18 Jul, 2022

7 Life Lessons from Nelson Mandela



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“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.” – Nelson Mandela

This famous quote is often quoted by world leaders while batting for international peace.

Are you aware of today’s significance?  

Today is Nelson Mandela International Day. Who was Nelson Mandela? What has he got to do with you?

In this podcast, I will share 7 Leadership Lessons From This Great Leader, South Africa’s first black and democratically elected President Nelson Mandela, who devoted his life towards empowering people regardless of their religion and ethnicity and promoting dialogue and solidarity for justice and lasting peace.

He left a great legacy. He is a person who fought for freedom and equality. There were things that he did intently to leave a legacy and make things better for the next generation, and that includes us. 

Listen as I tell you more about him. Let us learn from him and make him our leader, our guide, so that we can be who we want to be, have the future we have always wanted, and, consequently, a better future for the generations to follow. Let us start our own legacy now.


⚡️ Nelson Mandela knew and told people who he wanted to be at a very young age.

⚡️ People who are more willing to adapt are likely to survive.

⚡️ Nelson Mandela was prepared to play a bigger game and wanted to make a difference.

⚡️ Nelson Mandela is just like us, an everyday person. He was not born into a privileged life.

7 Life Lessons:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Tough times do not last, tough people do
  3. Learn the art of negotiation
  4. Be courageous
  5. Be the person you want to follow
  6. Develop a strong spirit
  7. Live with purpose 

Important stories:

🎯 05:40 How I came across Nelson Mandela

🎯 06:20 Nelson Mandela and his desires at a young age

🎯 07:40 More about Nelson Mandela

🎯 15:25 Stephen Bartlet knew who he wanted to be

Send us a message and tell us what is your biggest takeaway about this episode. 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼


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About Pete Cohen: Pete Cohen is one of the world’s leading life coaches and keynote speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been motivated and inspired by Pete’s presentations. He has professionally impacted the lives of thousands of people worldwide, including business executives, professional athletes, and everyday people.  Pete focuses on the importance of closing the gap in our lives between where we are and where we want to be, both personally and professionally.

It’s then all about coaching you to remove the obstacles that are in your way and helping you install the habits of success.

Pete is the author of 20 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years.

Pete Cohen 0:00
Happy, beautiful, amazing day. Welcome to the Future Self podcast. Today is a very special podcast because today actually is a day where people remember Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela day. So today we're going to be looking at seven life lessons from someone who's inspired millions of people all over the world. I'll see you after the theme tune.

