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Today I find myself so quietly sad and a little defeated. Tomorrow will be fine: beautiful, exceptional in the rising of its sun and life continuing.

God knows there is enough in the world to be sad about beyond the passing of one old man who has lived an amazing life, transformed worlds and lived with such rare brilliance, poise and dignity. We should celebrate his life and all his achievements.

But my sadness is at the space he leaves and the extinguishing of his light in the world.

I struggle to see any leaders of his humility and magnitude at large.

I see swagger, I see psychopathy, I see hubris, I see celebrity, I see megalomania, I see the sophistry and fakery of the mediocre everywhere, roosting in positions of power that should otherwise demand such exceptional qualities of the individual. But so few truly seem to understand that one has to be silent: un-remarking of one-self to be truly remarkable – the most powerful proof of that silence played out in the gift of the words and honours of others – not your own.

I do not see wisdoms layered in the leaders set out before me. I certainly do not see leadership of his depth and steely conviction and unwavering purpose.

In what I do I see so much written about ‘purpose’ and I cannot help feeling at times like this that someone should take words like purpose and those of the traits that characterise it – that of the ability to endure and prevail against all life brings. They should be taken out of the mouths of those who are not worthy of them.

A purpose driven business is everyone’s favourite catchphrase for what constitutes a spiritually and materially healthy and successful business – driven by a need to focus on more than just profit. I would be the first to agree.

But on days like this I feel a powerful surging need to apply a filter across the corporate lexicon – and extract these words – words used to describe this extraordinary man – from the mouths, slides and corporate PR releases of their emollient strategists until the people who run these businesses come within at least a light year of presenting even the tiniest evidence of the spiritual stature, eviscerating intellect and wilful optimism that flourished in Nelson Mandela.

So my sadness is not for him. He lived a life that some of us can only dream of – overcoming everything life threw at him with regal understatement and humility, untouched by any resentment or hatred for those that did so much to extinguish his brilliance.

It is for us I am sad, left, for now, with the shower of stunted flailing egotistical spiritual dwarves that lead us – those flailing fools we call leaders. I was happy while the brilliance of him cast such a bright unkind light over them – holding their flaws and failings up in such cruel relief. I am certain some will be happy that that kind of light has faded for now at least.  

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