11 Leadership Qualities of Nelson Mandela

Prison Yard Robben Island (C) Skip Prichard

Copyright Skip Prichard

Visiting Robben Island

I didn’t quite know what to expect.

 

I wasn’t sure what I would feel, what I would see, or what I would learn.

Earlier this year, I was visiting Cape Town, South Africa and had the opportunity to visit Robben Island.  Robben Island has been a prison for over 400 years.

 

“One of the most difficult things is not to change society but to change yourself.” -Nelson Mandela

 

Today it is most famous as the place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison.  As a student of great leaders and an admirer of Nelson Mandela’s leadership, I knew that this visit was a must.

 

A Moving Experience

 

After a brief ferry ride, we boarded a bus to tour Robben Island.

photo-38One of the stops was at the limestone quarry where prisoners toiled in the hot sun.  The work damaged Nelson Mandela’s lungs and also his eyes.  His tear ducts were damaged, preventing him from ever crying again.

Visible in the background is a cave.  This cave was used as a bathroom and the guards almost never approached it.  Our tour guide explained that the cave became a great place of learning and exchanging information.  Some say it held the most important political meetings of the time.

We later drove to the prison where we met our prison tour guide, Ntando Mbatha.  Ntando was a prisoner for seven years at Robben Island.  His story was moving.  Hearing him explain the conditions of the prison first hand will be forever etched in my mind.

I followed him to the cell of Nelson Mandela.  It was small, roughly 7×9.  A thin mat lay in the corner.  It was stark.  There was an unmistakable feeling I cannot quite explain throughout the entire cellblock.

That day, I learned more about the many heroes who fought against apartheid.  Some beaten.  Some killed.

Seeing this all in person increased my admiration for Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela Cell

 

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” –Nelson Mandela

 

Qualities of an Extraordinary Leader

 

Nelson Mandela demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities:

13 Inspirational Quotes by Nelson Mandela

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Today the world says goodbye to Nelson Mandela.  He once said that “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”  May he rest in peace.

The man who spent 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid before becoming the President of South Africa inspired millions around the world.  Here are 13 inspiring quotes that remind us of his spirit.

 

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. –Nelson Mandela

 

It always seems impossible until it’s done. –Nelson Mandela

 

It’s not where you start but how high you aim that matters for success. –Nelson Mandela

 

Lead from the back, and let others believe they are in front. –Nelson Mandela

 

Where you stand depends on where you sit. –Nelson Mandela

 

Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world. –Nelson Mandela

 

For to be free is…to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. –Nelson Mandela

 

Tread softly; breathe peacefully; laugh hysterically. –Nelson Mandela

 

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. –Nelson Mandela

 

Quitting is leading too. –Nelson Mandela

 

Remember to smile. –Nelson Mandela

 

After climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb. –Nelson Mandela

 

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. -Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

Provoking Thoughts With Tremendous Books

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Photo by shutterhacks on flickr.

This is a guest post by Aamir Musharraf who leads the “Read to Succeed” program for Tremendous Life Books. He has worked with AOL/Time Warner and Gannett on various literacy programs.

Books have been my greatest mentors. My personal “search for meaning” initiated with Dr. Victor Frankl and culminated with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.

For more than 50 years, Charlie was on a mission to help people improve their lives through reading. His worlds of wisdom touched my life. Getting people to read quality books that have the power to change lives has become my personal passion. In his book, Life is Tremendous, Charlie wrote that there are three great decisions in life:

3 Great Decisions

  1. Who are you going to live your life with?
  2. What are you going to live your life in?
  3. And what are you going to live your life for?

 

Who are you going to live your life with?

What are you going to live your life in?

And what are you going to live your life for?

 

I was 17 when I decided to settle in America, 27 when I asked a beauty queen doctoral student in Nashville to be my wife (Thank God she agreed!), and 37 when I discovered my calling to promote literacy. I believe that illiteracy is the greatest evil that confronts mankind. It creates darkness from within, a cancer of dis-empowerment, scarcity, despair, and anger. But knowledge overcomes all.Charles Jones 4

What Moment Will Change Your Life?

A single moment can change your life.  A single decision can have a lasting impact.  A single relationship can define you in ways you would never expect.

That single moment happened in Laura Schroff’s life over 25 years ago.  She was a successful advertising executive living in Manhattan.  Her life was full and her schedule even more so.

Crossing 56th street one day, she heard a panhandler’s voice.  “Excuse me, lady, I’m really hungry.  Do you have any spare change?”  She dismissed the request, moving quickly through the intersection.

Somewhere in the middle of the intersection is where that moment happened for Laura.  That decision.  Where the relationship started.  Laura stopped, turned around and went back to meet the panhandler.  His name was Maurice, and he was only 11 years old.  She said she didn’t want to give him money, but she would buy him some food at McDonald’s.

For many, that would be it.  A single act of goodwill.  Not for Laura and Maurice.  The one meal became a weekly dinner for years.  Their relationship has continued to grow over the past twenty-five years.

Don’t Let Others Determine Your Value

Coins Spilling from a Jar

Image courtesy of istockphoto/bluestocking

On my desk at home, I have a jar of coins.  In it is mostly pennies and nickels.  Today as I was throwing some extra change into the jar, I found an old buffalo nickel.  I didn’t expect to find it just sitting on top.

And that got me thinking.  Inside this jar there are likely other coins more valuable than I think.  Inside companies are employees more valuable than the company leaders think.  And inside of you is more potential than you could possibly think.