One of the 20th century’s greatest leaders was Nelson Mandela. The native South African was the country’s first elected official, in its first democratic election. He was also South Africa’s first black president, whose government focused on tackling poverty, inequality, and racism. However, before he was an inspirational political leader, Mandela spent 27 grueling years in prison for leading a campaign to overthrow the apartheid government in the early 1960s. He lived an extraordinary life that ended on December 5, 2013. Today, July 18, would have been Nelson Mandela’s 97th birthday. In honor of his achievements, here are some of his most inspiring quotes.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
“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.”
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
"I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."
"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."
"Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."
"Do not judge me by my successes; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."
Want to learn more about Nelson Mandela? Read his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
What is your favorite Mandela quote?