• Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Janeane's World

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Nelson Mandela and Why You Don’t Need Permission to Shine

Always remember that you never have to ask for permission to shine. You have a right to shine simply because you exist. So be like the little start and twinkle with all your might.

 African American woman jumping n the air in the sun and trees and the words "Nelson Mandela and Why You Dont Need Permission to Shine"

It is always a good time to let your light shine. Today I was thinking of a day a few years ago when the world, literally the world is abuzz with news of the death of Nelson Mandela. Much of the talk was about the bold stands he took. People talked about the world-changing events he helped usher into place. He helped end apartheid. Mandela showed the world that when oppressed people become free, they can rule without vengeance. He gave hope on a big scale, a world reaching scale. At the same time, his life and his words are relevant to each of us in our own small worlds, our own small pieces of the universe.

One of the most famous quotes attributed to Mandela was actually first uttered by Marianne Williamson. Mandela is often associated with the following quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. . .

woman in a blue pant suit and words t is always a good time to let your light shine

Perhaps the quote is attributed to Mandela because he seemed to be strong, tall, and playing on a large scale. Mandela was a man of strength, character, and charisma. When one looked at him, no one saw a small man. He carried himself with pride and honor and that carriage forced us to stand straighter.

Let your light shine.

So often we play small, we don’t stand straight and claim our full space. This happens every time someone receives a compliment and instead of saying thank you and moving on, the recipient will say downplay the compliment, deny her worth. You have seen it:

Person 1: Wow Person 2, you did a great job on that presentation today. I learned a lot and I am glad I attended this session

Person 2: I did okay, there were many things I should have said but didn’t, I wish I had done better.

This is not a good conversation. Neither person feels good at the end. Person 1 feels like perhaps she missed something. She may wonder if her skill set is up to par since she thought an inadequate presentation was good. Person 2 feels bad because she just downplayed her good work.

What if instead of the conversation above, the conversation went like this:

Person 1: Wow Person 2, you did a great job on that presentation today. I learned a lot and I am glad I attended this session

Person 2: Thank you for your kind words. I feel blessed that the presentation went well and I am so happy that what I shared had good and relevant information for you.

Do you see the difference? At the end of this last conversation, both people feel good because they have shared a special moment and shared an event they can remember fondly in the future.

[Tweet " Don't be afraid to let your light shine, it will give others permission to shine with you."]

Indeed, there are many lessons to be learned from the life of Nelson Mandela. Perhaps one of the most important ones is that we should not be afraid to be successful. There is no reason not to grow, to let our light shine. We should be the light that we are blessed to have within us. As stated in the quote above, we must let our light shine. Our light will encourage others to let their own lights out from under barrels. When we shine, grow, and stand unashamed, we encourage others to do the same. This encouragement is contagious and if allowed to grow, can change the world. We may not all be Nobel Prize-winning statesmen like Nelson Mandela, but we can all shine.


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So, the question for you this fantastic day is, what are you doing to let your light shine?

Janeane Davis author bio
33 thoughts on “Nelson Mandela and Why You Don’t Need Permission to Shine”
  1. Thank you for sharing this Jeanne! At times I don’t handle compliments too well and I’m a continuous work in progress. I’m continuously working on myself.

  2. Hi Jeanne!

    That is one thing that stood out in this post is we often play small. In the game of life, we need to play bigger. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. That is one of my favorite quotes, I used it to talk to my girls in youth group about magnanimity …to let our light shine because that is what God made us for.

  4. I remember when Mandela was released from prison and being happy he was free. I remember when he became president and thinking we would not see a black president in America in my lifetime, how wrong I was. I think Mandela, like a lot of historical figures who live past their famous accomplishments did great things that people reap the benefits of his actions without realizing from where the benefits came. I am looking forward to reading your take on mandela.

  5. Miss J:
    I have been anxious about creating a post about Nelson Mandela because I hate to say that I just dont feel like I know enough about him. Its not like President Obama who has grown a legend before our eyes, Mandela has grown over time, however I feel like I would be better by creating a post about him! Thank you for giving me the inspiration to do so!

  6. That is a beautiful quote. It was certainly sad to see such an amazing man die. He did so much good in his life. May he rest in peace and his legacy live on.

  7. Exactly! All good things come from above so we know that if there is any good seen in what we do, it is God!

  8. Wow, that is absolutely one of the best things anyone has ever said about something I have written. Thank you!

  9. I am a church girl and sometimes church people think accepting compliments is sinful pride. I see it as acknowledging tha God has granted you a talent or gift that you used in a good way.

  10. Good for you!!! I think when we learn to appreciate accepting complimens, we are able to give better compliments.

  11. I think so many people trying to be modest and downplay anything they do, no matter how successful. I agree that it’s okay to be proud of what you do though!

  12. What a wonderful post. I am going to pass this on to my daughter, she is having a hard time feeling like she is shining.

  13. Great words of wisdom. I always teach my kids to be graceful when complimented. It bothers me when someone cannot just accept a compliment. It is your achievement, claim it.

  14. THis is so inspiring! It’s so true that we too often downplay our work and achievements, for many different reasons. I plan to be more conscious about accepting compliments and praise in the coming year!

  15. Great Post.. loss of a great man who changed the world. He left his mark for all of us showing us leave sadness and hate towards others at the door you just left. Then find a way to create change.

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