Spring is Time to Jumpstart Growth & Innovation with Your Leadership Team


by Mark C. Thompson


Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth – and the perfect time to renew your commitment to achieving long term goals or even to reinvent your business. No matter what your circumstances, you can always commit to taking positive steps in a new direction. Mandela taught it best in 5 lessons he shared with me in a conversation at the World Economic Forum about the strategies and attitude that it takes to achieve “impossible” goals…

1. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.

In the years before Mandela, an activist lawyer, had been sent to a death camp, he was zealously over-confident about his mission to end apartheid. Although Mandela initially advocated a peaceful solution, he eventually took up arms when the path of peace appeared to be a dead end. In 1964, he was convicted of conspiracy and sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. They sent him to a lifetime of hard labor to break his spirit.

After 27 years in captivity, Mandela had every reason to have become the worst man on his continent, but instead he accelerated the peaceful reinvention of his nation. The fact that he didn’t start out as a saint, with neither perfect grace, nor humility, before his long walk to freedom, makes his journey even more useful and inspiring to the rest of us. That’s the Mandela Effect.

As Richard put it, “When you can create enduring impact not because you are perfect or lucky, but because you have the courage to build a different future rather than dwell in the past”. The secret to lasting success – of whatever kind – is to create a life that matters for yourself and those you serve.

2. Being persistent does not mean being inflexible.

“Do not judge me by my successes”, Mandela admonished. “Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” It was always about finding a new route down a winding road, he said.

It’s horrifying to imagine the decades he suffered in a cramped cell every night. From dawn to dusk, he dragged stones in the blinding heat. You can’t steel yourself for year after year dreaming that hopeless circumstances will change, he said. You have to change the way you deal with the circumstances. Being flexible in finding a new door every time the last one slams shut is the difference between those who find their way and those who remain lost, he said…

Read the rest of Mandela’s 5 lessons on Mark’s blog post on Virgin.com