“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” While that may seem like crazy advice, it can actually be a trajectory for success. In this episode, we explore what it means to “overdo it” in the right way and how – with a proper mindset and healthy guardrails – you can achieve your goals.
You know, when I was your age, go ask your mother. I know you don’t like it, it builds character. How many times do I have to tell you? I’m not just talking to hear my own voice
Hello, listener, and welcome to Dadages. I’m your host Chad Hagle. And if you’re looking for some fatherly wisdom for your career, your family, or any other aspect of your life, then you’ve come to the right place. If you want to learn more about Dadages, find additional content, submit questions or feedback to me. Or if you want to know if that mental picture you have of me after hearing my voice matches my real face, visit data ges.com. Thanks for being here. And before you listen to our podcast, please listen to your father.
Welcome to episode three of Dadages your host Chad Hagle here. You know, we really have to stop meeting like this. People are going to talk, you know how people are. But really, are we spending too much time together? How much time is too much time? If we like to do something, should we just keep doing more? Is there a healthy limit? Are we doing too much? How would we know if we’re doing too much? Would we ask someone we trust? Poll our friends? Am I asking too many questions? Sorry, just trying to make a point because the topic of today’s episode is overdoing it. Dadage #2 is this. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
And in the spirit of this Dadage, I’m going to overdo it. I’m actually devoting not one but two episodes to this particular damage. Like I said, Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
This is one of my go-to pieces of advice, but it also makes for a great debate on its own.
Without explanation, examination, and refinement, the statement seems truly foolish. Anything worth doing is definitely not worth overdoing at all times. In all circumstances. employing this philosophy blindly and in a vacuum could lead to some truly dire outcomes. But within reason and with some healthy guardrails in place, these words provide a mindset and approach a trajectory for success. Rooted in determination and a willingness to break from convention when others around us are limited by convention. Let’s talk about the notion of excess. Modern mankind, particularly those of us in the first world live in a consumer culture.
One of my sisters, Tisza puts it like this, if a little is good, a lot is great. Obviously, those words are spoken with a wry smile and tongue firmly inserted in cheek, but they really capture the message that is conveyed to all of us every day by the marketing and advertising machine that drives our culture forward. Buy more, consume more, enjoy more. The more you have, the better your life can be. If you’re not happy, you just need more.
In Episode Two, I promised you a more detailed account of my recent travels to Kenya. Why don’t wish to turn Dadagesinto a travel blog, I do think some of life’s most impactful experiences and greatest lessons can be realized through travel. So I want to dictate time here to sharing my experiences. My observations, my thoughts and insights gathered from my recent travels abroad. We’ll see how this all ties back together in a moment.
I had the fantastic opportunity to travel to Kenya for the first time in 1998. Right after I graduated from Stanford. On that occasion, we visited Africa with two generations of my family. My father made that trip possible as he did this trip 24 years later in 2022. The difference was that this time we visited Kenya with three generations of the family, as my sisters Brie and Tisza and I now have our own families. In total, there were 13 of us that made the trip. I’ve thanked my father and his wife and private for making both of these trips a reality. But I want to take this moment to thank them both again publicly.
Mark, Sharon, thank you.
On both of these amazing adventures in 1998 and 2022. We went on safari with fifth-generation Safari guides – the Cottar family. Cottar’s really shaped what the experience was for us on both trips. The activity for Cottar’s is primarily focused on a 1920s-themed safari camp, based on the southwestern border between Kenya and Tanzania on a massive wildlife conservancy that makes up a portion of the Masai Mara, the territory that borders the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, where the great migration of countless species of animals occurs annually, northward across the Serengeti, funneling into the Mara, and then returning to the Serengeti after the winter. On this trip, we also visited a private estate called Saria House further north in Kenya, in a county called Laikipia. It’s truly amazing all around.
Let’s go back to 1998. When we visited Kenya at that time, we had one of the most authentic experiences of my life. Disclaimer here – I’m no cultural anthropologist. Please take everything I’m about to share as my own observations only based upon my limited experiences. At the precipice of the 21st century, I found Africa to be at a transition point. Culturally, the Masai people were holding on to their migratory tribal lifestyle that was tied to livestock, particularly cows, which were at the center of their entire culture. Nearly every facet of their socio-economic system revolves around their cows, their migration patterns, food sources, even their houses are built of a mixture of mud and cow dung to provide insulation and waterproofing. Tourism in Kenya, built entirely around safaris, has long been an important part of the country’s economy and culture. But the intrusion of tourists into the Masai Mara, the impact of the wild animals themselves upon the Masai, and their migratory cattle-raising culture is significant.
Trust me, not every aspect of the Masai culture was worth preserving. And in an advancing world where opportunities for education and individual advancement were available, was it right or wrong for the Masai to live in isolation without what we would consider the most basic necessities and opportunities for progress? Tourism into Kenya helped shine a light onto the less savory parts of the Masai culture. In particular, it was commonplace for forced marriages to occur, and even for families to sell their young daughters into marriages with much older men from neighboring tribes in exchange for livestock, which is their primary currency.
