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7 Effective Business Lessons Inspired by Madiba

“We can in fact change the world and make of it a better place.” (Nelson Mandela)

Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, on 18 July 1918. He was given the name Nelson by a teacher on his first day at school. Affectionately known as Tata, grandfather of the Rainbow Nation, Mandela is best remembered for successfully leading South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a multiracial democracy.

Mandela is the only person honoured by the United Nations with his own international day: Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July each yearOn this day people around the world honour Mandela’s contributions and humanitarian work by following the example he set. He donated half of his presidential salary and part of his Nobel prize money to help street children. And he established the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund which continues his legacy by focussing on education, HIV/AIDS and ‘peace and reconciliation’.

Nelson Mandela’s life and words of wisdom provide inspiration that can help you lead your business to greater success.

1. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

Passion and dedication are crucial to successful business: passion drives innovation and creativity, and dedication keeps you going when things get tough.

2. “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, vision with action can change the world.”

As an entrepreneur or business owner, vision is vital. But it doesn’t count for anything if you and your team don’t take action to make it a reality.

3. “The mark of great leaders is the ability to understand the context in which they are operating and act accordingly.”

Today’s business context is more complex, multifaceted, and fast-changing than ever before, requiring agility in both decision making and execution.

4. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Entrepreneurship and business ownership inherently entail challenge after challenge, day after day, year after year. Expect and embrace challenges, focussing on finding the opportunities they hold.

5. “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

We all face many kinds of fears all the time: fear of failure, disappointment, the unknown, even of success. What sets entrepreneurs and business owners apart is that they don’t allow fear to stop them – they are brave enough to try, to step out, to take the risk … despite the fear.

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

Continuously educate yourself to better manage and grow your business. Also educate and upskill your employees on an ongoing basis: offer mentorships, internships, learnerships and apprenticeships; facilitate capacity building for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); and sponsor schools or scholarships in the community or in your industry.

7. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.

Even small businesses can make a meaningful contribution, and it makes sense to start in your immediate community. Make an authentic, long-term contribution that will have a lasting impact, by focusing your company’s contribution around your product, service or expertise, and aligning it with your vision.

Hopefully you can apply some of Mandela’s wisdom in your own business. And don’t forget to give 67 minutes of your time on 18 July.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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