One of the greatest leaders of our era, Nelson Mandela, passed away yesterday. All of my students are too young to remember the impact he had in South Africa and throughout the world. So today, I felt it was important to spend some time with my leadership students reflecting on his life and accomplishments as a leader. As I was reading about him and his leadership journey a couple of key things stood out for me. First, I think he showed us the power of finding the positives in every situation. I read that during his 27 years in prison he used it as an opportunity to study his jailers so that when he got out he would better understand his adversaries. He also used it as an opportunity to educate himself, he focused on reading whatever he could. Being able to focus on the positives allowed him to survive and even thrive during a tough time. I encouraged my students to choose this perspective and focus on the great people and opportunities that are present in their life. Second, I think he showed us how important it is to have a vision for the future and the amazing things you can accomplish when you commit to your vision everyday. Mandela’s vision of equality guided his daily actions as a leader and led his country to freedom and democracy. One of the reasons why I assigned the #SJAM30Daygrind is because I think this is an important life skill that every kid needs. The ability to develop a vision and more importantly the ability to follow through on a plan to achieve it everyday. Mandela showed the greatness one can achieve when you are able to do this. I hope that my students were able to draw some inspiration from this great leader.