“Every time we pulled over, they would go into the garage for lunch or breakfast. They brought each of us a Chelsea bun and a Coke. For three days, that is all I ate. I haven’t eaten a Chelsea bun since,” he exclaims.
This is where the passion for critical planning and problem-solving skills developed for the man who was once a CPO. He also says that improvising is an imperative for the job in order to seem personable.
“Sometimes, the plan changes and you have to spend a little more time with the client. You need to make sure you can talk about current issues and answer questions as much as possible. It makes the client feel more secure,” he says.
Creating a rapport with the client within the duration of protection is vital as it builds trust, especially when in situations of danger. Which is why the stakes are high.
Protecting a Saudi prince, for example, is charged at R120,000 ($8,517) a day.
The amount is significantly higher than the cost of a hitman. In downtown Johannesburg, an assassin can be hired for a mere R20,000 ($1,435), Viljoen says.
The prince, who usually visits for three to 10 days, is offered the most premium protection money can buy.
His protection includes, but is not limited to, the dispersal of 12 bodyguards, and a motorcade of six cars divided into three teams.
Three CPOs keep a close watch on the client at all times while the advance teams clear the vicinity.
The evacuation team remains on standby, on the lookout for threats and tactical responses, while the back-up team keeps eyes and ears close to the ground from a distance.
All of these are considered when final expenses are being tallied.
“A close risk assessment on the client and what they require will determine the billing. If the risk is higher, the cost will increase but if it is a regular guy down the road, they will require one bodyguard at R4,500 ($319) a day,” he says.
“You can do three to four good jobs during your career, protecting one client, and earn more than enough money,” Viljoen says.
BGA, on the other hand, bills the client directly, with a fixed salary of R6,000 ($425) payable to the bodyguard.
“Our outlay is making sure that we look after our protectors and that they are remunerated correctly. In the past, there has been a lot of abuse of protectors. For example, during the 2010 World Cup, companies were selling protection services for R6,000 ($425) a day and paying protectors R1,500 ($107),” Ludwig says.
Extra needs like helicopters, cars, and accommodation are billed directly to the client.
An international client flying to South Africa for a safari that started at the Cape and went all the way up to the northern game drives in the Limpopo province, paid for all costs incurred.
“If you are billing in dollars, depending on the country and climate, the billing can range from $450 to $800 a day,” he says.
Is this price enough to take a bullet for? Ludwig unequivocally states that it’s about the principle, not the price.
“If you are in this industry, you should be prepared to stand in front of your client to take a bullet. It is all very noble but you can’t protect a client if you’re standing and actually taking the bullet. I am not literally going to take a bullet but I will stand in front of it and engage the threat. If that means taking a bullet [while under threat], then that is what it takes, but you are not a bullet-catcher,” he says.
NightGuard Security has been operational for 44 years. It is under the management of the Eblen brothers, who began their work as CPOs immediately after they completed their final matric examinations. This, at the behest of their father, who founded the business.
The brothers take pride in running towards trouble as opposed to turning away from it. Shortly after a ‘brief’ with an intermediary representing a high-profile pastor who is possibly under threat, FORBES AFRICA meets the ‘brothers in arms’, Zaine Eblen and Emile ‘Moolie’ Eblen, at their head office in a gated residential area in Fourways, an upmarket area in Johannesburg. Their brother, JP, also a part of the business, could not make the interview.
As we stand at the gate waiting to be ushered into the premises, we are met with curious looks from the protectors as they prepare to gear up to guard the rich and famous.
A hesitant CPO approaches the imposing gate at the entrance of the building, and looks around furtively before he offers assistance.
Behind him a small lobby filled with about nine men.
Their eyes are fixed on every move as we make our way to the boardroom on the second floor.
We are seated but there is nobody else in room.
In the blink of an eye, two muscular men walk into the room. Their hulking presence consumes the entire space, however, their genteel demeanour completely disarms us.
The duo feel the intricacies of their work are often trivialized.
