Are you seeking freedom for self, or for others?

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Nelson Mandela

“Live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

How much of our lives do we consume worried about our freedoms? Our needs? Our wants? What percentage of time do you spend on others?  

How much should you spend?

How do you live an honest and aware life?

“Live life as though nobody is watching and express yourself as though everyone is listening.”

Nelson Mandela

What does it mean to “live life as though nobody is watching?” For me, this is a call to live an authentic and purpose-driven life. To live without fear of judgment and comparison to others. It is the freedom to live a life that is unique and intentional and uniquely yours free of the need to perform based on on the expectations of others.

How about the phrase “express yourself as though everyone is listening?” For me, this is being highly aware of the power of your words and need to curate those worlds specifically and with great care. It is the knowledge that your words carry tremendous weight and must be aligned with your behaviors and actions. If you words aren’t chosen with car and thought then you run the risk of expressing yourself in a manner that is inconsistent with your beliefs and motivations.

Both of these things are so much easier said than done. It requires tremendous focus and the ability to balance two disparate aspects of your life and mind. It is the freedom to follow your calling and pursue your honest purpose and the ability to choose your words and deliver them with measured impact. It is being true to your calling, focused on the lighthouse over the horizon and yet be aware of the need to navigate wisely so as not to end up on the shoals represented by choosing your words poorly.

Freedom and focus. Honest and aware. That is the way to live…

gray and black rock formation
Photo by Michael Judkins on


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

Nelson Mandela

Education is the one thing in life that NO ONE can ever take away from you. So what’s stopping you from seeking something with a guaranteed return on the investment?

Education changes you so that you can then change your world…

Time to execute…

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela

Have you ever been in the situation where things are moving so slowly that it feels like nothing will ever get done? That time drags on and more reasons are found NOT to do something? That the focus has shifted to the negative instead of accomplishing the work that needs to happen?

Look in the mirror and ensure that you are ready to say that “the time for planning, thinking, debating, arguing and talking has passed. It is time to execute.” Hold yourself accountable for creating action, not debating the merits of action.

Threat level zero?

“If you are humble, if you make people realize that you are no threat to them, then they will embrace you.”

Nelson Mandela

I really like the way Mandela framed this in that it is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that those you wish to lead know that you are not a threat to them. I would go so far as to say that the minute one positions yourself as a threat to another person you have lost any semblance of humility.  To make yourself a threat to others is to position yourself ahead of them, higher than them, more valuable or worthy than they are. 

I’ve often heard that to be humble is “not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less.” I’ve long believed that if you talk about having humility, you don’t. I think I am going to add “ensuring that people realize you aren’t a threat” to the list of requirements for humility and servant leadership.  


The ripple effect…

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Nelson Mandela

close up water drop photography

Life (and leadership) is like tossing a pebble into a pond.  A big splash and then nothing remains on the surface.  

Except that’s not really true is it?  There are always ripples leading away from where your toss landed.  

It’s interesting that when you toss a pebble the ripples have to move away from the point of impact.  No matter how much we want to make life about ourselves, or try to focus on our own wants and needs, our behaviors and actions send waves out that intersect with others and impact their lives, for positive or negative effect.  

What is the impact that you want to happen today based on the pebbles you toss?  Are you tossing pebbles without thinking of the effect beyond yourself?  Are you living a life that will impact others and that they will say was significant?  



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