As an illustration of the tension in Africa, between the old and the new in 1998, Kenya was being drawn into modern global conflicts that had little or nothing at all to do with the Kenyan people. We were actually in Kenya when the American Embassy was bombed. We were out on the Mara and didn’t even know what had happened. But the rest of our family back here in the United States, boy, were they freaking out! You know how the news media is when they cover international news, they can make it sound like an incident that happens in one building in one city means an entire country is going down in flames. So that’s the perspective our friends and family in the US had while we were blissfully ignorant hanging out with rhinos, elephants, and lions. The first inkling we had of something being amiss in Nairobi was when we drove back into the city in the safari vehicles. Instead of taking us to the front of the airport, the safari service had arranged for the vehicles to actually drive us out to the tarmac, and directly board the British Airways 747 sitting there, from the stairway at the bottom of the jet bridge. We were just like, “This is interesting, what’s going on here?” The guides just said there was a heavy military presence at the airport and a lot of disruption that they hoped we could avoid. This is an illustration of the fact that you can really write your own rules and a third-world country if you have the money to do so. It was only after we boarded the plane and saw the newspapers sitting our seats with the headlines and bloody photos of the embassy bombing, that we had any idea what had happened. And it wasn’t until we landed in London eight hours later that we could call home and let everyone know we were okay.
Aside from that high drama of historic proportions, we had such an amazing, truly rustic, authentic, and nearly untouched experience in Kenya during our 1998 adventure. We appreciated both the exposure to the Masai culture and the opportunity to experience amazing wildlife and a mind-blowing epic scale.
But I came away with questions and concerns. Would the inevitable conflict between the Masai culture and the growing Safari industry lead to the destruction of one or both? Would the development of Kenya lead to the breakdown of the ecological system that supported the wild animal population? Would exploitative practices and poaching lead to the demise of wild animal species altogether? I didn’t have answers to any of these questions, of course, but I came away with the sense that we would be some of the last people to experience Kenya and the wild animal Safari in the way that we did.
Okay, fast forward to 2020 to add a wife, two boys, and our expanded extended family along with a few gray hairs and wrinkles on me. So, was I right about the demise of the safari experience in Kenya? The resounding answer is sort of the outcomes of the past 24 years were truly fascinating.
From my perspective. On one hand, my fears were completely off base. Something interesting happened to preserve the wild animal populations in Kenya and East Africa as a whole. One driving force, often credited with all of the evils of the world actually saved the animal populations.
Money, the advent of eco-tourism, – I don’t even think that term existed in 1998 – brought more and more tourists into Kenya along with their tourism dollars. Everyone in the world sought that same authentic safari experience I had in 1998. With all these tourists pouring into Kenya and Tanzania, a few things came to pass. First, the wealth was spread around. Obviously not in proportion, but there was a trickle-down effect, the Masai came to realize that there was money for them in the tourist industry built around Safari. They came to realize that they could strike a balance where revenues derived from tourists’ presence in their homeland could subsidize and support their primitive agricultural economy and lifestyle. Second, a portion of the Kenyan tourist revenue is directly funded into private conservancies. While the government of Kenya theoretically supervises all conservation wildlife activity within the country, as governments like to do, they don’t really do any of the hard or expensive work themselves. The ranger service, animal rescues, and nearly all conservancy efforts are privately funded from tourists revenues, leases paid by safari lodges and outfits are a key component of this, as well as private donations. Third, all of those eco-tourists and the vast network of Safari guides and lodges, (now over 200 of them in the Mara and the Serengeti, if you can believe that) became an ecological police force. It’s very difficult now for poachers to hide in the dark wilds of Africa if those wilds are crawling with tourists. So the animals made it. They’ve lasted well into the 21st century, you might say that they’ve even thrived. And the Masai have learned to coexist with the wild animals rather than being totally at odds with them.
But as Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friend!” In a different way, my fears of the destruction of the authentic safari experience I had in 1998, were definitely realized by 2022. Without question, while the animals have survived, the region has transformed. The proliferation of lodges across the region has made the safari experience more accessible to the masses. And trust me, the masses have come from every corner of the globe. And now there’s traffic on the Mara.
When we left the Cottar’s private conservancy and crossed into the public regions of the national parks, we found a steady stream of vehicles of all shapes and sizes providing eager tourists with their safari experience. In the worst instance, we came over a ridge and saw a group of 30+ vehicles in concentric rings surrounding a single tree right in the middle of the Mara. Our Safari guide stopped the engine, put his binoculars up to his eyes, and said, “Yes, there is a leopard in that tree.” Vehicles were lined up surrounding this one tree, just to get a glimpse of a leopard trying to nap up in the tree in the heat of the day. If you want to see what this crazy site looked like for yourself, check out our website dadages.com. I’ve posted a couple of pictures there. We had a similar experience when we descended toward the Mara River in the hopes of seeing some hippos. We did find hippos, lots of hippos. But we also found a steady stream of Safari vehicles. If you can believe it, we actually had to get into a queue on the banks of the river and let some of the traffic dissipate until we could occupy the ideal parallel parking space on the riverbank to catch our glimpse of the hippos. Now, I can’t really complain here without being terribly hypocritical. Did you catch that one? I recognize we were contributing to the traffic in the area ourselves. We didn’t deserve to be there any more than anyone else. It was just a bit of a shame to witness and to participate in that whole situation. Listen, or just be clear that the Mara is no longer the wild. It’s just a very, very large zoo, undoubtedly the largest one in the world. Think San Diego Wild Animal Park on steroids.
And the effects are visible. There is significant scarring of the land, the nonstop vehicle traffic has led to a crisscross network of tire tracks, dusty dirt roads across the entirety of the plains. And it gets much worse. There is great competition as in any industry really to capture the available customer base. One way of monopolizing a trade is by controlling the supply chain. In this case, the supply chain is the column of hundreds of thousands of wild animals moving out of the Serengeti through the migration. How do you control that supply chain? You ask? The answer man’s mastery over nature versus nature itself. The power of fire.
The rangers on the Tanzanian side of the Mara have begun an annual process of man-made burns. It was sugar-coated and its initial explanation to us was a controlled burn of the “bad grass” but it was clear based upon the pattern of the burns that the lodges or the government itself on the Tanzanian side, we’re trying to burn the grass that provides the fuel for the migrating animals to redirect their migration and keep them in the area of the Mara that most benefited the proliferation of lodges on that side. This is essentially eco-terrorism and supportive eco-tourism. Absolutely crazy!
Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right?
And what of the Masai culture, as one might expect, it has continued to be diluted over time. More and more of the focus of the Masai, driven by financial pressures and government influence has been diverted into catering to tourists. They continue to uphold aspects of their culture, but it doesn’t feel real. The authentic Masai village experience we had during our recent visit was definitely more staged than authentic. Masai women are known for building houses. Yes, Masai women are the ones responsible for building the houses in the villages and maintaining their dung and mud roofs. In this way, there is typically one house in a Masai village for every adult woman living in the village But in addition to their role as “homemakers” in the truest sense of the word, Masai women are also known for intricate and artistic beading. Today, though, rather than using native materials found in their surroundings, the Masai women we saw were selling handmade jewelry, and other trinkets that were fabricated from plastic beads. You guessed it, made in China. Somehow the remote villages of the Masai Mara are immune from the supply chain impacts we are experiencing, trying to get goods out of China to the United States. Go figure. Maybe instead of Amazon, we should all be shopping Masai.
And the women are not alone. One of the most noteworthy, interesting, and impressive activities – truly impressive activities – for Masai men is the warrior dance. This dance is well coordinated with an acapella musical and rhythmic score provided by the tribesmen. It grows to a crescendo with a jumping contest are the warriors establish hierarchy and preference for marriage within the village by exhibiting their jumping prowess. We watched such a demonstration in the Masai village from a collection of young men. Our Masai guide told us though about halfway through “these young men, you see can no longer jump nearly as high as the elders in the village could. The elders fed only on the milk, blood and meat of our cows, along with the leaves of the plants of the Mara that fueled their jumping prowess. These boys today eat too much junk food!” And where were those elders? We were told they had fled the recent drought and led the cattle to Mount Kenya to feed. Had they really? Or had this village just been set up in proximity to the lodges for tourism purposes? And was this really still even functioning as a true Masai agricultural cow-herding village?
Maybe, maybe not, we’ll never really know. I’m sure you can see now how all my experiences in Kenya prompted me to pull this particular Dadage out of my catalog and present it to you. The contradiction that is modern Kenya embodies the inherent dilemma presented within our topic for this whole discussion. Is anything worth doing truly worth overdoing? Does this phrase prompt human determination or cater to the basis of human indulgence and exploitation? It definitely warrants more discussion.
And listener I have more discussion for you. Please continue to listen for Episode Four. We’ll keep the discussion going. And we’ll turn to applying the notion of anything worth doing is worth overdoing to a professional context.
And for now, I leave you with a dad joke about overdoing it.
What do you call a guy who’s had too much to drink?
Remember everyone – dad may not always know best, but he sure can sound like he does.
Thank you for listening to Dadages. If you enjoyed this episode, remember to visit Dadages.com And subscribe to the Dadages podcast to get notified for future episodes. You can rate a review on Spotify and Apple podcasts. Why? Because I’m your father and I said so. Just a little respect is all I asked for. I put a roof over your head and food on the table and what do you do? No, tell me exactly what do you do because I am doing everything I’m paying for everything. No Get back here. Get back here right now.