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Nelson Mandela—A Man of IMPACT!

Nelson Mandela—A Man of IMPACT!
By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

The world lost a great leader last week. A man who changed his country. A man who changed the world. Nelson Mandela was a man of significant IMPACT. He was a prisoner. He was a president. He was a GIANT. A freedom fighter. An elder statesman. A moral compass. A symbol of hope.

I found this on, from South African President Jacob Zuma, and I wanted to share it with you: “What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”

That’s it. It’s the key to leadership. To motivation and inspiration. We want our leaders to represent the best in ourselves—as individuals and as a community. Nelson Mandela did this for the people of South Africa and for the world.

Mandela was the first black South African ever to be president, and was elected in a democratic election that included full representation of all people of South Africa—black and white. He dedicated his life to the promise of equality, remaining in prison for 27 years, even when given the chance to walk free, because freedom for one meant nothing without freedom for all.

As I read and reflected on Mandela’s life, I came across 17 quotes that I believe truly sum up his life of IMPACT.

1.    It’s always seems impossible until it’s done.
2.    There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
3.    Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.
4.    Lead from the back—and let others believe they are in the front.
5.    I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.
6.    Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.
7.    A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world a better place we so passionately dream of.
8.    Everyone can rise above circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
9.    Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
10.    I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
11.    When the water starts to boil, it’s foolish to turn off the heat.
12.    Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
13.    A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
14.    If I had my time over, I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.
15.    Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.
16.    When people are determined, they can overcome anything.
17.    I have retired, but if there’s anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do.

Mandela once said he wanted to be remembered, “not as anyone unique or special, but as part of a great team…”

The story told in the movie Invictus is a beautiful story from Mandela’s presidency. Only one year after becoming president, still struggling mightily with the legacy of apartheid, Mandela befriended François Pienaar, the captain of the Springboks, South Africa’s rugby union team. Together, they inspired a team and a nation to win a world championship. When Mandela walked on the field at the end of the game wearing a Pienaar jersey, he showed the world what was possible when people, once enemies, unite as partners in a struggle for something better.

And that is IMPACT!

Peace and love,


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