It Matters What You See : Lessons From Nelson Mandela

Eyes that look are common eyes that see are rare. I was reflecting on what a British clergyman called Fredrick Langbridge wrote ; “two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars”. Thinking about how Nelson Mandela managed to spend 27 years in jail without losing hope, I cant help but feel that he had a different perspective – he saw the rainbow nation beyond the dark clouds of apartheid. To get into his mind you need to read Mandela’s favourite poem by William Ernest Henley’s Victorian era poem, “Invictus” (1875), meaning “Unconquered.”

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.

 Mandela inscribed on his prison wall  the last two verses  of this poem. Before the 1995 World Rugby Cup final, Mandela gave this poem to the captain, Francois Pienaar  of the South African national rugby team the Springboks who went on to win the World Cup.

You might be faced with the biggest challenge of your life right now. There is a ‘bug bear’ which has been nagging you and you want to get rid of it? Your life feels like you are in cul de sac – just going round in circles, or you feel like you are riding a rocking horse – all motion no progress? It is time to change your perspective. Take a step out of the situation, gain perspective and approach things with fresh insight and understanding. It’s time to change perspective to alter the course of your life and that of others. To change your world you need to change your perspective.

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