“Everyone believes that they can do VIP protection because they have got a guy that is six feet tall. All your VIP protection has to go for proper tactical training, it doesn’t mean just because you are tall, you can be a bodyguard,” Zaine says.
“Family is a big word to us. When we say be a part of our family, we literally mean that,” Zaine says.
“We have to understand the target and his family. He has the hit and [therefore] the risk is for his whole family. So we do a check on his family. What school they attend, where they work and how big the threat is,” Emile adds.
In order to protect his life and eliminate a possible threat towards his family, the pastor is charged R10,000 ($710) a day for protection.
The pastor’s intermediaries stand on guard as they prepare to be escorted by NightGuard Security to an unknown location where the spiritual leader awaits them. FORBES AFRICA watches as a white Land Rover, with dark-tinted windows arrives and in unison, all the men get into the vehicle without uttering a single word.
A cautious Zaine reminds the driver that he should not hesitate to pull away if there are any moments of doubt on the road.
“If you feel that you are in a situation that you shouldn’t be in, instead of panicking, just move out of the situation,” he says.
“The biggest problem in the industry today is that people don’t take care of their staff,” he says as he leads us back into the office.
He emphasizes that the key to harmony in the industry is through ensuring that CPOs are as well taken care of as the clients they tend to.
“The bodyguards live in upmarket areas. We eliminate the risk by moving them to a safer estate so that they are not vulnerable to threats themselves. They have moved from areas where criminals have access to them,” Emile says.
The importance of security estates has been a particular area of interest for the protection company, and the dynamic industry is in a perpetual state of change, which means the guards are always adapting to the climate.
The days of having bodyguards live with you have gone by. The only time they come in is if there is a hit on that person’s life. We do massive housing estates with about 400 units.
“We can’t predict how situations play out. We have been in situations where people start shooting.
“There was a hit on a Serbian drug lord and we got a call for back-up. He was shot in his car parked in Bedfordview, and he drove off. He was followed to his complex and was gunned down. He had R100,000 ($7,165) next to him but they did not take any money, it was a pure drug hit,” Zaine says.
“You are basically scared for your life because you don’t know if you are coming home. My wife signs a cross on my forehead before I leave home,” Emile adds.
The scope of their work goes beyond the high secured walls of private residential estates.
In recent years, they have also dispersed VIP units into shopping malls in upmarket areas and they say this has reduced the high levels of armed robberies and hijackings in the last four years. The payment model for this service differs slightly.
“The monthly fee means that the detail has a permanent post for the month; the cost would be for two CPOs for day shift and night shift, and a tactical team member. Cost comes down to R140,000 ($9,941) a month,” he says.
There are jobs that stand out to the crew and affect the way they make future decisions. There are also instances where it becomes difficult to leave them in the past.
Zaine offers an anecdote about an incident where an individual living in one of the residential estates they were guarding was murdered and they had to follow the lead.
“We took a suspect we arrested for murder in one of the complexes. We linked him to 32 murder cases and he led us to a ‘kingpin’ in Hillbrow. We had intel that they were armed with AK47s. The whole drive you are reflecting, music doesn’t help so you are just driving there in silence,” Zaine says.
In another instance, residents felt their lives were threatened after they witnessed an attempted assassination in their complex in Johannesburg. The estate manager and NightGuard Security client (who asked to be anonymous), observed the high levels of crime in the upmarket areas he works in.
“They broke into the estate and without cutting any wires, entered the property. It was only afterwards we found out that the owner was involved in the tender business and he had a hit on his back,” he says.
They are very diligent about the security measures they have in place in residential estates. “Ninety percent of the problems come from outside, you need to make sure your cameras and devices work so you can identify threats before they approach you. The bigger the fence, the more the guys want to get in.”
“Camera analytics has made life a whole lot easier. Cameras on vehicles will allow us to see a threat before they are close enough to approach us. In this industry, you constantly have to upgrade your technology,” Zaine echoes.
