(Estimated reading time 2 minutes)
There are no extraordinary people, only ordinary people willing to do extraordinary things.
Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes, an ordinary man who made extraordinary choices and in doing so illuminated the potential in all of us. A political prisoner for 27 years, he went on to forgive his captors, become president and promote peace and equality for all – including the very people who had denied him his fundamental human rights. Extraordinary? Yes, unusual choices with exceptional impact. I can only imagine all the very ordinary thoughts and emotions he had to struggle through to reach his decision to forgive.

“As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

It’s easy to think that people like Nelson Mandela have some kind of superpower that makes tough decisions easier or courage more accessible. I prefer to believe that Mandela was exceptional not because he was fundamentally different than the rest of us, but because of the choices he was willing to make. In my mind, his being just like the rest of us makes his actions even more remarkable. We all have the power for the extraordinary within our grasp. Our version of it may not go down in the history books or win us a Nobel Peace Prize, but in our own sphere of influence it could change the trajectory of a life – someone else’s or perhaps even our own. That’s how much power we have – the ability to change things.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere …” Nelson Mandela

Photo by Kushagra Kevat on Unsplash


I’m a writer and coach, who is passionate about helping ordinary people move beyond what is holding them back so that they can live extraordinary lives. You can connect with me here or learn more about coaching with me.

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