“I am who I am. I do not want to be anyone else. I am happy who I am.”
My road crossed Alan Gedye during the mid 1990’s. We worked together as business consultants and spent vast amounts of time together at client sites. Since then we became colleagues and later close friends. There is no one better than Alan to write this forward to my blog.
It is a rare privilege to work and be associated with, report to, have as a special friend and reciprocally be regarded as special friend to one specific person for a sustained period of time. The rare privilege is mine. This specific person is one, Archibald Holtzhausen. I and countless others affectionately, professionally, formally and socially know him as, and call him, “Archie”.
In our professional work context, I am drawn to reflect on the teachings and philosophies of the world-renowned writer and leadership guru, Robin Sharma. With a more specific reflection of his international bestseller and top-rated business book, “The Leader Who Had No Title” (2010), I am continuously exposed to Archie epitomising the characteristics and motives of, the espoused mind-set and thought processes associated with, and ultimately the habits, practices and behaviours reflected by, the teacher-characters (in the book).
Here’s the thing though – it’s not as if Archie arbitrarily stumbled upon and picked up this ‘self-help’ book, consequent to a lengthy personal struggle to find his place in this world, dreaming of someday turning his life around. No way. Archie just is a leader without a title (LWT). I have neither known him to hold, nor have any interest in, titles or the associated perceived status. He doesn’t seek, nor need, any formal authority to be who he is.
Doing and being his absolute possible best, in everything he does, is what really matters to Archie Holtzhausen. He has all the tangible accolades associated with recognition, reward and success artefacts in his ‘trophy cabinet’ to prove it, while his less tangible constructs like respect, peace, love, happiness and personal fulfilment…..I witness and experience every day. He leads himself exceptionally well.
Please now allow me to describe and explain these statements. If you have read Sharma’s book, I am confident you will appreciate my reflection of ‘finding’ Archie in there. If you have yet to read it, please seriously consider doing so. Despite the book’s absolute (and proven) personal value, benefit and worth, I am equally confident that, once you have done so, you will have a deeper insight into, understanding and appreciation of Archibald Holtzhausen.
Archie’s mantra is the catchy and memorable acronym, MAD – Making A Difference. His entire life journey has embodied this. MAD is his mission. He deeply appreciates and values each new dawn, representing countless opportunities to Make A Difference in his own life, to the lives of his beloved family, to the work and home lives of his colleagues, peers, superiors and subordinates, to the lives of his friends and acquaintances, to the lives of complete strangers….indeed to society and the world itself.
If it were possible to measure or evaluate every person on earth relative to “being positive” (as opposed to “being negative”), I am convinced Archie would be represented in the special minority group at the upper reaches of “being positive”. It is beyond this opinion to explore the multiplicity of reasons, or explanations for this super-genuine-congruent positive disposition. In addition, by no means do I wish to underplay the complexity of this ‘positivity attribute’ – save to say, it is premised on his boundless passion for life, his deep, pervasive desire and commitment to investing 100% of himself in everything he does, and into his MAD mission.
At the epicentre of all of this, perhaps driving, steering, enabling or even representing a kind of ‘energy force’, is a set of core, non-negotiable (bed-rock like) values and spiritual principles. I have never known, nor could imagine Archie straying beyond the influence of these values and principles. Never. It is simply beyond the realm of my imagination.
When exploring ‘beyond the man himself’, Archie is a proud and dedicated husband (of 3 decades), and the father to two wonderful children. If all of the above-mentioned traits, drivers, orientations, and/or frames of reference are what ‘makes Archie tick’, then it is his beautiful family that are his centre of existence. If they are in pain, Archie is in pain. If they are sick, he feels sick (while never forsaking going to the ends of the earth to ‘make them better’). If they are anxious, so too is he. If they are happy, he rejoices. Empathy and unconditional love personified.
At this particular juncture of the narrative, I have intentionally omitted a key component represented in the very DNA, social, psychological and career-professional make-up and embodiment of Archie Holtzhausen. For this component, I pose myself an analogy-related question: what is the ‘lubricant’ that makes all this stuff work so well? What represents the ‘oil’ of this truly unique person?
My answer: discipline. More specifically, the archetypical representation of self-discipline. Everything that has been laid bare above, is done repeatedly, consistently, predictably, dependably day-in, and day-out, week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year, decade-after-decade. Three coveted Ironman SA medals, too many triathlon medals to mention, (very) long-distance trail events certificates, a strict and good-health-oriented lifestyle (as espoused in every ‘health manual’), is testimony to this ‘discipline lube’.
Archie recently completed a highly rated year-long photographer’s course to further his outdoor photography hobby (it’s simply another passion!). In less than 6 months after successful completion of the course, he won 6 accolades for his profile, from the well-renowned and discerning Pixoto global community. His ‘cultural relevance and depth’ add further ‘layers’ to this ‘total human being’. The arts, incorporating, contemporary and traditional theatre and literature, a deep love for the orchestra and classical music (he can hold his own with the flute), an unbridled love for nature and a deep desire and curiosity to understand cultures different from his own.
When he’s listening to you, you know it. When he speaks, his words are discerning, non-judgemental, enquiring, supporting, thought-provoking, challenging and wise.
While this has taken me some time to write, it feels as if my thoughts, opinions, views, even fingers across my laptop keyboard – have just seamlessly and effortlessly flowed. There have been very few corrections, rewrites and edits. In summary, Archie Holtzhausen represents a multi-dimensional, multi-layered, passionate force of nature, which I personally get to experience, and also deeply appreciate, almost every single day. So too, ‘out there’ are many fortunate individuals, couples, families, teams, companies and communities whose lives have been profoundly positively influenced, by the key character in this foreword.
I am richer – in a far deeper way – way beyond monetary description, to be Archie’s colleague, direct report, business partner and friend. Thank you sir.
In his own words: “I am who I am. I do not want to be anyone else. I am happy who I am.”
Alan Gedye (colleague, direct report, business partner and friend)