Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s first step toward freedom after 27 years incarceration. He’s first public address on the balcony of City Hall was attended by a congregation of thousands crammed onto the Grand Parade, CT Station parking deck and all surrounding streets and buildings with a view. Throngs sang and danced, cheered and applauded as they witnessed this momentous occasion.
I was there, proud to be a South African and part of such a historical event like none other this country had probably experienced before. Sadly, drunken delinquents had their day in the sun too. Shop windows where smashed, stores were looted, rubber bullets whizzed past me as police tried to keep control of a handful of vandals.
Amidst all this chaos, I remember hearing Mandela’s words as he bid a farewell. ‘Do not give them a reason to point a finger at you,’ he said. Words which to this day, I have not forgotten. A simple philosophy carrying volumes. Basically, keep your nose clean.
Yesterday I got wrapped gently over the knuckles for not doing my job according to my usual ‘high standards’. (I use that term loosely since it’s all relative, but you know what I mean) I unfortunately could not argue with their point of view because I do feel that had dropped (only!) one of a thousand balls which I juggle on a daily basis. Unusual for me but more importantly, catastrophic for the business so I understood their need to meet with me. Fortunately, the knuckle-wrapper spoke from a place of love and respect for me as well as concern for the business so my reasons and apologies were kindly accepted with an offer of assistance and we parted ways amicably.
I could beat myself up about this incident and say that I should not have given them a reason to point a finger at me – but we’re human and each day life tests us. It’s simply an opportunity for self-reflection (not flagellation), re-evaluation and progress; just a gentle nudge to get us back on track.