5 things Nel­son Man­dela taught me

Madiba was a unique revo­lu­tion­ary, icon and hu­man­ist. As the world cel­e­brates this great leader in what would have been his cen­ten­nial year, I pay homage to a man who en­riched my life

Destiny Man - - MOTIVATION COLUMN -

Lead­ing SA out of apartheid, Man­dela dis­played strength, dig­nity, con­vic­tion and brav­ery. He stood up for his be­liefs, even when it cost him his free­dom. While im­pris­oned, he sup­ported his fel­low con­victs through­out his lengthy sen­tence, de­spite the harsh­ness of their liv­ing conditions, bru­tal warders and lim­ited con­tact with their fam­i­lies.

DON’T LIMIT YOUR BRIL­LIANCE

Man­dela said: “There’s no pas­sion to be found play­ing small – in set­tling for a life that’s less than the one you’re ca­pa­ble of liv­ing.” This quo­ta­tion has in­spired me enor­mously. As an en­tre­pre­neur, I’ve learnt never to set­tle. No sooner do I reach a big mile­stone than I im­me­di­ately set a higher goal to reach for. Man­dela never gave up his ideals, even when he had a chance to get re­leased by re­nounc­ing his views. He’s in­spired me al­ways to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo. This fo­cus helps me over­come ob­sta­cles and drives me to re­lease my true po­ten­tial.

BE ADAPT­ABLE

Man­dela took ac­tion – but shifted and ad­justed his po­si­tion, when needed. His mind was open to mod­i­fy­ing his opin­ions, if it was for the greater good. The best ex­am­ple of this was his shift from em­brac­ing peace­ful meth­ods of re­sis­tance to the apartheid regime to es­pous­ing the armed strug­gle, when he re­alised that it was nec­es­sary to ac­cel­er­ate change. Later he re­framed his views on eco­nom­ics, learn­ing from other coun­tries’ failed at­tempts at so­cial­ism and Marx­ism. As a leader, I meet chal­lenges head-on, not let­ting pre-de­ter­mined ide­olo­gies or be­lief sys­tems hold me back.

LEAD­ING FROM BE­HIND

Man­dela ne­go­ti­ated with­out com­pro­mis­ing his in­tegrity. As a leader, he was con­fi­dent enough to lead from be­hind. Once in of­fice as Pres­i­dent, he ex­er­cised re­straint and eased into big changes. He used sports to help close the rift be­tween blacks and whites. Al­low­ing SA to par­tic­i­pate in the Olympic Games with a mostly white team sent a strong mes­sage, as did sup­port­ing the coun­try’s pri­mar­ily white rugby team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Tak­ing Man­dela’s lead, I dab­ble in the art of per­sua­sion, al­low­ing oth­ers to come to a con­sen­sus, even some­times let­ting them be­lieve it was their idea.

BE STRATE­GIC

Man­dela strate­gi­cally used his in­tel­lec­tual abil­i­ties

MAN­DELA NE­GO­TI­ATED WITH­OUT COM­PRO­MIS­ING HIS IN­TEGRITY. AS A LEADER, HE WAS CON­FI­DENT ENOUGH TO LEAD FROM BE­HIND.

to ef­fect change. He pre­dicted that so­cial change was com­ing and rode that wave. Some­times this meant he had to find com­mon ground with his en­e­mies and turn them into al­lies. Man­dela re­alised that Afrikan­ers also felt they’d been dis­crim­i­nated against – by the Bri­tish, dur­ing coloni­sa­tion – and used that com­mon ground to form a con­nec­tion. True lead­ers get to know their op­po­si­tion and keep them close.

LET THE PAST GO, BUT RE­MEM­BER IT

Man­dela never let his strug­gles dic­tate his life’s path. Fol­low­ing his un­wa­ver­ing moral com­pass, I’ve been in­spired to put oth­ers above my­self and main­tain dig­nity at all times. He taught the awe­some les­son of for­give­ness – but not for­get­ting. I ap­ply this prin­ci­ple to my life by re­lin­quish­ing grudges and con­tin­u­ing to move for­ward.

Man­dela never stopped work­ing to over­come in­jus­tice. Even af­ter he’d re­tired, he car­ried on work­ing through the or­gan­i­sa­tions he’d founded. He gave SA democ­racy, im­prov­ing its im­age on the world stage and end­ing sanc­tions against it.

He re­mains the most in­spir­ing – and wis­est – leader of our time.

Si­mon T Bai­ley has a free ebook for you. Sim­ply visit: si­mont­bai­ley.com to sub­mit your email ad­dress and he’ll send it to you.

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