Pete Cohen 1:30
Good morning, good afternoon. Good evening, wherever you are in the world listening to the Future Self podcast today we're talking about seven life lessons from Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was born in 1918. That's a long time ago. My granddad was born in 1900. Can you imagine how different the world was back then? I mean, we've come a long way. There's a long way to go in making our world a better place and the Future Self podcast really is just all about one thing. It's about the future and having hope for the future and being able to look at it in a way where we have optimism regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in. And people all over the world right now. There's a lot of people struggling COVID definitely has changed our world and many other things have changed. And it's it's means that if we don't adapt and change, and we try and stay the way that we were Then who was it that said well, we all know who it was right? It's not the smartest of the species that survives, it's the one that is basically more willing to adapt. And then Tolstoy said, that was Darwin that said that but Tolstoy said that people think of people don't think of changing themselves. And I think we really have an opportunity like never before to take responsibility. So there's seven life lessons I want to share with you. From Nelson Mandela the were the first one is to take full responsibility. Right and you can apply this to any area of your life, your health, the three life domains that we talk a lot about on the Future Self podcasts, your health and your edgy, your relationships with others and yourself and your wealth and your work. There. The three life areas that most people would like improvement on, you know, they'd like things to be better than they currently are. But most people are unprepared to change. And why is that? I mean, that's really fascinating to me, because we know how much better our life would be if we had better health and energy or better, more intimate, more caring more loving relationships, and with our wealth and our work and our service again, you know, the conversation goes on, but a lot of people don't want to take response and I want to kind of dive into that a little bit, especially from the perspective of Nelson Mandela. Lesson number two is tough times don't last. But tough, tough people do. Tough people. Just keep keep going. I almost started singing a song there by Billy ocean when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That's number two. Number three is learn the art of negotiation. Hugely important to negotiate with yourself as much as anybody else, negotiating with yourself to get yourself out of bed negotiating with yourself to do what you need to do to get to where it is that you want to go. But first, you've got to know where you got to go where you want to go. And most people don't that's what the Future Self podcast is all about. It's about helping people look to the future in a way where there's hope, where there's no hope is hopeless. Lesson number four is to be courageous. This is a subject I love to talk about courage is having the ability to act in the presence of fear. And to manage fear. Number five is be the person that you want to follow. And number six is have a strong spirit, develop build a strong spirit. And number seven is live with purpose. I mean, these are all things that you know, we've heard before, right every most people have maybe this is the first time you've ever heard anything on the kind of subject of personal development and advancing but for what I see that human beings are definitely they're at their best when they were getting better at something. And Nelson Mandela, like I said he was someone I came across in the early 80s from a song by the specials. I had no idea who it was. I was at school. But I wish I'd learned more at that at that time. I wish that they had taught us about Nelson Mandela at school, but they didn't. Because I used to see a big separation between people like me and him and I, I remember years a number of years ago saying to a friend of mine, who do you think of as a really good leader? And he said me and I was so surprised that he said that because I didn't particularly see myself as a leader. So I asked him, you know why, why why do you see me he goes because I want to follow you. I believe in you. I believe in what you say I believe in what you're doing. Pete, you you seriously want to make a difference in this world. And I need to follow people like you because if I don't follow people like you, I just get lost. And I think it's so important in life to choose who we follow. So Nelson Mandela, you know, he as a child, as I said he was born in 1980 in a system that I mean, I can't even believe that that system ever existed. But there are systems all over the world that suppress people. And despite all of that, you know, the story of Mandela was that at a very young age when he heard the stories of his elders he had this is the key thing when he heard the values of his elders.

Pete Cohen 6:23
He had a desire to basically to contribute to the freedom of the struggle of his people. And he dreamt of that as a at a very young age and and who would have believed I mean, who would have believed that if he told people back then, hey, listen, in 1994 I'm going to be president of South Africa. You know, people just would have laughed at his interface. And I think that that's so important. If we look at Lesson number one take full responsibility. He took responsibility for what he wanted. To do. And he lived by that. And when we take full responsibility, as he said, I am the master of my fate, and the captain of my soul. And what a lot of people don't know about Mandela that he was rejected from the university. He was basically expelled from university for going on a protest and the king of his community basically, threatened that he threatened for him to get married to lots of different people if he didn't go back to school. So basically ran away to Johannesburg, and he got his degree and he became then he started the first ever Black Law Firm. He took responsibility for what he wanted to do and who he wanted to become, which we'll talk about in a moment. Jordan Peterson, who I've seen so many of his videos recently he talks about, you know, the life lesson of taking responsibility responding with the ability that we have to do great things. And to recognize that life is at its best when we are when we're growing in some way with contribution. We're making a difference. We just want to be better, to make people around us better. So that's Lesson number one take responsibility in your life right now. What is there that you'd like to take responsibility? For? Maybe it is your health, your energy, ships, your wealth, your work your service? What is it that you would like to be able to look back one day and say, Look what I did. Number two is tough times don't last but tough people do. And you know, what's what a lot of people don't know about Mandela as well is that you know, he's got a law degree but it took him 50 years. Most of his youth is spent in out in and out of prison standing up for what he believed in. And he often quotes Helen Keller so I don't know how many I mean, Helen Keller is someone I wish she one of the best quotes ever is. Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all. The love that life is a daring adventure or nothing or nothing at all. And I think what a lot of people are doing in the world, is it just settling for a life of not growing or settling for a life of just settling? And that I believe is why a lot of people are struggling there's a term Well, there's a word called mediocrity, and that comes from a Latin to Latin words. Media means middle and awkward. It means a rugged mountain. And I think a lot of people are just kind of stuck, they're not progressing. Anyone who wants growth just has to go through something quite difficult and challenging and often, that's the resistance of sometimes the people around you but the rest is resistance in your own head. And that's why lesson number four is learn the art of negotiation. And this is a very deep subject and again, I could dive into this for hours but I'm talking about the negotiation with yourself. Can you imagine what Nelson Mandela who he had to negotiate with? And then I remember watching an interview that he did, I think in the early 90s, where York it was a town hall, and people asked him some very difficult questions. Because he had spoken positively about some leaders. That for some people is very controversial leaders in the world. But he spoke about them because he felt that they were standing up for what he was standing up for. But you can imagine the abuse that he must have got and what I take from that, personally, is what we often have to go through to get a result. But when you know the result or you know the person in the future that you could be and you know, and you're committed to becoming that person. Then you'll always meet disagreement with with humility to be humble, humiliated, to be not to be humiliated, but to be humbled to be a humble human being. But I think that the challenge a lot of us have is the artistic creation with ourselves. And this is a problem which has been around for 1000s of years. It's been spoken for 1000s of years. About the challenges that people have with themselves. And as I as I record this I think about if Nelson Mandela was here right now listening to me, he would be proud of what I'm saying of keeping his spirit alive because the art of negotiation really is to be able to negotiate with yourself to get yourself to do what it is that you need to do, regardless of how you feel. And what is it that you feel that you need to do in this life? What is it you feel you must accomplish? What is it you

