Because he was such an inspirational leader, there are many profound quotes from Nelson Mandela that can teach you about life and becoming the best possible version of yourself. Mandela recently passed away on December 5, 2013, but before his passing he left an indelible mark on history. Nelson Mandela became involved with the African National Congress (ANC), a multiracial organization that wanted to bring political change in South Africa, in the 1940s, and became an increasingly active member holding leadership roles. When the National Party came to power in 1948 and implemented apartheid, forced segregation, the ANC staged passive resistance movements. However, when demonstrators were killed in 1960 Mandela helped create a military wing of the ANC, which eventually got him sentenced to life imprisonment in 1963. He was released in 1990 due to national and international pressure and went on the win a Nobel Peace Prize and become South Africa’s first black president. The struggles and triumphs, as well as the quotes from Nelson Mandela are an inspiration to anyone.
1. Keep Trying No Matter What
Nelson Mandela famously said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” For a man who was so successful, this quote makes a huge statement. People do not always succeed on the first try, but that isn’t what matters in life. What matters is that you keep trying. I love that Mandela didn’t use the word failure in this quote, because you never fail so long as you get back up. Because it speaks to the fact that no one can succeed all the time, this is probably one of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela.
2. Let Go of Your Grudges
There is a lot of truth in Mandela’s words, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Sometimes it is very easy to hold a grudge; however, it harms no one but you. Allowing ill feelings to fester creates stress, which is both emotionally and physically draining. If Mandela could spend a good part of his life in prison and let go of the resentment, I think we can all let go of the grudges we hold. It creates more space for kindness.
3. Everyone Can Be Brave
Men and women like Nelson Mandela are extremely brave individuals, and at times it can be hard to comprehend how they can be so brave. Yet, Mandela asserted, “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.” There are many versions of this quote, and they all instill the same lesson. Everyone is afraid at one time or another, but no one has to let fear rule their life. Taking risks and doing things you are afraid of is how you grow.
4. Education is Vital
I have always believed that education is extremely important, and because of this I am drawn to Mandela’s quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” There is such truth to this statement. Education can help people rise out of poverty, become more understanding of others, and provide opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. Certainly, education is not a magic wand that can fix everything, but it is a tool that it vital for change.
5. Nothing is Unattainable
At times everyone feels like it is impossible to achieve something. However, Nelson Mandela declared, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Sometimes it seems like a big project will never get finished or a goal will never be reached. Yet, this quote is reassuring. With patience and fortitude that project will get finished and that goal will be reached.
6. An Independent Mind is a Wonderful Thing
I have great appreciation for Mandela’s quote, “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.” I have often found it difficult to speak my mind when my opinions are different from everyone else’s. However, this quote taught me that my different opinions are valuable, and so are yours. Thinking independently is a wonderful thing, and what is even more wonderful is when those thoughts are shared. How can we learn from one another if we don’t express our opinions?
7. Success is Possible
Nelson Mandela may not have wanted to be judged by his successes, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t believe in success. Indeed, he asserted, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Mandela had many successes in his life, which he achieved through his passion. He was passionate about making changes in the South African government, and he had the ultimate success of becoming his country’s president. Not everyone can have such grand successes, but we can all succeed in making our lives better.
Nelson Mandela was a great man who will forever be a role model. His quotes are just as inspiring as his actions were. It is hard not to read his words and feel empowered. What lessons have you learned from Nelson Mandela’s life?