Nelson Mandela and Permission to Shine

Be like Nelson Mandela, let your light shine

Today the world, literally the world is abuzz with news of the death of Nelson Mandela who encouraged us to shine. So much of the talk is about the grand stands he took, the world-changing events he helped usher into place. He helped end apartheid and showed the world that when an oppressed people become free, they can rule without taking revenge on those that once oppressed them. He gave hope on a big scale, a world reaching scale. At the same time, his life and his words are relevant to each of us in our own small worlds, our own small pieces of the universe.

One of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela is the following:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others . . .

So often we play small, we don't stand straight and claim our full space. This happens every time someone receives a compliment and instead of saying thank you and moving on, the recipient will say downplay the compliment, deny her worth. You have seen it:

Person 1: Wow Person 2, you did a great job on that presentation today. I learned a lot and I am glad I attended this session

Person 2: I did okay, there were many things I should have said but didn't, I wish I had done better.

This is not a good conversation. Neither person feels good at the end of the day. Person 1 feels like perhaps she missed something or her skill set is not up to par since she thought an inadequate presentation was good. Person 2 feels bad because she just down played her good work. What if instead of the conversation above, the conversation went like this:

Person 1: Wow Person 2, you did a great job on that presentation today. I learned a lot and I am glad I attended this session

Person 2: Thank you for your kind words. I feel blessed that the presentation went well and I am so happy that what I shared had good and relevant information for you.

Do you see the difference? At the end of this last conversation, both people feel good because they have shared a special moment and shared an event they can remember fondly in the future.

[Tweet " Don't be afraid to let your light shine, it will give others permission to shine with you. "]

Indeed, there are many lessons to be learned from the life of Nelson Mandela. Perhaps one of the most important ones is that we should not be afraid to be successful, to grow, to shine and to be the light that we are blessed to have within us. As Nelson Mandela stated so well in the quote above, we must let our light shine, because our light will encourage others to let their own lights out from under barrels. When we shine, grown and stand unashamed of being good, great and powerful, we encourage others to do the same. This encouragement is contagious and if allowed to grow, can change the world. We may not all be Nobel Prize winning statesmen like Nelson Mandela, but we can all shine.

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