Pete Cohen 11:21
want to do that with the negotiation with yourself? You need to start winning that negotiation. And the 400 plus 430 episodes of this podcast that we've done over the six years, a lot of those podcasts are around hot buttons and dealing with self sabotage. I loved what melt Nelson said about if you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to you have to walk with them. You know, and I think we have to we have to walk with our enemy and the enemy is often inside our own mind that's just wants us to stay where we are doesn't want us to advance doesn't want us to stand out. But Nelson was prepared to do that. He was prepared to die for what he believed in. Lesson number four is, is to be courageous. I love that word courageous. It means to have the heart that's what it means to have the heart and this I remember really looking into this subject a few years ago because I thought what makes people courageous, and some of the science around this is really fascinating. It really kind of revolves around courageous people will act in the presence of fear. And also COURAGE is your ability to kind of control fear so it doesn't take over the ultimate courage that Mandela talks about is the courage to forgive. And he talks about holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. He had the courage to forgive because there was a bigger part to play, even learn Afrikaans in prison. This was the language of what some people would say he was his enemy. You know, in 1995, he basically supported the white only South African rugby team. He even put on the rugby shirt of South Africa. And that got millions of white people to start supporting Mandela. He was prepared to play a bigger game he harried reg and it's not all about for us, maybe I'd say everyday people but Nelson was an everyday person. He wasn't born with any exceptional privilege. He was born in a circumstance that he decided he wanted to make a difference. I just wonder where you could be more courageous in your life. Lesson number five is this is probably my favorite is to be the person that you want to follow. Anyone who knows any of our work with future self, you know what we're talking about here I think is one of the most exciting advancements in the history of personal development and neuroscience, which is our relationship, our future. And what we see with so many people like Nelson Mandela, he clearly knew at a young age who he needed to be, and he was prepared to pay that price, no matter what and I have so much admiration for people like that. And I'm sure he was inspired by people like Gandhi who said Be the change that you want to see in the world spinning in a system that was caught. There's always someone on before someone else. And I want to be the person that goes before someone else to inspire you. To be the person that you want to follow. So you could look in the mirror and go you know what I want to follow you do to yourself and say you know what, I'm not perfect, but I know where I'm going and I know who I'm committed to becoming. That is my ultimate mission in life is to help people take the lead to develop something strong inside themselves. You know, I was talking to Steven Bartlett about this and getting out his story before on the podcast, Stephen Bartlett, the youngest ever dragon on Dragon's Den he sold his company before the age of 30 for nearly 300 million, and he said when he was 15 he knew who he needed to be. I had no idea who I could be. I just thought I wasn't good enough. I massively thought there was something wrong with me for many, many years. And then I realized there was It's called being a human being. But then I decided to develop myself to change myself. And it was only through my wife not being given very long. to Google draw your future 12 years ago. And I started to start thinking about a futures was beyond a few days and weeks and months because people know who they're going to be tonight, tomorrow next week. But beyond that, for most people, they have no idea who that person is. If you don't know who that person is why would you have empathy for that person? Why play a bigger game? But if you know who the person is, that's where the magic, the real magic comes from. And in terms of a strong spirit, this is lesson number six, a strong spirit. It's that spirit. There's there's a children's film I saw many years ago called Spirit and it's about this horse that they tried to break the horse in the classic way and the horse will not be broken. And this Indian Native American Indian says to the horse, you are the spirit that cannot be broken. And what's so amazing about Nelson Mandela and 1994 in the doc facing the death penalty, he basically said it's an idea of what I'm prepared to die for harmony, people living together, and he said it might not happen

