Surprise, Surprise, Surprise… Be Generous

Thomas Friedman, the author and New York Times columnist, wrote an article (with the same title) on leadership in the August 21, Sunday edition of the Times. He refers to Nelson Mandela’s leadership as portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the recent movie Invictus. When the black-led South African sports committee moved to change the famous (previously all white Springboks) rugby team’s name and colors, Mandela intervened. He called this selfish thinking and is quoted as saying: “We have to surprise them (the white community) with restraint and generosity.” While Freidman’s article refers to a larger political context, there is a lesson that applies to every day life for us….the surprise of generosity and abundant thinking.

When one thinks about the mental distance one has to travel from the greatness of Mandela to our everyday lives, it should be quite easy for us to surprise people with our daily generosity…right? So I challenge us to go to work this week and genuinely surprise someone with our generosity. Don’t expect anything in return. Why don’t you and I thoughtfully give, and let’s see what happens.

with Character,


  1. Lorne says:

    Tim….this is a great example of the choices we have in leadership. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom and experience on the site. Best

  2. TIM says:


    Generosity leads me to share a recent story about leadership and shifting of focus. I attended a party for a colleague who left a company that I used to work for. During the conversation there were a few shots about the culture and direction of the company. I decided to contribute to the conversation by sharing my appreciation for all the great things that this past employer meant to me and had allowed me to grow and contribute towards. That shift the conversation into the positive thread and lad me this morning to be reminded that we can focus on the bad or negative OR we can be generous and focus on the good and appreciate how even challenging times helped us to be better. Thanks for another leadership lesson in your blog, can’t wait to get the book !! Warm regards Tim

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