…is a Latin word which translates as “unconquered, or unconqerable.” But as we’ll see, it’s way more than that.
As you’ll read in Day 41 of Toto’s book, Invictus was the title of Nelson Mandela’s favorite poem, by William Ernest Henley. For Mandela, it became the mantra of his worldview he recited to himself from his different prison cells during 27 years of forced exile before ascending to the South African presidency. Here’s the Invictus refrain:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
When asked how he survived his time behind bars, Mandela responded he viewed it as a time of preparation. Like Francis Shaeffer says in No Little People, No Little Places, if you want to be trained to serve, you will learn to be a waiter, literally. Like the Stockdale paradox, Mandela never lost hope, but he didn’t fall for the trap that Spring or being sprung was right around the corner. He learned to be quiet in his room until extruded to a larger stage — and he didn’t waste a moment. Hundreds of letters indicate he used his time to read, write and study. For Mandela, Invictus was a poem, mantra, worldview, and mind-set that freed him before he was freed.
For Viktor Frankl, who survived a German concentration camp, we find a similar worldview and mind-set in his reflections from Man’s Search for Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” And quoting Frederick Neitzsche, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
When you build your core with Invictus, you can be afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
So how about you, friend? Are you freed or imprisoned by your thoughts? Are you living with Invictus, or in victim-hood?
Invictus is the one you want. Thank you, Nelson. Thank you, Viktor.
Embrace it. Live it. Love it (Thank you, Toto)…