20 January 2014

Leadership Excellence Essentials-Tributes to Mandela

Tributes to Mandela
His leadership was something special.
By Ken Shelton
Obama Praises Mandela
. . .as a heroic model of real leadership. President Obama hails Nelson Mandela, who died Dec. 5 in South
Africa at age 95, as a hero and leader who showed uncommon courage and mercy, and set a wonderful example for the world. “When you think of a single individual who embodies the leadership qualities that we all aspire to, the first name that comes up is Nelson Mandela. His journey from prisoner to president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, acknowledging his own imperfections, only makes the man more remarkable.”
President Obama said he earnestly seeks to emulate Mandela: “I am one of the countless millions who draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life. My first political action was to protest against apart- heid. I studied his words and writings. The day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes, not by their fears. Like many people, I can’t fully imagine my own life without the example of Nelson Mandela. As long as I live, I will learn from him.”
Source: Alexis Simendinger. Email

Selected Remarks of President Barack Obama at Nelson Man- dela’s memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 10, 2013:
It is a singular honor to be here today, to celebrate a life unlike any other—the life of Nelson Mandela (Madiba). It is hard to eulogize any man—to capture in words the essential truth of a person: the private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illumi- nate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history! Born far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by elders of his Thembu tribe, Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement—a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment. Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would, like Lincoln, hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. Like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations—a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.
Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But he strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. He insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection—because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite his heavy burdens—that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood—a son and husband, father and friend. That is why we learned so much from him—and still can. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewd- ness; persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible in our own lives.
Mandela showed us the power of action—of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. Cer- tainly he shared with millions of South Africans the anger born of “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments...a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.”

But Madiba disciplined his anger; and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand-up for their dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to power- ful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and against black domination,” he said at his 1964 trial. “I’ve 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.”

Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the im- portance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and passion, but also his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough; no matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of conditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that, “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement, but a skillful politi- cian, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.

Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. The word in South Africa, Ubuntu, describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. We can never know how much of this was innate in him, or how much of was shaped and burnished in a dark, solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small—introducing his jailors as honored guests at his inauguration; taking the pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS—that revealed the depth of his empathy and understanding. He taught millions to find that truth within themselves. It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts. Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate his heroic life. But it should also prompt self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?

It is a question I ask myself. Like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took the sacrifice of countless people to see the dawn of a new day. But our work is not done. The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future. Today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.

We, too, must act on behalf of justice and peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism, when our voices must be heard.

The questions we face today—how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war—do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child in Qunu. Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows us we can change and choose to live in a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes; a world defined not by conflict, but by peace, justice and opportunity.

We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But I say to the young people of the world—you can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land. It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us. After this great liberator is laid to rest, let us search for his strength and largeness of spirit somewhere inside ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach, think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” What a great soul it was. We will miss him deeply. 

Learn and Lead
by Mandela’s 15 truths.
By Rick Stengel
My book,
Mandela’s Way, is a distillation of countless hours of
conversation between me and Nelson Mandela into what I see as 15 core truths of Mandela’s life: 1. Courage is not the absence of fear. 2. Be measured. 3. Lead from the front. 4. Look the part. 5. Lead from the back. 6. See the good in others. 7. Keep your rivals close. 8. Have a core principle. 9. Know when to say no. 10. Know your enemy. 11. It’s always both. 12. Love makes the difference. 13. It’s a long game. 14. Quitting is leading too. 15. Find your own garden. We would all be wise to live by these 15 truths.
Rick Stengel, former editor of Time, heads Public Affairs for the Obama Administration. 

On Life and Leadership
Quotes attributed to Nelson Mandela.
“A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not real- izing that all along they are being directed from behind. Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw. Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it— and inspiring others to move beyond it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. The greatest glory in living lies not in falling, but in rising every time we fall. Do not judge me by my successes—judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

“I am an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not, could not, give myself up to despair. That way leads to defeat and death.”

“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. Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. 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.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, his background, or religion. People must learn to hate; and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love—for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“I’ve walked that long road to freedom and tried not to falter, but I’ve made missteps along the way. And I’ve discovered that after climbing a great hill, one only finds many more hills to climb. I’ve taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I’ve come. But I rest only for a moment; for with freedom come responsibilities. I dare not linger, for my long walk hasn’t ended.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done. There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. 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.”

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. A good head and good heart are a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special. And, since appearances matter—remember to smile.”

“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. When I was negotiating, I learned that until I changed myself, I could not change others. Where you stand depends on where you sit. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility.”

“No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones. Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity—it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural—it is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

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