Yesterday this world said goodbye to one of the greatest leaders of our time. Nelson Mandela died at age 95, surrounded by his family, and with the peace of knowing his life’s work changed a nation. This quote of his is so true for me; “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Think about the accomplishments that you’re most proud of in your past. Didn’t those things seem totally impossible before you achieved them? I can’t even fathom having the kind of determination that this man had, to truly remain convinced that it was even possible to bring equality to a country that was SO deeply mired in apartheid and discrimination. Years and years and years spent peacefully fighting and working and striving for what he believed in. I wish I had that kind of clarity around what it is I want to create or change in this world. It’s just crazy to me to think how many things are “almost” created or invented or achieved or solved, but seemed too impossible to someone and never quite reached success. It’s definitely a quote I’m going to try to remind myself of in the future, especially in those moments of sitting on the fence before committing to something that doesn’t seem guaranteed to succeed. Maybe the things in life or in work that feel the least safe ARE the ones most worth pouring ourselves into…
So I was reading through quotes from Nelson Mandela yesterday and I also had to smile when I came across this one: “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.” Can you imagine the public response if Obama or Harper had served jail time before making it into office? On that note, I wouldn’t at all be shocked if Rob Ford saw the inside of a slammer or two. Maybe those videos just haven’t surfaced yet, or maybe for Ford he’ll do it in the opposite order and go to jail after his role in public office. Anyway, I still remember at the beginning of my 6 month backpacking trip across Africa in 2007, visiting the tiny cell on Robben Island where Mandela spent most of his 27 years in prison! It is so unthinkable what this man endured there, and that through it all he held on to a heart full of grace, love and forgiveness for his captors and enemies. The impact that his life had on the world is beyond measure and I feel privileged that I got to walk the planet at the same time as this great leader, even though I never did get to meet him or speak to him. And you know, just that fact alone is quite inspiring – to think that we have the opportunity to inspire other human beings and touch their lives, even if we never physically meet them – purely by doing something that’s just so BIG! To live a life so “full on” that it reverberates throughout the human race and throughout the ages, is so incredibly rare. But each of us still have that chance. Nelson Mandela, thank you for showing us the way. Rest in peace, good man.
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