A good friend of mine recently penned a write up on her thoughts about Nelson Mandela’s writings in “Conversations with Myself”. Her piece reminded me of the importance of introspection. So often we spend our time doing – being told what to do, doing more and then being assessed based on what we’ve done.
I suspect we’ve all functioned at times in a climate of consensus or group think – executing diligently without actually pausing to think. To reflect on what’s happening, the reasons why we’re pursuing a particular line of reasoning or whether our assumptions are well thought out. How many of us really take the time to think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it? Are we making it a practice to seek to understand and add value? Perhaps we’re living in the matrix, taking orders without spending much time thinking through the repercussions of our actions?
Before I can add value to any other person, team or organization – I must learn to know myself. That for me is the most important insight from this passage.
Mandela references “The Cell” as a place to get to know yourself, learn self-awareness and judge our progress in life, based on Internal Factors as well as external ones. I feel like we can all benefit from spending time in The Cell, without actually being locked behind bars. The Cell to me – simply represents a place or feeling of solitude, when one is alone with one’s thoughts, free from distractions. It also represents a mindset – one of Serious yet Selfless Introspection.
From a Servant Leadership perspective, it’s – Who have I served? How have I helped others be successful? I’m I truly adding value to the lives of others and I’m I doing so for the right reasons? Do I have ulterior motives?
So many of us have read about the important benefits of Meditation, of Mindfulness and maintaining a Growth (or Learning) Mindset. In this short passage, Mandela reiterates a very important aspect of Mindfulness…..
“At least, if nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct, to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you”. Nelson Mandela
All of the internal qualities Mr. Mandela references, are important – I’m most moved by “readiness to serve others”, as it resonates with my aspiration to be a Servant Leader.
Think about which Internal & External factors resonate with you? Hope we can all find more time for regular introspection.