Monday, July 18th, 2011
Mandela Day of Service
Have you heard? It’s Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday!
The world renown leader and notable symbol of the civil rights struggle for all Africans, and African-Americans everywhere is worthy of a birthday party of epic proportions. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and sentenced to life in prison for having the audacity to try and change the system that rendered him, and all others of his race powerless, second-class people, without hope of being able to earn a better future for themselves. He ultimately served 27 years in jail before being released. Despite this somewhat tortured past, his story and life inspired the nation to ultimately elect him President in 1994, this after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. If you’ve seen the movie Evictus, you saw the story of how he went on to unite a sharply divided nation through sport.
His life and legacy will forever be connected to words like: strength, courage, fortitude, endurance, hope, fulfillment, tenacity, and unity. With such greatness on the inside, one could argue he deserves a huge party, complete with all the trimmings. He could request to be honored or recognized by heads of state, his own country, or countless other honors and accolades. Instead, his desire is something truly indicative of the life he lived. Simple. Direct. Honest.
The United Nations has declared today a day of service. The Mandela Day of Service. Since he spent 67 years serving the community, his community, and communities who watched and learned from his efforts, everyone is asked to find 67 minutes of their time, if not today, sometime soon, to provide service to others. Make someone else’s day a little better. Make someone else’s work a little easier. Make someone else’s future a little brighter.
I read a story this afternoon about a young man, Allan Guei, from Compton High School in Los Angeles, who won a $40,000 scholarship in a free-throw shooting contest at school. A short time later he learned he was awared a full-ride to Cal State Northridge. While the NCAA would have allowed this African immigrant from the Ivory Coast, to keep the bulk of the scholarship and his full-ride to Cal, he elected to give back the $40,000 to allow the seven runner ups to split it, and put toward their own college degrees. So let’s look at this for all that it means: in this economy, here’s someone willing to share, assist in helping others gain access to education, all while keeping his own eye on his own prize, as well. That’s just one act that will change the lives of seven others forever. The money was never his to begin with, so I’m sure he won’t miss it, now that he’s handed it off.
What sacrifice will you make? If you can’t give money, can you give your time? Can you share your wisdom? Can you tutor? Can you use the communication skills I’ve tought you over the years to inspire, motivate and call others to act and join in this 67 minute adventure?
I challenge you to find your interest. Find how you can open the door for others to join you in persuit of that interest and act. Act this week. If you make a personal commitment, come back to this page and leave me a comment of how you spent your 67 minutes, and what the response was from those you reached.
No communication tips today, except that if you choose to offer yourself to inspire or motivate others, be sure to tap into their interests, identify their needs and concerns so when you speak, your words resonate long beyond the time you speak. Good luck, and I hope you will take part in the Mandela Day of Service. Just look at the impact an 18 year old from Compton can make with one simple gesture. What can you do, with your resources?
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