nelson mandela

I am the captain of my soul.”

That is the famous quote by the late former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela aka Madiba.

Invictus Inspired Nelson Mandela

That quote was inspired by the the short Victorian poem “Invictus” (Unconquered, Undefeated) composed by English poet William Ernest Henley.

nelson mandela quotes on leadership, education, forgiveness and our greatest fearMandela wrote it on a piece of paper on his prison cell while he was incarcerated for 27 years on Robben Island, west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa.

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.

In his book “Long Walk to Freedom“, Mandela said he did not whether it came from nature or nurture. It was the part of being optimistic that kept his head pointed toward the sun, his feet moving forward.

He added that there were many dark moments when his faith in humanity was sorely tested, but he would not and could not give myself up to despair. According to Mandela, that way lays defeat and death.

Take you time to read through this collection of Nelson Mandela quotes on leadership, education, forgiveness and our greatest fear:


“Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”


“If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.”


“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”


“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”


“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dream of.”


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


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


“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”


“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.”


“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”


“Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”


“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”


“I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.”


“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”


“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”


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


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


“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”


“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”


“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”


“ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”


“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”


“ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”


“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”


“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”


“Where you stand depends on where you sit.”


“One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.”


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


“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”


“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”


“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”


“Nothing is black or white.”


“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.”


“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires


“It is not where you start but how high you aim that matters for success.”


“I am not an optimist, but a great believer of hope.”


“It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”


“Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?”


“Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer.”


“The brave man is not the one who has no fears, he is the one who triumphs over his fears.”


“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite… Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never explained.”


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