So whether you are one of Africa’s richest or just love the spotlight, if you have the dollars to purchase a longer lifespan, there are people who will dodge bullets for you, and do it for a neat price.
Highest-Paid Country Acts 2019: Lil Nas X Debuts; Luke Bryan Tops List
The Country Music Awards are billed as Nashville’s biggest night, but this year’s event buried the genre’s most significant breakthrough of the past 12 months, offering up just one nomination for 20-year-old musician Lil Nas X, whose “Old Town Road” spent a record 19 weeks atop the singles charts.
That run helped Lil Nas X notch a different honor, debuting on the Forbes list of top-earning country acts this year with an estimated pretax income of $14 million. The Atlanta native claims the No. 18 spot thanks to the fiendishly catchy country-rap track he released through indie music service Amuse in December 2018. The song clocked 1.8 billion spins by summer despite being booted from the Billboard country charts. The snub—and a bevy of remixes—helped “Old Town Road” broaden the genre’s audience more than any track in recent memory.
“It was on viral charts in countries where no country song has ever positioned itself,” says Amuse cofounder Diego Farias. “Everything from Southeast Asian markets to eastern European markets. I mean, I’m talking about places that you don’t necessarily associate with cowboy hats and boots.”
Lil Nas X isn’t the only high earner to come up short at the awards ceremony: Luke Bryan claims the top spot on our list for the second consecutive year with $42.5 million but didn’t receive a single nomination. That’s mostly because the Georgia native, who favors baseball caps over cowboy hats, hasn’t put out a new studio album since 2017. Instead, he spent his time grossing more than $1 million per tour stop and serving as a judge on American Idol.
The genre-bending Zac Brown Band ranks second, pulling in $38.5 million on the strength of 50 live performances and a new album, The Owl, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album charts. Other crossover acts on the list include Canadian songstress Shania Twain (No. 7 with $29 million) and hip-hop-tinged duo Florida Georgia Line (No. 8 with $26 million).
“Country’s more of a lifestyle,” the group’s cofounder Brian Kelley told Forbes in 2015. “The music’s always going to evolve.”
“It was on viral charts in countries where no country song has ever positioned itself. Everything from Southeast Asian markets to eastern European markets. I mean, I’m talking about places that you don’t necessarily associate with cowboy hats and boots.”
Plenty of the CMAs’ stars did make our list, including performers Eric Church (No. 6, $30 million) and Miranda Lambert (No. 20, $13 million), as well as two of the hosts—Dolly Parton (No. 15, $17 million) and Carrie Underwood (No. 14, $16 million). A third host, Reba McEntire, narrowly missed the cut.
Overall, the top ten acts in country earned $311.5 million, up 2% from last year’s $304.5 million. Our list of the genre’s top earners measures estimated pretax earnings from June 1, 2018, through June 1, 2019. Fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Figures are generated with the help of numbers from Nielsen Music, PollstarPro and interviews with industry insiders.
Although our rankings typically reflect country’s woeful lack of diversity at the top, this year’s list offers at least a glimmer of hope that things are changing. There are 6 women in the top 20—the least lopsided ratio in the seven years Forbes has published the list—and Lil Nas X is both the first openly gay act and the first person of color to make it.
Though he declined to comment for this story through a representative, Lil Nas X is clearly taking his role as a trailblazer seriously, regardless of how much CMA hardware he takes home. As he told the BBC earlier this year: “I feel like [I’m] opening doors for more people.”
