refer to Work Life Balance as if work was one thing and life another. This is nothing short of a tragedy. I hear comments about it being Monday, and about holidays all being too short. I see people spending huge tracts of their income on their sports and hobbies if they have them, and then working their backsides off to spend a few precious minutes doing what they would really prefer to be doing.
Recently I was up on the Limpopo River riding my bicycle in the bush on an event called the Tour de Kruger. My fifteen year old daughter was with me, gamely pedaling her way through the sand and stones of this pristine part of the word. We were surrounded by the bush, and every day we saw elephants and other wonderful animals and birds. We were surrounded by friends, mostly smiling and laughing through the sweat.
I met Paul Grobler. He was the guide of the group in which my daughter was cycling, a 40 year old professional walking and cycling guide in Mashatu. On the first day Paul stopped his group and asked them if they had heard the Pearl Spotted Owl. He had just heard it call. They were mostly from Joburg so they shook their heads in the negative. Paul then cupped his hands and imitated a perfect replica of the call. Within minutes the owl arrived in a nearby tree, no doubt very confused by Paul’s featherless appearance , and the impressed tourists bust out their cameras and snapped away.
After the second day I joined Paul and a small group in a jaunt across the Limpopo pools to the Zimbabwe side. He was enthralled with absolutely everything he saw, and he bustled around us making sure that we did not miss any details and the best view of the sunset.
I bumped into Paul in the pitch dark at five thirty the next morning, and asked him how his night had been. He told me that he had not slept well, but that he had heard the lions roaring at two thirty. He had climbed out of his tent and sat outside listening to their conversation, and had just watched the stars. Then Paul told me that the stars were the brightest he had ever seen them in his life. In fact he could not believe how bright the stars were that night. He was excited about them.
Shortly after 8 o’clock that same morning Paul fell off his bicycle stone dead.
He had suffered a fatal heart attack. Nothing that his companions (including my young daughter) did brought him back to life, and nor could the doctors who were on the scene within fifteen minutes.
We were all shocked at the suddenness and the finality of it all. We felt that awful sick feeling in the pits of our stomachs. It was a tragedy.
I was comforting my young daughter who had been right there, and she turned to me and said, “You know Dad, he was doing what he loved and he was exactly where he wanted to be. I think he is now one of those stars he loved so much.”
I wonder how many of us could say that?
I wonder which tragedy is greater?
The tragedy that so many of us don’t even know what we really love doing, and then if we do, that so many of us lack the courage to do what we really love doing, or the tragedy that a happy, fulfilled young teacher (for that is what Paul really was), died doing exactly what he loved, and that he had spent his life following his passion.
The other point to ponder is that it took a young grieving teenager to see this so absolutely clearly and remind her ostensibly wise father of the real priorities in life and death.
Go and chase your dreams. Do it now.