On December 5, 2013, the world lost a great man – a man of inner strength, wisdom, honorable principles, and a commitment to better the lives of all people. Nelson Mandela may no longer be with us, but his legacy lives on.

The passing of South Africa’s iconic symbol of freedom and determination is a good time to reflect on what this activist and advocate for peaceful change can teach us.

Mandela was an inspiration to millions of people around the globe. In what ways can the life of this great man inspire you as a business owner or executive?

1. Stay committed. Mandela spent decades in prison for his anti-apartheid activism during the 1960s. Yet, despite years of separation from family and friends, he remained committed to the struggle to create a free, equal South Africa.

Upon his release from prison, Mandela remained a powerful, inspirational figure, both in South Africa and around the world, becoming the country’s first black president.

As you move forward in the development of your business, stay committed to your values and objectives, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable hurdles.

If a single person can rebuild a country, a single person can build a business based on a commitment to excellence.

2. Act. If your business isn’t growing according to your expectations, if the same problems occur over and over, take action to fix what’s wrong.

Nelson Mandela saw what was wrong in his own country, and took action to fix a broken culture. These actions forced Mandela to make great personal sacrifices, but ultimately his actions changed an entire country.

Accepting what you know is wrong won’t move your business forward, or your professional life. Take action when you perceive something needs to be fixed.  And stay committed to fixing what’s wrong to turn a business around and grow it to profitability.

3. Remain confident. Mandela was not only committed to peaceful change, he remained confident that his course was the right one.

The great, rich country of South Africa could have broken out into a terrible civil war, but Mandela’s confidence in non-violent change kept the peace during a time of great transition.

When things seem difficult, when problems don’t appear to have solutions, remain confident in your abilities to affect change within yourself, within your staff, and within your business. Take inspiration from a great man who remained strong in his resolve even in the face of great adversity.

4. Give it your all. Mandela never gave up – from his early days as an advocate for peaceful change, through his imprisonment, and into his presidency.

Mandela gave it his all throughout his life, never losing sight of his principles or his values.

Mandela was determined to change South Africa – to eliminate apartheid – peacefully, and he spent his entire life making powerful statements that changed the way people think. Mandela never gave less than everything he had – a true sign of an exceptional human being.

5. Respect all people. Mandela did. His jailers were given seats of honor at Mandela’s swearing in as South Africa’s president – an act that sent a powerful message to all.

Respect your employees. Respect your customers. Treat vendors and suppliers with respect and courtesy. All the people who make your business grow are worthy of your respect. They’ll appreciate it, and treat you and your business with respect, in return.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.