20. Miranda Lambert, $13 million (tie)
20. Lady Antebellum, $13 million (tie)
19. Rascal Flatts, $13.5 million
18. Lil Nas X, $14 million
17. Faith Hill, $15 million
16. Carrie Underwood, $16 million
15. Dolly Parton, $17 million
14. George Strait, $17.5 million
13. Tim McGraw, $18 million
12. Dierks Bentley, $20 million
11. Toby Keith, $21 million
10. Jason Aldean, $23.5 million
9. Garth Brooks, $24 million
8. Florida Georgia Line, $26 million
7. Shania Twain, $29 million
6. Eric Church, $30 million
5. Kenny Chesney, $31 million
4. Blake Shelton, $32 million
3. Keith Urban, $35 million
2. Zac Brown Band, $38.5 million
1. Luke Bryan, $42.5 million
– Zack O’Malley Greenburg
Analysis: The Values That Make A CEO
As part of FORBES AFRICA’s ongoing eighth anniversary celebrations, we present a CEO Rhetorical Analysis by Anahita Negarandeh, a Harvard University Extension School student, on FORBES AFRICA’s founder and publisher, Rakesh Wahi. The CEO Rhetorical Analysis researches and analyzes the rhetoric — the effective messaging or speech — of a CEO and global business leader. The values chosen to explore in the CEO’s rhetoric are a key part of this article.
This rhetorical analysis examines the messaging of Rakesh Wahi, Founder of CNBC Africa and FORBES AFRICA. By consulting with approximately 10 executives from Wahi’s global team, this rhetoric examines four of his leadership values such as courage and determination, collaboration, passion for education, and equality.
Courage and determination
Wahi is a well-respected global businessman based in Dubai and South Africa who has been involved with approximately 20 corporate development projects. He continues to grow his establishments in more than 25 offices around the world. As a leader in media, IT, telecoms, and education, Wahi has built companies in 22 countries, employing over 1,000 employees. Prior to moving to the UAE, Wahi served in the Indian Armed Forces for approximately nine years and was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal by the President of India in 1985 for distinguished services to the country in peacetime. During his army service, at age 23, he was part of India’s second base establishment in Antarctica where a near-death experience changed his life.
“But I realized at that age that life is not something you take for granted, therefore, whatever you want in this world, you have to set out to achieve it. At the end of the day, you are either there or not there; if you are not there, and if there are unfulfilled dreams, they will always be unfulfilled.” (Wahi)
READ MORE: 5 Minutes With Rakesh Wahi
Wahi’s executive team members, who have known him for approximately 20-30 years, believe this statement. Based on four personal interviews conducted for the purpose of this analysis with Wahi’s global leadership team, Wahi “lives this statement in his everyday life” (Martin). Many acknowledged that he is continuously determined to fulfil his dreams. Lars Jeppesen, Wahi’s Co-Founder of Tech One Global, states that “Wahi dreams and then puts all efforts to pursue the dreams… he is still building universities, creating new businesses, and pursues his dreams” (Jeppesen). Wahi is known to thrive on challenges and never gives up on achieving his goals even when faced with obstacles and challenges.
A leader’s personal life experiences and adversities play a major role in one’s values and ethics. In Wahi’s case, facing death at a young age motivated him to pursue his dreams to become realities. This is an admirable value for entrepreneurs, especially the younger generation. As a role model, Wahi teaches them to never give up despite challenges.
Collaboration & Importance of People
Wahi has learned valuable business lessons from his experience in the army, most importantly, the core lesson taught in the military about the importance of people and looking after them. His 2016 autobiography, Be a Lion, dedicated a section to The Importance of People. Books have had a great impact on Wahi, specifically the philosophy of reason from Ayn Rand while he was fighting for his life from the military life-threatening incident. As an advocate in the influence of others, he reiterates in his book, “That it is difficult to achieve anything without the involvement, commitment, loyalty, and assistance of others. When you come across a person with whom you can see a future, you must grasp the opportunity and mutually make the most of it.” (Wahi Ch. 1, location 173, par. 4)
Wahi executes his philosophy in numerous examples throughout his career, especially one with Daniel Adkins who is now CEO of Wahi’s Transnational Academic Group Middle East. When asked to describe a situation reflecting Wahi’s collaboration with and valuing people, this quality has directly been experienced, Adkins states, “I am probably the best possible example of this philosophy.” (Adkins). He describes his hiring experience entering the organization in late 2009 and rise from the most entry level position at one of Wahi’s Dubai-based universities, Murdoch University, to now CEO for the Middle East operations.
