What I’ve Learnt From … Nelson Mandela
I’ve long admired Nelson Mandela. I remember staying in the same hotel as him in Bahrain, well over a decade ago and catching a glimpses of him as he walked by. He was a lot taller than I imagined him to be and his smile was striking and as full of warmth as you’d expect.
He was someone I considered to be a true leader, an inspirational man and a transformational figure. His inspiration and motivation spanned countries across Africa and beyond.
There are plenty of characteristics and traits this charismatic man had that leaders and people in general would benefit from emulating, including: honesty, integrity, fighting spirit, persuader / negotiator, and dreamer. That’s just to name just a few!
I’m currently reading “Portrait of an extraordinary man”, which is a biography written by Richard Stengel, who was a close friend and confidant of Mandela. (It’s a brilliant read if you’re after a new book). I’m enjoying discovering more about this man and what went on behind that smile.
The book is structured to capture lessons that Mandela himself learnt both of life and of leadership. These are his lessons:
- Courage is not the absence of fear
- Be measured
- Lead from the front
- Lead from the back
- Look the part
- Have a core principle
- See the good in others
- Know your enemy
- Keep your rivals close
- Know when to say no
- It’s a long game
- Love makes the difference
- Quitting is leading too
- It’s always both
- Find your own garden
Of course, some of these are more applicable to business over personal life, however, quite a few are very relevant to both.
The ones that resonated with me were:
To finish off, here are my favourite quotes from this legendary man:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
“We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.”
“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”
“When people are determined they can overcome anything.”
May I say just how hard it was to limit myself to only 6 quotes!
Long may his legacy live on.