Nelson Mandela Passes Away at 95: What We Learned from the Iconic Leader

An icon, not just to Africa but to the world, has died.  On Thursday December 5th, the one and only Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. His life, his work, and his words have inspired generations with his message of strength, dignity, leadership, survival and courage. Not only are his family, his friends and his country in mourning, but people from all over the world have been saddened by the news of his death.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation wrote in a statement: “We want to express our sadness at this time. No words can adequately describe this enormous loss to our nation and to the world. We give thanks for his life, his leadership, his devotion to humanity and humanitarian causes. We salute our friend, colleague and comrade and thank him for his sacrifices for our freedom. ”

President Barack Obama stated in a news conference on Thursday: “I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life … and like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set.”

Bill Clinton said of his passing: “Nelson Mandela taught us so much about so many things. Perhaps the greatest lesson, especially for young people, is that, while bad things do happen to good people, we still have the freedom and responsibility to decide how to respond to injustice, cruelty and violence and how they will affect our spirits, hearts and minds.”

As Bill Clinton states, there is indeed a great lesson to learn from the life of Nelson Mandela, not just for our children but for us all.

In honor of Nelson Mandela, we have put together twelve important lessons that he has left us, a legacy that we can all learn from. Nelson Mandela might have been a leader but he was also an icon, an inspiration, and a teacher.

  • 12 Life Lessons from Nelson Mandela 1 of 13
    Nelson Mand

    We have so much to learn from this great man, see how we can honor his life by embracing his inspiring wisdom right here...

  • Do Not Learn To Hate 2 of 13
    Nelson Mandela File Photos

    "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."


    Here is the thing, when you are a parent you are given a great responsibility to help mold your child, giving them the tools to become a positive part of society. Your belief system often becomes theirs. You can teach them to love or you can teach them to hate.  A baby doesn't know how to despise someone due to to their pigmentation, those are lessons taught by parents. But one thing for sure, as Mandela notes, love comes far more naturally than hate, so let's all teach that instead.


    Photo Source: PR Photos

    Quote Source: USA Today


  • Facing Difficulties 3 of 13
    Nelson Mandela File Photos

    "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."


    The difficulties in many of our lives pale in comparison to the difficulties that Nelson Mandela has been forced to face. But as he said, "Difficulties break some men but make others." Nelson Mandela did not let his 27 years in prison break him, instead he emerged from the darkness of prison, a time that would have ruined a lesser man, and was completely triumphant and strong.  So no matter what may be going on in your life, just think of the old adage, "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger." It certainly did in the case of Mandela.


    Photo Source: PR Photos

    Quote Source: USA Today


  • It’s Not Impossible 4 of 13
    Nelson Mandela File Photos

    "It always seems impossible until it's done."


     This is such a short and simple quote but it is also very poignant and powerful. We are all met with challenges that seem impossible to overcome. The anxiety of achieving them often is far more difficult to deal with than just doing it and getting it done. If someone had told Nelson Mandela while he was incarcerated that he would some day be president of his country he may have said, "impossible," but in fact this was something that was indeed "done."


    Photo Source: PR Photos

    Quote Source: USA Today

  • Make Good Friends 5 of 13

    "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."


    We often yearn for our children (and ourselves) to be surrounded with friends that will be a benefit both emotionally and intellectually. Friends who will not just be supportive and honest but friends who possess "independent minds" and will help us all navigate life's challenges and work through life's problems.


    Photo Source: PR Photos

    Quote Source: USA Today

  • Be a Real Leader 6 of 13

    "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."


    If you believe in something, truly believe, then you must be ready to sacrifice for the cause.  When you have the rights and lives of people at sake, this becomes even more important. Although most of us would not be in the same kind of situation as Mandela, making those small sacrifices in our own lives can greatly help our fellow man and the things we believe in.


    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

    Quote Source: USA Today

  • Get an Education 7 of 13
    South African President Jacob Zuma joined thousands of well wishers to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday outside Pretoria Heart Hospital

    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."


    Forget gun and knives, those may be material weapons but by far the most powerful weapon for change is education. We must all make education a priority, and teaching of our children is the only way the world will change, be it on topics of climate, politics, or human rights. The world would be such a better place if we all put down the guns and picked up a book.


    Photo Source:

    Source Quote: Untied Nations

  • Have Courage 8 of 13

    "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."


    Courage is a fundamental factor in our lives, whether it stems from speaking in front of the whole class, asking the cute boy to dance or changing a country. Mandela's take on courage is a beautiful way to approach it. If you happen to not have fear, that just makes you lucky. Being able to triumph over your fear, now that takes courage.


    Photo Source: Mandela Quote App available from Amazon here.

    Quote Source: Telegraph

  • Don’t Be Resentful 9 of 13

    "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."


    Being resentful is a waste of time and energy, and Nelson Mandela knows that better than anyone. Instead of emerging from his prison cell after 27 years and being angry and bitter, he instead took that energy and used it for good. Those words were spoken by someone who truly understands how to move on.


    "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," Mandela said after he was freed from prison in 1990.


    Photo Source: Amazon - Video Available here

    Quote Source: USA Today

  • How to Lead 10 of 13

    "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."


    This is a subtle way to lead, but in many cases can be quite effective. Instead of taking control and being a power hungry leader, we can all learn to take it down a notch and let our leading come through in far less overwhelming ways.


    Photo Source: Photo available from Amazon here.

    Quote Source: Detroit Free Press

  • Falling and Getting Back Up 11 of 13
    Nelson Mandela, seen here in 1991, has passed away at the age of 95

    "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."


    You can't just judge someone on their best days. Instead, a truer sense of a person is how they deal with adversity and how they overcome it.


    Photo Source:

    Quote Source: Detroit Free Press


  • A Great Combo to Look For 12 of 13

    "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."


    It's interesting to see children (and adults) make new friends.  Finding those who have a "good head" and a "good heart" is like winning the friend lottery. Those pals should be treasured.


    Photo Source: Poster available from Amazon here.

    Quote Source: Detroit Free Press

  • No Regrets 13 of 13
    Unveiling of Nelson Mandela Statue in London

    "If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man."


    Nelson Mandela was a man of few regrets, at least that's what we can assume from this quote. And it's a good one, actually a great one, to leave on. To be true to yourself, to others, to help your fellow man, and to lead by example; those are all things that you could never ever regret. A wonderful lesson for us all, to live today in a way that we would be proud to do the same again.


    Photo Source: PR Photos

    Quote Source: Detroit Free Press


Article Posted 3 years Ago

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