“Throughout this entire process, Wahi has provided both direct mentorship and mentorship by example and has made sure that I did the same for my entire team, which has produced fantastic organisational results including no turnover with regret for six years.” (Adkins)
READ MORE: The Most Defining Aspects Of Our Lives
As stated in Lancaster University Ghana’s Senior Management biography, Wahi’s “core focus is on long term corporate and leadership development through building strong management teams”. Adkins reiterates this statement in an interview: “Wahi absolutely lives this philosophy and demands it from his entire management team… the people are the business and there is nothing more important” (Adkins).
Wahi is known to have a special gift and skill to find loyal people and never hesitates to show appreciation to people’s loyalty. Wahi learned this quality from his role model parents, a father who was a military, corporate, and family hero and a mother who was not only Mother Teresa’s friend, but a genuine giver in life. In other words, Wahi is a “go back to your roots leader” (Al Abadilah). Wahi was brought up in a giving family and now gives back as a leader. Because of the people-oriented philosophies followed in his organizations, employee turnaround rates are phenomenally low. Everyone is treated like family and the principles presented in Ken Blanchard’s book, Gung-Ho!, are lived by management.
Wahi’s philosophy about collaboration and importance of people is truly refreshing in a CEO and business leader. In today’s individualistic world, leaders like Wahi who dedicate a major part of their leadership role to importance of people is a rare finding. Such values must be celebrated and promoted in all aspects of business worldwide.
Passion for education
As a sought-after speaker at educational institutions on leadership and entrepreneurship, Wahi received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Science from the International University of Management by the Minister of Education of Namibia. He was also appointed as an IATF2018 Goodwill Ambassador by The Trade Finance for Africa. He personally learned and continuously teaches patience to other entrepreneurs in emerging markets. In an interview with CNBC Africa, The Entrepreneur’s Entrepreneur: Rakesh Wahi,about his book Be a Lion, Wahi shares he is “extremely passionate about education”. His vision is to set up educational centers of excellence across Africa incorporating new innovative industries such as online and hybrid aspects of education with traditional classroom environment. He has mentored many people in his leadership journey, but believes mentorship benefits both parties as he states in an interview with CNBC Africa: “Within a group, you always learn from each other. Mentorship is not a one-way journey, you learn every day from your peers, subordinates, seniors… If you are a student, you will remain a student all your life. You must be like a sponge, no matter your age.” (Wahi)
According to Adkins and Martin, executive partners at Wahi’s educational business sectors, Wahi lives his statement daily. Not only does he mentor his staff, he also learns from those on his team whether they are junior level or senior. Wahi has created a business culture amongst all sectors in a way that everyone learns from one another.
“There is no rank in the discussion. It is both intuitively understood and explicitly expressed that everyone’s ideas deserve equal consideration and we have made company-altering decisions based on input received from junior team members when those ideas turned out to be the best… It is absolutely the culture.” (Adkins)
Jeppesen, now Co-Founder of a tech enterprise with Wahi, states in an interview, “Wahi has been my mentor since we met 17 years back… Later, when we co-founded Tech One Global, he was leading our board and mentored me personally as the CEO.” (Jeppesen).
The culture of learning and mentorship from one another has saved the business in an example of a termination deal of one of Dubai’s university partnerships with a junior member of the team’s approach. This is proof that critical decisions are made, as a group despite rank levels. An important aspect of Wahi’s work is helping the leadership team rise to the next level.
Wahi’s decision to launch FORBES WOMAN AFRICA was to provide a platform for women entrepreneurs’ stories and the overwhelming waitlist of these stories in FORBES AFRICA.
“The main reason was that as a startup magazine, FORBES AFRICA was overwhelmed with a waiting list of stories from 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa; by virtue of women having a late head start in the business world, the stories were largely dominated by men who had done great things to transform Africa.” (Wahi)
In a short period of time, the magazine has risen to be the material of choice for inspirational women stories, with fantastic content being produced. Equality is discussed in an article by FORBES WOMAN AFRICA, Celebrating Five Years with The Founder and Publisher: Rakesh Wahi.
