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5 Inspiring Career Tips From Nelson Mandela

Topics: Current Events

Nelson Mandela was a man of great courage, wisdom, and love, and he never let adversity get the best of him. We’ll take a look at five of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes to help you realign your career focus and humbly continue down the road to success.

career tips from nelson mandela

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During his life, Nelson Mandela fought tirelessly to erase apartheid, inequalities, and disease in South Africa, where he was known as “the father of the nation,” even being imprisoned for 27 years in his native country for his passionate activism. Upon his release, Mandela was not bitter or angry for his time spent in prison; instead he was gracious to all that had helped fight for his release through mass peace marches and rallies. On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela passed away, but he bequeathed us all his incredible wisdom and valor with the legacy he left behind.

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1. “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.” This quote is a great reminder to never settle for less in life. You cannot live a fulfilled life or career if you’re going after mediocre dreams – dream big! Some of the greatest business leaders of our time agree that work stops being “work” when you find joy in what you do, and that happens not when you decide to stay in a dead-end career, but when you follow your dreams.

2. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Learning shouldn’t stop after college, regardless of what field you pursue. “Still water becomes contaminated and harmful for use. Continuous flowing water keeps it fresh and pure,” explains IT Knowledge Exchange. Continuous learning is vital to keeping the mind stimulated and useful, so find subjects that interest you and read. Technology, specifically the Internet, has put education at the fingertips of people around the world. For example, Khan Academy is an online not-for-profit organization that offers a “free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” Users (or “students”) can sign up for a free account and begin their online training courses in a wide variety of fields, such as mathematics, science, computer programming, and so much more. Prevent premature brain atrophy by finding ways to acquire new, stimulating knowledge regularly.

3. “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.” In life and career, you will, most likely, face great adversity at some point in time – and that’s when you need to really dig deep and overcome such hurdles. Just as Nelson Mandela never gave up on his family, friends, or himself during his time of imprisonment for doing what was just and fair, you should never give up on your lifelong aspirations when the going gets tough. Breakthroughs usually happen when you are just about to give up, so stick to your guns and find the strength to persevere.

4. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Passion knows no bounds, and rightfully so. Many people let their fervor die out because life gets the best of them, but those that are able to “rise above their circumstances and achieve success” are the ones who reap the benefits in the end. In hindsight, it seems as if successful people were given a stroke of good luck or genius that the rest of us just weren’t fortunate to have. However, if you look at their pasts, you’ll see that they, too, faced much adversity throughout their journeys – the only difference is that they chose to overcome it. Therefore, stay “hungry” in life and you shall overcome challenges, too. 

5. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Take Donald Trump, for instance: he had a wildly successful career that ended in a very public and humiliating bankruptcy – but did he let that stop him? Nope. In fact, he turned his misfortunes into the fuel that he needed to build an even bigger empire than before. And, like the old Japanese proverb reminds us, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Navigate through your career with the mentality that, no matter how many times you “fall” or get “knocked down,” it’s adamant that you dust yourself off and continue forward on your path. 

It goes without saying that Nelson Mandela was and is one of the greatest men to have ever lived and loved – and we all can learn a thing or two from his compassion and selflessness. As a working professional, it’s easy to get bogged down by the stress and exhaustion that comes from your career. However, take this time to take a step back, humble yourself with Mandela’s words of wisdom, and re-align your focus in life because, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” So, go do it!

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What other ways has Nelson Mandela inspired your life or career? Share your thoughts with the rest of our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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