SEE THE GOOD IN OTHERS
This is the seventh post in this series of 15 lessons taken from the book MANDELA'S WAY written by Richard Stengel .
EXTRACT : "Some call it a blind spot , others naivete' , but Mandela sees almost everyone as virtuous until proven otherwise . He starts with an assumption that you are dealing with him in good faith . He believes that, just as pretending to be brave can lead to acts of real bravery, seeing the good in other people improves the chances that they will reveal their better selves .
It is extraordinary that a man who was ill-treated for most of his life can see so much good in others . In fact , it was sometimes frustrating to talk with him because he almost never had a bad word to say about anyone . It is not that Mandela does not see the dark side of someone ; it is that he is unwilling to see only that . He knows that no one is purely good or purely evil . He chooses to look past the negative . No one is born prejudiced or racist . No man , he suggests , is evil at heart . Evil is something instilled in or taught to men by circumstances , their environment , or their upbringing . It is not innate .
Mandela sees the good in others both because it is in his nature and in his interest . At times that has meant being blindsided , but he has always been willing to take that risk . And it IS a risk . We tend to think of risk as physical daring , like attempting a dangerous climb , or as making a decision with an uncertain outcome , like putting money into an investment that is not a sure thing . But Mandela believes in and takes emotional risks . He goes out on a limb and makes himself vulnerable by trusting others . We sometimes do that by confiding in others we don't know well . Yet we rarely equate risk with trying to see what is decent , honest , and good in the people in our daily lives . "