“We have discussed the trials and tribulations of women in the workplace and become a champion for equality. The word ‘equality’ is a living value for us at the ABN Group and I am so proud that we have been able to personify our values through affirmative action.” (Wahi)
READ MORE: Equality As A Living Value
According to a partner of over 35 years, Rajiv Podar, “Wahi has always respected and admired hard-working women and a firm believer of equality at workplace and home… Most of his senior colleagues are women too” (Podar). In an example from a former female executive at one of Wahi’s first ventures 20 years ago in Dubai, Maha Al Abadilah discusses the value of equality she experienced as a woman working with Wahi. “I have never experienced anything that distinguished a man and a woman, nothing but full respect and treating us with our pure qualifications and titles.” (Al Abadilah.14:19).
Wahi repeatedly demonstrates his firm belief in his statements amongst his team members. When a decision is to be made for an important matter, all team members discuss as equals. “It is both intuitively understood and explicitly expressed that everyone’s ideas deserve equal consideration.” (Adkins). Evidently, not only the value of equality is present within his ABN Group amongst women in the workplace, but also amongst all employees. Gender and rank are clearly not considered in any team discussions and decisions.
Wahi’s leadership approach and personality embodies unique values such as a life-changing incident, the collaboration and importance of people, a passion for education, and equality. As he was personally approached for research purposes of this analysis, he promptly welcomed connections with over 10 executives and partners of his global team who were all eager to help. Research results and personal interviews with warm responses from his team members and partners portray all qualities examined in this analysis positively. Wahi lives his statements and is a true people-oriented leader.
Adkins, Daniel. “Re: Business Paper Inquiry – Harvard University.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
Africa, Forbes Woman. “Celebrating Five Years With The Founder & Publisher: Rakesh Wahi.” Forbes Africa, 27 Sept. 2018, www.forbesafrica.com/woman/2018/09/27/celebrating-five-years-with-the-founder-publisher-rakesh-wahi/.
Al Abadilah, Maha. “Phone Interview, Rakesh Wahi Analysis” Voice recorder. 18 Dec. 2018.
Bandyopadhyay, Somshankar. “Military Lessons in Entrepreneurship.” GulfNews, 15 Mar. 2017, https://gulfnews.com/entertainment/books/military-lessons-in-entrepreneurship-1.1994221.
Bishop, Chris. “Re: Chris Bishop CNBC Africa.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
CNBC Africa. “Rakesh Wahi Reflects on CNBC Africa’s Decade of Broadcasting.” CNBC Africa, CNBC Africa, 1 June 2017, www.cnbcafrica.com/videos/2017/06/01/rakesh-wahi-reflects-on-cnbc-africas-decade-of-broadcasting/.
CNBC Africa. “The Entrepreneur’s Entrepreneur: Rakesh Wahi.” CNBC Africa, 4 Nov. 2016, www.cnbcafrica.com/news/special-report/2016/11/04/be-a-lion/.
Jeppesen, Lars. “Re: Business Paper Inquiry – Harvard University.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
Lancaster University Ghana. “Rakesh Wahi Chairman.” Lancaster University Ghana, www.lancaster.edu.gh/our-faculty-details.php?id=45. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Martin, Gary. “Re: Business Paper Inquiry – Harvard University.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
Naicker, Roberta. “Re: Business Paper Inquiry – Harvard University.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
Podar, Rajiv. “Re: Business Paper Inquiry – Harvard University.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
Vettath, Malavika. “Global Entrepreneur Rakesh Wahi: ‘I’ve Been a Very Bad Personal Investor’.” The National, The National, 25 May 2018, www.thenational.ae/business/money/global-entrepreneur-rakesh-wahi-i-ve-been-a-very-bad-personal-investor-1.733606.
Wahi, Rakesh. Be A Lion. Penguin Books, 2016. Kindle eBook file.
