I was saddened to hear that the great man Nelson Mandela passed today.  But I was also grateful to him and could not think of a person more deserving of a rest in peace for the life he gave to the Struggle in South Africa and across the globe to end inequality and create a world where people lived in harmony.  


"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this Struggle of the African people.  I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal for which I hoped to live for and achieve, but if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." 

(Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, 1964)

On Friday, June 12, 1964, Nelson Mandela entered the Palace of Justice to be sentenced for high treason; a charge that would normally attract a death sentence.  This was the culmination of over two decades of fighting 'The Struggle' for freedom against apartheid in South Africa.  After having been found guilty, Mandella and his colleagues of the African National Congress (ANC) determined that come the morning when they were to be sentenced, 

"that what ever sentences they received, even the death sentence, we would under no circumstances appeal...in light of the bold and defiant line we have taken all along an appeal would seem anti-climatic and even dis-illusionary. Our message was that no sacrifice was too great in the struggle for freedom.  I was prepared for the death penalty.  To be truly prepared for something one must actually  expect it. One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it would not happen. We were all prepared for such a sentence.  Not because we were brave, but because we were realistic.  I thought of the line from Shakespeare " be absolute for death, for either death or life will be sweeter."  


When sentenced for life, instead of death, he smiled and saluted the crowd.     


In all the years of The Struggle, Mandela never doubted his ability to make a difference, and spent his entire life fighting for the belief in equal rights for black people.  


Having conviction that you make the difference, that what you think, what you know and who you are matters is a key element of self-empowerment and critical to contributing to powerful collaborations.  You are not a passenger being buoyed by the brilliance of others; you add to the collective brilliance and without you the whole would be somehow diminished.  That is the impression high conviction gives.  You ooze confidence which, in turn, raises the confidence others have in you. 


And conviction gives you the courage to do what it takes to make the difference you were put on this earth to make.  Make 2014 the year you made the biggest difference of your life.   If you want to know the 8 steps to strengthening your conviction, click here.

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11 January 2013
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