On July 18th 2017, we celebrated a man from the Transkei hills of South Africa – a man of sacrifice who forgave unexpectedly. A man, who was supposed to be a counselor to the son of the then Thembu king but somehow became South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero (South Africa’s papa as I would love to call him). Nelson Mandela, my personal hero and a very complex man, was a village boy, a king’s adopted son, a British educated lawyer, ANC’s transformational leader, a husband to 3 and father to many, a prisoner and South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

The 28 years Mandela spent in the prison steeled him. The tiny cell on Robben Island where he could barely stretch if he laid on a bed, where he learnt of the death of his first son, where he was assaulted and beaten with no communication with the outside world and where he spent 18 years of his life and his family’s, disciplined him and taught him wisdom. He became less of the quick to temper and sensitive man he had been in early times; He became the old wise Madiba.

Here is a lesson among other remarkable lessons that I have learnt from studying in Richard Stengel’s book about this extraordinary man of service who lived for nearly a century:

  1. Courage is pretending to be brave

How would you react if your pilot announced during a flight that the plane’s engine just blew off? 😨😂Yeah…here’s the gist:
About the time of the 1994 South Africa’s presidential elections, Mandela boarded a small plane to meet his Zulu supporters. Twenty minutes to landing, an engine gave way, but thankfully the plane landed with no casualties. Earlier on during the flight though, Mandela had noticed the propeller was not working properly and told Mike to inform the pilots. The pilots were fully aware and had called for emergency landing procedures. Mike reported back to Mandela, who nodded and went back to reading his newspaper. As Richard would report in his book, the only thing that calmed Mike who was already trembling with fear was looking at Mandela who continued reading his newspaper and barely looked up even when the plane was making its landing. Interestingly, when Mandela was asked later how he felt during the flight, he said, “Man, I was terrified up there.”
<Oh really…😏>


Of course! You see, Mandela was afraid on many occasions; in fact, he would say that only a fool would not be afraid. Who wouldn’t be afraid when he had to go underground because he was the ‘black pimpernel’, or during a trial that may end your life or throw you into prison for how long? or when as a black man, your car grazes a white boy on a bicycle in the 1950s *runs away*  🏃 but… in Mandela’s words when he had to face his captain courageously in the prison:

“I was frightened. It was not because I was courageous, but one had to put up the front.”

I have learnt from Mandela that it is through facing your fears that you are courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear, fearlessness is stupidity but overcoming your fear is Courage. Pretend that you are brave and face your fears.


Why have I brought out this lesson?

Because as a leader and as a man of service (man here referring to both male and female), you would come face to face with fears. But, never give in to your fears! Face your fears, go with God and win!

🌸That’s that for our #MondayMotivation. Share a time you had to face your fears in the comment box below. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Posted by:Tosin

Just a huge fan of sustainability.

2 replies on “A Remarkable Lesson from an Extraordinary Man of Service

  1. The first time I had to speak to a group of people in my school choir…I was super nervous but learnt to ignore my nervous symptoms like my shaky hands and shaky voice, and just get on with my message. Even in the subsequent talks, I felt nervous but got much better at ignoring the feeling 🙂

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