A Never Ending Legacy – Nelson Mandela

His courage, his compassion and his humanity are among the qualities than have led to this Nobel laureate being recognized as the world’s greatest living statesman. Mandela was a fighter all his life who relinquished neither his principles nor his humanity.
Mandela’s remarkable story holds valuable lessons for other leaders involved in deep struggles, foremost among which are the importance of holding firm to a morally just vision and the ability to influence a sequence of key strategic decisions over time in order to bring about truly remarkable results.
It was behind bars that he learnt his most valuable lessons in leadership. Mandela never lost hope and liked to dream big. He wrote, “I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man.” In 1986, he took the greatest political risk of his life by opening a line of communication with the apartheid government.
He learnt, through studying his jailers closely, that black and white people had far more in common, at bottom, than they had points of difference; he learnt that forgiveness and generosity and, above all, respect were weapons of political persuasion as powerful as any gun.
He deployed these lessons to devastating political effect through countless small gestures in the same spirit of the big one he made on the national anthem, and, equally important, in the critical encounters he held, one on one, with figures from the white establishment whose influence on South Africa’s political destiny was almost as great as his own.
He acted wholeheartedly on this understanding, investing every last drop of his boundless charm, his political cunning, and his farsightedness in achieving his life’s goal by following the only strategy he knew could realistically work.
The imperishable lesson he holds for the ages, is that he showed it is possible to be a great human being and a great politician at the same time; that showing respect to friends and enemies alike can get you a long, long way; and that nothing beats the combination. The key to Mandela’s leadership was to encourage racial harmony, forgiveness without forgetting, power sharing and a strong focus on the future, not the past.
Rather than opening old wounds which only divides and polarizes a society he tried to heal those wounds by bringing the two camps – former haves and have-nots, oppressor and oppressed, rulers and ruled – together so that they could forgive and reconcile. Mandela is a man who spanned many decades, cultures and realities in his search for freedom and justice. He sacrificed deeply and nobly, and in the process became a world icon for human rights. In political terms, he was truly a transformational leader. In the end, even his foes admire as well as respect him — and justly so. He is one of the most remarkable men of the last 100 years.

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