Nelson Mandela - a life of "Daring to Care"
Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 7:40PM
Mark Goulston heartfelt people do heartfelt things, but not every person who does heartfelt things is a heartfelt person. Heartfelt doing is great for the world; heartfelt being is great for humanity.

As Nelson Mandela shortly leaves us I find myself much sadder than when other great people have died.

When trying to figure out why, what occurred to me is that Mandela is a heartfelt leader whereas many other great people I know are or have been been people who have done heartfelt things but have not been heartfelt leaders.

I think the difference is that many people who do great and generous things benefit others, but also serves their ambition and personal agendas and egos. You can tell those people because they rarely do anything anonymously or if they do, have a way of letting "slips" out so people know who they are. When you do things and take credit for it, or say "we did it" when it's clearer in your tone that "you did it" your higher purpose is contaminated by a self-serving attention seeking agenda. Now don't get me wrong, it's better for these great projects to be undertaken and someone's name attached to it than to not have the projects done at all.

On the other hand what's remarkable about heartfelt people is that they are more about heartfelt being than heartfelt doing. Their immense heartfelt doing is just a byproduct of their heartfelt being, a byproduct of their innate goodness, kindness and generosity. Heartfelt people are also more likely to do things anonymously and show great discomfort when they are given too much credit.

Years ago I did an interview with Costco's former CEO, Jim Sinegal that was described in a recent book, REAL INFLUENCE: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In (see how I am revealing my non-heartfelt side by plugging that). I had reached out to him after the NY Times did an article praising him. He immediately called me back to tell me he was displeased with the article because he felt he deserved little credit for Costco's success. He said that he was essentially heading towards being a juvenile delinquent when Sol Price, founder of Fed-Mart and Price Club and the inventor of the big box warehouse retail concept, plucked him out of being a bagger and saw potential in Jim that he couldn't see. When I told Jim that article was about his gratitude towards Sol Price and his paying it forward, his tone changed completely and he said, "Ahh! Now that's a different story."

I also think I personally feel a great deal of pressure with Mandela's imminent passing. A year and a half ago I decided I could no longer deal with any more selfish and greedy knuckleheads in the business world, because I was not able to root for them to be successful or to help them get more out of life when I felt they already had more than they deserved and were now acting entitled to even more.  Yuck.

It wasn't easy for me to "just say 'no' to knuckleheads" because seeing and intervening with them made up 70% of my income. But I reached a point where I just couldn't do it anymore and said to myself, "No mas!"

I was anxious because I hadn't made any money from the very positive, heartfelt people (such as Warren Bennis and Norman Lear) I knew and our relationships were based solely on their giving me the gift of their very precious time and timeless wisdom and teaching me by example how to be heartfelt.

Shortly after this transitional point I began hearing regularly a whisper in my head coming from the world saying, "When can you find more heartfelt people that dare to care?" I hear the whisper every day and sometimes it become a voice. It was that persistent whisper that caused me to co-found with my partner Deb Boelkes, Heartfelt Leadership, whose mission is "Daring to Care" by identifying, celebrating , developing, empowering, impassioning and enboldening heartfelt leaders to come together, support each other and then go out and change the world for the better.

As we approach the end of Nelson Mandela's heartfelt life and his heartfelt being, I hear the voice in my head more loudly and firmly saying, "Can you speed up finding more heartfelt leaders because when Nelson Mandela dies it will leave a big void?"

The last time I heard that voice, I actually replied aloud in my car to the voice and now to all of you, "I'm on it! Can you back off just a little, please?"

Who on the world stage do you believe are heartfelt leaders that dare to care that can begin to fill the void left by Mandela?

Article originally appeared on Heartfelt Leadership (
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