Tag Archives: legacy

Nelson Mandela and Leadership

The Greater Good. There are countless lessons to be learned from the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. As with most great men, saying he was a “complex person” is an understatement. What strikes me, and always has since he was released from prison and ultimately was elected President of South Africa, is how he truly was a leader for all people. His leadership was alway focused on the Greater Good.

It is a story well-known to even the most casual observer of world history – the prisoner of the apartheid regime is released after 27 years, becomes the first elected president of a post apartheid South Africa. In what could have been, and at the time was widely feared to be a potential disastrous transition of power, Mandela was the right man, at the right place, at the right time. His leadership ensured a smooth transition and truly positioned South Africa for its ongoing success well into the 21st Century.

It is sadly ironic that whenever I reflect on Mandela and all that he did for South Africa, and the entire world, I also find myself thinking of the Palestinians and of course Yasser Arafat. Again, there is way too much to the story, but they are both of a certain era and were forged in a crucible of struggle.  As great as Mandela was, it is generous to say Arafat was certainly less so. If Mandela never missed an opportunity, it is safe to say Arafat never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Mandela led for the Greater Good for all the people of South Africa, black and white. He was very aware of his country, its history, its people, its place in the region and the world. He realized revenge and bitterness were the enemies of progress. He believed in truth AND reconciliation. He forgave and moved forward.  He held himself to a very high ethical standard.  He truly set the example.  Arafat’s record speaks volumes…we can just leave it at that. When Mandela walked out of prison, he left behind the prisoners mindset. He became a true leader and statesman. It was not about him, it was about the Greater Good.

Thankfully most of us will never have to face a fraction of the challenges Nelson Mandela faced.  What we can all do is remember what he learned and ultimately taught us, both in how to lead and how to be a person.  Our mind is our own.  We control how we respond.  And above all, in leadership, keeping an eye on the Greater Good will never steer us wrong.

On a personal note…I was a Stephen Biko guy myself.  One of the best live songs ever.

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Filed under Current affairs, leadership, Politics

What Zig Ziglar Shared…at least with me

Zig Ziglar. Sales. Success. Positive Attitude. All synonyms really, and that is one great legacy. For almost anyone that has spent time in sales, client service, or just in business, Zig Ziglar is sort of legend, or at least a myth. The books, the seminars, the podcasts, the videos, motivational series, or just the stories of having heard or seen him at a conference are part of the fabric of business.  Even if you never read one of his books or saw him in person, the name itself is just memorable.

15+ years ago I saw Zig Ziglar at a seminar, and I think I saw him at least a few other times at various training, leadership or motivational rah-rah corporate conferences.  Maybe they were videos – I just don’t remember the specifics.  I have read or skimmed several of the books.  Though I was no great fan, I knew enough to recognize a good thing.  He was folksy, grandfathery, sort of like the colorful and fun uncle, or the small town guys out front of the barbershop spinning tales and sharing wisdom.  He was neither threatening nor flashy, yet he was animated and engaging.  He had that disarming quality of seemingly sharing homespun wisdom in a manner that just draws people in and appeals to almost every audience.

Over the years I realized Zig Ziglar was not terribly innovative, original, or even profound.  However what he was, and in my opinion why he resonated, is that he told you what you already knew but were afraid or unwilling to acknowledge.  He spoke of a truth that resides in everyone, yet it is a truth that is very difficult to recognize and even harder to accept.  Zig Ziglar was the mirror that we were forced to look into; he challenged his audience to do what needed to be done.  He forced his audience to acknowledge what they knew deep down had to be done.  And he did it in the nicest way possible.

What Zig Ziglar spoke and wrote of was simple really: work hard, do the right thing, focus on what is really important and go the extra mile.  In sales he would tell you to fill the funnel, to deliver what you promised and to ask for the order.  He was all about being positive, recognizing the good and getting rid of the bad.  He put the ownness on you; it was up to you to be positive, to take responsibility and to do what needed to be done.  What needed to be done in life, in business, and in relationships.  Again, not terribly innovative or original, yet something everyone to one degree or another needs to hear occasionally.

Impressive really, the ability to tell people what they do not want to hear and have them like you for doing it.  The real genius of Zig Ziglar:  he was able to do the above AND have you pay for it!  Yep, that guy could sell, no question.   Literally tens of millions of books in print, countless hours of seminars and presentations on video, an entire company built around the man and his theories.  All told an impressive legacy.  Not bad for a small town salesman.

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Filed under Business, Coaching, Current affairs