Many editorials, blogs and articles have been written over the last days. Hundreds have given their commentaries on radio and television. World leaders traveled to South Africa to pay their respects. The world lost a man who left an implausible legacy a few days ago. I won’t even try to compete with my words to adequately honor this incredible leader.

Nelson_Mandela-2008However, I read a few words of reflection the other day (and I apologize that I cannot remember who to give credit to). These few lines captured what we can learn from Nelson Mandela about changing the world. I wrote the words down (except for the author’s name). Here they are:

You Can. – Many times the first words that come to our minds and mouths when faced with seemingly impossible challenges are “I can’t,” “It won’t work,” “It’s too hard,” or “I don’t have the resources needed.” Nelson Mandela proved that one individual can do more than ever imagined.

You Can Make a Difference. – So many people I know don’t think they can actually leave a mark on the world. They wonder if any one will even remember their name, let alone their impact. The whole world knows Nelson Mandela’s name and impact.

You Can Stand Up to Insurmountable Forces. – President Mandela showed the world that a legacy of discrimination could be dismantled with persistent intentionality. South Africa’s first back chief executive risked everything to focus on racial reconciliation as he tackled poverty, inequality and institutionalized racism. And, the walls of apartheid collapsed.

You Can Put Up With Far More Than You Think You Can. – It seems nearly impossible to think of spending 27 years in jail for leading a revolutionary movement against wide-spread injustice. But Mandela endured the challenge and it made him better instead of bitter. He relied on the sufficiency of God’s grace and a clear vision of changing the world to get through nearly three decades of imprisonment.

Your Lever is Far Longer Than You Imagine It Is, If You Choose To Use It. – Nelson Mandel found ways to leverage his influence far beyond any other black man in South Africa. In fact, he leveraged his influence way beyond most other world-class leaders of the last couple centuries. He built relationships with other leaders of influence. He negotiated with those who could bring change. His life-long impact was leveraged to the max!

If You Don’t Require the Journey to be Easy or Comfortable or Safe, You Can Change the World. – This is the one we would most like to avoid. We want to accomplish great things and change the world with little cost to us. Nelson Mandela laid it all on the line. He had a vision of a united South Africa. Comfort, safety or ease weren’t a part of his vocabulary. You and I can change the world if we are willing to sacrifice.

There are world-changers who are reading this blog who need to be reminded: You can. You can make a difference. You can stand up to insurmountable forces. You can put up with more than you think you can. Your lever is far longer than you imagine it is, if you choose to use it. And, if you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world. I can. You can. We really can.


QUESTION: Which one of the above is the biggest challenge for you? Please share it in the comment section below. Thanks!


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