Yesterday I saw the movie Invictus. It was an exceptional and inspiring movie brilliantly directed by Clint Eastwood and had captivating performances by Morgan Freeman (as Nelson Mandela) and Matt Damon (as François Pienaar, the caption of Springboks, the South African rugby team).

The film tells the inspiring true story of how Mandela joined forces with Pienaar to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.

There is a scene in the movie, where Mandela and François meet. They have a very interesting conversation. The part that I liked best is the one that follows:

Mandela: What is your philosophy on leadership? How do you inspire your team to do their best?

François: By example… I’ve always thought to lead by example, Sir.

Mandela: Well that’s right. That is exactly right. But how to get them to be better than they think they can be?
That is very difficult. I find.
Inspiration perhaps… How do we inspire ourselves to greatness, when nothing else will do?
How do we inspire everyone around us.
I sometimes think it is by using the work of others.
On Robben island, when things got very bad… I found inspiration in a poem.

François: A poem…

Mandela: A Victorian poem. Just words… But they helped me to stand when all I wanted to do was to lie down… It allowed me to expect more of myself.

The poem that Mandela mentions during the conversation is Invictus by the English poet William Ernest Henley. The poem is given below:

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 really liked the poem and it certainly is inspiring. I am sharing it with you. I hope it inspires you too and help to tide over the difficulties and challenges and find the greatness within…

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