It would be particularly remiss of me to allow the passing of Nelson Mandela to go unmentioned. Though I appreciate that many of you may well have had enough of the subject given the blanket coverage provided by the news media, which incidentally the BBC alone received over 1,000 complaints about. However, The passing of Nelson Mandela allows us to reflect on the message as well as the messenger.
Simply put he said that people are not born to hate other people based on the colour of their skin, instead this is something that they learn from other people. We are not born to hate, we learn to hate. Whatever the prejudice may be, skin colour, sexual preference, nationality, tribe, class or religion; we get born into this world without knowing who we should hate or dislike. Instead we get taught to hate by those around us, even if that is often an unconscious process.
Nelson Mandela was an icon, a representation, a means of bringing into our collective awareness that we were hating others based on skin colour and that it actually was a choice to do so. Recently we have seen the rise of political parties that trade off our “them and us” belief systems; it remains our individual responsibility to be aware of our prejudices and to let them go through understanding that humanity is one World, one country, one tribe, one family. Does your behaviour match that idea or do you pay lip service to it?
One of the assumptions underlying NLP is that we should calibrate on people’s behaviour. Some of what that means is don’t just listen to what people say they will do, rather look at what they actually do. This runs across many facets of life. Do say to a friend “We should meet up next week.” Do you take action to make that happen or not? If you ask someone at work to complete a certain piece of work for you do they do it, or do they just say that they will? When I am coaching some else I am interested in what they will be able to do as a result of the sessions we do together, and I know when we have been successful because they are then doing the behaviour they wanted to do and taking action which was absent before. Actions speak loader than words. Equally in NLP we appreciate that people are not their behaviours; though the behaviour is important we don’t label someone based on what they do. You don’t have naughty children instead you have children who do naughty things. So work on changing the behaviour and lose the labels. Labels do make our life easy to understand, it is useful to sub-divide things to make distinctions, conveying any sort of message would be really hard without doing that; but let’s make sure that we don’t get lost in our labels and thereby lose the essence of the message.
If anyone that you have admired has passed, be it a World figure like Nelson Mandela, a friend or family member you can help what was great about them to live on by incorporating their message into your behaviour. Become the legacy, by being an example in life, in the best way that you can, of the message of love, peace and positive human progress that Nelson Mandela conveyed. Honour the messenger by being the message.