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…


  1. Paresh said,

    June 15, 2010 at 1:14 am

    I’m dying to see this film for months now; because of Clint Eastwood. Will do it soon.:)

  2. Alexis Leon said,

    June 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Paresh: Hope to read your review on the movie.

  3. Thulasy Mary Elizabeth said,

    June 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing the poem.

  4. starry said,

    June 16, 2010 at 3:29 am

    waiting to see this film and thanks for sharing the indeed is are you doing Alexis?

  5. Alexis Leon said,

    June 16, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Thulasy: You are welcome… How are you? Hope all is well.

    Lalitha: It is a wonderful movie. You should definitely see it. Glad that you liked the poem. I am good; as good as it gets. How are you? Hope all are fine and all is well in your part of the world.

  6. Ganja Turtle said,

    June 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Make sure you check out the story behind the poem, Alex… the circumstances in which it was written are likely to be as inspiring as the poem itself. Hope all’s well with you? God bless.

  7. Alexis Leon said,

    June 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    GT: Long time, no see. How are you? Hope you are fine. Henley wrote the poem from the hospital bed.

    According to Wikipedia “At the age of 12, Henley fell victim to tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 25. In 1867, he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. In 1875, he wrote the “Invictus” poem from a hospital bed. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.”

  8. Haima said,

    June 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Hello Sir,

    Yesterday I visited your blog for the first time. And thank God I did. It was an interesting experience to read your insightful hilarious posts.
    I have read about you around three years ago in the Reader’s Digest Issue.That time I did not have an internet connection.Yesterday,while watching a video in youtube about Nick Vujicic, suddenly your name comes to my mind and after googling,I found your link.

    For the last few days,I am going through a severe turmoil in my life.Your stories and writing helped me to realize the answers to many of my questions. I want to cordially say you ” THANKS A LOT ,Sir “.

    I have added your website link in my new blog.Would you mind for that?
    About the movie,Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actor,So I am definitely going to see this.
    Waiting for many more jovial and inspirational posts from you..:)

  9. Thulasy Mary Elizabeth said,

    June 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Thank you for asking,Alexis.Life is rough to say the truth.But going on….:)

  10. Alexis Leon said,

    June 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Haima: Welcome to my site… Wishing you all the very best.

    Thulasy: Don’t give up… This too will pass. Wish you well.

  11. anupama menon said,

    June 22, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Dear Alexis,
    Good Morning!
    First time here and i loved your post!I reached you from a young boy-pranav varma’s blog!:)A wonderful read!
    I always look forward to inspirational stories and life histories!Nelson Mandela is one of my favourite personalities.
    The peom is very inspiring and thank you so much for sharing!
    More than football I always like to know the players more!The driving force in them.I have added your blog to my favourites.
    Thank you so much for inspiring the readers.A Big God Bless You!
    Wishing you a wonderful day ahead,

  12. Alexis Leon said,

    June 22, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Anupama: Welcome to my blog and thanks for the comments.
    May God bless you too and you too have a wonderful time ahead.