It seems difficult to believe that Nelson Mandela has just celebrated his 93 Birthday on July 18 2011.
Nelson Mandela won the Nobel peace prize in 1993 for his fight against racial and economic injustice. The following year he went on to be the first democratically elected president of his country South Africa.
His story is remarkable. He has inspired people not only in his country South Africa but around the globe. He was arrested in 1962 and during his 27 years in prison he became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid. It was Mandela’s mental strength and stubbornness which enabled him to survive. He managed to stay strong in himself, patient, hold his vision and execution the detailed plan. He symbolizes the triumph of the human spirit.
Nelson Mandela started in prison though as a revolutionary fighter and left as mediator, philosopher and President-in-Waiting.
Here is a man who said initially, “At the end of the day… violence was the only weapon that would destroy apartheid.”
Nelson Mandela realised that he had to change his attitude and actions to be successful for his cause. That did not mean he had to compromise his political position. He drew on his skill and knowledge from his legal background to master the art of understanding people and utilising this knowledge to negotiate common ground. He learned to be proactive not reactive.
Nelson Mandela developed an amazing quality of being extremely idealistic and righteous without being arrogant.
This resulted in him saying, “One of the things I learned when negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.”
So what qualities can we admire and emulate? It would be the ability to be humble and reason that while our intention is right our actions may not be. Nelson Mandela learnt to change from a fighter to a mediator.
He realized he needed to change his thinking. Not easy for someone with strong opinions! He epitomizes those famous words, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain off my soul”.
He is recognized now as one of the world’s most revered statesmen, who led the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy.
What lessons are there here for us? The main lesson is to accept the fact there may be another way to be successful by trying to utilise our strengths, recognize our weaknesses and change our thinking or approach to reach for goal.