Last Friday night Dylan and I had the honour and privilege of being guests at the Gala Opening of the magnificent Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred. It was a beautiful evening where guests, family, friends, dignitaries and speakers gathered to pay tribute to a visionary in our community, a man who saw potential where others could not and who, in pursuit of that vision and along with his love for our province and our town made not only a significant financial investment, but more importantly has unreservedly poured his heart and soul into the refurbishment of a local historical landmark and an establishment that had long been a favourite venue for locals and tourists.
In different ways, each one of the speakers praised the foresight, courage, commitment and the integrity of a man who began a kitchen renovation and ended up building a five-star state-of-the-art hotel. A man who insisted on using local contractors and suppliers wherever he could, who would not be told that it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done, a man who refused give up in the face of obstacles and setbacks of any sort, irrespective of how deeply they affected him personally.
One of the highlights of my evening came in the address given by Adrian Gardiner, Founder and Chairman of the Mantis Group. In South Africa, Adrian is arguably most well-known for creating the Shamwari Game Reserve, an exquisite private game reserve in the Eastern Cape which he created from degraded farmland. Acknowledging the magnitude of the project undertaken at The Royal St Andrews Hotel, in an area that rarely sees such unprecedented investment, Adrian reminisced about his journey in the creation of Shamwari. At the time, private game reserves were unheard of; game reserves such as the Kruger National Park, and the tourist accommodation associated with them, were owned and managed by National or Provincial Parks Boards. Adrian was stepping into the unknown and said “they told me I was crazy, so I did it anyway.” His talk took on a more serious note when he reflected on the importance of conservation and the need for us to protect our wildlife, something he is visibly, deeply passionate about. Adrian concluded his address by commenting that people often ask him when he is going to retire and stop working so hard. He chuckled as he shared his response to them, “work? This is not work for me; every day of this is a holiday for me”.
There are days in my business when the obstacles seem insurmountable, when I am flattened by the disappointment of not being able to get my message out to the world, when I become disheartened by those who can’t or won’t see the possibilities I see, when the closed doors outnumber the open doors. Last week was one of those weeks and on that very morning I had suggested to Dylan that I should give up this crAzy™ business and go back to being an accountant.
In his simple address Adrian Gardiner moved me to tears by reminding me that what we stand for at crAzy™ always wins is real! Those who are crAzy™ enough to follow their passion, despite the odds, despite the nay-sayers and the ones who would tear them down, those who know their heart and listen to it by living out their passions, they are the people who change the world. Moreover, their passion doesn’t feel like work, it is the fullest expression of their inner selves. How could that ever feel anything but joyful and energising? It is, as Dylan says, how we all get to live #everydayisaholiday.
To Martin and Linda Bekker, we count you as part of our “crAzies”. You have demonstrated that crAzy™ does really win, that integrity and fairness are more powerful forces than any that would seek to bring down a dream, that with commitment anything is possible. We wish you more success with The Royal St Andrews Hotel than you can even imagine for yourselves and we are honoured to witness this piece of your legacy. You inspire us!