The passing of Nelson Mandela last week blew up the airwaves with commentary on this great man: his life, his accomplishments and his ideals. Most people agree that he changed the world, and for the better.
Thinking back on what I know of him and what I have heard throughout my lifetime, I don’t recall anyone ever saying a bad word about him. He had his detractors—people will always have something negative to say of those who are famous. But overall opinion of him was incredibly positive. He was admired, respected, loved. Of course, not everyone can be a Nelson Mandela.
What does this mean for the rest of us? I think there are a lot of great takeaways from a life like that of Nelson Mandela.
Importance of integrity and conviction
He held closely and firmly to his beliefs and lived his life in congruity with his dreams. Mandela was known for his sincerity and continuously demonstrated his ideals throughout his lifetime, when it was easy to do so, and when it was challenging.
Strength of connection
People loved him because he loved them. Mandela had a belief in the inherent goodness of people, and saw himself like any other. He was willing to mingle with the people when his security team advised him against it, because he truly understood the importance and power of connection. He listened and truly heard.
Power of forgiveness
He endured what few do, and later arose triumphant. The injustices he endured made him a martyr, and the dignity and grace with which he forgave his captors while he steadfastly pursued his goals made him a hero.
Value of passion
No one could question the zeal with which Mandela pursued his beliefs. Politician. Humanitarian. He fervently pursued his beliefs regardless of his personal risk. And look what he gained: achievement of his goal in ending apartheid in South Africa, and the love and admiration of the world.
The world lost a great man. We can live his legacy by pursuing our own passions to make the world a better place. The outcomes we achieve in our lifetime may be tiny in comparison, but if we help one person, if we improve the life of one being, then we have made a difference.
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela