Sunday 28 May 2017

The Invictus Soul...Unconquerable, Undefeated (Part Two)

Nelson Rolihlahla (Madiba) Mandela
He needs no introduction. Loved and highly revered, he is one of the most admired political leaders of the Twentieth and Twenty-First century, more for his spirit of forgiveness and forging ahead with a positive vision. He was born in Traskei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918, a son of a local tribal leader of the Thembu tribe, in the South African village of Mvezo.

He joined the ANC in 1943, to actively participate in the struggle against apartheid (apartness - a racial segregation policy of the ruling National Party). He was charged with Treason in 1963 and commuted to life imprisonment from 1964 – 1990. Madiba (as his people love to call him) was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President on May 10th, 1994.

He negotiated the end of apartheid in South Africa, bringing peace to a racially divided country and leading the fight for human rights around the world. He died at the ripe age of ninety-five (95) years on December 5, 2013.
"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." – Nelson Mandela
So, what made him stand out and tall? What is it about him that has engraved his name on the stone of time? What qualifies him as a champion/model of "The Invictus Soul?"

1. Mandela caught a Vision of Something Bigger than Himself:

Mandela graduated from the University in 1942, as one of the few western-educated blacks in his country. He was the first to go to school in his family. Mandela could have been satisfied with that. He had a flourishing career as an attorney. He could have made a name for himself and be happy. However, the cry of liberation was more significant than all that.
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." ― Nelson Mandela
The bigness on his inside could not be held back by the smallness apartheid was forcing on him. There was more to life. There was more to his life than living just for himself. There was more than merely living. There was more than only being small and unnoticed. His eyes caught hold of the bigger picture, and he was irresistibly drawn to it.
"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ― Nelson Mandela
So, do you have a vision? Do you have a dream? Do you have a "WHY" driving you each and every day? Is it big enough to cause an insatiable hunger in you? Is it big enough to make you uncomfortable? Is it big enough to cause you to stretch? Is it big enough to give life to the bigness on the inside of you? Is it big enough to make the king in you roar? Does it scare you? What are you doing about it?
"If your vision doesn’t scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small." ― Andrew van der Bijl)

2. Mandela was not willing to settle for less:

He was fully committed to the course, not one with one leg in and one leg out. He was not a maybe person. He had a vision of the future, and he was going to settle for nothing less. He had various opportunities to pull out or work remotely, but he was entirely sold out.

On 11 January 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa. He traveled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962.

He did not have to come back. He could have worked remotely. He had his skin in the game. That differentiated him out. On his sentencing, these were his words from the dock on April 20th, 1964,
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Throughout his 27 years imprisonment, he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release. He was unwilling to settle for less. He had his eyes on unflinchingly on the price. That is what marked him out.

Can this be said of you? Are you settling? Are you paying for less than you are capable of? Are you doing your best? Are you giving it your all? If not, why not? What is stopping you? Why are you giving it power over you? Isn't your life worth something? Isn't your joy worth something? Isn't your happiness worth something? Isn't your legacy worth something? When are you going to shake it off? Why not today?
“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.” ― Nelson Mandela

3. Mandela did not lose his person in the struggle:

Mandela showed us an example of the truth, "we are always responsible." He went through the struggle, but he did not allow the battle to go through him. He went through hell but did not stay there, nor let it remain in him. He did not lose sight nor hold off who he was because of the wickedness and oppression. He held his own. He held his ground. He refused to give his locus of control to something outside of himself. 
“I learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonoring them.” ― Nelson Mandela
It is not enough to fight in life. Much more important is to always fight fairly. It is not merely about winning. It is much more important how you win. It is necessary to win the right way and principles. That is what sustainable growth is made of. That is how you leave a lasting legacy. Life is not meant to break us. Instead, it is to make us winners, not losers, nor victims. We are "Invictus." We win. That is our style. That is our destiny.
“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

4. Mandela never gave up trying:

The intent of his captors was to break his spirit through the horrors of imprisonment on Robben Island. It was during this time that he penned the manuscript to his book, "Long Walk to Freedom." He did not bemoan the things he could not do. Instead, he focused on the things he could do while in prison. He read, wrote, and found inspiration where he could. He never gave up on hope, in twenty-seven years of imprisonment. That can only come from one with a strong spirit.
"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." ― Nelson Mandela
We each have the same capability, if only we activate it. Irrespective of where we find ourselves, we always have a choice. There is still something we can do. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." (Viktor E. Frankl) We don't have to always have the right answer. We don't even have to know what to do. We don't have to get it right. It is our responsibility to ALWAYS try and NEVER give up trying, irrespective of how many times we might fail. We keep the things that work and get rid of the things that don't.
“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” ― Nelson Mandela

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