Pete Cohen 16:21
regardless of age, sex, religion, culture, creed, nationality. That's what he was prepared to die for. And he, he didn't get the death penalty, but he got sentenced to a life imprisonment. And he's so fascinating when we think about playing a bigger game, because it's very easy for human beings to get trapped in the cocoon. of self absorption. In a world where we can be more connected than ever we are more disconnected than ever. Lesson number seven is to live with purpose. We've all heard about this and I have my own opinion about purpose. And what that means to live purposefully, purposefully for me, and having read that the book which massively changed my life, I'm looking at it right on bookshelf. Thinking grow rich, and I didn't understand I read it from my own point of view because everyone's entitled to their own point of view and and we have the opportunity to be free, more than perhaps Nelson did for many years of his life. But it's what we do with freedom. It's what we do, to free Nelson Mandela, what about to free you? Or do you want to want to be freed from DDP what I don't know because I'm not you.

Pete Cohen 17:44

Pete Cohen 17:50
What do you want to be free from? Do you want to be free from the tyranny of giving us a hard time do you want to be free from starting things and finishing them? Do you want to be free from self doubt? Well, you can be and you're probably very different to how you used to be. But what would it be like if you could take that to another level? To live with purpose for me is simply to know who I want to become. And I've spoken all over the world. I've worked for the Napoleon Hill Foundation, and I've spoken on stages. And talking about that book. When I talked about it in Vegas as 25,000 people the audience, it was pretty awesome. When you like speaking on stage to have that large an audience. I couldn't actually see them very well because the lights were all on me, but I knew they were there. I could hear them when I could get them to laugh and and ask questions. And it was fun. But I didn't realize that Napoleon Hill's grandson was in the audience and they came up to me afterwards and said, Listen, a lot of people misunderstood my grandfather, Nelson. Right. Napoleon Hill spent, you know, 25 years interviewing 500 People in the 1920s. He talks about these people had a definiteness of purpose as if there was something that they had to do. But what his son said something they had to do it was who they had to become in order for them to bring to the table of what it is they wanted to do. So Alexander Graham Bell knew who he needed to be. In order. He knew he had to be someone who kept going, setbacks and failure. This was the secret sauce, to think and grow rich is to think about the person that has the riches that you want into this world. So I want to thank Nelson Mandela, because his spirit lives on within all of us. I think today is a day is is Mandela day that we all have an opportunity to rather than seeing him as someone separate to ourselves to see him as someone who's a bit like our lesson number one, take full responsibility. Lesson number two tough times don't last but tough people do. Lesson number three learn the art of negotiation. Lesson number four, be courageous. Act in the presence of fear number five, be the person that you want to follow. Number six, strong spirit. Keep your spirit strong, surround yourself with spirited people. And number seven, live purpose. So what's your number one takeaway from the life and Mandela I want to thank you for listening to this podcast? I'm so glad that I got it out there into the world with such about doing this. Yeah, of course, you know, could say the wrong thing or I don't know you might offend someone. But this is too important for me not to negotiate with myself to say I'm going to do this, because what needs to be said, will inspire at least one person right now who's heard this podcast, who will keep the spirit of Nelson Mandela alive and that is what we call legacy that is the difference that will make the difference. We will see you.


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