Such encouraging words from Nelson Mandela. He continues, “Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” While these words were written more than 20 years ago, they still ring true today. Most importantly, these words should give hope to our society. Hope that one day, we can all learn to love a little more and hate a little less.
Nelson Mandela was a prisoner at Robben Island for 18 years. In 1982, he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison. Despite the terrible conditions that he lived in at Robben Island, change was not easy. He writes, “I have always found change difficult, and leaving Robben Island, however grim it had been at times, was no exception.” Change is difficult for all of us at times. We get comfortable with where we are in life. We get used to the idea of our current situation. But complacency robs us of our fullest potential. It tells us that we are fine. Complacency says, “You could make more money and be more successful, but it is probably not worth the stress.” And so, we maintain our current situation. Looking back on the past year, where have you grown complacent? What would have been different had you pushed ahead for change?
One can measure the quality of a leader by their accomplishments. Real leaders produce results. Those who are unable to produce results are not really leading. And yet, sometimes the results of a leader’s actions are not always known. Because sometimes, the best course of action is taken in private, behind the scenes. Not because a great leader must be sneaky or manipulative. On the contrary, the best leaders often act with a disinterest in public credit for their achievements. The primary goal of a great leader is the greater good of the organization. They are more interested in advancing their team than in their personal achievements. So they unselfishly lead their organizations, giving credit to the entire team when an achievement is known. They know that sometimes an achievement is reached that only they can appreciate.
Are you waiting for the perfect time to make your move? Perhaps you are considering starting a new business. Maybe you want to expand your current business into a new market or launch a new product. Or maybe you desire to find a better job. Whatever it is, the timing will never be perfect. Stop waiting. Don’t procrastinate another day. Take some time and decide whether you should make a change or not. If the answer is yes, then make your plans and set a definite timeline for completion. No, you should not quit your job today. But start doing the things you need to do so you can quit your job tomorrow, next week, or next month. Still having trouble committing? Be careful asking others their opinions. Instead, seek out a mentor or coach to help you work through the issue to make the best decision for you.
The best companies recognize customer expectations, manage customer expectations, and exceed customer expectations. And these companies are rewarded with a loyal, zealous customer base. Their customers become their biggest advocates. They offer word-of-mouth advertising, testimonials, and reviews on social media, Google, and product sales sites. But the majority of companies promise more than they deliver. And while most customers will forgive you for one failure, you will be held accountable for routine failures. As in, customers will find someone else to do business with. Because ultimately, regardless of the industry you are in, you cannot maintain respect with your customers if you do not keep the promises that you make. Great companies know the importance of delivery. They meet the expectations set at the beginning of a contract. Most importantly, if their contract terms are not competitive, they make internal adjustments. They do not make promises they cannot keep.
Nelson Mandela believed education could make anyone succeed. “It is through education that… a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation.” Want to know how to succeed? Seek out every opportunity to improve your self. Dedicate yourself to a lifetime of growth and personal learning. Your success is driven in part by everyday opportunities to learn. So, never shun the opportunity to learn something new. You never know when a new skill will open a door to a new possibility. Or maybe open a door to the opportunity to learn even more. Just look at how successful people spend their time reading and learning in subjects far beyond their field. Fortunately for us today, learning opportunities abound. Take an online class, listen to a podcast. Seek out the opportunity to learn something new today. You never know where your knowledge will take you tomorrow.
Everyone has told fibs, half-truths, and white lies. Especially when we were younger, when experience had not had the opportunity to teach us the dangers of omitting the truth. And fear took over our better judgment. Now that we are adults, we should shed these childhood habits and embrace the whole truth as the only way to deal with others. Because the only way to be successful is to treat everyone you meet with respect. And respect dictates that you are truthful with others. In contrast, falsehood represents a contempt for others. It shows that others cannot be bothered with, do not deserve, or cannot be trusted with the entire truth. Long lasting, deep relationships are never built on falsehood. So, the next time life confronts you with the temptation to skirt the truth, remember that only the truth will lead you to a lifetime of success.