Wahi, Rakesh. “Re: Business Paper Inquiry – Harvard University.” Received by Anahita Negarandeh, 12 Dec. 2018.
Déjà vu: South Africa Back to Winning
Our Publisher reflects on the recent Springbok victory in Yokohoma, Japan
By Rakesh Wahi, Publisher
Rugby is as foreign to me as cricket is to the average American. However, having lived in South Africa for 15 years, there is no way to avoid being pulled into the sport. November 2, 2019, is therefore a date that will be celebrated in South Africa’s sporting posterity. In many ways, it’s déjà vu for South Africans; at a pivotal time in history, on June 24, 1995, the Springboks beat the All Blacks (the national rugby team of New Zealand) in the final of the World Cup. The game united a racially-divided country coming out of apartheid and at the forefront of this victory was none other than President Nelson Mandela or our beloved Madiba. In a very symbolic coincidence, 24 years later, history repeated itself.
South Africans watched with pride as Siya Kolisi lifted the gold trophy in Yokohama, Japan, as had Francois Pienaar done so 24 years ago in Johannesburg. My mind immediately reflected on this extremely opportune event in South Africa’s history.
The last decade has not been easy; the country has slipped into economic doldrums from which there seems to be no clear path ahead. The political transition from the previously corrupt regime has not been easy and it has been disheartening to see a rapid deterioration in the economic condition of the country. The sad reality is that there literally seems to be no apparent light at the end of the tunnel; with blackouts and load-shedding, a currency that is amongst the most volatile in the world, rising unemployment and rising crime amongst many other issues facing the country.
Something needed to change. There was a need for an event to change this despondent state of mind and the South African rugby team seems to have given a glimmer of hope that could not have come at a more opportune time. As South African flags were flying all over the world on November 2, something clicked to say that there is hope ahead and if people come together under a common mission, they can be the change that they want to see.
Isn’t life all about hope? Nothing defies gravity and just goes up; Newton taught us that everything that goes up will come down. Vicissitudes are a part of life and the true character of people, society or a nation is tested on how they navigate past these curve balls that make us despair. As we head into 2020, it is my sincere prayer that we see a new dawn and a better future in South Africa with renewed vigor and vitality.
Talking about sports and sportsmen, there is another important lesson that we need to take away. Having been a sportsman all my life, I have had a belief that people who have played team sports like cricket, rugby, soccer, hockey etc make great team players and leaders. However, other sports like golf, diving and squash teach you focus. In all cases, the greatest attribute of all is how to reset your mind after adversity. While most of us moved on after amateur sports to find our place in the world, the real sportspeople to watch and learn from are professionals. It is their grit and determination.
My own belief is that one must learn how to detach from a rear view mirror. You cannot ignore what is behind you because that is your history; you must learn from it. Our experiences are unique and so is our history. It must be our greatest teacher. However, that’s where it must end. As humans, we must learn to break the proverbial rear view mirror and stop worrying about the past. You cannot change what is behind you but you can influence and change what is yet to come.
I had the good fortune of playing golf with Chester Williams (former rugby player who was the first person of color to play for the Springboks in the historic win in 1995 and sadly passed away in September 2019) more than once at the SuperSport Celebrity Golf Shootout.
Chester played his golf fearlessly; perhaps the way he led his life. He would drive the ball 300 meters and on occasion went into the woods or in deep rough. Psychologically, as golfers know, this sets you back just looking at a bad lie, an embedded or unplayable ball or a dropped shot in a hazard. For a seasoned golfer, it is not the shot that you have hit but the one that you are about to hit. Chester has a repertoire of recovery shots and always seemed to be in the game even after some wayward moments. There is a profound lesson in all of this. You have to blank your mind from the negativity or sometimes helplessness and bring a can do and positive frame of reference back into your game (and life). Hit that recovery shot well and get back in the game; that’s what champions do.
We need to now focus our attention on the next shot and try and change the future than stay in the past.
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