Fools, Failures and Fulfillment

One of my favorite leaders was Nelson Mandela. He’s a man who overcame great odds, never let his past hold him back but never shied away from the reality of his past, and he was someone who had a great vision that many people could identify with and supported, which brought him to world fame and helped make South Africa a great nation. One of the other leaders I admire, Robin Sharma, shared this about Nelson Mandela:

“I heard Mr. Mandela only became Nelson Mandela during his years in prison. In other words, it was the solitude, degradation, devastation and inhumanity of that time in confinement that made him who he became.”

Just about every day we mess up in some ways. Sometimes it’s unintentional, sometimes we do it intentionally, and other times we know that the results probably won’t be what we want them to be but we do it anyway. I think back to my early school years and what today was, April Fool’s Day. It’s a day that makes myself, and many others, shudder with the memories. No one really likes being played for a fool.

I don’t know many people who are proud to say that the lowest-of-low moment was what got them to the success they have today. But as leaders we need to learn from those moments. We need to learn from the mistakes, from the failures, and sometimes we need to be able to laugh it off. Every moment of our leadership can’t be toe to the line. It would be awful boring awful quick, and not many people like to work with or buy from those who are boring, miserable or bland. Instead we need to remember that we’re alive, that today is another day to be thankful and celebrate. Stand strong because you have overcome the past, yes, but even more so let it be the motivation you need to lead and live life fully and passionately.

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