Advertising
Advertising

10 Life Lessons from Nelson Mandela

10 Life Lessons from Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has left us a legacy of forgiveness, reconciliation and his pledge for freedom for everybody, no matter their race or color. He will always be an inspiration to the world. In the long and cruel battle to achieve this, he has taught us some invaluable life lessons.

1.Never abandon hope or give up

“The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.” – Nelson Mandela

Mandela (also known as Madiba) had very clear objectives in that he was committed to ending apartheid and a terribly unjust society. He knew that the road would be paved with enormous difficulties. But he never gave up.

Defining your goal and your objectives are essential to winning the race. Facing setbacks and failure is the most difficult part, but never give up.

2. Learn the art of compromise

“You mustn’t compromise your principles, but you mustn’t humiliate the opposition. No one is more dangerous than one who is humiliated.” – Nelson Mandela

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela

Advertising

Whether in politics or in relationships, compromising and negotiating are essential tools. Learn how to give and take. Mandela gave superb advice when he stated that both sides have to gain. It should ideally be a win-win situation.

3. Violence is not the answer

“We can’t win a war, but we can win an election.” – Nelson Mandela

Mandela was sentenced to prison for life (and served 27 years) because he and the ANC party had adopted a Marxist strategy of sabotage and violence in the fight for justice. After his release, he did not altogether renounce this policy. It was kept in reserve.

Reconciliation and negotiation were far more effective and powerful weapons and that should never be forgotten. Madiba had the intelligence not to let the past of bitterness and resentment restrict him. Four years of tough negotiations with President de Klerk were rewarded with success and the joint Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

4. Don’t be put off by difficulties

It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela

That quote by Madiba reflects that although lives are marked by illness, tragedy, misfortune and pain, people should never get discouraged. Those negative experiences can teach more than anything else. And they can teach that you have to remain faithful to your values and ethics. Mandela wanted freedom from apartheid, and while he changed strategy, he never changed that one principle.

Advertising

Nelson Mandela

    5. Learn how to forgive

    “If there are dreams of a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to that goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.” – Nelson Mandela

    Why do you think that Nelson Mandela decided to learn Afrikaans, the language of his oppressors, while in prison? That was the first move in forgiveness.

    When you have been hurt, it is only right to feel self-pity. That feeling may be followed by anger and rage and you should let it all out in a safe, private way. If you never learn to forgive, you will always feel bad. Even if the person who hurt you is dead, negative emotions ruin your life. Time to draw a line under it, and once you forgive, you immediately start to feel better.

    6. How kind are you?

    “I believe that in the end that it is kindness and accommodation that are all the catalysts for real change.” – Nelson Mandela

    Try a little kindness today.

    Advertising

    7. Bond by sharing experience

     “I dream of Africa which is at peace with itself.” – Nelson Mandela

    In South Africa, rugby was the sport of the white elite and many black and colored people cheered the opposing team as a way of protesting. Picture the scene at the 1995 Rugby World Cup when Mandela wore the rugby jersey of the Springboks, the South African team, who went on to win. That one gesture in participating at a great sporting event was a powerful way of bonding a nation.

    On a personal level, try hugging (if appropriate!), eating together, taking part in a sport, or hundreds of other ways to strengthen bonding. These shared experiences will help understanding, commonality and reinforce relationships.

    8. Fight discrimination

    “I detest racialism because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.” – Nelson Mandela

    Madiba was single minded in his approach to the enormous task ahead. Today, society is confronted with many other forms of intolerance that lead to discrimination and oppression.

    In addition to racism, you can add sexism, ageism, fat phobia, ableism, homophobia and classism as barriers to unity and equal human rights for all.

    Advertising

    Where do you stand on these issues? Have you taught your kids that this discrimination is hurtful and unfair?

    9. Draw a line under your past

    “We don’t have to be victims of our past, that we can let go of our bitterness, and that all of us can achieve greatness.” – Nelson Mandela

    Mandela had every reason to become bitter and twisted and to continue with aggression and confrontation. He was intelligent enough to realize that closure was essential and the new path towards peace and reconciliation was the only way.

    How many times have you told that story about your difficult childhood, marriage or boss? Looking for pity is no way to win friends. Time for healing and closure.

    10. An unconquerable spirit

    At the Rivonia trial, there was a risk that Mandela might be sentenced to death. He was so determined that he persuaded his comrades that they would not appeal. He urged them to have dignity and pride, and to be steadfast.

    Mandela’s approach to life when he finally retired was, “Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.”

     You might also like: One Life Lesson From Nelson Mandela

    Featured photo credit: Ted Eytan Creative Commons via Flickr via Flickr

    More by this author

    Robert Locke

    Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

    Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart 10 Reasons Why People Are Unmotivated (And How to Be Motivated) 12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It 10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    Trending in Communication

    1 10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life 2 9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day 3 5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 4 How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts 5 How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

    Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

    1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

    Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

    There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

    Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

    2. Pace Yourself

    Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

    Advertising

    Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

    Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

    3. You Can’t Please Everyone

    “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

    You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

    Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

    4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

    Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

    Advertising

    We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

    Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

    5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

    No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

    We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

    6. It’s Not All About You

    You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

    Advertising

    It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

    7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

    No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

    We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

    Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

    8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

    That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

    Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

    Advertising

    Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

    9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

    Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

    The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

    10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

    When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

    Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

    This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

    More Inspiring Lessons

    Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

    Read Next