What Great Thing Will You Do?

I had the opportunity this weekend to watch the movie Invictus starring Morgan Freedman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as François Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team. The story takes place during the early part of Mandala’s term as president of The Republic of South Africa. South Africa is a country racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid and the movie tells the story of how Mandela and Pienaar come together to use rugby and the challenge of the World Cup to unite the country.

At their second meeting, Maddela has invited the captain over for tea. The President speaks about greatness and leadership. He asks François “how to get them to be better than they think they can be?” in part referring to the rugby team and in part referring to the people of his country. “How do we inspire ourselves to greatness, when nothing less will do?” “How do we inspire everyone around us?”. Mandela says it is through the work of others we can find inspiration and shares with François how a poem inspired him and “helped me to stand when all I wanted to do was lie down.” They both shared how songs had inspired them. Mandela talks about how a song “allowed me to expect more of myself.” It inspired him to do better.

What inspires you? What great thing will you do? You may think “I am not a president or captain of a national rugby team, so what greatness can I do that will matter?” Greatness is the accumulation of the minutes and seconds of each day. It is doing your best when there is no one else around. It is maintaining your deadlines when no one is reading. It is getting to work on time when everyone else comes in late. It is smiling at those around you and saying “good afternoon” even when you are tired and hurt and miserable. It is choosing to listen, really listen, to the opposing viewpoint. It is choosing to take another perspective. It is choosing to find a way to make it work, to create a compromise, to meet someone half way. Greatness begins and ends with the little details and the small moments. It does not matter what great thing you do. It matters that you choose to be great. It matters that you choose to be inspired. It matters that you choose to inspire those around you. Expect more of yourself everyday. Choose to be GREAT – for nothing less will do.


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

In love and light



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