The world has lost a great leader.
The world will likely never again see the likes of a Rolihlahla Madiba Dalibhunga Nelson Mandela. He has contributed to the world lessons in patience, strength, forgiveness, foresight and a whole host of attributes that everyone would benefit from improving within themselves.
I've done quite a bit of research on the one they call Madiba (loosely translated means "the Reconciler") when I was undergoing my doctoral studies, and also independent of scholastic necessity. I have become captivated by this figure. As a student of leadership, I make it a point to study any and all examples of leadership. With the exception of Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela is the single best example of a servant leader. I defy you to give a better example of an individual who has exhibited more patience, perseverance, forgiveness, vision, selflessness, etc., as he did.
Twenty-seven years spent in prison doing hard time is enough to make any human being a very bitter person. Not only was he NOT bitter, but he extended a gracious hand of forgiveness to his captors, and set out to pull a torn country together across a chasm spanning generations of hate and discrimination. I've tried to imagine the thought process of a man held against his will and accused of being a terrorist for over two-thirds of his life (at that time). I've tried putting myself in that position and posed the question, "how would you lead?" Sadly, I don't measure up. I would've likely succumbed to the constant mental, physical, and emotional beat-down.
I remember when another legend, Michael Jackson passed, a close friend told me they cried. I looked at him like he had a horn growing out of his forehead. I couldn't fathom how someone could shed a tear for someone so distant ' until now. As I sat with my family watching the television specials commemorating the life and times of Nelson Mandela, I couldn't help but get a little choked up. Not from sadness of his passing, but from the sheer magnitude of what he was able to accomplish through will power and exemplary leadership.
Nelson Mandela has been a huge influence in my life and on my leadership style. I strive to develop the characteristics that he embodied. The world has lost an incredible citizen and statesman.
His legacy will never die, but we must not let it be forgotten. This evening I asked my 10 and 12 year old daughter and son if they knew who Nelson Mandela was ' neither of them had a clue. I was kind of upset and slightly embarrassed. I wish they taught more about him in school, but ultimately, the responsibility lies squarely with my wife and me to make sure they are exposed to true heroes of the world.
Madiba's influence on the world's moral compass will be greatly missed, but never forgotten ' Rest in peace, Madiba.