How Mandela Put Managing Thought® Into Practice

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Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela has died. Millions pay tribute to him around the world.

We say that he has changed the world. And he has. His thoughts, words, and deeds have created a ripple effect of considerable magnitude.

I remind myself of everyone who was, is, a part of that ripple effect. Every person who met Mandela, heard Mandela speak, learned of his mission – each person who Mandela touched – made a choice to think differently, powerfully, and create the next version of their highest vision of humanity.

Though it may seem unlikely, each of us is changing the world every day. Every thought, word, and deed each of us has as a leader, colleague, teammate, partner, parent, child, neighbor, friend, teacher, consumer, manufacturer, employer….creates a ripple effect of considerable magnitude.

In every role I play, every day, I am creating my world. I am creating the world – for better, worse, rich, poor, sickness, health. I change the world around me by changing myself.

Below I share a few stories of Mandela’s journey that exemplify lessons in Managing Thought® that apply to situations we face every day in work and life.

I invite you to pause and reflect: What am I creating? How could I be true to my highest vision of myself, my highest vision of humanity?

Just because something is common, doesn’t mean it’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s true, or that it has to be true for me. I am sure that Mandela wasn’t the only one who was aware that what was common was not what he wanted or envisioned for himself or others. Mandela took that idea, decided what he wanted: This is what I want. He intended creating it: I am creating this. He wondered how he could create it: I wonder what could I do, how could I be? He practiced and practiced creating it, because practice makes permanent. And he reflected on, celebrated, what was going right.

I often hear people citing statistics – industry, society, economics, cancer survival, personality traits, success rates, obesity – and saying, That’s the way it is. What can you do? You learn to live with it.

To me, statistics are measurements of people who are unconscious, unaware of how amazing we are — that we can create anything we can imagine. I invite you to wonder: What statistics am I citing? What is it I truly want? How could I create it?

Infinite patience brings results. Mandela was imprisoned for over 27 years. For 27 years he waited to assume his leadership role, to make his vision a reality. During that time, he cultivated himself. He cultivated his body. He cultivated his message. He cultivated his relationships. He cultivated his knowledge of the outside world. He quietly, patiently, continued to move in the direction of fulfilling his dream, his higher purpose.

Individuals and organizations often give up on their dreams because it will take too long, cost too much, take too much effort: I don’t want to go back to school. That’ll take five years. We’ve invested too much money in this equipment or this process. We can’t change now.

In our businesses, we look for short term fixes, often rooted in fear. In our lives, we take pills, get divorces – it’s faster than cultivating bodies, our minds, our spirit, and our relationships. We choose between short-term or long term-as if they are alternatives. And they are not.

What’s one thing I could do today that could create long-term and profound change for me?

I can re-act or create. I let go of the past and focus on what I am creating today. When Mandela was released from prison, a great many people wanted to focus on the injustice of his imprisonment, the pain and suffering endured by Mandela, and the oppression of the South African people during his imprisonment. Mandela made the decision and guided his followers to let go of the past and focus on the future they were creating.

We suffer loss, experience tragedy and disappointment in our lives and work. Stuff is always happening that is different than what I expect, I believe, I have learned, and what I hope and envision for myself and others.

When I catch myself angry, frustrated, complaining, blaming, being a victim, regretting, second-guessing, unforgiving – I know that these thoughts and emotions are telling me, at the essence, who I truly am and what I truly wish to create.

I can re-act my past or create. It is up to me. It is always up to me. What am I re-acting?  What could I choose to create?

I notice when I am in Fight, Flight, and Freeze and pause to add light. I change the world around me by changing myself. Many describe Mandela as saintly, citing his ability to forgive those who imprisoned him, tortured him, and oppressed his people. Those who were close to Mandela know that he was not a saint. He experienced anger. He experienced bitterness. He had thoughts of revenge and retribution.

He paused. He wondered what he wished to create and how to create it. He chose to acknowledge his thoughts and emotions privately. He knew that, as a leader, every word he spoke, every action would create a ripple effect of considerable magnitude.

He chose to assume his leadership role and lovingly guide others. He chose to serve as a prototype of a new age and be the change he wished to see in the world.

I notice I am in Fight, Flight, or Freeze. I pause. I wonder. I choose. I create.

My focus creates my reality. Prior to 1990, Mandela was often referred to by world leaders and in the media as a terrorist. Supporters of Mandela believed that it could be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve world wide support for a terrorist. On April 16, 1990 a music concert took place: Nelson Mandela: An International Tribute for a Free South Africa at Wembley Stadium, London, and was broadcast to more than 60 countries. It was held two months after Mandela’s release from prison. They presented Mandela as a hero and called for people across the world to continue pressing for apartheid’s abolition – to create a free South Africa.

Every time I say, I am, I can’t, I don’t, I am creating my focus and commanding my brain to help me create that reality. I am a loser, I’m getting old, I can’t lose weight, I don’t exercise like I should, I’m depressed, I suffer from anxiety, I don’t floss enough, I can’t sell, We can’t execute, We’re a commodity….

What labels am I using that are focused on what I don’t want? I wonder what I could want. What could be my new label?

I can create anything I can imagine. Mandela used sports to help his people, and the world, imagine a South Africa with blacks and whites working together to reach a common goal-and winning. The movie Invictus tells this story.

We often criticize ourselves, our lives, our organizations. We want more balance, less stress, better relationships. We want less debt. We don’t want to be a commodity….

Focusing on what I don’t want and don’t like, does not tell me what I do want. Focusing on what I don’t want and don’t like doesn’t help me to create my highest vision.

When I can imagine me being balanced, being at peace, cultivating a great relationship, growing my net worth and being of highest service and richly rewarded, then I can create it.

I wonder what being _____________ looks like? What are possible things I could do and be if I were living ____________? What’s one thing I could practice? What could be my ritual? When I notice I am not practicing, what’s my do-over? How can I celebrate my progress?

We are changing the world — one thought at a time.

May your thoughts bring you peace and inspire you!!!

 

© 2013 Mary J. Lore and Managing Thought LLC All rights reserved.

 

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