129 – The unexpected supporter

It’s not enough to just say something—you need to act too. Listen to hear how Nelson Mandela showed the world that he wholeheartedly believed in reconciliation.

Football stadium

This week, Mark is our storyteller. He shares a story about Nelson Mandela which lies at the intersection of sports, politics, and leadership.

You might have heard this story before, but Mark adapts it for telling in a business context. He suggests that he might use it to, for instance, illustrate the importance of leading by example.

For your storybank

Tags: action, authenticity, leadership, story triggering

This story starts at 01:29

In 1995, South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup. The year prior, Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President of South Africa.

Mandela had a vision for South Africa of a rainbow nation, where all races lived together harmoniously. After decades of Apartheid, his focus was on reconciliation.

The country was deeply divided. The black majority wanted all symbols of Apartheid torn down and destroyed. The Afrikaners minority were worried about retribution, having to leave their country and the destruction of the things they’d created.

The Cup would see South Africa take on New Zealand. South Africa’s team is called the Springboks—named after a native antelope and a symbol of the Apartheid era. Some wanted to see the Springbok symbol destroyed.

Mandela knew a minority of South Africans were passionate about rugby and saw the event as an opportunity to bring the nation together. So, he attended the Cup wearing a Springboks jersey and cap—symbols of the Apartheid regime.

Mandela decided to visit the Springboks change rooms. When later interviewed, Captain Francois Pienaar would emotionally recount that he heard a knock on the door, saw Mandela walk in, and could not believe he wore a Springboks jersey.

The game was an amazing spectacle. At halftime, South Africa and New Zealand were tied. South Africa went on to win the match in extra time.

Still dressed in his jersey and cap, Mandela presented the trophy to Francois Pienaar. At that moment, he demonstrated to the entire nation of South Africa that reconciliation was possible.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.

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