On 22 April 2017, it was exactly one year since the rainy, stormy, magical day on which I said “I do” in the Stellenbosch Moederkerk to my six-foot-seven other half.
So, I thought it fitting to publish a post in honour of the man himself. He surely deserves it, if for no other reason than simply having put up with me for the last twelve months, without (visible) recourse to the odd Schedule 5 sedative. Also, as an added bonus, the first wedding anniversary gift is traditionally “paper”, and, seeing as this blog is pretty much my online diary, I reckon it all ties in pretty nicely. (Don’t worry, this is not his anniversary gift. I’m not that much of a chancer!)
On a serious note, as I sit here writing this, I am deeply grateful that the man I married is someone I constantly look up to, not only because of the dreamy six-foot-seven-ness. I have learned a huge amount from The Planet (I’ll have to explain this nickname some other time and, no, it’s not what you think). So, I wanted to share some of my favourite lessons here. I’m limiting it to 5 (because, well, I am running late and behind, as usual) and, as luck would have it, Marco’s rugby jersey number was always number 5 (lock position).
1. The rewards of making a plan & sticking to it
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”. While this is obviously not an original Marco Wentzel concept, it’s something I’ve seen him put into practice every day, without fail. Let’s just say, the man is decisive about being decisive and disciplined about being disciplined. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Whether it’s due to 17 years of playing professional rugby or an innate “maybe he’s born with it” ability, I do tip my hat in his general direction when it comes to his ability to “make a plan and stick to it”.
While he goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up (refreshed) every morning at 5am to start each day with an hour at the gym, I’m still floating around in dreamland only to hit the “snooze” button repeatedly two hours later, whilst struggling to find The Perfect Excuse for bunking gym (yet again). I mean who, in today’s world, wakes up feeling “refreshed” of “well-rested”? Planet replies to all emails within 24 hours or sooner, whilst I have 395 unread mails in my inbox on a good day, mostly because “I have too much on my plate and I’ll get to it later”. The Husband doesn’t work this way – he makes a plan to get to it and then does so. (And his plate is way, waaaay, fuller than mine.)
Many people are planners: they have big dreams of what they want to achieve, but somehow never get around to making these dreams come true. Others are simply doers, impulsively jumping into new projects, without ever taking the time to devise a proper plan. Marco has shown me that not only it is possible to be a planner and an executor, but it is a highly rewarding skill set worth pursuing, resulting in less stress, higher productivity and, ultimately, a less chaotic life.
2. You have to look after yourself before you can look after others
This heading can’t help but remind me of that safety speech flight attendants always give, prior to takeoff: something about “during an in-flight emergency, make sure you secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping your children or those around you.”
I have lost count of how many times in my life I have reached out to help friends in need, taken on charity cases or familial issues, when – in fact – I was barely struggling to manage my own responsibilities. Whilst it’s all good and well (and, I believe, our moral obligation) to help those in need, the math is simple: if our tank is empty, we’re not going to get very far carrying others. If the lifeboat isn’t inflated properly, everyone in it is going to drown. If you have a big heart and find tremendous joy in helping others where you can, it’s not easy to say “no” when being asked a favour, but it is sometimes necessary and in everybody’s best interest to try to help others only when you have the capacity to do so.
3. There is only space for so many marbles on your board
The day only has twenty-four hours in it. A week only has seven days. It’s impossible to be everything, to everyone, all of the time.
Marco always says that we all have space for a “limited about of marbles” on our board (although, quite frankly, I think I’ve lost a few along the way, but that’s besides the point). He says: “every time a new marble comes onto your board, another one has to make way”. Whether it be relationships, friendships, career projects or other personal endeavours, at some point you’ll need to decide which marbles deserve to be on your board and which ones have to roll off.
When I complain (to the poor man) about not having enough time to finish my ever-expanding to-do list, see all my friends, reply to all my Whatsapp messages or answer all my emails (you can tell by now I have a major email problem), he will simply say: “you’re trying to make space for too many marbles on your board and there just isn’t space. So, decide which marbles you want to keep and let the rest roll away.”
This lesson is really about the need for prioritising those aspects of your life that are, at any particular point in time, MOST important to you (whether it be building a business from the ground up, bettering your relationship with your mother, supporting a friend through a messy divorce or getting your body back in shape after giving birth). On the flip side, it’s also about letting go of those things (or those people) who, at the end of the day, simply aren’t as important as the rest. You only have space for so many marbles! I’m still working on this one, but the lesson is there:)
4. Change the changeables
This one is simple (to Marco, at least, it seems). Again, I’m still working on it. There are things in life we can change and things we can’t. We can’t change people’s prejudices or preconceptions, we can’t change how we were brought up, we can’t change the cards we were dealt at birth. On the other hand, we can change so many, powerful, things: one of which is the way we respond to that which happens to us or the way in which we play our cards.
Whenever Marco catches me worrying about something (which, unfortunately, is often, as I seem to really enjoy worrying), he’ll say, quite pragmatically: “You can’t change it. Let it go. Change the changeables”. There is a lot of freedom in accepting the things we cannot change (whatever they may be) and shifting our focus towards the things we can. I actually wrote a piece on self-acceptance vs self-improvement recently, which ties into this very liberating philosophy.
5. Keep your eye on the prize
Last, but not least, Planet refuses to get sucked in to trivial power battles or stand-offs in business, relationships or life. He always keeps his eye on the ball (cheesy rugby pun and well-placed photograph intended) and his focus always remains on his long-term goals.
It’s so easy to get derailed or side-tracked, when we encounter difficult people or circumstances along the way to fulfilling our dreams, but if we spend all our time worrying about every high tackle (an illegal and “dirty” rugby tackle) en route to scoring a try, we’ll never get further than the half-way line.
That’s it (for now). Some top tips from a top guy. I hope you find them (and him) half as inspirational as I do:)
Wedding photograph, courtesy of Jean-Pierre Uys & rugby photographs, courtesy of Steve Haag