Nelson Madela’s Inspiration

Last week would have been Nelson Madela’s 100th birthday. As you may have seen, President Obama had a very public appearance in South Africa, honoring the inspirational anti-apartheid leader.
While Nelson Madela did amazing things politically, many of his thoughts and quotes can be applied to situations outside of politics. Mandela has been an inspiration for so many in Africa, but his influence and impact is absolutely global. Below are some of the quotes from him that I think can be applied to life and work, along with a few thoughts about each of them.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
I’ve seen this movement recently in many ways. On social media, there are so many people posting about confidence, body-positivity and being comfortable acknowledging the good aspects of ourselves, while retaining modesty. Those people are encouraging others to do the same. I follow @dalalovesdumbbells on IG and this was one of her captions I thought really epitomized this concept:
“Why do we allow self-loathing comments to be normal and relatable, while self-confident comments are cocky, self absorbed, even obnoxious?

Someone makes a joke about how ridiculous they look in an outfit, how much they ate last night, how many extra pounds they’re carrying around, and we all laugh and feel comfortable around them.
But if someone says “man I love my legs lately”, “I feel fire in this outfit”, “doesn’t my hair look good today?”, we’re threatened, off-put, and likely will decide we don’t like this person because they’re wayyy too into themselves.
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If you’re my friend and I love you, I don’t wanna hear you talking smack about yourself‼️Fuck that. I wanna hear you talk yourself up, hear you lovin’ on yourself, braggin’ on yourself. And if you’re not, I wanna figure out how I can help build you up to get you there.
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Being humble and being mean to yourself are not the same. 🙅🏼‍♀️ We compliment each other, but not ourselves. Why is that okay? Shouldn’t we love ourselves the most? Shouldn’t we be our own biggest fans? When you love yourself, you become the best version of yourself and then you’re a better friend/daughter/mother/coworker/lover/partner than you ever though possible.
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If your friends aren’t comfortable with you openly loving yourself, are they your friend? Should they be?
Let’s stop glorifying self loathing, and start encouraging more self love.”

I never lose. I either win or learn.
 
I know a lot of people have shared the importance of failing. One of the things my dad used to say all the time when I was skiing was “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” The reason why this is so important is really exemplified is in this quote. Losing is an opportunity to learn. If we don’t lose, we win, which is awesome. If we lose, we have an opportunity to learn and get better, which is also awesome.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave [wo]man is not [s]he who does not feel afraid, but [s]he who conquers that fear.
 
This is one of Mandela’s most famous and well-known quotes, but I wanted to include it because of a recent experience I had. When I started cycling a few months ago, I was freaking scared. Holy shit, riding a bike is so much more scary as an adult with clip-ins on a road with drivers who are on their cell phones all the time. Also, as we age, we fear things more easily. The nice thing about cycling is that you’re on a bike out in nature for a very long period of time, which gives you lots of time to think about a lot of things.
I was on my second or third ride when it really dawned on me how scared I was. My fear was causing me to go slower down hills, be more tense and uncomfortable, and literally almost give up so many times. On that ride though, I realized this and told myself I just needed to show up. I needed to get past this fear. A lot of human beings ride bikes. Not a lot of them die doing it. I had to find a way to mentally let go of that fear in order to be happy on a bike. By the time I got to the STP last weekend, I was still apprehensive about the ride, but it was no longer because I was scared of riding. It was because it was over 100 degrees and I was hopeful my back or knees didn’t give out on me. I finally felt like one with my bike. I was comfortable and relaxed, which allowed me to actually go really fast and have the energy to cross the finish line unassisted. It’s a little example of an every day activity where such a meaningful quote can be applied.
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Guns

Guns…

What are they good for?
In the last week the ring heard round the country has [once again] been the debate about guns. I say debate loosely. Is it really a debate at all? I know gun regulations have a spectrum. Some people might think we should get rid of guns all together and some people think any person of any age of any mental status or background should be able to buy as many guns as they want. Politifact provides some interesting data that shows there’s actually more alignment, especially on background checks, than we are led to believe. They rated these two statements as True:
74 percent of National Rifle Association members support requiring background checks for all gun sales.
Americans have overwhelmingly supported common sense gun reform. 90% support universal background checks.
I’ve been reading a lot about the data around guns in this country (this past week especially) and there are some very interesting findings. Many of these quotes are pulled out of context, so if you’re interested in reading further, I’ve provided the links to the articles.
From the NY Times: “Overall, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book “Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016.”
Another article from the Times has a fascinating scatter-plot of mass shootings on one axis and number of guns by country. “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”
One thing is for certain: the Parkland shooting was a tipping point. Something triggered a mass uprising of the students and they are leading the march (figuratively and literally) toward demanding common sense gun laws now. When one of the students tweets around the same time as the NRA, he gets 6 times the likes and 4 times the retweets:
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Google trends has the gun topic on their home page. I thought this comparison was particularly fascinating, as it shows how in the last week, searches across the country are skewing toward gun control, as opposed to gun shop, compared to the past year. Whether this shift is based out of fear or support for gun control is undetermined.
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It has been incredible to see the progress that has been achieved by these kids in such a short time:

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So there are a lot of things people can argue guns are good for, but what we’ve seen in the last week is that they are definitely not good for a lot of reasons. While we still have yet to see specific legislation pass, many of these baby steps are indications the laws could be coming soon.

Peaceful Persistance

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When I was a kid, my mom took my brother and I to a predominately African American church in Tacoma on Martin Luther King Day. I will never forget the feeling of being one of the few white people in a room full of people with a different skin color. I automatically thought “now I know what they feel like,” because I had never experienced looking around a room and not seeing very many people that looked like me.

Over the weekend I asked my daughters if they knew who Martin Luther King was, to which Eloise (in Kindergarten) responded “Doctor Martin Luther King Junior (she said so as to correct me) made the world a better place because they used to not let the dark skinned people drink from the water fountains and then he made it so they could. It’s not nice to not let people do things just because of their skin color.”

The world is just so simple in the eyes of a five year old. We tend to make things more difficult as we age for some reason.
A bunch of us were sitting at the team lunch yesterday discussing how racism even came to exist and one of our clients recommended the documentary I Am Not Your Negro. One of our colleagues also recommended 13th.
One of the things I think is interesting about MLK Jr. is that he’s known so well for his peaceful and loving approach to making monumental social changes in this country. At the same time, he persisted and never let up his cause just because he wasn’t met with the same respectful response. Going into a weekend where I know a lot of us were peacefully marching for Women’s rights, I wanted to share some of these quotes from the amazing MLK Jr. that serve as inspiration to me to always continue down the path of working together to make a better world.