Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela

Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela

Cutting room floor section of a speech I wrote on leadership, but some great lessons to be learned here. These can be applied to anyone in any place in life.


I’m going to draw from Nelson Mandela — one of the most inspirational leaders of a generation – to help you with that. You can learn a lot from a man who spent 27 years as a political prisoner and then became President of South Africa just four short years later. Someone somewhere figured out that he had five main leadership messages that spanned his lifetime. And I’d like to share them with you.


Number Five: He learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

No matter how you feel about the next adventure in your lives, the leadership challenges and opportunities that are on the horizon, face each one with the resolve to be the best leader you can. Fear should be a motivating factor, not a defeating one. Take fear and push through to do great things.


Number Four: No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.

Which means that people “learn” these practices over time.. Leaders must have open minds and open hearts. You must be able to look at a situation not with tarnished or biased eyes, but with a fresh vision. Shake up your thinking and leave any biases at the door. If you don’t, you might just pass-by the one person who could really turn things around for you.


Number Three: the greatest glory in living – lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

The more leadership responsibility you have, the tougher things are going to get. But no matter how hard, you need, no you must, get back up and lead. Your people are looking to you for guidance and vision. The harder things get, , the more they are looking. You will make mistakes and that’s OK. Pick yourself back up and keep going.


Number Two: Understand that resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

Character is not just about doing the right thing. It is also about focusing on the right thing.

When you spend energy focusing on what someone has done to you as opposed to what you need to get done, then your leadership fails and so does the mission. Make sure you spend your efforts on the right things, in the right way.


And the Number One truism from Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

Never, never stop learning. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to improve, you must strive to educate yourself in every area you can. You are never too old, never too powerful, and never too high in rank or position to stop learning. The minute you think you know everything, is when you stop being effective.


Where can these rules be applied in your life?



Would love to hear from you!

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