Do you care deeply about something enough to communicate well? I speak to many organizations who kind of care about how they communicate and might put development plans in place where they hope to be a better communicator… someday.
But what if you loved something so deeply and felt so passionately about it that it drove you to speak out? What if an ideal was so important that you’d be willing to die for it? What if all you needed to do was become a better communicator for it?
Nelson Mandela had such a passion. He moved an entire nation toward significant social change through the power of his ideas and the way he shared them.
In his 1964 trial, Mandela was accused of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was scheduled to testify in the trial, but instead he gave a statement from the dock. This was to become possibly the most famous speech of his lifetime and the last one he would give for almost the next three decades. He closed it with this statement:
His words that day conveyed a message that dwelled in the hearts and minds of his audience throughout his 27-year imprisonment.
As a politician, Mandela did many, many things to stop apartheid. As a leader, he did even more to model the power of persuasive communication
- Care: He took a stand for an important idea and even cared enough to die for it. Most of us won’t be forced to sacrifice our lives for our ideals. But is there something you care about that deserves your effort to communicate well?
- Communicate: He chose his words deliberately, crafted them well, and communicated them often. The power of his words—as well as the ideals they represented—was enough to sustain a movement.
- Commit: He went all-in. When enemies challenged him from all sides, he made a relentless, tireless commitment to endure the obstacles and enlist others to help. After Mandela’s release, the fight for equality continued and eventually South Africa held its first multi-racial elections thirty years after his initial imprisonment.
So find something to care about. Communicate it well enough to make a difference, and stay committed until change really happens. Mandela did, and we are all better for it.