Leadership Isolation Mindset

Leadership Isolation Mindset

Leadership Isolation Mindset

This blog is dedicated to President Nelson Mandela, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday, July 18th. May he rest in peace!
Robben Island Maximum Security Prison entrance.
On a trip to the continent of Africa as a member of a delegation of trade executives from New Jersey, USA, I was so excited about our explorations in West Africa (Ghana), South Africa (Johannesburg), but most of all to a tiny island off Johannesburg by the name of Robben Island (ROBBENEILAND). You see, the Robben Island Maximum Security Prison was where Nelson Mandela served 27 years as a political prisoner as a result of his opposition to a policy/system of segregation/discrimination based on the grounds of race, better known as apartheid.
Mandela survived isolation because he chose to frame the 27 years as time spent by himself vs. time spent alone.
Coach Biggs standing by Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.
Leaders are very familiar with the distinction between being by themselves and being alone because every leader must develop the ability to thrive in isolation. Leaders who embrace isolation discover during this time that thoughts are louder, dreams are boundless, possibilities are endless, risk-taking is embraced, and rising to the challenge is a super-power. These leaders understand that anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course, and charting the course takes place in isolation. Their mindset allows them to thrive in isolation!
Nelson Mandela & fellow prisoner, Walter Sisulu, talking in the prison yard in 1956.
Conversely, leaders who look at isolation as a time of being alone, quickly discover that creative thoughts are distant, nightmares and fears anesthetize creativity, the walls are in-fact closing in, risk-taking is to be avoided at all costs, and it’s me against the world. These leaders view isolation as a daunting challenge and they quickly retreat and live beneath their potential.
Nelson Mandela’s mindset during his 27 years of isolation was that of a painter with a blank canvas. He used the time as an opportunity to begin to prepare himself for a South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid. He embraced his blank canvas and painted a masterpiece of what South Africa would become when every citizen would be allowed to rise to his or her individual level of greatness.

Leaders, your team members may not understand how you repeatedly use isolation to drive innovation, but they fully understand they are among the beneficiaries of the masterpiece you painted during your last embrace of isolation.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

Written By Coach Terence H. Biggs II – #CoachBiggs #GutsyDNA
Author | Business Coach | Speaker | Corporate Trainer
#NelsonMandela #Mandela100
This was the yard where they worked the prisoners all day. Hard labor camp! The cave in the background was where prisoners were forced to use the bathroom.
Where the prisoners showered and washed up.
Symbolism: As each of the last prisoners of Robben Island was released and left the prison, they each placed a rock in this pile to symbolize their release
Coach Biggs on Robben Island with Johannesburg in the background.
Robben Island Maximum Security Prison key replica.

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