By Cristina Gair
“A good heart and a good head are always a formidable combination.” –Nelson Mandela — In Remembrance, 1918-2013
Students of leadership should immerse themselves in the study of leaders who embody the values and actions they want to see in the world. In college, I started studying Nelson Mandela as an inspiring leader and teacher, and I have been enamored ever since. Mandela was about love, justice, equality, education, and care for others, your community, and the global community. My heart hurts as my head remembers his lessons for leadership and life.
Mandela understood the importance of the integration of heart and head. This alignment of heart and head gave him the insight to lead his country despite 10, 000 days spent in prison. In his words: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”.
As I struggle at times to forgive, I have to remember his example. Mandela was the first to tell you that he failed and made mistakes during his life, but what stood out was his response. “The greatest glory in living lies, not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” In addition, Mandela understood that our successes may actually count less than the conviction to keep trying. “Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.
These are words to live by, since what truly matters as a leader is that you stand up for what is right and keep going despite the fear and the cost. “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”.
Each day offers an opportunity to contribute to the world. Take the time to reflect to determine if your heart and head are in alignment. Then do everything you can to align your heart and head so that you can lead from this place of strength. That difference you want to make happen in the world starts today with one action. Make a difference for others, for your organization, for your community, and for your world.
“There is no passion to be found playing small—In settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela
by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Cristina Gair is a student of leadership, an entrepreneur, and a nonprofit executive.