10 Life lessons to learn from Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, born on 18th July 1918 in Transkei, South Africa was the fourth born among the 13 siblings by the same father but different mother. His father passed away when he was 9 years old. He was expelled from university for leading students on a political strike and ended up working as a watchman.

During his lifetime, he dedicated himself to the struggle of the African people. All he wanted was a free society in which all people live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

Mandela was a heroic icon throughout South Africa and the rest of the world, rightfully so for his battles, accomplishments & exceptionally high moral standard throughout his lifetime.

Here is a list of 10 simple lessons I’ve put together for you to learn from this great man.

1. You have to pass through the valley to reach the mountain top

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” – Nelson Mandela

For Nelson Mandela to achieve his goal, he had to pass through difficult times by even being imprisoned for 27 years. No matter what you want to achieve in life, always remember there will be times when your circumstances will look tough; a road block, an opposition, a criticism, a calamity. The higher you want to climb, the tougher challenges you need to face. Don’t ever think it’s an easy ride.

2. Never settle down with your Achievements

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” – Nelson Mandela

The person who settles down in life never achieves greatness. Remember when you achieve your desired goal look for another one. That is what keeps life going and you will enjoy every bit of it.

3. Fear is inevitable, Learn to conquer it

“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

Fear is inevitable, you have to accept that, but never ever allow it to paralyze you. When I was growing up I was fearful of everything around me especially people, facing an audience, speaking to a crowd or counselling a person in need but I overcame all of it not because I was exceptionally good but I learned to face it by never backing off from the opportunities given to me. Face your fears and don’t run away from it.

4. Celebrate victory from back & face the danger from front

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” – Nelson Mandela

President Abdul Kalam narrates a story about his superior who took the blame on himself at a press conference when a Rocket Launch failed, and later put his team in the front when they achieved a successful Rocket Launch the next year. I love that story because it showcases the characteristics of a true leader. Don’t become proud of your own achievements but learn to give credit to the people who helped you in the process.

5. Use your Time wisely

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Nelson Mandela

Time will never stop for you to finish what you are doing. Time is limited. Use it wisely.

6. At times you will feel like a failure

“Sometimes, I feel like one who is on the sidelines, who has missed life itself.” – Nelson Mandela

Yes, you will feel like a failure at times when things don’t happen the way you expect it to happen; when friends leave you, when sickness creeps in, when you run out of cash. It’s a normal thing son. Don’t lose heart, keep going.

7. Extraordinary circumstances make you an extraordinary leader

“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.” – Nelson Mandela

I often meet people who like talking about the unique problems they go through in life; a broken family situation, a drunkard father, a troubled childhood. Every circumstances we go through in life is an indication to where you must go to fulfill the purposes in your life. Learn to embrace it with joy.

8. Forgiveness doesn’t mean Defeat

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.” – Nelson Mandela

Don’t think forgiving people means accepting defeat, you forgive because you pursue peace. Imagine God holding us for all the sinful things we do against him, doesn’t he forgive us when we repent? Forgiving others is a Godly act. Release yourself from every bondage of unforgiveness.

9. Bring Happiness to others

“There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a program that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources, those who are poor, illiterate, and ridden with terminal disease” – Nelson Mandela

There is nothing more fulfilling in life than to bring happiness to others. I have experienced that amazing joy that fills my heart when I bring a smile to someone in trouble, its real. Try it & you would want to do it over and over again.

10. Don’t try to be a Super hero

“I can’t pretend that I’m brave and that I can beat the whole world.” – Nelson Mandela

Accept that you can never be brave enough to save the whole world by yourself, you have limitations. Learn to share the task with others & pass the baton to your next generation and most importantly be a role model for them.


Credits: Nelson Mandela sketch by timmcfarlin (deviantART)

1 Comment

  • Tanvee

    Loved these lessons of life… Things that are so true, probably we are aware of them as well but it is conscious effort that can help implement… 🙂


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