I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul

In a scene from the 2009 movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, is meeting with Francois Pienaar, played by Matt Dillon, the captain of the Springbok Rugby Team which is preparing for the 1995 World Cup. Mandela asks him: “Francois, what is your philosophy on leadership? How do you inspire your team to do their best?” Francois responds: “By example. I have always thought to lead by example, Sir.” Mandela confirms his answer saying: “That is right. That is exactly right.” He then asks: “But how to get them to be better than they think they can be?” His response to his question is: “I sometimes think that it is by using the work of others.”

For Mandela it was a poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. Mandela states that it “helped me to stand when all I wanted to do was lie down” while he was imprisoned on Robben Island for eighteen years.

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.

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” – reaffirming words that inspire the great leaders’ own belief in themselves and their life’s purpose. What beauty and power they bring in shaping our mindset and way of living, and which become an example for others to emulate and from which to grow.

Speaking of building his nation, Mandela says: “We must all exceed our own expectations.” As great leaders build their own professional and personal life, they, too, “must all exceed their own expectations.” They are the role models, the examples, the works of others, from which others learn and grow when all they want to do is lie down.

May you remember always: You are the master of your fate, You are the captain of your soul! Continue to be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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2 Responses to I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul

  1. Jack Beach says:

    “We must all exceed our own expectations.” What a challenge!

    We so often talk about leaders being people who encourage, enable, and energize others to achieve what they never dreamed they could; however, we too seldom take into account that great leaders do the same for themselves.

    And, while you conclude with the dictum that leaders have the responsibility for their own continued growth, and must take to heart that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,” is perhaps the most important insight given by Francois Pienaar/Matt Damon when he states that to help others “to be better than they think they can be” (and I believe the implication would be to help oneself do the same), “…it is by using the work of others?”

    Leaders should never see themselves as alone or needing to have all the answers; they need to draw from and rely on others if they are going to exceed their own limited capabilities. As you stated in one of your earlier posting (Feb 5), “leadership is a team sport.”

    Thanks Mike.

  2. reecha says:

    the writer lets it be known that he makes his own decisions. He recognizes that even though bad things have happened to him throughout his life, it was not by design. There is no one to place the blame on. There is no one else to be angry at. He is the captain and the buck stops there.

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