Nelson Mandela: South Africa's Hero

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), was a lawyer and politician who became the first democratically-elected president in South Africa by universal suffrage, a charge he occupied from 1994 to 1999. In 1962 he was arrested and condemned with life imprisonment. He was in jail for 27 years. After his liberation, on February 11, 1990, he led his party during the negotiations to achieve a multiracial democracy in South Africa, a goal his party managed to reach in 1994. He has been awarded on different occasions: In 1993, he received the Peace Nobel Prize. His autobiography is titled "Long Walk to Freedom," and other books about his life have been written, such as "Mandela's Way," by Richard Stengel, and "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation," by John Carlin, the book that inspired the movie "Invictus" (2009), directed by Clint Eastwood.

Once again, we will review some of Mandela's famous quotes. Remember to read carefully and give yourself enough time to analyze them.

Nelson R. Mandela (1918-2013)




1. Everything seems impossible until you make it.

This has always been the same throughout history. Because of this, the word "impossible" is the most dangerous word in the dictionary as it deactivates the search for solutions. When our brain processes that something is out of its limits, our mind stops searching, disconnects and leaves the issue behind. On the other hand, when we believe something is possible, then we stay on standby for finding all kinds of resources and alternatives which could allow us to make it happen. There is nothing impossible.

2. One is not brave for having no fears, but for being able to conquer them.

You don't have to unbury the fear, but the cowardness instead; brave people also have fears but they accept the challenge. Whereas coward people let themselves be dominated by it, brave people confront it. Don't worry when you feel scared. Don't try to eliminate the fears, accept them and look for a way to dominate them. Fear is not defeated easily, but drop by drop and only if we confront it. When we don't avoid it and we don't escape from it, the fear becomes smaller and smaller until it disappears. That's how people boost their confidence in themselves. "Do not become - Mandela says- something smaller than what you could be."


3. Long live freedom! The Sun has never shined a more glorious human achievement.

Freedom is the most important value for a person. Because freedom means, especially, one thing: the option of being oneself. Freedom is having the possibility of deciding who we want to be and the opportunity to dispose of the necessary options to achieve it. Feeling free is feeling happy. Because of this, Mandela claims: "true leaders are willing to sacrifice everything for their people's freedom." There are many chains that ban freedom: some of them are visible and others not so much. For example, the tangible, social and emotional reliances that tie us together.

4. Jail serves as a tremendous training for both patience and perseverance.

Very often, adversity is a great ally to discover hidden talents or to force ourselves to develop certain skills. In the comfort zone is very difficult to challenge our limits. However, when we feel impelled to get out of our comfort zone by the circumstances, a lot of qualities that have not had the opportunity to shine or to emerge before, end up doing it, unveiling in ourselves abilities of which we were not aware before. Most of the time, strong learning moments have to do with uncomfortable situations. Lots of talents emerge from necessity.

5. Forgiveness liberates the soul, eliminates the fear. For this reason, it is such a powerful tool.

"Resentment -says Mandela- is like taking poison and wait for it to kill the enemy." There's no better remedy for interior tranquility than forgiveness. Apologizing is a sign of our strength; accepting it, is even more. But forgiving is not about words but especially about proving it with facts. The South African leader said: "if you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then they become your partner". That's the incarnated forgiveness, the authentic forgiveness.

6. The greatest glory is not to never fall, but to get up over and over again.

Success consists of standing up every time one falls onto the ground. If you fall 7 times, stand up 8. All biographies of successful people (every single one) have overcome adversities (in many cases very difficult ones) throughout their journey to success. Despite this, they didn't give up, they got up and continued towards. The worst thing in life is to resign, to assume that everything is lost.

7. I am not a saint, except if you consider a saint to be a sinner who simply keeps on striving.

Many times we believe that behind all of those exceptional successes there are exceptional people, and that's not the case. They are human beings, flesh and blood people, average people (like we all are) who had very clear what they wanted, who have worked very hard to achieve it, who have shown emotional resistance during adversities, and who never lost faith. They are people who, when they started to build their dream, they decided to go "all-in" instead of jumping from one challenge to another when things turn grey. This has a name: determination.

8. Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world. Nobody is born hating other people because of their skin color, ethnicity or religion. People have to learn how to hate, and if they can learn how to hate, they can also be taught how to love.

Education is the most profitable investment that is out there. Investing in education is investing in a better society in every single aspect: fairer, kinder, more compromised... We are not fully aware of the value of education. Education makes behaviors develop in childhood and harvests them in adulthood. We are our education and although there are always possibilities to change specific behaviors, it is easier to correct those of a boy than those of an adult.

9. A lot of people in this country have paid a price before me, and others will pay a price after me.

Every social progress always comes from something previously done. The globe had been spinning for a very long time before we landed on it. We are where we are and we have arrived at this point thanks to the contributions of many other people in the past. As a consequence, first, we have to be very grateful for everything there is in our reach and second, we have to show the best of ourselves and provide the best products or services to the rest of the people to be, not only beneficiaries but also benefactors. It's a matter of social justice.

10. I like friends who have independent thoughts because they usually make you see the problems from different perspectives.

There's nothing worse than uniformity. Actually, when two people think in the same way, it is like having one single person. Promoting a certain spirit of critic and diversity is very stimulating and healthy for the people and organizations. When you are working in a management post, the worse thing is to be surrounded by "always-yes" people, something that happens very frequently. Receiving gifts from collaborators has often two main causes: fear of rejection and fear of authority. The personnel usually hold back their points of view from their boss because they are scared of what could happen if the boss doesn't like it, what if the boss retaliates against them? Generating a climate of confidence is the only way to make people feel free to express their opinions transparently.

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